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To Those Attempting to Justify Hate Speech Through Campaigns:
Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club

Letter of Support

Brian D. McBeth, M.D., Attending Physician, San Francisco General Hospital

Statement on Article 50
American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California


The World Health Organization reports:
“There is compelling evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60%.”

In Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, researchers reported:
“Compelling evidence has shown that newborn circumcision prevents urinary tract infection (UTI) in infancy, balanoposthitis and phimosis in childhood and adolescence, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, and certain other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in young adults, and invasive penile cancer (IPC) in middle and old age.”

California State Senator Mark Leno:
As a gay man and a committed Jew, I am strongly opposed to this likely unconstitutional ballot measure to ban circumcision. It is an affront to religious freedom and to good medical practice, as there is overwhelming evidence that circumcision can be an important tool in reducing HIV transmission and other sexually transmitted diseases. San Franciscans should defeat this measure and protect parents’ right to choose.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern CA
The sponsors of the ban are abusing the initiative process by asking a majority of voters to invade family privacy and restrict the religious liberty of San Francisco residents. Parents make decisions for infants all the time, and the Constitution protects our right — not the government’s — to decide what’s best for our children.”

Bhawana Kamil, Muslim American Society, Bay Area:

“The proposed ordinance targets male circumcision, claiming that it is harmful and cruel. In fact, there is no scientific evidence showing that the practice of male circumcision, particularly when done at an early age in a proper setting with proper tools, is harmful to the child. On the contrary, this practice has been proven to be medically beneficial. As such, an ordinance criminalizing the procedure simply unjustly targets those members of the Muslim and Jewish communities who engage in the practice as part of their faith. This is a clear violation of First Amendment Rights, and we are proud to stand with other community leaders and professionals to defend those rights.”

Former Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr.

“The proposed ban on circumcision does not represent San Francisco’s values. San Franciscans respect diversity and choice. Parents have a right to choose what is right for their child — not the government. I urge all San Franciscans to vote against this misguided, hateful measure.

The Reverend Stephen Privett, S.J., President of University of San Francisco:

“I do not doubt that the intelligence and good will of voters will prevail against this totally unnecessary and thinly disguised expression of intolerance and discrimination against centuries-old religious traditions.”

Dr. Arthur Ammann, President and Founder, Global Strategies for HIV Prevention:

“It would be a paradox to ban and criminalize circumcision in San Francisco, a city with one of the highest HIV infection rates among young gay men, when circumcision reduces HIV transmission during unprotected sex. It is also a paradox to ask minority and poor women, who already have difficulty accessing health care, to bear the risk of cervical cancer, another disease potentially prevented through circumcision. The public health benefit of male circumcision is great. To ignore these facts is to betray the protection that a public health measure offers.

Daniel Jacobs, MD, Chief, General, Vascular and Plastic Surgery, San Jose, California:

“While I respect the rights of groups to examine medical practices – no matter how old – for safety and ethical standards, far too much evidence exists to leave any doubt that male circumcision performed by experienced practitioners is an acceptable if not beneficial procedure. Attempts to illegalize it merely represent the efforts of some to impose a heavy handed moral proscription on others, including on the medical community and free individuals practicing their rights as loving parents.”

Professor Joel Paul, Associate Dean of UC Hastings School of Law:

“The proposed ordinance targets a well-established religious practice of Jews and Moslems and denies parents a right to make a fundamental decision about the religious upbringing of their children. The Constitution does not permit government to restrict the free exercise of religion under these circumstances without a showing of some overwhelming compelling governmental interest. In this case there is no such justification.”

Dr. Daniel Halperin, Harvard School of Public Health:

“The World Health Organization, United Nations, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Institutes of Health have all agreed that circumcision is one of the most important ways to prevent HIV infection in heterosexual men. There are also ten times fewer urinary tract infections in infant boys who have been circumcised, and studies suggest a possiblity in some men between these urinary tract infections and renal failure later in life.”

Ameena Jandali, Islamic Networks Group:

“Circumcision is required for Muslim males in emulation of the Prophet Abraham. This procedure usually occurs after birth in the hospital and causes minimal pain to the infant, similar to other procedures that are routinely conducted such as immunizations for newborns. A ban that specifically targets a religious practice of Muslims and that has been proven to be medically beneficial is a violation of First Amendment Rights that guarantees all Americans the right to religious freedom.”

Reverend Amos Brown, President of the NAACP, San Francisco:

“In America, under the Constitution, we are guaranteed freedom of religion. We should not waste citizens’ time and money on a measure that violates the religious choice of persons who, out of their tradition practice circumcision, and who make this choice for their children for medical and health reasons.”

Reverend James DeLange, Chair of the San Francisco Interfaith Council:

“We, representing diverse communities of faith throughout San Francisco, are deeply troubled by this proposed ballot initiative. It would turn back the clock on a right that is fundamental to the founding of this country is the right to the free exercise of religion. People of all religions, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds have sought a new life in San Francisco to pursue religious liberty.”

Jason Porth, President of the Raoul Wallenberg Jewish Democratic Club:

“The proposed ban on circumcision is an affront to religious liberty and to parents’ right to raise their children according to their traditions. It is also an affront to one of San Francisco’s defining characteristics: a widely-embraced respect for the differences that make us a diverse community. Our City is at its best when we unite in soundly rejecting misguided attempts to curtail civil liberties.”

Dr. Craig Cohen, Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive
Sciences, UC San Francisco:

“Male circumcision has documented health benefits, and does not injure, harm, or prevent male sexual satisfaction. Its purpose is religious and for health benefits. As an obstetrician-gynecologist I have performed well over 200 infant male circumcisions at the request of the parent(s) without observing any side effects. Parents are counseled about the risks and benefits of the procedure, and give informed written consent for their sons before the procedure is performed. As a physician, I believe it is the right of the parent to direct the health care of their children as long as with circumcision, the benefits outweigh or balance the risks.”

Dr. Mark Glasser:

“Criminalizing infant circumcision, a procedure proven to be safe and beneficial, violates the principles of medical practice as outlined in the provisions of the Medical Practice Act of the State of California and violates the right of parents to consent to medical or surgical treatment of their minor children which is unconditionally guaranteed by the Civil Code of the State of California. Banning infant circumcision is contrary to the current recommendations of the World Health Organization and The Centers for Disease Control of the United States for preventing HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections and can potentially pose a public health risk to future generations of San Franciscans.”

Professor Joel Paul, Associate Dean of UC Hastings School of Law:

“From a constitutional perspective, male circumcision is not comparable to female genital mutilation. Male circumcision is both medically safe and promotes public health. By contrast, female genital mutilation puts women at high risk for disease, disability and death.”

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