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The Daily Agenda for Monday, April 1

Jim Burroway

April 1st, 2013

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Canada Reduces Criminal Penalty for Sodomy: 1955. Canada enacted the first of a long series of consolidations of its federal statues, with a new amended Criminal Code going into effect on April 1, 1955, which replaced the Section 202 of the old Code:

“Everyone is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life who commits buggery, either with a human being or with any living creature.”

with Section 147, which reduced the penalty from life imprisonment to fourteen years:

“Everyone who commits buggery or bestiality is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.”

The Criminal Code would undergo another round of consolidation and modernization with the Criminal Amendement Act of 1968, which, when it was finally passed in 1969, resulted in the full decriminalization of homosexuality (see May 14).

First Openly Lesbian Candidate Wins Public Office: 1974. For most of the previous decade, politics was the lifeblood of The University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus. In 1964, President Lyndon B Johnson chose that progressive campus to unveil his Great Society proposals during the commencement ceremony. In 1965, the anti-war movement was born when UM faculty members and 3,000 students held the nation’s first faculty-led “teach-in” to protest the Vietnam war. By 1974, protests, demonstrations, sit-ins and teach-ins to support all sorts of counter-cultural causes — civil rights, peace, women’s liberation, marijuana decriminalization, and all sorts of other progressive and radical causes — became mundane events in Ann Arbor’s student life.

And so when Ann Arbor city elections came around in 1974, few eyebrows were raised when a local political party, the Human Rights Party (HRP), ran Kathy Kozachenko to represent the second ward surrounding the UM campus. Republicans, which until then had held a solid lock on city government, couldn’t find anyone to run in the second ward, leaving a lone Democratic candidate to run against Kozachenko. With Kozachenko running openly as a lesbian, it proved to be a tight race. After expressing fears that she might lose on election day, she ended up winning by just nine votes. “This is so goddamn great!” she told reporters. “Our victory cannot be attributed simply to gay people and the HRP ‘core’. I think people really understood the difference between actions and words.” Meanwhile, Kozachenko’s opponent, Mary Richman, gave what was perhaps the most unlikely concession speech in the history of American politics: “Apparently all the Republicans voted for Kathy.” In fact, Kozachenko may have been helped by a successful HRP-sponsored ballot initiative which proved popular with UM students: the so-called “dope ordinance” which reduced the fine for possession of marijuana to $5.

First Gay Couples Marry in Netherlands: 2001. In 1998, the Netherlands became the first non-Scandinavian country to institute registered partnerships (geregistreerd partnerschap). That law was written so that opposite-sex couples could also enter into registered partnerships, making it a viable alternative to marriage for straight people while, at the same time, being the only option available for gay couples. That changed in April 1, 2001, when the Netherlands became the first country in the world to grant marriage equality to same-sex couples. At the stroke of midnight, three couples — two male and one female — were pronounced legal spouses in ceremonies at Amsterdam City Hall.

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?

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