The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, February 27
February 27th, 2013
Minnesota Legislators To Announce Marriage Equality Legislation: St. Paul, MN. This morning, Minnesota legislative leaders will hold a press conference to announce the introduction of a bill to provide marriage equality to same-sex couples. Speakers include bill authors include Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-61) and Reps. Karen Clark (DFL-62A) and Steve Simon (DFL-46B), United Church of Christ Minnesota Conference Minister Reverend Karen Smith Sellers, and Rabbi Michael Latz of Shir Tikvah Congregation. The bill will be introduced with bipartisan support, with Sen. Branden Petersen (R-36) signed on as co-sponsor. In retaliation, the National Organization for Marriage has pledged to raise $500,000 to defeat him in the next election cycle. The prospects for the bill in the legislature are unclear, but Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) has announced the he would sign the bill if it reaches his desk. The bill will be formally introduced on Thursday. The press conference will take place this morning at 10:00 a.m. in Room 125 of the Minnesota State Capitol.
Events This Weekend: National Student Pride, Brighton, UK; Belgian Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Brussels, Belgium; Cape Town Pride, Cape Town, South Africa; Telluride Gay Ski Week, Mountain Village, CO; Sydney Mardis Gras, Sydney, NSW.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
A Minneapolis Father Discovers Homosexuality: 1955. Cedric Adams was perhaps the most popular radio personality in the upper Midwest throughout the 1940s and 1950s. He was the newscaster for WCCO in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and he hosted several other popular music and talent programs. In the 1950s, he made his transition to WCCO television as its newscaster. Pilots claimed that they could see lights go out each night after Adams signed off his 10:00 p.m. newscast. He also write a daily column for The Minneapolis Star titled, “In This Corner.” On Sunday, February 27, he devoted that day’s column to a letter that he received from a Minneapolis father:
APPALLING INDEED was the story this last week of the 36 shoplifters — 31 girls, 5 boys, all in their teens. Tomorrow the youngsters and their parents will traipse to the police department, loot will be piled up, department store representatives will be on hand to identify the merchandise that has been pilfered. A pretty shocking situation. What the spotlight of public attention turned on the ugly picture will do is conjecture. Will the punishment fit the crime? It’s a good question. We have another situation fully as alarming and as demanding of investigation as the shoplifting spree of the 36 …
I don’t have the answer, but I do have the initial warning that should alert every last one of us to a social danger in our midst. It happened to a father right here in Minneapolis. He was courageous enough to act. He was also astute enough to sense the evil. I hope you will read his letter. It’s one of those that obviously comes from within — shocking it is, and yet so vital. If publishing the letter does nothing more than point a finger at the condition, it will then have served its purpose. Here is the letter exactly as I received it:
“DEAR CEDRIC: My wife and I have two sons and a daughter approximately the ages of your children. We have considered ours a typical American family. The daughter is in high school, the two boys attend college. Very recently I was shocked to learn of a well-established vice condition flourishing and allowed to continue right in our city of Minneapolis. The police so far have done nothing to stop it. Maybe they can do nothing…
“This condition seriously affected the life of my younger son — and perhaps the lives of many other young sons. Because of the distasteful nature of the condition, I am not going to reveal our names. But something corrective should be done…
“Our younger son (we’ll call him Jack) is 20 years old. Until the last few months he has been a regular boy. He has a fine appearance, was a high school athlete, was interested in all sports, even took an active interest in church affairs…
“Recently we noticed Jack had dropped his girl friend as well as his former school and church friends. He began an association with a strange group of fellows. They appeared decent enough outwardly, yet we could detect something that gave the impression they were a totally ‘wrong’ group. Jack spent fewer evenings and week-ends at home. His college studies suffered. In the past, Jack had always brought his problems to the family. Suddenly he had grown apart from us. We felt he was hiding something of which he was ashamed…
“My wife and I were concerned, yet we were determined to let Jack bring his problem to us. He failed to do it. Finally I decided to talk to him. I got nowhere. I suspected Jack had joined a group of dope addicts…
“I hired a reliable private detective in desperation. As a matter of fact, my family physician advised it. I was amazed at the findings of the detective. Jack had not become a dope addict, but instead had falling in with a large group of active homosexuals frequenting several Minneapolis public bars and so-called supper clubs. The detective pointed out that there were police officers in two of the bars during one of his visits. Moreover, he said most of the clubs were operating almost exclusively for homosexuals with just a sprinkling of on-lookers present…
“My wife and I were greatly concerned, as you might well imagine. We wondered if we failed in the proper upbringing of our son. I confronted Jack with the findings and, at the request of our family physician again, we sent our son to a psychiatrist, with whom I visited myself. The psychiatrist informed me that Jack had not been an active homosexual The doctor said Jack’s upbringing had been normal and that it was his opinion he had simply fallen in with the wrong group…
“This group had interested Jack as it had interested many other young sons. These boys were actually ‘taught’ homosexuality just as one learns to become a dope addict, the doctor informed me…
“Jack told us this had been his first experience. He had been introduced to it through another university student. Now Jack is completely ashamed of his venture, he’s proud of his parents once again and has left the group completely. We’re proud of him and happy, of course, to have him back with his family and his former friends…
“But how many other Jacks are there or will there be if this sort of thing is permitted to operate and grow? The detective admitted that these practices had been increasing greatly here within the last few years, that certain bars and clubs are exclusive hangouts for homosexuals, that no curb whatsoever has been placed on them. He supplied me with a list of the places he knew that had been encouraging that kind of patronage. That list I have sent to Mayor Hoyer…
“Our son has been salvaged. It’s my earnest hope that others — all of them — may be, too. I hope you will be fearless enough to do something to bring the whole situation to the attention of both the public and our authorities. Here is a force as deadly in its operation as anything in the world. Something should be done. Can’t you spearhead the drive with publicity at least?”
Signed — A MINNEAPOLIS FATHER.
Remember where things stood in 1955. The Lavender Scare was, by then, five years old, and public attitudes towards gay people had not measurably improved since then. Gays and lesbians were prohibited from federal employment, and were routinely fired from their jobs whenever their sexuality became known. Police departments across the country routinely raided gay bars and even private homes, charging their prey with a patchwork of “lewd vagrancy,” “moral deviancy” and even felony sodomy laws. All, more or less, with the generous backing of the general public.
And so this column posed the danger of unleashing a witch hunt in the Twin Cities similar to anti-gay crack downs in other cities. But for some reason, things were different in Minneapolis. Over the next few days, a remarkable dialogue — remarkable for 1955 at least — took place on the pages of The Minneapolis Star. Check back on March 1 for the next installment of that conversation.
[Source: “In This Corner, with Cedric Adams.” Minneapolis Star (February 27, 1955). As reprinted in ONE magazine, 3, no. 4 (April 1955): 18-23.]
Miami’s Witch Hunt Resumes: 1956. Miami’s longstanding anti-gay witch hunt of 1954 (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7, Sep 15, Sep 19, Oct 6, Oct 20, Nov 12 and Dec 16) appeared to have been dying down, at least according to the papers, which hadn’t had much to report on in, gosh, over a year now, leading The Miami News, the city’s biggest cheerleader for past anti-gay campaigns, to worry that the word had gone out that the “heat’s off”:
Homosexuals Return, Find Heat’s Off Again
Homosexuals are appearing openly again in Greater Miami and making money for the operators of clubs which cater to them.
Several hundred — possibly more than 1,000 — are here this winter and have found that the heat is off from a public protest campaign less than two years ago.
Word now is going back up north that Miami has lifted the barriers once more.
A three-week survey by The Miami News showed that the pervert colony is flocking back in the same places raided consistently during the “purge” of 1954.”
The News then listed five bars “where a News reporter was actually approached,” with at least one with drag performances which some Miami citizens apparently decided was more entertaining than dangerous. “Female impersonators also are an important part of the act at the Club Benni, which draws many non-deviates as well. The News also said that “open homosexuality also was found in several other places” in Miami Beach around 22nd Street with “as many as 100 or more obvious deviates at one time.”
But if the heat was really off, then it’s hard to explain another article which appeared that same day in the same paper:
4 Fined $900 in Roundup of Deviates Here
Four of 15 men arrested in a four-day pervert round-up by Miami police were fined a total of $900 in City Court today.
The roundup, first in Miami this season, started after Miami News reporters began checking known hangouts here and asked police for comments on the situation.
…Police arrested 15 adults and issued two juvenile citations in the pervert probe between Thursday and Saturday last week. Most of the other cases will come up soon in City Court, according to Sgt. R.H. Kellum.
Cracker Barrel Backtracks on Gay Employees: 1991. Earlier in January, it had been revealed that the down-home country-style restaurant chain had fired eleven gay employees after issuing a policy statement saying it “is perceived to be inconsistent with our customer base to continue to employ individuals… whose sexual preferences fail to demonstrate normal heterosexual values which have been the foundation of families in our society.” A manager of a Georgia restaurant fired one of his employees by telling him that the company had adopted a policy of not employing “homosexuals or men who had feminine traits.”
Once gay rights groups learned of the firings, the Lebanon, Tennessee-based company’s chairman Dan W. Evans tried to backtrack in late February, telling The Tennessean newspaper that “a written policy got out that should not have gotten out. We told the gay community that was a mistake, we apologized, (and) rescinded it. As of now, we have no policy regarding gays and lesbians.” But he then went on to contradict his non-policy when he said that openly gay or lesbian applicants wold not be employed in some rural communities where their presence would be perceived as a “disruption.” The company’s vice president also said that the fired employees would not be rehired because they” were a disruption to the store,” and issued a second statement saying, “it only makes good business sense to continue to employ folks who will provide the quality of service our customers have come to expect from us.”
The Tennessee Gay and Lesbian Alliance and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force were not at all satisfied with the response, and called a boycott of the fast-growing chain. Two New York pension funds added to the pressure by refusing to vote to re-elect any of the company’s board of directors in 1992, and shareholders waged a battle over nondiscrimination policies through much of the 1990s. In 2002, the Cracker Barrel board finally added sexual orientation to the company’s non-discrimination policy, and therefore ending the boycott. However, Cracker Barrel continued to get into hot water over other areas of discrimination, including charges in 2002 that restaurants had been segregating African-American customers in smoking sections and denying them service. The Justice Department in 2004 found that Cracker Barrel had violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and and the company agreed to a settlement which, among other things, required the company to hire outside auditors to ensure compliance with the law.
In 2010, Cracker Barrel earned a spot (barely) on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for implementing nondiscrimination policies and diversity training that includes sexual orientation for all of its employees. Cracker Barrel earned a score of 15 points out of a possible 100, a score that has risen to only 35 for 2013.
Pat Buchanan Again Calls AIDS “Nature’s Retribution”: 1992. Presidential nomination races seem to bring out the worst in candidates, and when that candidate is Pat Buchanan his worst can be pretty bad. When he brought his campaign to Georgia, he appeared on conservative talk radio to talk about the topics that were near and dear to his heart: abortion, pornography, and the gay “lifestyle.” In response to a question about AIDS, Buchanan responded, “AIDS is nature’s retribution for violating the laws of nature in many ways. I think the promiscuous homosexual lifestyle is not only wrong, but it is medically ruinous. And I think it is socially destructive.” With this statement, Buchanan picked up a theme that he had been using since at least 1983, when he wrote an op-ed for the New York Post saying that gay people “have declared war upon nature, and now nature is exacting an awful retribution.” (see May 24) One thing that can be said for the man: he certainly has the virtue of consistency.
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And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?