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The Daily Agenda for Monday, April 22

Jim Burroway

April 22nd, 2013

TODAY IN HISTORY:
State Department Fires One Homosexual Every Two Days On Average: 1953. In testimony before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, Undersecretary of State Donald B. Lourie testified that the State Department was firing upwards of five employees a week on grounds that they were security risks. Of those, he said, about one every two days were fired on grounds of homosexuality. Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), who had been leading a three year Red and Lavender Scare campaigned, commended Lourie and Scott McLeod, department security chief, for “doing a good job.” He added, “I think it’s unfortunate that the public doesn’t know what a painstaking job of housecleaning is being done.” Sen. Allen Ellender (D-LA) asked why the State Department seemed to have so many more homosexuals on its payroll than other departments. Lourie replied that maybe they wanted “to get away from home” and go abroad to countries where homosexuality is “condoned.” Lourie didn’t explain which countries in 1953 condoned homosexuality.

“Conquering AIDS” Op-Ed in the New York Times: 1983. The epidemic was coming on its two year anniversary, and as of April 13, 1983, 1,339 people had been diagnosed with AIDS, with 505 known deaths recorded. Nearly half of them were in New York City. Dr. Kevin M. Cahill, director of the tropical disease center at Lenox Hill Hospital, became alarmed at the lack of action, both on the part of federal officials as well as New York’s City Hall under Mayor Ed Koch. Cahill attributed that lack of urgency to “politicians (who) handled the epidemic with unaccustomed wariness. Almost without exception, public leaders evaded the epidemic issue, avoiding even the usual expressions of compassion and concern. The victims’ sexual orientation apparently made involvement risky,and the politicians directed their courage and energies elsewhere.” Cahill wondered why the medical community was “strangely absent” as the disaster escalated:

When a fatal infection struck down veterans attending an American Legion convention, health professionals across America joined in the search for a solution. When women using tampons became ill with toxic-shock syndrome, medical centers immediately focused their enormous talents on that problem. But when the victims were drug addicts and poor Haitian refugees and homosexual men, no major research programs were announced. Until it became clear that the disease could spread to the general population through blood transfusions, organized medicine seemed part of a conspiracy of silence.

Cahill applauded the “many instances of individual courage” by physicians, nurses and technicians who took up the fight with “a quiet dignity and decency that deserves special respect.”

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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