February 19, 2003

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In This Issue

AT LEAST 500 people jammed the Herbst Theatre last Saturday for the Mary Dunlap memorial. It was a touching, warm, funny, overtly political, community-based tribute to a touching, warm, funny, overtly political, community-minded person. Short on politicians (Tom Ammiano, Matt Gonzalez, and Mark Leno were there, along with former supervisor Sue Bierman, and to their credit, none of them made much of a scene or tried to be too big a part of what was really not a politician's show). Long on people whose lives had been changed by a woman who was described at least once as a "force of nature," someone who filled up every room she entered.

Nobody messed with Mary Dunlap: she was a tough lawyer, an out lesbian in the days when there weren't that many women, much less gay women, arguing cases in the federal courts. One friend described her talking on the phone in the old Equal Rights Advocates office, loudly telling some opposing counsel, "Yeah, I just got your motion – and I lit it with my cigar."

In a video of a speech she gave several years ago, she talked of how unpleasant it was to don two-inch heels to argue the Gay Olympics case before the U.S. Supreme Court (and then explained how the very fact that she was there, out and open, with a crowd of pink triangle-wearing lesbians and gay men packing the courthouse, would change the Supreme Court forever).

But she was also someone who was an inspiration and mentor to hundreds of young lawyers and activists. You could just look around at all of the faces in that room and see how she had changed the world.

We got to the peace march late. My son Michael didn't really want to walk all the way up Market Street ("I hate peace marching," he told me, but he loves to stand still and watch a parade), so we went right to Civic Center, where we could barely get out of the BART station. It seemed as if the whole city was there.

Someday (and, the way the left works in this town, it's probably not that far off) we can all sit around and argue about what went right and wrong with the antiwar coalition. But for now, let me say this: It's truly amazing, what's happening in the streets of San Francisco.

Tim Redmond tredmond@sfbg.com