Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Posts for November, 2012

Maggie’s Freudian slip

Timothy Kincaid

November 7th, 2012

Writing in National Review Online, the National Organization for Marriage’s Maggie Gallagher opined with her observations about what drove last night’s election results:

The Obama electorate defeated marriage. I’m guessing we lose at least three of tonight’s four races, and maybe four of the four. We were outspent eight-to-one — and no one was willing to speak for marriage, while the whole Democratic establishment and Hollywood campaigned for marriage. Last night really is a big loss, no way to spin it.

Catch it?

“…the whole Democratic establishment and Hollywood campaigned for marriage.”

Not “campaigned against traditional marriage”, not “campaigned for articifical marriage”. No, Maggie got it right.

The Democratic establishment and Hollywood (and a whole lot of others) campaigned FOR MARRIAGE, for the integrity and dignity of a treasured institution that it not be sullied by exclusion or animus or smug superiority.

(oh, and someone slip Brian Brown a note about spinning)

“queers can…”, part 2

Timothy Kincaid

November 7th, 2012

No, this isn't Michel Bachmann with a bad haircut.

Remember Janice Daniels, Mayor of Troy, Michigan? The one who was elected last year. And then was discovered to have posted “I think I am going to throw away my I Love New York carrying bag now that queers can get married there” on Facebook. Yeah, that Janice Daniels.

Remember her? Well you can forget her now.

Because the lovely Ms. Daniels is mayor no more. She lost last night in a recall election. (Daily Tribune)

It was a tight race throughout, but the effort to recall Troy Mayor Janice Daniels officially passed early Wednesday morning.

With all 31 precincts reporting, the yes vote won 20,763 to 18,993.

I hope she didn’t get around to throwing out her I Love New York bag cuz she may need it to pack up her mementos of her days of public service. And I’m sure there is still a spot for her in the world of real estate.

[Update: to get a real sense of the lovely Janice - and the moment in which her fate was probably sealed - check out this video]

Tony Perkins Reacts

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

It looks like they had a conference call to coordinate their responses:

This was supposed to be the morning when Americans got up and shook off the nightmare of the last four years. Instead, they awakened to a new one: a profound drubbing of the Republican Party that is supposed to be the guardian of the conservative vision our nation so desperately needs. On every level–presidential, congressional, social–it was a bruising day for our movement that no amount of spin can improve…

Among the more demoralizing losses yesterday were the outcomes in Maryland, Minnesota, Washington, and Maine, where natural marriage lost for the first time in America by popular vote. It was a significant moment for the radical Left, which was helped to victory by the most pro-gay President in American history. But contrary to what the Left will say, the narrow margin for victory in these four states offers plenty of evidence that a solid majority of Americans still opposes same-sex “marriage.” Despite being outspent 8-to-1 in some of the most liberal states in the country, we witnessed record-setting petition efforts that crossed every racial, party, and socioeconomic divide. And while homosexuals may be celebrating an end to our movement’s perfect record, they still have a long way to go to match the 32 states where Americans voted overwhelmingly to protect the union of a man and woman. And that includes North Carolina, where President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex “marriage” likely cost him the state’s electoral votes.

In a glimmer of good news on the marriage front, the support for marriage in these four states actually out-polled Mitt Romney, who won 48% of the popular vote. In the weeks and months ahead, we’re confident that as voters see and experience the consequences of redefining marriage, many will reconsider their support. How can I be so certain? Forty years after Roe v. Wade, the nation is more pro-life, and the abortion issue is far from settled. As with same-sex “marriage,” the Left can make it legal, but they can never make it right.

Frank Schubert Reacts

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

Did he plagarize from NOM or was it the other way around? (PDF: 147KB/1 page

I am, of course, very disappointed with the very narrow defeat it appears we’ve suffered in each of these four states. It appears that we have lost by a point or two in each state. It’s important to consider that these battles occurred in a very difficult political landscape. We were contesting in four deep blue states and were outspent very badly in all of them – at least four-to-one, and greater in some states. I have to accept that losing in this very difficult political environment was always a real possibility.

“I firmly reject the spin surely to come that this result signals a fundamental shift in American opinion in support of gay marriage. It means that we very narrowly lost four difficult contests in four very deep blue states after being badly outspent. Despite the outcome, I am extremely grateful to all the donors, volunteers, staff, vendors and committee members who were part of our team. I am honored to have played a role in these campaigns to preserve marriage in America. It is an institution worth defending, and I look forward to continuing to play a role in this historic debate

The French symbol of anti-equality

Timothy Kincaid

November 7th, 2012

The National Organization for Marriage is joyously reporting that France’s faithful Catholics are in opposition to marriage. And accompanying that article is this rather perplexing photograph:

I have no idea what this guy is doing, but it does raise an interesting question: Why wear neck-to-knee underwear under your skin tight body suit if your junk is going to show anyway?

Minnesota Was NOT the First State To Defeat A Constitutional Ban on Same Sex Marriage

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

That distinction goes to Arizona, which became the first state to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage in 2006 when voters rejected Prop 107 by a margin of 48.2% to 51.8%. Prop 107 would have been a comprehensive ban, prohibiting same-sex marriages as well as any “legal status for unmarried persons… that is similar to that of marriage.” That was the sticking point for Arizona’s large number of co-habiting seniors who remain unmarried in order to protect their pension benefits. Once that clause was removed, Prop 102 passed in 2008.

A lot of people are celebrating Minnesota’s defeat of Amendment 1. I, too, am overjoyed to see Minnesota — as Midwestern a state as they come — declaring that discrimination stops here. But it is really bugging the hell out of me to see so many media outlets proclaiming Minnesota as the “first state in the nation” to reject a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. That is not correct. I live in one of the most god-awful, backward and angry states in the union, but for two lovely years from 2006 to 2008, my adopted home held the distinction for being the only state to turn down a marriage amendment, and it will always remain the first to do so.

So that truly wonderful feeling that Minnesotans are feeling right now? That feeling that the world has changed in a most woderful way? That feeling that you get when you look at your neighbors with the confidence of knowing that they also see you as their neighbor in a way you perhaps hadn’t felt before? I know that feeling very well, and I’m thrilled that others are feeling it again today. And I’m not giving that memory up. It’s one of the very few proud memories around here to hold on to.

Meanwhile, in France…

Timothy Kincaid

November 7th, 2012

New York Times

The French cabinet approved a draft bill legalizing same-sex marriage on Wednesday after weeks of loud opposition, especially from religious figures and the political right.

The draft law redefines marriage to stipulate that it is “contracted between two persons of different sex or of the same sex,” and the words “father” and “mother” in existing legislation are replaced by “parents.” The bill would also allow married gay couples to adopt children.

Dodging a bullet

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

November 7th, 2012

This spring I had a conversation with a community activist who expressed concern that should the President not be elected, some might be able to spin the story to blame his loss on his support for marriage equality. I agreed that would be a real challenge to our ongoing efforts for equality, but I didn’t see that as a likelihood.

I posed to him another challenge, one I saw as having greater possibility. My biggest fear for yesterday was that we would lose in Maryland and that it could be attributed to the black vote.

When proposition 8 passed in California and exit polls reported 70% support from black voters, a certain amount of racism and resentment resulted. Things were tense for a while and I feared that should there be an appearance that African-American voters had blocked equality that hostilities would escalate.

We have been fortunate recently that tension between the two communities have diminished to a great extent – and this has been due mostly to the leadership and integrity of those who are greatly respected in the African-American community. Perhaps the largest share of credit goes to President Obama, whose administration has stepped boldly and strongly on the side of equality and encouraged many African-Americans to join him.

And while exit polls showed that less than half of the black vote supported marriage equality, it is a significant improvement over the vote four years ago, and there is no reason to believe that our communities will not continue greater support and cooperation.

The states of marriage and the state of the marriage fight

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

November 7th, 2012

For some reason I woke up humming this song:

Winning four marriage battles last night was a victory I had not dared expect. It’s a joyous day, a true turning point, and a moment in history I think we will all remember.

But our fight isn’t over, and the battles we won yesterday were fought on our own turf. And while they are enormously important, we need to see them in context.

Here is the map of American states which offer some recognition of same-sex couples as of January 2013. Green states offer full marriage equality, blue states offer domestic partnerships or civil unions with all or nearly all the rights of marriage, and orange states offer some form of formal registration with limited rights. (There is also some legal argument that New Mexico and Wyoming might recognize out-of-state marriages).

It is great to see three more green states. However, yesterday’s vote did not color in any states that were not already in one of these categories. Washington had all-but-the-name domestic partnership rights, Maine had limited domestic partnership rights, and Maryland recognized out-of-state marriage.

I don’t bring up this point to throw a wet blanket on our celebration, but to remind us that the hardest battles will still be in front of us and encourage us to be prepared. We will win (time and justice are on our side) but it will not be easy.

Frankly, the quick and easy numbers say that we should have done better. National polls have shown for a few years now that a majority of Americans support marriage equality. And as we know our supporters aren’t dominating Texas and Alabama, it would seem logical that the blue states should support marriage in numbers around sixty percent or more.

But I don’t think that this means that the polls are wrong. I think it means that the polls and the votes reflect two different things. Polls taken away from election cycles reflect the emotional “what I want to believe” response while votes reflect “what I think is best” response and, at the moment, those who oppose equality are able to deceive or scare those who want to support equality into thinking it is a threat.

In other words, a hefty chunk of our support is weak support. And, other than a few states, the upcoming battles will be in places where scare tactics and lies may be most effective.

Of course the courts could rule marriage-bans to be unconstitutional (as they obviously are), and our legal issues would be over. And yesterday’s vote will heavily weigh in our favor in their upcoming deliberations.

Nor will any victories won in the courts be reversed by Congress. There simply will not be sufficient political will to get a two-thirds vote in the Democratic Senate – or even in the Republican House – for a Federal Marriage Amendment. And ratification by three-fourths of the states is a near impossibility.

But should such legal protection not be forthcoming in the next year or so, let’s consider at our political choices. Looking at the map, I cannot identify too many white states that are poised to join the equality states.

Minnesota has a long history of support for liberal ideas and politicians and, having just defeated an anti-gay amendment, is ripe for some legislation for civil unions or perhaps even marriage equality. New Mexico and Arizona are also likely candidates for some recognition of same-sex couples. Arizona has a constitutional ban on marriage, but the people rejected a ban on other forms of recognition. I suspect that these two states might be receptive to domestic partnership legislation.

I’m going to offer one odd possibility that may seem bizarre: Utah. Right now this state has a constitutional ban on marriages and civil unions. But Utah is unique in that public opinion on pretty much any issue can change in one day due to the announcement of one church’s leadership. And it is my belief that the Mormon Church hates that it is to a great extent considered to be the voice of intolerance and bigotry. I would not be entirely surprised to see the Mormon Church seek to diffuse this impression by having Utah change their constitution to provide some limited measure of rights to same-sex couples.

Beyond that, the only states where I think we hold much hope right now are Indiana, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia and I may well be delusional about those. And, some distance down the road, Ohio, Michigan, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas. As some of these will require reversing constitutional amendments, this won’t be easy or straight forward. Otherwise, the geography doesn’t look good.

Our strategy will likely be to seek increased status in domestic partnership or civil union states. A legislative vote in Hawaii, Delaware and Rhode Island seems likely and 2014 will probably see an effort in Oregon to reverse their constitutional ban. And so on.

The likely eventual scenario is one in which there are states which offer marriage and states which offer nothing. And I believe that at that point, the civil union compromise would be off the table and our fight will be all-or-nothing battles state by state. We will eventually win, but it won’t be easy in Alabama and Texas. Or even Nebraska and Florida.

But I don’t want to leave us in a gloomy spot on this glorious day. Should they not do so before, it is almost certain that after we have won victory in the popular vote in several states, the Supreme Court will discover that there is no asterisk in the Constitution that excludes gay people from the rights granted to citizens (they tend to delay civil justice until there is healthy support). And, if nothing else, time favors us. Younger voters are overwhelmingly supportive of equality.

We have a hard difficult road ahead of us, but yesterday’s voting was the best possible stride down that road that we could have hoped for. We are energized and our opponents are shocked.

Oh what a beautiful day.

Joseph Farah Reacts

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

We’re getting what we deserve:

For many of us, the unthinkable has happened. America has decisively turned the corner away from the constitutional principles of limited government and self-government with the re-election of Barack Obama.

…That’s what Obama represents to me – God’s judgment on a people who have turned away from Him and His ways and from everything for which our founders sacrificed their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. …But, at the end of the day, people generally get the kind of government they deserve. When you turn away from the ways of God Almighty, this is what you should expect, if you are a student of the Bible and history.

…Maybe we deserve this punishment for taking our lifestyles for granted. Maybe we deserve this judgment for our own individual and collective sins. Maybe there’s still time to turn things around because we serve a Creator of second and third chances. One thing is for certain: Our national condition is going to get much worse before it gets better.

Scott Lively Reacts

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

The apocalypse is near:

It’s official, the 2012 presidential election is over and we Americans decided not to downshift into Republican. Instead its now full speed ahead toward the progressive’s Godless Utopian fantasy (aka “the cliff”) with Mr. Obama and the Evil Party.

The good news is that we can all stop pretending that Mitt Romney is a conservative. The bad news is that the Stupid Party will, of course, interpret their loss as a sign they were too conservative and move further to the left. The better or worse news (depending on your theology) is that the age of apostasy is more clearly upon us, which means that the return of Christ is drawing near. These next few months and years will be an exciting time for students of prophesy, and an exceedingly challenging time for all believers as the stand for biblical truth becomes more and more costly.

NOM Reacts

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

Nope. Nothing historic to see here:

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), released the following statement today:

“Obviously we are very disappointed in losing four tough election battles by narrow margins. We knew long ago that we faced a difficult political landscape with the four marriage battles occurring in four of the deepest-blue states in America. As our opponents built a huge financial advantage, the odds became even steeper. We ran strong campaigns and nearly prevailed in a very difficult environment, significantly out-performing the GOP ticket in every state.

Despite the fact that NOM was able to contribute a record amount to the campaigns (over $5.5 million), we were still heavily outspent, by a margin of at least four-to-one. We were fighting the entirety of the political establishment in most of the states, including sitting governors in three of the states who campaigned heavily for gay marriage. Our opponents and some in the media will attempt to portray the election results as a changing point in how Americans view gay marriage, but that is not the case. Americans remain strongly in favor of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The election results reflect the political and funding advantages our opponents enjoyed in these very liberal states.

Though we are disappointed over these losses, we remain faithful to our mission and committed to the cause of preserving marriage as God designed it. Marriage is a true and just cause, and we will never abandon the field of battle just because we experienced a setback. There is much work to do, and we begin that process now.”

From 1961 to 2012: Today’s Victories Were A Long Time Coming

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

Fifty-one years ago today, José Sarria, a drag performer at San Francisco’s famed Black Cat bar, lost his bid for election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Desite the loss, his election was historic as an openly gay candidate stood for election for the first time. Sarria earned nearly 6,000 votes, putting him in nineth place city-wide in a contest for five at-large seats. Ninth out of thirty-four, which mean that, as Sarria later recalled, “From that day on, nobody ran for anything in San Francisco without knocking on the door of the gay community.”

Fifty-one years later, the long-unimaginable happened. A president ended a ban on gays in the military, ordered his Justice Department to stop defending the DOMA, and announced his full support for the rights of everyone to marry. He was re-elected, against a candidate who was against all of those things. Five openly gay candidates for Congress won their races, and for the first time, a lesbian will sit in the Senate. In none of those races were the candidates’ sexual orientation a major issue.

And after voters in 31 states voted to add bans on same-sex marriage to their state constitutions, Minnesota voters stopped the tide and refused to write discrimination into their organizing document. But that’s not all. Voters in three states (assuming the victory in Washington holds) have gone much further than ever before. Citizens in Maine, Maryland and Washington have given their approval to allow their gay and leasbian neighbors to actually begin marrying in the next couple of months. They didn’t just say no to a permanent ban while existing laws continued to prevent gay people from marrying. They changed existing law so that those marriages can take place.

And they did that at the ballot box. Remember how our opponents always said that every time voters weighted in on marriage , they always voted to deny marriage equality? No more. I would love to be sitting in the offices at the Family “Research” Council and National Organization for Marriage right now. They have seen their era end right before their eyes. But make no mistake: they will also steadfastly refuse to acknowledge its importance.

Right now, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to marry. By the end of January, two and probably three more states will join them. But in the best case, less than 16% of Americans will live in states with marriage equality. Yes, that’s nearly a third higher now, but it just goes to show how far we still have to go.

It will be generations, I think, before we can win marriage equality throughout the U.S. at the ballot box. In fact, there are some states where that will never happen; it will also take some key court victories before all Americans are created equal. We will undoubtedly experience more losses and setbacks in the years ahead. But every great movement moves forward one step at a time. This was a big step, but it is only the latest one in a long line of just putting one foot in front of the other. We’ve been doing that for more than half a century. But right now it feels pretty good, now that we’re starting to get the hang of it.

Very strange…

Rob Tisinai

November 7th, 2012

This morning when I opened the door to let out the dogs, a rush of bluebirds and small forest animals streamed inside to make my bed, pick out my clothes, and recycle my big empty bottle of election-night wine.

What could be happening?

Voters Send Record Number of LGBT Pols to Washington

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

“Now, I am well aware that I will have the honor of being Wisconsin’s first woman senator. And I am well aware that I will be the first openly gay member,” Baldwin said to loud cheers and chants of “Tammy, Tammy!” from her supporters. “But I didn’t run to make history. I ran to make a difference.”

Yesterday’s election was a watershed moment for LGBT equality. Not only did voters defeat attempts to deny marriage equality in four states at the ballot box, but a record number of LGBT representatives will be going to Washington to serve in Congress, including the nation’s first openly gay Senator, Tammy Baldwin (D) from Wisconsin. With 99.6% of the vote counted, Baldwin defeated former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) 1,528,941 (51.5%) to ,363,994 (45.9%).

Five other openly gay representatives have won their races for Congress. Returning to Congress are Jared Polis (D-CO) and David Cicilline (D-RI). New gay members include Mark Takano (D-CA), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), and Mark Pocan (D-WI). Pocan made history himself be becoming the first openly gay representative to take over a House seat from another openly gay representative when he won Rep. Tammy Baldwin’s old seat.

Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema (D) leads in a tight race over former Paradise Vally mayor Vernon Walker (R) to become the first openly bi member of Congress. All precincts have been reported, but there are still a number of provisional ballots to be counted, making a final call in that race impossible.

Click here to see the latest results for Congress.

Marriage Equality Wins In All Four States!

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

In the very early morning hours, vote tallies in Minnesota and Washington meant that those two states have joined Maryland and Maine in rejecting attempts by anti-gay activists to deny marriage equality to LGBT couples.

Voters in Minnesota rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, making Minnesota the first state to do so since 2006, when Arizona voters rejected a similar ban. (Arizona voters later approved a narrower ban on marriage only in 2008.) With 99% of the ballots counted, 1,504,189 (51.3%) voted against the Amendment 1 while 1,396,879 (47.6%) who voted for it. In addition, there were 31,886 (1.1%) blank ballots cast for Amendment 1. Those were ballots in which voters marked their choices for other races but left the ballot blank for Amendment 1. Because the Minnesota constitution requires that a proposed amendment pass with a majority of all ballots cast, the blank ballots are effectively count as “no” ballots.

In Washington state,the vote counting continues in the all mail-in state, but the news was also good. Referendum 74 was ahead by 985,308 (51.8%) to 917,197 (48.2%). Because a ballot must be postmarked by November 7, the vote count is likely to continue for several more days, but observers are optimistic that Washington will join Maine and Maryland in choosing marriage equality at the ballot box:

The holdup was King County, which still had tons of ballots to count. Still, with 65 percent of King County voters approving R-74 in the initial count, and that trend likely to continue through the full count, seasoned political watchers were predicting victory. “Fifty-two percent, with King County what it is—it’s still time to call Washington State for marriage equality,” said Governor Chris Gregoire.

Similarly, Matt Barreto, who runs the Washington Poll, projected that R-74 would be approved and added that he expected Jay Inslee to be the next governor. “King County delivered both,” Barreto said.

Gregoire, who had a late-career conversion on marriage equality, called her daughters up to the podium at the Westin and thanked them for changing her mind. “They told me, ‘This is the civil rights issue of this generation,’” Gregoire said. “They’re right.”

In related news, voters in Iowa rejected an attempted recall of Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins, who joined in the unanimous 2009 decision which found denying marriage to same-sex couples unconstitutional. Social conservatives had mounted a fierce retention vote campaign to remove Wiggins from the bench. With 83% of the vote counted, Wiggins was retained with 54% of the vote.

These results represent a colossal, historic loss for National Organization for Marriage, anti-marriage strategist Frank Schubert, and anti-gay activists generally. Even if the decision in Washington should be reversed, this day represents a historic turning point in the fight for equality. Not only did voters defeat an attempt to permanently and constitutionally bar same-sex couples from marrying, but for the first time in history voters gave their approval for the right of their LGBT neighbors to protect their families with the rights and duties of legal marriage. There will be wins and loses to come, but future generations will today as the day in which the politics of division and demonization broke down and failed to do what they had reliably been counted on to accomplish before.  We have just seen history being made before our very eyes.

By the way, NOM has been silent so far. No press releases, no blog post. Just this plaintive tweet from about 11:00 p.m. EST last night:

Here is the latest rundown for all four states:

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 300,336 (53.3%) √
No: 262,820 (46.7%)
75.5% reporting.

Maine’s Secretary of State has up to 20 days to verify election results, and the governor has 10 days to do the same. After that, there is a 30 day delay before the law to goes into effect. Marriage equality will go into effect sometime between December 7, 2012 (30 days after the election) and January 6, 2013 (60 days after the election).

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 1,208,068 (52.0%) 
No: 1,112,998 (48.0%)
97.5% reporting.

Marriage equality will go into effect on January 1, 2013.

Minnesota, Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 1,504,189 (51.3)%  √
Blanks: 31,892 (1.1%)
Yes: 1,396,879 (47.6%)
99.0% reporting.

There will be no change to Minnesota’s marriage law, which currently prohibits marriage between same-sex couples.

Washington, Referendum 74: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 985,308 (51.8)%  √
No: 917,197 (48.2%)
51.3% reporting.

Ballot counting will continue during regular working hours, with updated totals being posted throughout the afternoon for the next several days. If the current lead holds for Ref 74, marriage equality will go into effect on December 6, 2012.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, November 7

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Daytona Beach Pride, Daytona Beach Florida; Gay Day Disney, Hong Kong, China.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
José Sarria Runs for San Francisco City Supervisor: 1961. He lost, of course, but he also won by losing. Before throwing his tiara into the ring, Sarria was better known as a drag performer and waiter at San Fransisco’s Black Cat bar, where he regaled audiences with campy versions of Italian opera. He fought constantly against police raids against gay men and gay bars — he himself had been arrested in an entrapment case. One tactic was for police to raid gay bars and arrest everyone dressed in drag for violating a city ordinance that barred men from dressing as women with “an intent to deceive.” He printed up buttons for drag queens to wear on their dresses reading “I am a boy.” That tactic effectively ended the raids on drag queens.

When Sarria decided to run for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1961, he became the first openly gay candidate for public office in the United States. The elections that year were for five at-large seats in which the top five vote-getters citywide were seated. Sarria almost won by default until city officials put out a call for more candidates at the last minute when they realized what was up. Thirty-four candidates ended up running for the five slots. Sarria’s platform was a simple one:

My platform when I ran was “Equality Before the Law.” The San Francisco Court House had just been built and that was the slogan on it and I said, “This is what my slogan will be. I’m going to take it and shove it right down their throat.” I saw that there were two interpretations of the laws and that they were trying to make gay people second rate citizens. I’ve never been a second rate citizen.

Sarria earned nearly 6,000 votes, putting him in ninth place. While he didn’t make it onto the Board of Supervisors, his 6,000 votes effectively defined a significant voting block which could not be ignored in future elections. Sarria’s loss marked a change in San Francisco city politics as a result. As Sarria recalled, “From that day on, nobody ran for anything in San Francisco without knocking on the door of the gay community.”

Prop 6/Briggs Initiative Defeated: 1978. State Sen. John Briggs had been a part of Anita Bryant’s campaign two years earlier to roll back a gay rights ordinance in Miami, Florida. So when he decided to run for the Republican nomination for California Governorship in 1978, he thought he had hit on the perfect campaign platform: the so-called threat posed by gay teachers in the public schools. He lost the nomination, but managed to get placed on the California ballot Proposition 6, which would have banned gays and lesbians from being teachers. It also would have banned anyone else from teaching, gay or straight, who defended gays and lesbians whether they did so in the schools or outside.

Briggs played to society’s fears of gays as predators to the hilt. He told the San Francisco Examiner, “One-third of San Francisco teachers are homosexuals. I assume most of them are seducing young boys in toilets.” Del Martin, a San Francisco resident who had founded the Daughters of Bilitis in 1955, countered that Prop 6 threatened to unleash a witch hunt that would hurt everyone. “All you have to do is point your finger and say, ‘you’re gay,’” she said. “That kind of thing is as damaging to heterosexuals as to homosexuals.”

In September, Prop 6 looked like a sure thing, with 61% supporting the proposal. But several events conspired to lead to the measure’s defeat: at San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk’s encouragement, thousands of gays and lesbians emerged from the closet for the first time to their friends, families and co-workers; Log Cabin Republicans organized to become a rallying point for other conservative Republicans to oppose the measure; and former Gov. Ronald Reagan came out against it — going so far as to write an op-ed against Prop 6 for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. “Whatever else it is, he wrote, “homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles. Prevailing scientific opinion is that an individual’s sexuality is determined at a very early age and that a child’s teachers do not really influence this.” Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter also came out against it. When election day came, Prop 6 went down in defeat, 42% to 58%.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
John Fryer: 1938. You have John Fryer to thank for that fact that you are not mentally ill. For many years, he was known only as Dr. H. Anonymous, the disguised gay psychiatrist whose talk at an American Psychiatric Association panel on homosexuality is credited for paving the way for the organization’s removal of homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. But friends who knew him knew a complicated man: gregarious and charming, difficult and biting, always intense.

He knew he was gay from the age of fourteen, and did little to hide it through his high school and college years. But when he became a medical intern at Ohio State, he understood that it was in his best interest to keep his sexuality a secret from his superiors. His psychiatric residency at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka only reinforced his closet door. There were only about 100,000 people in Topeka, and if he went to a gay bar there, he was almost certain to run into someone connected with the clinic — either as a patient or an employee. Menninger was a very homophibic place, and Fryer soon became depressed. A supervisor noticed and set him up with free therapy with a psychoanalyst. Fryer went out on the limb and confessed everything to her. “There is only one solution,” she said. “Did you ever think of leaving Topeka?”

Leave he did, to the University of Pennsylvania in 1964. That residency lasted about six months until his supervisor there found out that he was gay. “You can either resign or I’ll fire you.” Fryer accepted six months’ severance and resigned. He ended up working at Norristown State Hospital in northern Philadelphia, where he was given the worst assignment: Building 11 as the only psychiatrist for 400 male patients, and Building 13 which housed the chronically incontinent. Fryrear set up a behavioral program in Building 13 which rewarded patients who controlled themselves with trips to the Poconos. By the time he was finished, he had solved the incontinence problem in Building 13. He also found himself surrounded by staff that could accept the fact that he was gay.

By 1970, he became a part of what was loosely called the Gay-PA, an underground network of closeted gay psychiatrists who attended the annual meetings of the APA. They watched in 1970 when “outside agitators” — Frank Kameny, Barbara Gittings, among others — picketed the APA meeting in San Francisco in 1970 (see May 14). Fryer later recalled, “We in the Gay-PA commented, ‘Isn’t that nice?’ But we weren’t about to do anything that might expose us.”

But things quickly changed for Fryer. The APA asked Barbara Gittings to be a part of a panel on “Lifestyles of Non-Patient Homosexuals.” Barbara’s partner, Kay Lahusen, noticed that the panel had gays who weren’t psychiatrists and psychiatrists who weren’t gay. What the panel needed, she said, was a gay psychiatrist. Fryer recalled:

Barbara Gittings called and said, “John, we need you to be on a panel [in May of 1972],” and I said, “Tell me about it.” She said, “It’s going to be a panel about homosexuality, and we need a gay psychiatrist.” I said, “Sooo . . . ?!” She responded, “Well look, you…um…think about it.”

He had a lot to think about. His father had died and he was between jobs. This was not a good time for him to expose himself, either emotionally or professionally. But he had already been thrown out of one residency for being gay and lost another job for being gay. He knew that his fellow psychiatrists needed to hear about that. So he called Gittings back and said he would do it — on one condition: he couldn’t do it as himself. He would need a disguise. His lover at the time, a drama major, devised one: a formal suit several sizes too big — not an easy task for such a big man to begin with — and a wig and rubber mask that was distorted beyond recognition. He also spoke into a special microphone to disguise his voice.

L-R: Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny, and John Fryer as “Dr. H. Anonymous”

Speaking as “Dr. H. Anonymous,” Fryer spoke opened his talk with the words“I am a homosexual. I am a psychiatrist.” He talked about just a few of the different closets he was forced to hide in: as a gay man who had to hide his sexuality among his professional colleagues, and as a gay man who had to hide his profession among other gay people. “There is much negative feeling in the homosexual community towards psychiatrists,” he explained. “And those of us, who are visible, are the easiest targets from which the angry can vent their wrath.”  He also addressed the “more than a hundred [gay] psychiatrists” attending the convention, urging them to find ways to help change the attitudes of their patients, both gay and straight, towards homosexuality. It would be risky, but “We are taking an even bigger risk, however, not accepting fully our own humanity, with all the lessons it has to teach all the other humans around us and ourselves. This is the greatest loss: our honest humanity.”

The panel was a resounding success. That night, Fryer wrote in his diary:

The day has passed — it has come and gone and I am still alive. For the first time, I have identified with a force which is akin to my selfhood. I am not Black. I am not alcoholic. I am not really addicted. I am homosexual, and I am the only American psychiatrist who has stood up on a podium to let real flesh and blood tell this nation it is so.

The next year, Dr. Robert Spitzer, who was in charge of revising the APA’s Diagnostics and Statistics Manual (DSM) which defined the official list of mental disorders, met with members of the Gay-PA, and those meetings eventually led to the removal of homosexuality from the DSM in 1973.

But for Fryer, life continued to be difficult. After the 1972 APA meeting, he took a job at another psychiatric hospital in Philadelphia. A medical student learned that Fryer was gay — Fryer later hinted that he may have come on to the student but insisted that it went no further — and went to the Administration. Fryer was called in and told, “If you were gay and not flamboyant we would keep you. If you were flamboyant and not gay we would keep you. But since you are both gay and flamboyant, we cannot keep you.” Ironically, that same administrator had sat in the front row at the APA meeting during Fryer’s talk the year before, and had no idea who he was.

Fryer then took a teaching assignment at Temple University. In 1978, he got his associate professorship and with it came tenure. He could no longer be fired. He was free to be out, and he could also, finally tell the full story behind Dr. H. Anonymous. Fryer retired from Temple in 2000, and died in 2003 at the age of 64. In 2004, the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists endowed an award in his name. The first John E. Fryer Award, sponsored by AGLP and given by the APA, was awarded to Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings in 2006 for their role in that fateful APA panel in 1972.

[Source: David L. Scasta. "John E. Fryer, MD, and the Dr. H. Anonymous Episode." Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy 6, No. 4 (2002): 73-84.

Jeanne Lenzer. "John Fryer." British Medical Journal 326, no 7390 (March 22, 2003): 662. Available online here.]

If you know of something that belongs on the Agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Maine’s Question 1 Wins

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

With 46% of the precincts reporting, Maine’s Question 1, which will allow same-sex couples to marry, ha will be approved and become law according to the Associated Press. As of midnight Eastern Time, Question 1 was leading 182,516 to 152,921 (54.4-45.6%).