LGBT Activists Protest Newsom’s Budget,
Stage Pride Die-In

Written by FCJ Editor. Posted in News, Politics

Published on June 28, 2009 with 15 Comments


Public health and human service activists staged a die-in protest during Pride 2009 today
to draw attention to Mayor Gavin Newsom’s budget
that includes over $121 million in cuts to health and human services.
Photos by Luke Thomas

From Direct Action to Stop the Cuts, Coalition for Budget Justice, Coalition to Save Public Health

June 28, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO – On the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, LGBT activists and SF Pride-at-Work held a die-in at the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade today in front of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s float to protest his budget cuts to public health. Protestors lay down in front of the Mayor’s float to symbolize deaths that will follow from his defunding of HIV/AIDS services. The action was reminiscent of the ACT UP die-in’s of the 1980’s and 90’s which used civil disobedience to urge a co-coordinated response to fight the AIDS epidemic.

During the protest, Mayor Newsom’s vehicle attempted to plow through the protestors who held the space as he exited and walked down Market Street. The mayor and a small group of supporters attempted to dodge the protestors who performed several die-ins while chanting, “Newsom’s cuts are killing us.”


“Gavin and Arnold: There’s no Pride in your budget.”

Mayor Newsom’s 2009-2010 budget makes severe reductions to HIV/AIDS prevention, health services, counseling, education, advocacy, outreach, housing and testing.

“These cuts are killing us, specifically cuts to HIV prevention and care, and public health safety net services being decimated in this budget,” said Robert Haaland of Pride-at-Work.

Dozens of people, with the group Direct Action to Stop the Cuts, passed out flyers to the crowd comparing Mayor Newsom’s budget to that of Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget.

LGBT leaders have acknowledged the important role Mayor Newsom has played with respect to advancing same-sex marriage but are outraged about his draconian cuts to public health services.

“It is unconscionable to use gay marriage as a shield for legitimate criticism of how these policies are impacting low-income and LGBT residents of San Francisco,” said Rafael Mandelman, president of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club.

Among the programs facing elimination are the San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s Stonewall Program, the SRO Collaborative (which works with very low-income tenants to ensure that their housing and health needs are met), and Baker Places, a residential drug treatment center. Countless other programs face elimination or severe reductions.

  • Matt Stewart

    I’m glad that progressives are taking a more confrontational approach towards the budget cuts. I kept thinking about what a waste of time and energy it is for the thousands that preached to the choir in the Board of Supervisors chambers. However, I think that it is likely that a one time act of theatrical civil disobedience can actually backfire. I hope that the people that partcipated in this event continue to aggressively and creatively push foward and keep up the heat at the source. I’m also disappointed that I didn’t know about it because I would have been happy to participate. Is any further action planned and, if so, how can I get involved?

  • tommi

    This is great. Awesome! I was with the Stonewall/Gay Liberation Front 40 contingent at the front and rushed back to find the protest, but it was too late. This is what we did 40 years ago–we fought back. We didn’t let them have the comfort of our silence. I am so proud of everyone who organized and participated in this. I wish I would have made it back in time to join you all, but I was with you in spirit. Stop the budget cuts! Budget cuts kill! Stop balancing budgets on the backs of poor and working-class people.
    tommi avicolli mecca

  • Pathawi

    There’s a vigil tonight at City Hall that SEIU 1021 is putting on. It begins at 5 p.m. I don’t think *all* the parties that have been involved in progressive/radical budget action will be present, but it’d be a good step toward getting further involved.

  • marc

    Its about fucking time they tried something different, a tactic which had worked historically even though it met with the howls of the contented.

    Tactics like this, when combined with dedicated insiders like Supervisor John Avalos, can create the space for transformation.

    -marc

  • davidpwaggoner

    As vehicles in the entourage initially charged the protestors, a flummoxed Newsom attempted to run ahead to glad-hand bystanders. The demonstrators – chanting “NEWSOM’S CUTS ARE KILLING US!!!” – staged the dire consequences of the proposed cuts all around him. A feaux Newsom, wielding huge cardboard scissors, killed the protestors one after the other. They collapsed in the street, as bewildered police looked on. The die-in went on for at leat 20 minutes, spoiling Newsom’s charade before thousands of parade watchers, and drawing attention to the real consequences of targeting the most vulnerable. I was a legal observer for the die-in. I was proud to witness a fabulous example of queers refusing to go along with the program, as our gay-marriage champion mayor attempts to destroy the social safety net of our city. Congrats to the courageous group of “die-hards.” You were amazing.

  • rich stone

    As Matt Gonzalez said in a recent interview, back in 2003 then mayorial candidate Newsom had a ‘no-position’ stance on gay marriage. Looks like the karmic chickens are coming home to roost!!

  • Matt Stewart

    Thanks Pathawi. When I said that more confrontational tactics should be used more than on just a one time basis, I didn’t mean that Newsom should be dogged at every campaign stop (though I don’t think that that is such a bad idea), but I’m saying that there needs to be some level of consistency to it.

    He has made it abundently clear throughout his tenure that he won’t compromise on just about anything and that he is barely willing to even meet with progressives who disagree with him. In such circumstances, such tactics as civil disobedience and open confrontation are essential. However, if it is just a one time publicity stunt, it may only harden his resolve and make the people who challenge him look like a bunch of crackpots. By not going away and not backing down, Newsom’s resolve might lessen — especially if the corporate press starts taking such events more seriously (something that is in doubt).

  • alternative johnny

    Simply outrageous that LGBTs should have to put up with this.

    AJ

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/group/patmonkrn/ Patrick Monk

    SEIU.
    Pathawi,
    One reason “all the parties” may not be present, might be explained by the ongoing ‘union busting’ activities of Andy Stern and his gang of goons. Check out the piece in today’s (6/30/09) .
    “Labor movement backs Unite Here”.
    Be very careful who you climb into bed with, and please use protection.

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/group/patmonkrn/ Patrick Monk

    -check out the piece in today’s (6/30/09 BeyondChron-

  • Pathawi

    What’s this “they”, marc? Get in on the action & make this shit happen!

  • rich stone

    as a labor council delegate, it is of my opinion that andy sterns foresaw the ‘shock-doctrine’ type of disaster-capitalism economic policy on the horizon and is using this as a wedge in his union-splitting tactics..

  • http://thepriceofuranium.com Ann Garrison

    RE: Gavin and Arnold, no PRIDE in your budget.

    I couldn’t go on Sunday but I watched later on KOFY, Channel 20, which put out a brain-dead broadcast about how wonderful all the corporate floats were, and, indiscriminately slathered all over every politician that came by, including Gavin Newsom.

    I’ve followed both Gavin Newsom and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s politics for a long time and concluded that, thus far, the only divergence has been on state parks, which Newsom wants to keep open, especially for the sake of tourism.

    Both have created bullshit’n broccoli eco-sheikh images of themselves, including the $100,000 Tesla roadsters both own to set good examples. Both fail to note that people are part of the environment, and, that, just like other animals, people are gonna do whatever they have to do to survive before they can worry about the environment.

    At the far extreme of environmentally destructive people survival moves is military enlistment. But the mayor has never said a word about the environmentally devastating impact of war, waged by the world’s largest fossil fuel consumer, the U.S. military. And, he’s continued to invite the Blue Angels Air Show Recruitment Drive here, year after year, as Dianne Feinstein first did in 1981.

    If the Mayor and the Governor both have their way with their budgets, the Blue Angels Air Show should have bang up, better-than-ever success here this year.

    The Supervisors can stop the Blue Angels Recruitment Drive far more readily than they can fix the budget. All they have to do is cancel the invitation. The Blue Angels do not go anywhere they’re not welcome, and, they get far more invitations than they can respond to. Says so on their official website, http://www.blueangels.navy.mil/.

    Pretty soon they’ll be flying out here on CTL, coal to liquid fuel, but that, and the U.S. Air Force is in the lead of the conversion to CTL, is another environmental issue I’ve not heard the mayor, or the governor, mention.

    (Not sure why I’m bothering with this, because I don’t think the mayor has a lot of fans in FCJ, so, this is just to share a few talking points. (And vent.)

  • rich stone

    what i say about andy sterns, check this out, SEIU & Walmart are in bed with Obama over ‘reformed’ healthcare, go figure skating on thin ice and die uninsured!!

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090701/ap_on_re_us/us_wal_mart_health_care

  • marc

    Pathawi,

    “They” are SEIU, Pride at Work, the people who organized the cool action, the for whom the city budget begins and ends with public health.

    I did all of my CD/Direct Action back in the day, got bored protesting and started figuring out how to help elect people who agree with me on the issues so that we can move our agenda instead of protesting. I really got bored with protesting in the early 1990s, as it became so ritualized and lost effectiveness.

    Glad others are doing it in the streets, I wish the message was about saving a broader range of services, but street protest is just not where I am at right now.

    -marc