Letters to the Editor
I appreciate what Ben Cable and Marcial McCarthy Bolina did ("Cable-Bolina Wedding," Feb. 13), but their challenge to California’s ban on same-sex marriage was not the first. The June 12, 1969, issue of The Advocate magazine carried a report of the March wedding in Los Angeles of Neva Heckman and Judith Bellew. The Rev. Troy Perry officiated. The Advocate described the union as: "The first marriage in the nation designed to legally bind two persons of the same sex."
The June 24, 1970, issue of The Advocate reported that Perry was testing the state’s ban on gay marriage. He based this test on the theory that California’s common law marriage statute did not specify gender. Because Heckman and Bellew had lived together the required two years, the state recognized them as married.
Los Angeles attorney Albert L. Gordon filed a lawsuit on Heckman and Bellew’s behalf but it was dismissed.
The Alameda Sun’s online partner The Alamedan received this statement:
(I would like to respond to the story) related to the legal difficulties I faced in the early days of my practice as a young chiropractor more than 20 years ago.
This was a terrible experience for me, but one that helped make me a better doctor and later a good public servant.
The fact is that I unknowingly treated patients who were part of an auto insurance fraud scheme run by a local attorney. I had no idea what they were doing and was not part of their scheme. I assumed the patients were legitimately injured.
The state’s insurance commissioner and local prosecutors took aggressive actions against the participants of this fraud. As a result of the fact that I treated these patients, I was prosecuted along with them.
At the time I was barely 30 years old. While confident in my abilities as a doctor, I was naive and lacked the experience to ask proper questions and flag suspicious activities. I was still inexperienced at the administrative and accountability responsibilities in my office.
But it was my office and I was ultimately responsible. Instead of fighting the unwarranted charges in a prolonged and expensive trial, I agreed — on the advice of counsel — to plead to misdemeanor charges. The plea seemed to make sense because it would not disrupt my practice or my family life. At the time, it seemed like the right decision to protect my family and my professional career. I certainly had no reason to believe that such a deal would ever be relevant in my life since it was to be wiped off my record in a short time.
My reasons for keeping this matter private while running for local office are simple. This was handled and dealt with 20 years ago and was removed from my record 17 years ago. It was embarrassing. I wanted to move on.
In the 20 years since, I have learned and grown from that experience. I have enjoyed a great deal of success in my practice, raised a happy and healthy family, and been rewarded with many opportunities to serve and give back to my community. This includes being appointed to Social Service Human Relations Board, Alameda County Human Relations Commission, elected to the Alameda Hospital Board and recently elected to the Alameda City Council.
I have been reflecting on this painful episode. I have even thought that maybe I should have been more public about it all along, using it as a lesson to share with Alamedans or other young medical professionals.
But while that may have spared me from this embarrassment, I decided to focus on the hopes for my family, goals for my career and quality of life of my community. I simply wished to leave this episode in the past.
I hope this addresses any concerns the public may have. I apologize to those who disagree with my long ago decision to put this experience in the past and maintain my privacy. It was best for me and my family.
I remain committed, as always, to serving my neighbors, friends and all residents of Alameda with the utmost integrity and passion.
Editor’s note: "Today we have successfully put a major insurance fraud ring out of business," then California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi announced in an April 15, 1993, press release. "This gang alone could be responsible for as much as $1 million in fraudulent claims, and that’s money that comes out of California motorists’ pockets."
Despite Councilman Chen’s profession of innocence, the Alameda Sun would like to point out to its readers that, instead of facing trial on numerous felony counts, Chen pleaded guilty in Alameda County Superior Court to two misdemeanors for behavior tied to this "gang."
On Aug. 20, 1996, Chen signed an affifavit admitting that he had been convicted of a crime "which is substantially related to the qualifications, functions and duties of a chiropractor."
We are all victims of the behavior to which Chen pleaded guilty. This behavior should not be shrugged off or taken lightly, whether tied to criminal activity 20 years or 20 minutes ago.
In recent months, the United Methodist Church (UMC) has been in the news as it moves to discipline pastors for performing same-sex marriages. In Pennsylvania, Rev. Frank Schaefer was stripped of his clerical credentials for performing his son’s same-sex marriage.
Retired Rev. Thomas Ogletree will be put on trial for performing a same-sex marriage for his son. Action against a retired bishop for the same "offense" is pending. These disciplinary treatments are based on the Methodist Book of Discipline which considers "homosexuality incompatible with Christian teaching."
Nearly 600 United Methodist churches have joined UMC’s Reconciling Ministries Network. They believe that the Book of Discipline is incorrect on this point. Twin Towers UMC is one of these churches. We know Jesus was an inclusive shepherd; all persons are welcome at His table. Even His murderers were not excluded as He asked the Father to forgive them because they didn’t understand their actions.
Who is anyone to presume to speak for Jesus? Who is anyone to exclude, on any basis, another person from full participation in the Christian community? Nowhere in the Gospels do we find Jesus rejecting anyone based on sexual orientation. Judgment is not ours. As an open and inclusive church community, we at Twin Towers UMC welcome all.