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Keeping Abreast of Castro Merchants

The November MUMC Report

By Bill Sywak

MUMC Votes on Key Issues of

Nudity, Control of Rainbow Flag

November 1 was a crucial meeting for Castro merchants, or at least for those who belong to MUMC, the active Merchants of Upper Market and Castro association.

What was special about this event, at the time and site of the regular monthly business meeting, was the need for the organization to vote on two important issues: support for Supervisor Scott Wiener’s pending legislation on restrictions for public nudity in San Francisco, and MUMC’s policy on the future of the Rainbow Flag from January 2013 forward.

Arriving members had to wait to enter the auditorium so that voting members could be seated separate from visitors and the general public. Interest in the issues was intense and had been growing over the past year or two. It now came to Executive Director Terry Austen Bennett to push for decision.

As Wiener stated, a variety of perspectives on the nudity issue have been discussed extensively in the media and in public meetings; and as Terry’s letter to members detailed, the flag pole issue has been discussed and researched with key stakeholders and the MUMC board, among others.

Beyond the pros and cons, however, what gave these issues their emotional power and intense personal and partisan interest was that they touched long-held values and convictions that matter deeply to people attracted to San Francisco and the Castro.

Nudity in public as an expression of fundamental freedom was fiercely advocated by some, while the opportunity for all parties to make use of a flag pole that is operated and maintained by a private business association was important to others.

The end result was that Supervisor Wiener’s carefully constructed legislation of narrow restrictions on public nudity was supported by a majority of MUMC members.

In addition, the policy that the Rainbow Flag in Harvey Milk Plaza is the only flag that will fly at full mast every day, with no substitutions or adornments, was passed unanimously.

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