SAN FRANCISCO – With its panoramic views of San Francisco and subsidized rent, the proposed Rainbow Adult Housing complex sounds like a place any senior citizen would want to live. However, only certain seniors are welcome.
"It's (for) bisexuals and transgendered, who by the way can be heterosexual people, but queer identified. It's gay and lesbian, and it's our friends and family that are accepting of us," said Jim Mitulski, executive director of the Rainbow community.
"That is discrimination and we are subsidizing discrimination," said Republican state Sen. Ray Haynes, who added that gay politicians in Sacramento are finding ways to funnel public dollars into projects that discriminate against straight people.
"If you want to run a business that caters to specific folks, I don't have a problem with that," Haynes said. "But don't come ask the taxpayers to pay for it."
Proudly displaying a copy of the state's check for $250,000, Mitulski said it's perfectly appropriate for taxpayer money to fund what he said would be the nation's first subsidized housing project for gay and lesbian seniors.
"The government has made it possible for distinct communities to preserve their culture and to serve the unique needs of their seniors," Mitulski said. "It's not, to our minds, discrimination. It's us taking responsibility for our own community."
Organizers hope to build the project here in this largely gay neighborhood in the next five years. They're still figuring out how applicants would be screened, but the primary requirement, aside from old age, is apparently support for gay lifestyles. It's a difficult standard to measure, and one some critics contend is against the law.
"We fine land owners for saying they don't want to rent to homosexuals. Now, we're saying to homosexuals, 'we're not only not going to fine you for engaging in this kind of discrimination, we're going to subsidize you,'" Haynes said.