Child porn arrest of gay rights activist stuns San Francisco 

click to enlarge Facing charges: Larry Brinkin, who helped create the 1997 Equal Benefits Ordinance, posted bail after his arrest. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Facing charges: Larry Brinkin, who helped create the 1997 Equal Benefits Ordinance, posted bail after his arrest.

Larry Brinkin, the iconic San Francisco gay activist who brought the nation’s first domestic partnership lawsuit in 1982, was arrested Friday on charges of possession and distribution of child pornography, police said.

Police remained tight-lipped about the allegations Monday, only confirming that the 66-year-old was booked at County Jail. He posted bail Saturday, jail officials said.

“It’s under investigation and that’s all we’re going to discuss at this point,” police Officer Albie Esparza said.

The District Attorney’s Office received the case Monday and was reviewing the allegations, Assistant District Attorney Alex Bastian said.

The arrest came as a shock to Brinkin’s many admirers. On Monday, former Castro district Supervisor Bevan Dufty said he was “very sad” to hear about the allegations.

“Larry accomplished a great deal working for The City, advancing LGBT rights and the Equal Benefits Ordinance,” Dufty said. “I have great respect for him as a colleague. He has his right to his day in court … and I respect that right.”

Brinkin, who has a longtime partner and a teenage son, retired in 2010 after working for 22 years with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.

In 1982, he was the first to use the phrase “domestic partner” in a lawsuit he filed against his then-employer Southern Pacific Railway. He claimed he was denied three days’ bereavement leave given to married employees after the loss of his partner of 11 years. Brinkin lost the case, which city officials said “laid the foundation for marriage equality.”

As a city employee, Brinkin helped implement and enforce the landmark San Francisco Equal Benefits Ordinance of 1997, the first in the U.S. to mandate that employers provide equal coverage for domestic partners. He also developed laws protecting against discrimination based on gender identity or a person’s height and weight.

Upon his retirement, Dufty introduced a Board of Supervisors resolution declaring the first seven days of February 2010 “Larry Brinkin Week” in honor of his advocacy.

Brinkin remains president of the board of directors for the California Association of Human Relations Organizations.

Carmen Chandler, the vice president of that all-volunteer board, called Brinkin a “consummate professional” and said she was stunned when she heard about the arrest.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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