The Daily Agenda for Thursday, April 25

Jim Burroway

April 25th, 2013

ENDA To Be Reintroduced In Congress: Washington, D.C. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act will be introduced once again in both houses of Congress. According to Metro Weekly:

ENDA will be introduced in the House and Senate with bipartisan support. Merkley will be joined by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) as original sponsors of the bill. In the House, Polis and Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fl.) will introduce the bill. If approved by both chambers, President Barack Obama would sign the bill into law, thus prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity nationwide.

ENDA is expected to move quickly through the Senate, but there are serious doubts that it will go anywhere in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Events This Weekend: Hill Country Ride for AIDS, Austin, TX; Purple Party, Dallas, TX; AIDS Walk, Kansas City, MO; Rodeo in the Rock, Little Rock, AR; AIDS Walk, Miami, FL; Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Miami, FL; Philadelphia Black Pride, Philadelphia, PA; Splash South Padre, South Padre Island, TX; Tokyo Pride, Tokyo, Japan.

Miami Police Reveals It Keeps Tabs on 3,000 Homosexuals: 1962. Florida Gov. C. Farris Bryant convened a conference in Miami for area law enforcement officers to discuss the “serious and growing problem of homosexuality and other sexual perversions in the state.” The governor’s spokesman, Vernon Williams, addressed the conference, saying “The governor feels a diligent effort is required on the part of all agenc’ ies to curb the growth of homosexuality. But it s not our intention to start a witch hunt.” Williams had no need to announce a new witch hunt, as the Miami area and much of Florida had waged a rather long-standing witch hunt against gays for much of the prior decade, with Williams himself commenting that those investigations discovered gay people “in the ranks of university professors, Sunday school teachers, and Scout leaders, among other professions.”

Williams wasn’t the only one discussing the results of various witch hunts. Closer to home, Dade County sheriff Thomas Kelly told the gathering that Metro police maintained a list of 3,000 local persons “suspected of being practicing homosexuals.” He told the gathering that the list was comprised of people “from 8 to 80,” and that they “tend to stay in groups and had many contacts throughout the county. … I feel that these people are sick.”

Gay Protesters Arrested At Philadelphia’s Dewey’s Malt Stand: 1965. Dewey’s on 17th Street in Philly’s Center City was a popular hangout, but the clientele disturbed the owners who decided to refuse service to those they deemed unworthy. First, it was “rowdy teenagers,” then it was those exhibiting “improper behavior” which some employees took to mean gay people and those wearing gender-variant clothing. On April 25, two teen boys and one teen girl were refused service. But instead of getting up and walking out, they remained seated and refused to leave. They were arrested along with Clark Polak, a gay rights leader, and found guilty of disorderly conduct.

The Janus Society, an early Philadelphia gay rights group, had joined with several other east cost gay activist groups to form the East Cost Homophile Organization (ECHO), which, in a 1964 conference, agreed to engage in more direct actions, including protests, to confront provocations against the gay community. That agreement had already spawned two planned protests in April: the first ever pickets for gay rights in Washington D.C. at the White House (see April 17) and in New York at the United Nations (see April 18). The Janus Society saw the sit-in at Dewey’s as the perfect opportunity to put ECHO’s new-found commitment to direct action to work in Philadelphia by organizing a five-day protest and leafleting campaign. Over 1,500 pieces of literature were distributed in front of the malt stand while gay rights leaders negotiated with the restaurant’s management. On May 7, protesters staged another sit-in. Management called police, but this time police determined that they had no authority to force the protesters to leave. After an hour, management gave in and agreed to “an immediate cessation to all indiscriminate denials of service.” It is believed to be the first documented instance when a sit-in was held in support of LGBT rights.

St. Paul Voters Overturn Gay Rights Ordinance: 1978. In 1977, a proposed state anti-discrimination law failed to pass the Minnesota legislature. That defeat, which occurred just three weeks before voters in Dade County, Florida voted down a similar measure that had been passed by the Miami-Metro government, emboldened anti-gay activists at St. Paul’s Temple Baptist Church to turn their attention to that city’s three-year-old gay rights ordinance. Pastor Richard Angwin, in launching the petition drive to put the ordinance’s repeal on the ballot, stated frankly, “I don’t want to live in a community that gives respect to homosexuals.”

Anita Bryant, fresh off her victory in Miami-Dade, joined the fray along with her husband, Robert Green. A week before the vote, Anita Bryant failed to show up at a rally, saying that she didn’t feel well. Some suspect that the pie throwing incident in Des Moines the previous fall may have unnerved her. Green showed up in her place and urged the crowd of 10,000 to stand against the forces of “moral breakdown of this nation,” saying “the devil is really working overtime.” Turnout was heavy for the special election, and St. Paul voters defeated the the gay rights ordinance by more than a two-to-one margin.

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?

Jonathan Oz

April 25th, 2013

The Janus’ society’s action took real guts, particularly in 1965. I had never heard of the event, and am extremely impressed.

Doug Johnson

April 25th, 2013

The original ENDA failed, in part, because transgender people insisted on including “gender identity” in the legislation, despite the fact that it didn’t have the votes to pass with that added. So thanks very much, trangenders, for making sure gays got nothing.

It’s a good thing for blacks that gay activists didn’t insist that Congress include “sexual orientation” in the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

With GOP control of the House, it might be 10 years before this legislation passes.


April 26th, 2013

“So thanks very much, trangenders, for making sure gays got nothing.”

um, to that I say politics, schmolitics. Also, that is pure transphobia and with my First Amendment right to free speech I say that I find that kind of thought FUCKED UP. We are ALL a community, trans AND bi AND gay/lesbian AND all the others just looking to live honest lives. Our transgender kindred, in spirit and by blood, are STILL at the mercy of society in a way that we LGBs were trying to overcome STILL JUST A FEW SHORT YEARS AGO. INJUSTICE ANYWHERE IS A THREAT TO JUSTICE EVERYWHERE. As a person of color and a gay person, I for one cannot understand how some falling in the LGB umbrella, who ALL have felt the influence of bias on their lives, can throw the trans community under the bus like that. It is NOT right and again I say it is FUCKED UP to attack our fellow trans people because of the feelings YOU get from your own twisted view of what fairness and equality should entail.

Richard Rush

April 26th, 2013

Doug, I’m gay, not transgender, and furthermore, I don’t personally know any transgender people (that I know of). But I would again insist that gender identity be included in ENDA – because I think it’s the right thing to do.

Look, I’ve been living as gay since the summer of Stonewall (1969), so I’ve pretty much lived it all. The sickening truth in the US is that unpopular groups only receive civil rights after they have managed to become fairly popular. The US Supreme Court doesn’t lead, they follow. While I don’t know the number of transgender people, I doubt that there are enough of them to effectively wage a civil rights battle by themselves. Knowing what we gays have been through, I think it would be shamefully disgusting for us to throw them under the bus.

b, I totally agree with you.

Priya Lynn

April 27th, 2013

Thanks so much B and Richard. : )

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