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You and the ACLU
Jul 26, 2006

Hey Dr. Bob,

A buddy just called me and told me you spoke at a town hall meeting tonight for the ACLU to fight a gay discrimination ruling. He said your comments were powerful. Can you publish them here and let us know what went on?

Woodchuck

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hey Woodchuck,

Yes, the ACLU did contact me about a rule recently passed by the Los Altos City Council that was exclusionary and clearly discriminatory. It had to do with procedures for city proclamations. The Gay-Straight Student Alliance of Los Altos had asked the City Council for a proclamation for a Gay Pride Day. The City Council denied it and passed a rule stating "proclamations specifically promoting religious, racial, ethnic, or sexual discrimination, or pertaining to sexual orientation (including Gay Pride Day or similar occasions) will not be considered!!! Shocking, eh? The ACLU asked if I and Steve (Dr. Steve, the expert in The Body's Tratamientos forum) would address the City Council and local news media. I agreed. My comments were as follows:

Good evening, Mayor and City Council Members,

My name is Robert Frascino. I am a physician and president and founder of The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation, a tax-exempt charitable organization that provides crucial services for people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. My office is located in the Loyola Corners Professional Building on Freemont Avenue. I have been a Los Altos resident since 1986. In fact, your brother, Mr. Mayor, lives on my street.

At the start of this evening's proceeding, I watched you all place your hands over your hearts and pledge to the American flag ". . . liberty and justice for all." At least that's what I thought I heard you say. However, your recent actions do not reflect this sentiment! Perhaps what you meant to say was ". . . liberty and justice for all, except for people like Dr. Frascino, because he happens to be gay." Shame on you!

I want to make it perfectly clear to you that I am not here to ask for your tolerance. I don't need your charity, your indulgence, and I certainly do not need your permission to be who I am! As a physician I have dedicated my life to helping those in need. I have personally raised over one million dollars for AIDS service organizations worldwide. How dare you, as my elected city officials, pass a rule that discriminates against me, based solely on sexual orientation??? I do not ask for your tolerance. Rather I demand liberty, justice and dignity for all Los Altos Citizens.

Frankly I'm annoyed you have spent your valuable time creating, discussing and passing such a discriminatory and blatantly illegal rule singling out a segment of upstanding law-abiding residents of Los Altos. I'm also annoyed your actions are now requiring me to spend my valuable time to be here tonight to point out to you and the media what should already be painfully obvious: your recent actions are making a mockery of your commitment to serve all Los Altos citizens!

This issue is not a "cost-benefit analysis" as you mention in your memo, Mr. Mayer, but rather this issue is about the inalienable rights of all Los Altos citizens to petition their city council and hold their leaders accountable for their actions!

Mayor Packard, if you were in a serious car accident and were taken to my office in Los Altos or to the emergency department at El Camino, or even to Stanford Medical Center where I was an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, how would you feel if I stood over you while you were writhing in pain and said, "Sorry, Mr. Packard, I'm not going to treat you because, well, because you're just too damn short." I'm sure you would look up at me with incredulity and say "but this is Stanford Medical Center. I'm hurt. You're the doctor. I need your help. Why are you singling out my height? I can't do anything about the way I was born!" Based on a discriminatory rule about height, similar to the one you passed related to sexual orientation, I could tell you "Mr. Packard, I'm in charge of this emergency department and you are not welcome here. And, oh by the way, if you ever get sick in the future, don't bother coming back here. I don't want to see you or any of your short buddies ever again. I don't treat shorties!"

Obviously this is an extreme analogy that I relate merely for emphasis. It would never happen because I, as a physician, took an oath to treat all those in need. You, as Mayor and City Council members, also took an oath to serve all Los Altos citizens, not only those whom you personally or your religious affiliation deem worthy.

Discrimination is wrong. It must not and it will not be tolerated. You may have passed this draconian rule when many of us were not paying attention. However I want to make it perfectly clear that you have our attention now!

Thank you.

By the end of the City Council meeting, even though the Mayor still considered the adopted provision to be "fully legal and fair," the provision was amended and the discriminatory language was completely removed.

We and the ACLU were delighted that the City Council acquiesced to public outrage and common sense.

This is yet another example of how community pressure and activism can effect a positive change! I urge everyone reading this to become involved to battle discrimination whether it is based on sexual orientation, race, HIV status, whatever!

That's the scoop, Woodchuck. Now I've got a question for you. How much wood can a woodchuck chuck?

Dr. Bob



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