Senator Scott Wiener’s Statement on Governor Newsom Pardoning Bayard Rustin

February 5, 2020

SACRAMENTO – Today, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) issued the following statement regarding Governor Newsom’s pardon of Bayard Rustin, a gay civil rights hero who was wrongfully convicted in 1953 on “lewd conduct” charges for violating a morality offense that was often used to discriminate against Black and LGBTQ communities and has since been repealed. He was arrested for having consensual sex in a parked car.


Rustin was a close confidante of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and was one of the chief organizers of the Great March on Washington in 1963.


On January 21st, Senator Wiener, as the Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, alongside Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), the Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, asked the Governor to posthumously pardon Bayard Rustin.


Governor Newsom also announced a broader clemency initiative to help LGBT individuals criminalized for their sexuality clear their records.


Senator Wiener issued the following statement:


“I’m thrilled that Governor Newsom is pardoning Bayard Rustin and that he acted so quickly and decisively in response to our request. I also applaud the Governor for broadening this work to provide other criminalized LGBT people with a path to clear their records of wrongful convictions on homophobic charges. These actions are consistent with the Governor’s deep and longstanding support for the LGBT community.


“Generations of LGBT people – including countless gay men – were branded criminals and sex offenders simply because they had consensual sex. This was often life-ruining, and many languished on the sex offender registry for decades. The Governor’s actions today are a huge step forward in our community’s ongoing quest for full acceptance and justice.”