California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday that he is pardoning gay civil rights icon Bayard Rustin, the close friend of Martin Luther King Jr. who helped organize King’s 1963 March on Washington.
The AP reports: “Gov. Gavin Newsom pardoned Rustin for his arrest in 1953 when he was found having sex with two men in a parked car in Pasadena. He was in town as part of a lecture tour on anti-colonial struggles in West Africa. He served 50 days in Los Angeles County jail and had to register as a sex offender before returning to his home state of New York. He died in 1987.”
The L.A. Times adds: “Newsom said the decision was inspired by calls from several state lawmakers to pardon black civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, a principal organizer of the 1963 March on Washington and a top adviser to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Newsom said the clemency program will allow pardons for others who were subjected to discriminatory arrests and prosecutions that unjustly targeted LGBTQ Californians.”
Said Newsom in a statement: “In California and across the country, many laws have been used as legal tools of oppression, and to stigmatize and punish LGBTQ people and communities and warn others what harm could await them for living authentically. I thank those who advocated for Bayard Rustin’s pardon, and I want to encourage others in similar situations to seek a pardon to right this egregious wrong.”