The Daily Agenda for Thursday, June 30

We Are Orlando

Stanley Almodovar

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old.

Stanley-Almodovar-III_CLAIMA20160612_0161_17Stanley was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, and he moved to Florida with his family in 2003. He graduated from high school in Clermont, Florida, in 2011 and was studying to be a pharmacy technician at Anthem College. He was constantly changing his hair color and style. He had dyed his hair again earlier that day before heading to Pulse. His pastor remarked at his funeral, “There was one picture where he had a perm and straight hair at the same time. How that happened, God only knows.” One photo he posted on his Facebook page included the message, “Yes i wear makeup and i’m still a man about it tho.”

At about 2 a.m., Stanley’s mother got an urgent phone call. “Come quick, hurry,” a woman’s voice on the other end of the phone cried. “You need to be here quick.”

According to one witness, Stanley was coming out of the men’s room as the shooter was spraying the nightclub with bullets. He shoved people out of harm’s way, possibly saving several lives. Rosalie Ramos rushed to the night club as soon as she got the call. “I was hoping maybe [he was shot in] the hand or the leg,” she said. “You can survive [a gunshot to] the leg.” He was shot in the chest, stomach and side, and he died at the hospital, just two weeks shy of his 24th birthday.

Earlier that evening, Stanley posted a video to Snapchat, showing him laughing and singing as his friend drove to Pulse “I wish I had that to remember him forever,” his mother said.



Eric Ivan Ortiz Rivera, 36 years old.

Ivan Dominguez (left) and Eric Ivan Ortiz Rivera (right)

Ivan Dominguez (left) and Eric Ivan Ortiz Rivera (right)

Eric was originally from Dorado, Puerto Rico, and graduated from Universidad Central de Bayamón in 2006 where he was president of the Association of Student Journalists. He moved to Florida in 2007 for a chance at a better life after Puerto Rico’s economy sank into a severe recession. He lived in downtown Orlando with his husband, Ivan Dominguez. They started dating in 2014 after being friends for many years. They became engaged the following year and picked a date. By a happy coincidence, the date they chose was June 26, the very same day the U.S. Supreme Court made marriage equality legal nationwide.

Eric rarely went out. He preferred to stay at home watching TV and cooking, especially slow-roasted pork, beans and rice. But that night he went to a friend’s housewarming party, and when the group decided to go to Pulse, they convinced him to tag along. “I am really in shock that he was in the club, because he was not usually a club-scene person,” said his former roommate. Eric’s husband had stayed home because he had to get up for work the next day. His ex-roommate said he learned about the shooting from Ivan. “His husband called me in the morning… He was hysterical trying to find him.”

Mugshots from Grand Rapids Police, early 1900s.

Mugshots from the Grand Rapids, Michigan, police department, early 1900s.

30Dr. William J. Robinson, editor of the American Journal of Urology, in 1914 combed through the Census Bureau’s statistics released ten years earlier and published the following information:

Statistics regarding all crimes in the United States are miserably defective and the results attending an effort to determine the frequency of the offence of sodomy, generally designated as an “offence against nature” is unsatisfactory. We find, however, that on June 30, 1904, there were in American penal institutions 876 prisoners committed for this crime. These prisoners comprised 15.5% of those committed for offences against chastity. Of the total 375 were male and 1 female.

The distribution by states was as follows: New Hampshire, 1; Massachusetts, 20; Connecticut, 7; New York, 62; New Jersey, 12; Pennsylvania, 52; Maryland, 8; Virginia, 3; West Virginia, 1; North Carolina, 4; South Carolina, 1; Georgia, 1; Florida, 3; Ohio, 22; Indiana, 6; Illinois, 20; Michigan, 11; Wisconsin, 6; Minnesota, 8; Iowa, 2; Missouri, 11; North Dakota, 2; Nebraska, 2; Kansas, 4; Kentucky, 6; Tennessee, 5; Alabama, 3; Mississippi, 6; Louisiana, 3; Texas, 29; Montana, 4; Wyoming, 2; Colorado, 5; Arizona, 1; Utah, 2; Idaho, 2 ; Washington, 8; Oregon, 1; California, 30. It will be seen that the frequency of conviction varies greatly in different localities.

In the figures of crime given for the state of Indiana, which are probably the most complete available, the offence in question is not mentioned. In the Indianapolis police court, however there were two cases of sodomy in 1910 and ten in 1911.

[Source: Robinson, William J. “Statistics of Sodomy.” American Journal of Urology 10, no. 3 (March 1914): 146. Available online via Google Books here.]

The Stonewall Rebellion began on the night of June 28 when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. That raid, and the riots that followed didn’t exactly go un-noticed in the press the next day (Jun 29). But when you read those news reports today, it’s very obvious that the mainstream press had no inkling of the importance those riots would have in the decades to come. By 1969, riots and civil disturbances had become rather commonplace. This one was just one more and, as far as the dailies were concerned, it was a minor one at that: they called it a “melee” or a “near-riot,” suggesting that whatever was going on down there around Sheridan Square wasn’t anything to get excited about.

The civil disturbances continued the next day, and the New York Times covered it in their papers the following morning — deep inside on page 22. Despite the violence continuing through the next day, the Times continued to downplay it all as a “near-riot”:

Outbreak by 400 Follows a Near-Riot Over Raid

Heavy police reinforcements cleared the Sheridan Square area of Greenwich Village again yesterday morning when large crowds of young men, angered by a police raid on an inn frequented by homosexuals, swept through the area.

Tactical Patrol Force units assigned to the East Village poured into the area about 2:15 A.M. after units from the Charles Street station house were unable to control a crowd of about 400 youths, some of whom were throwing bottles and lighting small fires.

Their arms linked, a row of helmeted policemen stretching across the width of the street made several sweeps up and down Christopher Street between the Avenue of the Americas and Seventh Avenue South.

The crowd retreated before them, but many groups fled into the numerous small side streets and re-formed behind the police line. The police were not withdrawn until 4 A.M.

A number of people who did not retreat fast enough were pushed and shoved along, and at least two men were clubbed to the ground.

Stones and bottles were thrown at the police lines, and the police twice broke ranks and charged into the crowd.

Three persons were arrested on charges of harassment and disorderly conduct.

The crowd had gathered in the evening across the street from the Stonewall Inn at 53 Christopher Street, where the police staged a raid early Saturday.

The police were denounced by last night’s crowd for allegedly harassing homosexuals. Graffiti on the boarded windows of the inn included: “Support gay power” and “Legalize gay bars.”

Saturday’s raid took place when about 200 people were in the bar. Plainclothes men, with a warrant authorizing a search for illegal sales of alcohol, confiscated cases of liquor and beer.

A melee involving about 400 youths ensued, a partial riot mobilization was ordered by Police Headquarters, and 13 persons were arrested on a number of charges. Four policemen were injured, one suffering a broken wrist. Among those arrested was Dave Van Rank, a folk singer.

As it did in the previous day’s coverage of the riot, this Times piece presented only one perspective: that of the police. With no statements from the “near-rioters” presented to provide readers with any sense of context, New Yorkers could be forgiven for failing to understand what the noise was all about.

New York Magazine, June 30, 1969.

While New York’s daily newspapers were struggling — and failing — to understand what was happening in the neighborhoods around Sheridan Square (above), the latest issue of New York magazine hit the stands with an article noticing the Upper West Side’s “renaissance,” brought on by a new band of urban settlers moving into the very rough neighborhood, attracted there by cheap rents and readily available housing:

“I was ready for war,” one recent brownstone buyer said. “You know, German shepherd, barbed wire, burglar alarms, punji sticks, the works. But we were delighted to find that with a little caution it could be a relaxed place to live.” … Business, of course, has joined and helped to stimulate the movement to the West Side. Flower vendors who set up their cardboard cartons at the top of the neighborhood’s subway stairs claim business is booming. “Only a year ago,” Monroe, a West 86th Street vendor, said between sales, “flowers couldn’t live on the West Side.”

High end stores, restaurants, theaters were returning to the Upper West Side amidst a $700 million building boom. But the transition from a down-in-the-heels neighborhood to a sought-after address was far from complete:

The same kind of young, successful and relatively affluent middle-class families that moved to the suburbs 20 years ago and to the East Side 10 years ago are moving to the West Side today, and while the neighborhood still has an ample supply of teenage muggers, parading homosexuals and old men who wear overcoats in July, the over-all mood of the area seems to have changed.

This article was published just two days after the Stonewall Rebellion first broke out just four short miles to the south in Greenwich Village. In fact, the neighborhoods around Christopher Street were still experiencing sporadic violence and police confrontations when this issue of New York hit the newsstands. To be fair, this article was likely weeks in the making, and the magazine had probably already gone to press before police started their raid on the Stonewall Inn. But even the city’s dailies were missing the significance of what was going on right under their noses. It’s not surprising then that New York magazine would see “parading homosexuals” elsewhere as a threat to another neighborhood’s struggle for respectability.

[Source: Nicholas Pileggi. “Renaissance of the Upper West Side.” New York (June 30, 1969): 28-39. Available online via Google Books here.]

Michael Hardwick

Michael Hardwick

30 YEARS AGO: It all began with a beer bottle thrown into a trash can in outside a gay bar 1982. A police officer saw Michael Hardwick do it and cited him for public drinking. When Hardwick failed to arrive for his court date, a warrant was issued for his arrest. Several weeks later — after Hardwick realized his error and paid the ticket — a police officer went to Hardwick’s apparent to serve the arrest warrant. The police officer entered the apartment (accounts differ on how he got in), and discovered Hardwick and a male companion engaged in oral sex, an act which fell under Georgia sodomy law (see Aug 3). Both men were arrested, but the local district attorney decided not to press charges. Hardwick then sued Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers in federal court seeking to overturn the state’s sodomy law. The ACLU agreed to take the case on Hardwick’s behalf.

Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers

Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers

Despite Georgia’s sodomy law being rarely enforced, Bowers vigorously defended Georgia right to prosecute individuals under that law.  “Certainly the statute is on the books, and any statute that is on the books as a criminal statute of this state should be enforced, and that’s what it’s for,” he told a reporter. He also had another reason for keeping it: “We know to a certainty that AIDS is transmitted in great measure by homosexual conduct. The thought of removing that statute from the books which prohibits homosexual conduct does not seem all that timely to me.”

But Kathleen Wilde, a spokesperson for the Georgia ACLU countered that argument. “If you criminalize the conduct, people won’t report, people will lie, there’ll be no capacity to deal with the spread of the disease,” she said in an interview.

A federal judge in Atlanta dismissed the case, siding with the Attorney General. Hardwick appealed to the Eleventh Court of Appeals, which reversed the lower court’s ruling. Bowers then appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled on this date — during pride week — in 1986 that Hardwick’s right to privacy did not extend to private, consensual sexual conduct — at least as far as gay sex was concerned. Justice Byron White, writing for the majority, barely concealed his contempt for gay people. He wrote, “to claim that a right to engage in such conduct is ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition’ or ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty’ is, at best, facetious.” Chief Justice Warren Berger, in a concurring opinion, piled on: “To hold that the act of homosexual sodomy is somehow protected as a fundamental right would be to cast aside millennia of moral teaching.”


Protests after the ruling

Justice Lewis Powell was considered the deciding vote. It has been reported that he originally voted to strike down the law but changed his mind after a few days. In 1990, after Powell had retired three years earlier, he told a group law students that he considered his opinion in Bowers was mistake (see Oct 18). “I do think it was inconsistent in a general way with Roe. When I had the opportunity to reread the opinions a few months later I thought the dissent had the better of the arguments.” His mistake would remain the law of the land for another seventeen years, until Bowers itself was held to be “not correct” in Lawrence v. Texas (see Jun 26).

Six years into the AIDS epidemic, the Reagan administrations response to a death toll approaching the 20,000 mark was still abysmal. He waited four years and 10,000 deaths into the epidemic before giving AIDS a tiny mention at a press conference for the first time in 1985 (Sep 17), and he waited until 1987 before calling it “public enemy number one” before a meeting of the College of Physicians in Philadelphia.

On June 24, Reagan announced the creating of the President’s Commission on the HIV Epidemic and two days later he appointed Dr. W. Eugene Mayberry, CEO of the Mayo Clinic, to head the commission, despite Mayberry having no experience with the disease. But it would take another month before the remaining twelve members would be named. Part of the problem was the presence of several extremely anti-gay members of his administration, which included Gary Bauer, Reagan’s chief domestic policy advisor, opposed the appointment of any gay person to the panel. In a memo dated June 30, Bauer enumerated his objections, but conceded that if there had to be a gay person on the panel, that individual should be an “ex-gay”. Here’s the memo:

photo-exhibition-OB2241-lgMemorandum for the President:

As you know, I have opposed the notion that we should seek out a homosexual to be on your AIDS commission, for the
following reasons:

1. Those pushing the hardest to name a homosexual are generally not our friends. They will not be satisfied with one gay, but will sense that if enough pressure is exerted we will cave on other issues.

2. The gay member of the commission will be an automatic media star. His opinions will be given more weight by the media, and he will be in great demand for the talk shows. The pressure on him to attack you and the commission’s work will be overwhelming.

3. Millions of Americans raise their children to believe that homosexuality is immoral. To appoint a known homosexual to a presidential commission will give homosexuality a stamp of acceptability.

4. While it is true that homosexuals have been major victims of AIDS, they are also responsible for its spread. Recent studies show that the average gay man with AIDS has had over 150 different sexual partners in the previous twelve months.

5. I know you realize AIDS is not just a health issue; it is also a heated political issue. We must be careful not to create a situation where certain members of your own commission end up booing Administration policy.

I believe we can handle the critics short of appointing an avowed homosexual. If you feel we must, I would recommend a “reformed” homosexual — that is, someone not currently living a gay lifestyle. We have identified several individuals that meet that criteria.

Bauer’s private memo to Reagan mirrored public statements that he had already made to the press. On June 25, Bauer had told the New York Times, “would be very surprised if an administration opposed to making appointments on the basis of race or sex would agree to make an appointment based on bedroom habits.” In the end, Reagan chose not to heed Bauer’s advice. When he unveiled his Presidential Commission on the HIV Epidemic in late July, he appointed Dr. Frank Lilly, an openly gay geneticist, to the thirteen-member panel. His appointment to the panel was loudly denounced by conservatives. He would also name Cardinal John O’Connor to the panel, much to the fury of the LGBT community.

Gary Bauer would go on to lead the Family “Research” Council from 1988 to 1999. He left the FRC to run for the GOP nomination for President in 2000. He is currently the Executive Director of American Values and the Campaign for Working Families.

protestOn June 11, Russia’s State Duma gave its unanimous approval for a law banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations,” ostensibly to minors, although the law was so broadly written that it effectively banned advocacy just about anywhere. It effectively prohibits advocating the moral equivalency of gay relationships to straight ones, as well as the distributing of material advocating for gay rights. The law imposes fines of up to 5,000 rubles (US$150) for citizens, and goes up to as much as 200,000 rubles (US$6,600) for officials if such “propaganda” is transmitted via the media or the internet. Organizations face a fine of up to 1 million rubles (US$30,200) and suspension of all activity for 90 days. In addition, foreigners face up to fifteen days detention and deportation. 

On June 30, President Vladimir Putin, who had earlier blamed gay people, in part, for Russia’s declining population, signed the bill into law. Protests broke out in St. Petersburg, which had already passed a nearly identical law, which ended when gay rights supporters were attacked and beaten by nationalist skinheads, and then were arrested by police. Additional attacks broke out across Russia, with violent skinhead gangs using social media to lure gay people on the promise of a date, only to torture them and force them to come out to family and friends on video, which the gangs proudly posted on the internet. Dmitri Kislev, anchor of the most popular news program on state-owned Russia 1, told his audience that imposing fines wasn’t enough. “Their hearts, in case of the automobile accident, should be buried in the ground or burned as unsuitable for the continuation of life,” he said. (Kislev was later promoted to head Russia’s re-organized RIA Novosti, the state-owned news agency.)

widemodern_sochigay_100413620x413Putin received praise for his actions from a number of American anti-gay extremists, including Pat BuchananScott Lively, Franklin Graham, the American Family Association’s Bryan FischerLinda Harvey, and six American anti-gay organizations including the Rockford, Illinois-based World Congress of Families. And all of this was was just seven months before Russia was to host the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi, which put the spotlight on the International Olympic Committee. The IOC clearly didn’t want any negative publicity. So instead of moving the games (which, admittedly, would have been a monumental task) or press the Russians to uphold gay athletes’ rights of personal expression, they instead opted for a much easier solution by reminding athletes about their “responsibility” to refrain from doing anything that would embarrass the IOC, their Russian hosts, or corporate sponsors. The Sochi Olympics went off without a hitch, under heavy security. But the new and glamorous face that Russia hoped to present to the world was shattered just a few weeks after the closing ceremonies when Putin’s allies in America were shocked — shocked! — to see Putin violate international law and Ukraine’s sovereignty by annexing the Crimean peninsula.

How Will Today’s Republican Party Mark The One Month Anniversary of the Pulse Gay Night Club Massacre?

Jim Burroway

June 29th, 2016

By holding hearings on a bill allowing discrimination against LGBT people. That’s how:

The House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform is set to hold a hearing on the First Amendment Defense Act amid pressure from anti-LGBT advocates, including the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage, to move forward with the legislation.

…Introduced by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) in the U.S. House and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the U.S. Senate, the First Amendment Defense Act has the purported purpose of preventing federal government action against individuals and businesses that oppose same-sex marriage for religious reasons. Critics say it essentially carves out a legal exemption for anti-LGBT discrimination.

…A senior Hill staffer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the committee sent out invitations to witnesses on the conservative side designating July 12 as the date of the hearing. The staffer declined to share a copy of the invite with the Washington Blade.

So, there you have it. On the one month anniversary of the massacre killing 49 people and wounding 53 more at a gay night club, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will mark the solemn occasion by doing NOM’s bidding. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is the committee chair whose brilliant idea it was to schedule this fine piece of anti-gay animus on that date. Invited witnesses include the usual suspects from the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Witherspoon Institute. By the way, here’s NOM’s fundraising pitch sent out earlier today:

Friends — I just met with my team and learned we are seriously behind our fundraising goals for the first half of the year, which ends at midnight on Thursday.

In fact, unless we get contributions from 3,050 supporters in the next 48 hours I’m going to have to cut our budget right as we head into one of the most important periods ever for the fight for marriage and religious liberty.

You can make a difference! Donate Today!

I have to be honest, we’ve never been in a bigger hole and I am freaking out. In the past, we had reserves saved up to help cushion a shortfall, but our reserves are gone.

Not only are we looking at major fights in the next few months, including pushing for passage of the First Amendment Defense Act, but we’re headed into the slowest time of year for fundraising as families take time off for vacations and travel.

Don’t worry NOM. The Republican Party is coming to your rescue.

Morelos Lawmakers Approve Constitutional Changes To Enact Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

June 29th, 2016

Map, Mexico

via @MorelosCongreso on Twitter

via @MorelosCongreso on Twitter

Such is the nature of Mexico’s famously opaque political machinations that it’s really hard to tell what’s really happening. The Congress of the state of Mexico was due to meet yesterday evening to formally validate a package of state constitutional changes to provide full marriage equality. But when religious anti-gay protesters took over and occupied the Congress’s Plenary Hall, lawmakers convened in an alternate location and ratified the constitutional reforms.

Changes to the state’s constitution requires either tacit or active agreement from the majority of the states thirty-two Ayuntamientos (local governments or municipalities). Municipalities can either vote for, against, or abstain from voting. If an ayuntameiento abstains from voting, then that vote is taken as a yes vote. Taken this way, seventeen votes would be needed to defeat a constitutional change. According the tally adopted by the state congress, there were 12 votes in favor, 15 against, and 5 effectively approved by not voting officially.

According to the official tally released by the Congress of Morelos, ayuntamientos officially registering their approval were: Cuautla, Emiliano Zapata, Huitzilac, Jantetelco, Jiutepec, Puente de Ixtla, Tetecala, Tlaquiltenango, Totolapan, Yautepec, and Yecapixtla. (Note: I only count 11 ayuntamientos listed in that tally.)

The ayuntamientos officially registering their disapproval of the measures were Amacuzac, Atlatlahucan, Ayala, Coatlán del Río, Jojutla, Jonacatepec, Miacatlán, Temoac, Tepoztlan, Tetela del Volcan, Tlalnepantla, Tlaltizapán, Xochitepec, Zacatepec, and Zacualpan de Amilpas.

The ayuntamientos that did not submit their decisions “in a timely manner,” according to the Congressional bulletin, were Axochiapan, Cuernavaca (the state’s capital), Mazatepec, Tepalcingo, and Tlayacapan.

According to several conflicting reports, marriage equality opponents charged that Mazatepec and Tepalcingo (and some add Ocuituco, which doesn’t appear on any of the above lists even though it is one of the 32 ayuntamientos) had also voted against the constitutional reforms. If true, that would have raised the “no” vote to seventeen (or eighteen) and killed the reforms. They also accuse the state Congress’s Secretary of Legislative Affairs of “manipulating” the outcomes of the Ayuntamiento meetings to precent a “no” vote.

Members of the conservative National Action Party say they will challenge the constitutional changes in court. Legal changes open a thirty-day window in which the changes can be challenged before the Supreme Court Justice of the Nation (SCJN), Mexico’s highest court. Members of Family Network, an evangelical anti-gay group, say they will launch an appeal.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, June 29

We Are Orlando

Tevin Eugene Crosby

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old.

The Statesville, N.C. native knew what he wanted in life, and set about making it happen. He founded his own retail management company, Total Entrepreneurs Concepts, in Saginaw, Michigan. He ran campaigns for DirectTV and AT&T from kiosks in big box stores like Best Buy and Walmart. He had about 20 employees working for him. One of his employees said, “He was a boss, but we were all like family. We were very, very close.”

Teachers and others who knew him in Statesville remembered Tevin as quiet, polite kid, but also a hard worker who showed perseverance. One friend said that Tevin’s positive attitude helped him become a better person. He wouldn’t judge anyone — he was always smiling and helping someone,” he said. “And now, I always try to help someone when I can. He was like a light, where he would try to help someone else shine brighter — always trying to make everyone better, and made people laugh constantly. He was like a big brother to me.” As a high school senior, Tevin was president of the Future Business Leaders of America and was named an “unsung hero.”

Tevin had travelled from Saginaw to Statesville to attend graduations for several nieces and nephews. He then went to Orlando to visit friends.


Paul Terrell Henry

Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old.

Paul was from St. Petersburg, and he loved his son and daughter, who had recently graduated from high school. Paul’ worked as a sales representative at Orange Lake Resorts, and he played piano, organ and sang on the side. He loved dancing and having fun, and spent a lot of time at the Bear Den at Parliament House where he showed off his pool-playing skills.

Paul’s boyfriend, Francisco Hernandez, said that he planned to go back to college because of Paul’s encouragement. “He knew I had the potential for greater things,” said Francisco. “I had three years of college but didn’t finish. He wanted the best for me, to succeed and to help me make something of myself. I am definitely going to do that for him. I am going to make something of myself.”

According to Francisco, Paul didn’t appear to be out to his family. “He kept many aspects of his life private from family. He felt that there was no need for them to know what he does in his life. His priority was to make sure his kids were taken care of.” Meanwhile, Paul’s pastor at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Orlando described Paul as “an accomplished musician, prolific preacher and ambitious spirit. I shall always cherish the many opportunities he gave me to share the gospel.”


Darryl Roman Burt II

Darryl Roman Burt, II, 29 years old.

He was born at Fort Lee, Virginia, and much of his family is in Amelia County. He moved to Jacksonville, Florida, in 2012. He worked as a financial aid officer for Keiser University, where he worked closely with military veterans as a liason from enrollment through graduation. He was also a dedicated community volunteer and a member of the Jacksonville Jaycees. The chapter president remembered, “Both socially and professionally he was always interested in making positive impact on people’s lives and in the community. …He was the type of person that was always willing to help. If someone needed anything he’d usually just ask for the details, where, when and what are the deadlines.”

Friends said that Darryl loved to travel, go to the beach, and shop. One friend said that also worked out, but was “addicted to Starbucks Passion Tango Tea Lemonade.” She also said that they had recently gone to Aruba together, and were planning a cruise with his parents in September. He had skipped a trip to New Orleans though, because he wanted to go dancing in Orlando.

The New York Post in 1969 was a very different than the Murdoch rag it is today. In 1969, it was a fairly respected liberal newspaper. Its first story about the police raid on the Stonewall Inn on June 28 appeared on page 14 under the headline, “Village Raid Stirs Melee”:

PostA police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a tavern frequented by homosexuals at 53 Christopher St., just east of Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village, triggered a near-riot today.

As persons seized in the raid were driven away by police, hundreds of passersby shouting “Gay Power and “We Want Freedom” laid siege to the tavern with an improvised battering ram, garbage cans, bottles and beer cans in a protest demonstration.

Police reinforcements were rushed to the tavern to deal with the disturbances, which continued for more than two hours. By the time calm returned to the area, at least 12 persons had been arrested on charges ranging from assault to disorderly conduct.

Among those arrested was folk singer Dave Van Ronk, 33, of 15 Sheridan Sq., who was charged with felonious assault on a police officer. Van Ronk was not in the tavern, but got into the fight when it spilled out not the street, police said.

Police said the raid was staged because of unlicensed sale of liquor on the premises.

The Post’s coverage was fairly typical. Only one perspective was covered: that of the police. With no statements from the “near-rioters” presented to provide readers with any sense of context. The New York Times first report, buried on page 33, was no better:

NYTimesArticle4 Policemen Hurt in ‘Village’ Raid
Melee Near Sheridan Square Follows Action at Bar

Hundreds of young men went on a rampage in Greenwich Village shortly after 3 A.M. yesterday after a force of plainclothes men raided a bar that the police said was well known for its homosexual clientele. Thirteen persons were arrested and four policemen injured.

The young men threw bricks, bottles, garbage, pennies and a parking meter at the policemen, who had a search warrant authorizing them in [sic] investigate reports that liquor was sold illegally at the bar, the Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher Street, just off Sheridan Square.

Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine said that a large crowd formed in the square after being evicted from the bar. Police reinforcements were sent to the area to hold off the crowd.

Plainclothes men and detective confiscated cases of liquor from the bar, which Inspector Pine said was operating without a liquor license.

The police estimated that 200 young men had been expelled from the bar. The crowd grew to close to 400 during the melee, which lasted about 45 minutes, they said.

Arrested in the melee, was Dave Van Ronk, 33 years old, of 15 Sheridan Square, a well known folk singer. He was accused of having thrown a heavy object at a patrolman and later paroled in his own recognizance.

The raid was one of three held on Village bars in the last two weeks, Inspector Pine said.

Charges against the 13 who were arrested ranged from harassment and resisting arrest to disorderly conduct. A patrolman suffered a broken wrist, the police said.

Throngs of young men congregated outside the inn last night, reading aloud condemnations of the police.

A sign on the door said, “This is a private club. Members only.” Only soft drinks were being served.

Neither report provided any real information about why the “melee” or “near-riot” occurred. Readers were left with the impression that the violence was simply perpetrated by lawless youth, in the kind of story that had become commonplace in major urban areas across the U.S. by 1969. If readers even noticed these small news items, they likely shrugged. Ho hum. Just another example of the breakdown of law and order, and of hippies and homosexuals disrespecting authority. The city’s major news outlets would need several more months before they could figure out the importance of what really happened that night.

(d, 1972) Pro-gay activism in the U.S goes back a very long way, far longer than most people realize. Henry Gerber, a Bavarian immigrant to Chicago, served in the U.S. Army’s occupation of Germany following World War I, where he came in contact with the growing German gay rights movement. He subscribed to German homophile magazines and made several trips to Berlin, where he discovered the city’s vibrant gay night life and learned about the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, organized by Magnus Hirschfeld (May 14) as the first organization in the world working to advance gay rights. He contrasted the situation in Germany, where gay people were organizing and there was only one set of laws were in force throughout the nation, with the markedly different situation in the U.S., where gay people hadn’t even thought of organizing and the laws in the U.S. were a patchwork of different definitions and penalties in each of the 48 states:

To go before each State legislature and argue the real nature of homosexuality would be plainly a job too costly to be considered. The conduct of many homosexuals in their unpardonable public behavior clearly led to public protest against all homosexuals. Here were only two stumbling blocks on the road to reform.

I realized at once that homosexuals themselves needed nearly as much attention as the laws pertaining to their acts. How could one go about such a difficult task? The prospect of going to jail did not bother me. I had a vague idea that I wanted to help solve the problem. I had not yet read the opinion of Clarence Darrow that “no other offence has ever been visited with such severe penalties as seeking to help the oppressed.” All my friends to whom I spoke about my plans advised against my doing anything so rash and futile. I thought to myself that if I succeeded I might become known to history as deliverer of the downtrodden, even as Lincoln. But I am not sure my thoughts were entirely upon fame. If I succeeded in freeing the homosexual, I too would benefit.

Soon after returning to the U.S., Gerber founded the Society for Human Rights (SHR) in 1924 (see Dec 10). With an African-American clergyman named John T. Graves as president, SHR is believed to be America’s first gay rights organization. Gerber also founded Friendship and Freedom, the first known American gay publication. As Gerber explained in 1962:

The outline of our plan was as follows:

1. We would cause the homosexuals to join our Society and gradually reach as large a number as possible.

2. We would engage in a series of lectures pointing out the attitude of society in relation to their own behavior and especially urging against the seduction of adolescents.

3. Through a publication named Friendship and Freedom we would keep the homophile world in touch with the progress of our efforts. The publication was to refrain from advocating sexual acts and would serve merely as a forum for discussion.

4. Through self-discipline, homophiles would win the confidence and assistance of legal authorities and legislators in understanding the problem; that these authorities should be educated on the futility and folly of long prison terms for those committing homosexual acts, etc.

The beginning of all movements is necessarily small. I was able to gather together a half dozen of my friends and the Society for Human Rights became an actuality. Through a lawyer our program was submitted to the Secretary of State at Springfield, and we were furnished with a State Charter. No one seemed to have bothered to investigate our purpose.

Gerber got that charter by omitting any mention of homosexuality in his application. Instead, the application spoke of promoting more general values of freedom and independence. Nevertheless, Gerber found getting SHR of the ground difficult, and he had to finance the whole enterprise out of his own meager earnings as a postal worker. He managed to put out two issues of Friendship and Freedom, before running out of money. (Despite being the first known homophile publication in the U.S., no copies are known to survive.) He tried to gain support from medical authorities, but none would help him. He also had trouble finding people to join his group. “Being thoroughly cowed, they seldom get together,” he observed. “Most feel that as long as some homosexual sex acts are against the law, they should not let their names be on any homosexual organization’s mailing list any more than notorious bandits would join a thieves’ union.” Those who did join had few resources themselves.

The only support I got was from poor people: John (Graves), a preacher who earned his room and board by preaching brotherly love to small groups of Negroes; Al (Meininger), an indigent laundry queen; and Ralph whose job with the railroad was in jeopardy when his nature became known. These were the national officers of the Society for Human Rights, Inc. I realized this start was dead wrong, but after all, movements always start small and only by organizing first and correcting mistakes later could we expect to go on at all. The Society was bound to become a success, we felt, considering the modest but honest plan of operation.

SHR didn’t last long. It turns out that Al Meininger, “the indigent laundry queen” turned out to be married with two children. She found a copy of Friendship and Freedom, and informed her social worker, who notified police. When police raided Meininger’s apartment, the found him in the act with another man. Both were arrested, and Meininger named the other SHR members during questioning.

Gerber would later claim that when police showed up at his door on July 13, 1925, they had a reporter from the Chicago Examiner in tow. According to Gerber, the Examiner’s headline that afternoon screamed, “Strange Sex Cult Exposed,” which claimed (falsely) that Graves was arrested while in the middle of an orgy in full view of his wife and children. Recent scholarship reveals that there was no Chicago Examiner at the time of Gerver’s arrest, and no paper carried the story he describes. Nevertheless, the Chicago American published its front page story, with several disputed details, under the headline, “Girl Reveals Strange cult Run By Dad”:

Police of the East Chicago av. Station today began investigation of a weird cult brought to light when 12 year old Betty Meininger, 532 N. Dearborn st., appeared and asked the policemen to find out “why her father carried on so.”

She described afternoon and night meetings in the Meininger home, attended by men and devoted to séances at which stranger rites were performed by her father and men who came to take part. Her description led to a raid.

They found Meininger, who is 37, married, and the father of the four children; the Rev. John Graves, self-declared pastor of a church, and one Henry Gerber, 1710 Crilly Court, publisher of the cult paper, Friendship and Freedom.

Meininger, Graves and Gerber, arraigned in court today, were given continuances until Thursday, Meantime the police intended to see if federal action can be taken as a result of sending the paper through the mails.

Meininger pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct and was fined $10 (roughly $140 today). Gerber was tried three times, but the charges were eventually dismissed, thanks largely to his lawyer who was well versed in the financial needs of Chicago judges. Charges were also dismissed against Graves. Gerber was nevertheless ruined, fired from his job (“for conduct unbecoming a postal employee”) and drained of his meager life savings. “The experience generally convinced me that we were up against a solid wall of ignorance, hypocrisy, meanness and corruption. The wall had won.”

Gerber became embittered over his failed attempt to organize fellow homosexuals. He would later write, “Most bitches are only interested in sex contacts, not in challenging legal and social stigmas of homosexuality.” On anther occasion, he wrote “I have absolutely no confidence in the Doran crowd, mostly a bunch of selfish, uncultured, ignorant egoists who have noting for the ideal side of life.”

Gerber moved to New York, got a job as a proofreader at a newspaper, and then reenlisted in the army, where he served until his retirement in 1945. In 1930, he started a pen-pal club called CONTACTS, mimeographed monthly newsletter which, while not exclusively gay, did provide an exchange for those like himself, “favored by nature with immunity to female ‘charms’.” He also published a literary magazine called Chanticleer, and he wrote an essay defending homosexuality, under the pseudonym of Parisex, in the magazine Modern Thinker. His activism was mainly confined to essays and letter-writing. In 1942, Gerber’s army career was jeopardized when he was arrested on suspicion of homosexuality. “They put me before a Section VIII board and tried to get me out of the army on that. When I told the president of the board I only practiced mutual masturbation with men over 21, the psychiatrist told me, ‘You are not a homosexual.’ I nearly fell out of my chair! Imagine me fighting all my life for our cause and then be told I was not a homosexual!”

When ONE magazine got started in Los Angeles, Gerber contributed several articles, including a translation of several chapters from Magnus Hirscheld’s Homosexuality in Man and Woman, as well as his own history in Chicago.  He died on New Year’s Eve in 1972 at the age of 80, in his lodgings at the U.S. Soldiers’  and Airmen’s Home in Washington, D.C. He was buried in the cemetery next to the Soldier’s Home. In 1981, the Midwest Gay and Lesbian Archive and Library changed its name to the Henry Gerber-Pearl Hart Library in honor of Gerber and gay rights lawyer Pearl M. Hart (Apr 7)

[Sources: St. Susie de la Croix. Chicago Whispers: A History of LGBT Chicago Before Stonewall (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2012): 73-87.

Henry Gerber. “The Society for Human Rights — 1925.” ONE 10, no. 9 (September 1962): 5-11. Also available online here.]

Social Conservatives In Morelos Mobilize To Block Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

June 28th, 2016

Map, Mexico

The news earlier today that the Mexican state of Morelos is about to enact marriage equality for its LGBT residents has brought anti-gay activists out of the woodwork to try to block the pending changes to the state’s constitution.

Earlier reports stated that eighteen of the state’s thirty-three Ayuntamientos (local governments) had approved the constitutional reforms needed to allow equal marriage for same-sex couples, meeting the minimum threshold of seventeen jurisdictions needed to approve any changes to the state constitution. It appears that the tally of actual vote taken to support the reform package were 12 in favor, and fifteen against. However, with six Ayuntamientos not voting, their votes automatically default to “yes” votes, which brings us to 18-15 in favor of marriage equality.

I’m seeing conflicting and confusing reports all over the place, but it appears that equal marriage supporters in the state Congress say that they have received minutes from all the remaining Ayuntamientos except for the city of Ocuituco. Even if Ocuituco rejected the reforms, they would still pass 17-16.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 2.51.51 PMBut anti-gay activists representing Catholic, Evangelical and Mormon groups, as well as the conservative National Action Party (PAN) allege the state Congress is rushing ahead of a July 3 deadline for the remaining Ayuntamientos to submit their results. (I don’t know where that deadline comes from. Congress approved the reforms on May 18, and what I’m reading says that Ayuntamientos have one month to reject or approve the reforms.) Opponents also allege that both Mazatepec and Tepalcingo are in the “no” camp. If so, that would result in a 16-17 defeat. They also accuse the state Congress’s Secretary of Legislative Affairs of “manipulating” the outcomes of the Ayuntamiento meetings to precent a “no” vote.

The state Congress is scheduled to meet today at 7 p.m. local time (Central time in the U.S.), when it is expected to release a report declaring that the proposed constitutional reforms have been approved.

Same-sex marriage is effectively legal throughout Mexico. In nine states and Mexico City, same-sex couples only need to obtain a marriage license using exactly the same process as opposite-couples use. But in Mexico’s remaining twenty-two states, same-sex couples need to hire a lawyer and undergo the time consuming and expensive process of obtaining a court order called an amparo from a Federal Judge. Each amparo is only good for that particular couple. It takes five consecutive, identical amparos issued in the same state for them to become binding for everyone in that state.

The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) has already ordered all federal judges to issue amparos whenever a same-sex couple asks a court for permission to marry. Marriage equality supporters point out that this makes full marriage equality inevitable throughout the country. If the state legislatures fail to act, LGBT-rights activists say that they will continue to expand full marriage equality nationwide, state by state, amparo by amparo.

Federal Court Re-opens Marriage Equality Case Over Mississippi’s “Religious Freedom” Law

Jim Burroway

June 28th, 2016

In 2014, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves declared Mississippi’s state ban on marriage quality unconstitutional, and issued an injunction requiring the state’s county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell decision striking marriage bans nationwide effectively closed the case in Mississippi, although that injunction remains in place. Yesterday, Judge Reeves agreed to re-open the case in response to Mississippi’s passage of a “religious freedom” law which, among other things, allows local clerks to refuse to issue licenses to same-sex couples. In his order issued yesterday, Judge Reeves writes:

Obergefell “is the law of the land and, consequently, the law of this circuit.” Mississippi’s elected officials may disagree with Obergefell, of course, and may express that disagreement as they see fit — by advocating for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision, for example. But the marriage license issue will not be adjudicated anew after every legislative session. And the judiciary will remain vigilant whenever a named party to an injunction is accused of circumventing that injunction, directly or indirectly.

Judge Reeves’s order reopens the case “for the parties to confer about how to provide clerks with actual notice of the Permanent Injunction.”

Mississippi’s HB 1523 allows clarks to deny licenses to same-sex couples, and it allows businesses and individuals to refuse services to LGBT people. It also allows health care professionals to opt out of providing transition-related care to transgender individuals. The law is set to go into effect July 1. Two other lawsuits have  been filed to block the other portions of the law.

Morelos On the Cusp Of Enacting Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

June 28th, 2016


Map, MexicoLast month, the state of Morelos just south of Mexico City began the process of amending its state constitution and civil laws to allow same-sex couples to marry without having to go through the cumbersome and expensive process of getting an amaro from a federal judge. As part of that process, state congress approved a package of constitutional reforms which must then be approved by a majority of the state’s 33 Ayuntamientos (regional governments) for ratification.

State congressional members were telling reporters yesterday that votes have taken place in all of the Ayuntamientos, which approved the constitutional reforms 18-15. The next step if for Congress to officially declare the the results in its next session and order its publication in the official legal gazette, Tierra y Libertad. It’s not clear when that is expected to take place, but at least the biggest hurdles to marriage equality have been cleared.

When Morelos makes it all official, it will be the tenth state, along Mexico City (which is not a part of a state), to provide marriage equality on the same terms as opposite-sex couples. Marriage equality is legal nationwide, although in the remaining 21 states same-sex couples have to go to court and obtain a court order, called an amparo, from a federal judge. The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN), Mexico’s highest court, has ordered all federal judges to grant all amparos brought before their courts.

Morelos is located just south of Mexico City, with Cuernavaca as its capital. It has always been a popular getaway for Mexico City residents, and is slowly becoming something of a bedroom community for the congested capital. It boasts a long list of impressive museums, botanical gardens, a famous hacienda that once belonged to Hernán Cortés, impressive Tlahuican ruins (complete with a preserved Aztec-influenced handball court) and a dizzying array of magnificent churches. I haven’t traveled Mexico extensively, but I have spent time in Morelos. Cuernavaca is probably my favorite city, and it would make a magnificent wedding destination.

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