The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, November 5
November 5th, 2013
Illinois Legislature Resumes Veto Session: Springfield, IL. The second half of the Illinois legislature’s veto session begins today, giving State Rep. Greg Harris has just three days to call for a vote on the marriage equality bill that has already passed the Senate. Harris has said that he will only call for a vote when it has the sixty votes needed to pass. Some marriage equality supporters are calling for a vote regardless; at least everyone will know where things stand, they reason. Due to some arcania in Illinois law, if the bill passes with 71 votes then it can take effect thirty days after it’s signed into law. Otherwise, it won’t take effect until June 1, 2014. Weird, huh?
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Los Angeles Times Picketed over Refusal to Run Ads With the Word “Homosexual”: 1969. In October, the Homosexual Information Center sponsored the production of a one act play, Geese, followed by a panel discussion at the Coronet Theater on La Cienega Blvd. The Times refused to run an ad for the vent, citing their policy against printing the word “homosexual.” Outraged by the refusal, Don Slater (see Aug 21), John Hanson and Morris Kight met with the Times’ editorial board on October 29. Paul Rothermell, the administrative assistant in charge of advertising, reiterated that the Times was “a family paper” and that no changes would be made to the paper’s longstanding policy. Kight remembered, “They showed us a list that contained child molesters, rapists, axe murderers, homosexuals, and so forth. We asked why we were on that list; we weren’t a part of that. And they stood up and said we could either accept it or not.”
Accept it they didn’t. One week later, the crew returned to the Times headquarters with pickets in hand. According to their press release, “The Times by its attitude shows that it is cold and indifferent to the efforts of homosexuals to improve their legal and social position in America.” The release also noted that the Homosexual Information Center — with Homosexual prominently a part of its name — was a legally chartered California corporation. “The Times might like to forget that there are some 200,000 homosexuals living in the Los Angeles area … these men and women will not go away simply because the Times shuts them out of its advertising vocabulary.”
Local radio and television covered the protest, along with just about every other paper in the Los Angeles basin, eager to embarrass the competition. But the Times didn’t budge. Later that afternoon, the Times’ executive editor, Robert D, Nelson, issued a statement: “The Times cannot accept advertisements which, in our judgment, fail to meet the standards of acceptability which we have established and which apply to all advertising copy. We feel that it must be our responsibility to make the final decisions as to what is acceptable for publication.”
What made the Times’ policy particularly odd is that the previous March, the paper carried a reasonably well-balanced and sympathetic front page story on the Los Angeles gay community. The word “homosexual” appeared in the sub-headline and eleven more times on the front page, as well as scores more times in two more inside pages. Nevertheless, the Times’ advertising policy remained firm for the next six months until, without fanfare, the Times ran an ad in April for the film Song of the Loon, with ad copy that proclaimed it “a homosexual classic” in big, bold type. It’s hard to say exactly what prompted the Times’ about face, but it came out just as Slater learned that the Times was buying the Dallas Times Herald, which also owned KRLD radio and TV, and threatened to organize a letter-writing campaign to the FCC to block the sale.
[Sources: Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 94-95.
Todd White. Pre-Gay L.A.: A Social History of the Movement for Homosexual Rights (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2009):191-192.]
First Openly Gay Candidate Elected to State Legislature: 1974. Elaine Noble, an “avowed Lesbian” in the parlance of the day, made history when she became the first openly gay candidate to win a seat in a state legislature. She won her seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives with 59% of the vote. When she decided to run, she was pressured to hide her sexuality. “There was a lot of pressure from some of my supporters in the community not to mention it,” she told reporters after her win. “But I thought it was necessary to state that politically. I mean, we’re not purple, right? … I figured the worst thing that can happen is that I lose.”
And so she listed among her qualifications in her campaign literature her master’s degree from Harvard, her membership in the Women’s Political Caucus, and her radio program “Gay Way” on a local FM station. She focused her campaign on neighborhood issues: crime, health care, housing for the district’s many elderly residents, and neglect in city services. She later described the campaign as “very ugly.” Her windows were shot out, her car was vandalized, and windows were broken out at her campaign headquarters. The harassment continued even after she took office. She had to deal with obscene profanities, and at one time human feces were left in her desk. But when she stood for re-election two years later, she won with almost 90% of the vote.
San Francisco Bans AIDS Discrimination: 1985. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a measure forbidding the firing or eviction of anyone because they had AIDS, and would prohibit others from requiring AIDS tests. The move came after similar bans were enacted in Los Angeles and West Hollywood.
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And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?