Rosendall condemns entrapment in Annapolis

Rosendall condemns entrapment in Annapolis

Remarks for Don Chandler benefit
Rick Rosendall, GLAA President
May 3, 1998
[Note: Don Chandler, a talented musician and member of the gay community, was arrested in a case of unfair entrapment by the Anne Arundel police during their recent sting operation on an adult bookstore in Annapolis, Maryland. Don was one of some fifty men that were arrested over a two-month period. The disclosure of names by The Annapolis Evening Capital resulted in Don's loss of employment as music director at a local church. Don has chosen to fight his arrest in court, and the American Civil Liberties Union is supporting him with a "friend of the court" brief. GLAA President Rick Rosendall spoke at a May 3 event hosted by Don's friends to raise funds for his legal expenses. Also speaking was Jim Graham, Executive Director of Whitman-Walker Clinic and a candidate for Ward 1 DC Council. Vocal performances were contributed by members of the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, and cocktail music was provided by pianist Jeffrey Pace.]

When we decide to fight for freedom, we don't always get to choose the circumstances. The patrons of the Stonewall Inn did not choose to be the targets of a police raid in the early morning of June 28, 1969, much less plan an uprising. They simply rose to the occasion, because they were not willing to take the abuse any more. Three decades later, Don Chandler also decided to fight back this time not in the street, but in court.

Don has tuned my piano, and he is my colleague in the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington. I'm delighted to share the program today with members of the Chorus, because they represent the other side of my life as an activist. Seventeen years ago, we held the first meeting of the Chorus on the anniversary of Stonewall. These guys have just demonstrated what fine warriors they are on the cultural battlefront of our movement. With its music the Chorus has changed more hearts and minds than speeches could ever do. There is a real quality of family in the chorus, and the mutual support of these men is beyond price.

On the political battlefront, GLAA's direct engagement of the organs and processes of government in DC led to the repeal of our own sodomy law, and helped give the District one of the strongest civil rights laws in the country. But legislative reform isn't worth much without proper enforcement, so we also keep watch over the executive branch. Lately this means fighting the moral censors in DC's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

Litigation is yet another battlefront, and we are pleased that our friends in the ACLU are filing an amicus brief in Don's case. But justice is expensive, and the court battles that are needed to defend our rights could not be waged without the courage of people like Don Chandler and the support of people like us.

Fundamentally, this is about self-love. We are citizens of this country, we contribute to this society as much as anyone, and we deserve to be treated with more respect than this case represents. A government that behaves this way toward its own citizens is not fit to judge other people's morality. What is indecent is that one dollar of our taxes should be spent on moral policing and entrapment of consenting adults.

The self-respect that makes us challenge unjust authority has also made possible community organizations from choruses to clinics. Cooperation, commitment, and perseverance have always been our greatest assets, and they will see us through.

Bobby Kennedy said in South Africa that the transformation of a society is the cumulative result of countless individual acts of courage. Change is all around us; we can choose to be its agents rather than its victims. Thank you, Don, for your example, and good luck in the fight.

# # #