SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – LGBTQ police and sheriff’s deputies are asking the San Francisco Pride parade to change its new policy that prohibits them from marching in the parade in uniform.
The San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Celebration Committee banned officers from marching in uniform in summer 2020; though that ban only covered the 2021 parade, which did not occur due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many major city pride parades adopted similar policies around that time.
The San Francisco Police Officer’s Pride Alliance — which represents LGBTQ officers in the San Francisco Police Department — issued a joint statement with LGBTQ sheriff’s deputies and firefighters blasting the ban on their marching in uniform. In a May 23 press release, they state “The San Francisco Pride Committee has asked the LGBTQ+ peace officers to go back in the closet.”
The statement reads that while they recognized historic tensions between the LGBTQ community and law enforcement — tensions that led to the Stonewall riots in 1969 and the earlier Compton’s Cafeteria riot in San Francisco in 1966 — “that is the reason many of us took this job.”
“The board decided to punish LGBTQ+ peace officers for the failings of others,” the press release states. “This is its own form of prejudice and further erodes the tenuous relationship between peace officers and the communities we keep safe. This decision ignored the history and accomplishments of LGBTQ+ peace officers, who made the SFPD and the SFSO more inclusive through their bravery and visibility. These officers have saved lives, made the city safer, and helped establish that in San Francisco, a member of the LGBTQ+ peace officer could serve the city in uniform with pride.”
While the San Francisco Fire Department is not banned from marching in uniform, the press release states firefighters will not be marching in solidarity with the Pride Alliance.
The Pride celebration committee did not respond to a KRON4 request for comment Monday.
At least one San Francisco supervisor agrees with the officers.
Matt Dorsey, who became the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ second sitting gay member two weeks ago when he was appointed by Mayor London Breed, had previously been the SFPD’s highest-ranking LGBTQ+ civilian member when he served as its director of communications.
Dorsey, who represents the city’s south of Market neighborhood, stated in a press release midday Monday that he thinks the officers should be able to march in uniform. He also said he will be sitting out the parade in solidarity.
“All San Franciscans share a compelling interest in solving our public safety staffing crisis in ways that attract the most diverse and qualified pool of candidates we can,” Dorsey said. “We can do that by showcasing our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in our police, fire and sheriff’s departments. But a policy of exclusion, which prohibits LGBTQ+ first responders and allies from marching in uniform, sends exactly the wrong message at a time when we can ill afford to do so. I welcome the opportunity to meet with Pride board members to request that they reconsider their position. I’m also hopeful my fellow LGBTQ+ community members will express their support for a more inclusive approach, which celebrates our community’s uniformed first responders and encourages more queer candidates to pursue public safety careers right here in San Francisco.”
“I think SF Pride is in a very difficult position, ” said Rafael Mandelman, who represents the Castro on the board in a statement to KRON4. “I know they were trying to find a compromise that would work for everyone and I wish they had been able to do that.”
The parade route was obstructed for about an hour in 2019 by demonstrators protesting against law enforcement and corporate participation. Two people were taken into custody. The charges were eventually dropped by San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, but one of the two sued the SFPD, alleging excessive use of force.
The Pride celebration committee stated in 2020 that the ban was in response to excessive force during that incident, after the San Francisco Office of Police Accountability dismissed the allegations against the officers, citing insufficient evidence.
The first in-person regular San Francisco Pride parade since 2019 will occur Sunday, June 26 at 10:30 a.m. on Market Street.