The Daily Agenda for Thursday, April 23

Jim Burroway

April 23rd, 2015

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Philadelphia, PA (Black Pride); Phuket, Thailand; Port St. Lucie, FL; Potsdam, Germany; Tokyo, Japan.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Kansas City, MO; Miami, FL.

Other Events This Weekend: Hill Country Ride for AIDS, Austin, TX; GayCharlotte Film Festival, Charlotte, NC; Rodeo In the Rock, Little Rock, AR; White Party; Palm Springs, CA; Splash, South Padre Island, TX.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:


From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), April 13, 1984, page 18,


25 YEARS AGO: Hate Crimes Statistics Act Signed Into Law: 1990. Following strong support from the Administration and Congress, President George H.W. Bush signed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act into law in a ceremony at the Old Executive Office Building which, for the first time, included LGBT advocates, along with representatives from the ACLU, NAACP, and other groups that had criticized Bush’s record on civil rights. The LGBT representatives were invited only after agreeing not to turn the signing ceremony into an opportunity to protest the Bush administration’s AIDS policies. The law, which requires the Justice Department to institute a program to systematically collect hate crime statistics based on race, religion, ethnic background and/or sexual orientation, was the first federal law to specifically identify gays, lesbians and bisexuals. The Justice Department and FBI have been issuing annual Hate Crime reports since 1992. All reports from 1995 on are available on the web.

Sen. Rick Santorum’s “Man On Dog” Interview: 2003. In an interview printed in USA Today, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) was in the midst of blaming the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandals on liberals and the “right to privacy lifestyle” (which Santorum made abundantly clear that he did not accept), when he cast his eye toward the pending U.S. Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas which would strike down sodomy laws later that summer. Santorum defended sodomy laws and launched his most infamous polemic against gay families:

AP: OK, without being too gory or graphic, so if somebody is homosexual, you would argue that they should not have sex?

SANTORUM: We have laws in states, like the one at the Supreme Court right now, that has sodomy laws and they were there for a purpose. Because, again, I would argue, they undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family. And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does. It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution, this right that was created, it was created in Griswold — Griswold was the contraceptive case — and abortion. And now we’re just extending it out. And the further you extend it out, the more you — this freedom actually intervenes and affects the family. You say, well, it’s my individual freedom. Yes, but it destroys the basic unit of our society because it condones behavior that’s antithetical to strong healthy families. Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, where it’s sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family.

Every society in the history of man has upheld the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. Why? Because society is based on one thing: that society is based on the future of the society. And that’s what? Children. Monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality —

AP: I’m sorry, I didn’t think I was going to talk about “man on dog” with a United States Senator, it’s sort of freaking me out.

The AP reporter wasn’t the only one freaking out. Dan Savage wrote a New York Times op-ed calling Santorum out for his blatant bigotry. Noting that Sen. Trent Lott had lost his post as Senate majority leader over remarks praising staunch segregationist Sen. Stromm Thurmond’s (R-SC) 1948 presidential bid, Santorum was assured of escaping this outrage with no sanctions. “Unlike the former majority leader, Mr. Santorum didn’t slip up and say something in plain English that every good Republican knows must only be said in code. Unlike Republican appeals to racist voters, Republican appeals to homophobic voters are overt.”

Dan Savage, spreading the, er, word at the 15th Annual Webby Awards on June 13, 2011.

But a month later, Santorum’s comments were largely forgotten, except among the LGBT community. Lamenting that “the Santorum scandal didn’t have legs,” a 23-year-old reader of Dan Savage’s “Savage Love” column suggested holding a contest to “‘include’ (Santorum) in our sex lives–by naming a gay sex act after him.” Savage agreed, and invited readers to send in their suggestions. By June, the votes were counted, and a definition was promulgated:

Hey, everybody: We have a winner. Savage Love readers, by a wide margin, want Sen. Rick Santorum’s name to stand for… THAT FROTHY MIXTURE OF LUBE AND FECAL MATTER THAT IS SOMETIMES THE BYPRODUCT OF ANAL SEX! It was a landslide for that frothy mixture; the runner-up, farting in the face of someone who’s rimming you, came in a distant second. So congratulations to WUTSAP, who nominated that frothy mixture, and a big thank you to the thousands who voted.

The definition was created, but it still wasn’t obvious that Santorum’s name would be equated with the aforementioned byproduct. Four months after Santorum’s infamous comments and two months after the definition was created, the neologism was still struggling to catch on. It wasn’t until the end of the year when a new web site was created that SpreadingSantorum ended up becoming the most successful Google bomb in history. And with that, a callow comment which almost faded into history has become the name by which Santorum will be known for the rest of his life.

Ernestine Eckstein, on the cover of the July 1966 edition of The Ladder.

Ernestine Eckstein, on the cover of the July 1966 edition of The Ladder.

Ernestine Eckstein: 1941-1992. She was born in South Bend, Indiana, as Ernestine Delois Eppenger, but she adopted the surname Eckstein for her lesbian and gay activism as protection for times and places when it wasn’t safe for her to be out. She began her activism while attending Indiana University, serving as an officer in the local NAACP chapter. She graduated in 1963 with a degree in magazine journalism and moving to New York where she dropped her work with the NAACP and joined the more progressive Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), the group which had made a name for itself with its Freedom Rides through the South. She also came to understand her own identity as a lesbian. As she explained in a 1966 Interview in the Daughters of Bilitis’s The Ladder:

It’s very hard to explain this, but I had never known about homosexuality, I’d never thought about it. It’s funny, because I’d always had a very strong attraction to women. But I’d never known anyone who was homosexual, not in grade school or high school or in college. Never heard the word mentioned. And I wasn’t a dumb kid, you know, but this was a kind of blank that had never been filled in by anything — reading, experience, anything — until after I came to New York when I was twenty-two. I look back and I wonder! I didn’t know there were other people who felt the same way I did. …

Well, as a matter of fact, I had a college friend who had come here earlier. He was my best friend in college. … And he was a homosexual, but I didn’t know it then, he didn’t tell me. … So when I came to New York he was one of the first persons I looked up. And he said, “Ah…Ernestine, you know I’m gay?” And I thought: well, you’re happy, so what? I didn’t know the term gay! And he explained it to me.

Then all of a sudden things began to click. Because at that time I was sort of attracted to my roommate, and I thought: am I sexually as well as emotionally attracted to her? And it dawned on me that I was. And so my college friend sort of introduced me to the homosexual community he knew. Still, I went through the soul-searching bit for several months, trying to decide if I was homosexual, where I stood.

But then having once decided, the next thing on the agenda was to find a way of being in the homosexual movement — because I assumed there was such a movement, or should be. And at that time I saw the New York Mattachine ads in the Village Voice.

She began attending meetings of the New York Mattachine Society, which led to her introduction to the Daughters of Bilitis, which also had a New York chapter. She quickly saw the parallels between the African-American Civil Rights Movement and the struggle for gay equality. When she was named the New York DoB’s Vice President, she brought an more activistic approach to a group that was often noted for its timidity. As she explained in that same Ladder interview:

Picketing I regard as almost a conservative act now. The homosexual has to call attention to the fact that he’s been unjustly acted upon on. This is what the Negro did. … Any movement needs a certain number of courageous people, there’s no getting around it. They have to come out on behalf of the cause and accept whatever consequences come. Most lesbians that I know endorse homophile picketing, but will not picket themselves. I will get in a picket line…

Ernestine Eckstein can be seen on the left at the third White House demonstration for gay rights, Oct 23, 1965.

Ernestine Eckstein can be seen on the left at the third White House demonstration for gay rights, Oct 23, 1965.

Indeed, she did. Eckstein took part in the first of what would become the Annual Reminder Day pickets at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall (see Jul 4), and she was the only woman of color to demonstrate at the third White House protest later that year (see Oct 23). Her sign read, “Denial of Equality of Opportunity is Immoral,” which neatly summed up her life’s work as an African-American, feminist and lesbian activist. Her appearance on the cover of the June 1966 issue of The Ladder — the issue that included Barbara Gittings (see Jul 31) and Kay Lahusen’s (see Jan 5) extensive interview with Eckstein — brought visibility to the lesbian African-American experience.

Eckstein enlisted Frank Kameny’s help (see May 21 in trying to persuade the national DoB to allow picketing as a pressure tactic. In a letter to Kameny in early 1966, she asked him to speak at a DoB meeting. “I want you to be free enough to say whatever you want, so to speak – about any aspect of the movement,” she wrote. “Keep in mind my particular aim: to get these people to realize there is such a thing as the homophile movement and possibly begin to develop a fuller concept of themselves as part of it.” But the DoB, which was still under the Old Guard’s tight grip, wasn’t interested, and Eckstein had to write Kameny again to say that the organization had declined to invite him to speak. In her Ladder interview, Eckstein voiced her frustrations over the homophile movement’s resistance to rocking the boat:

Generally, NAACP is the most conservative of all civil rights groups. And some homophile groups are the same, with the same sort of predisposition to take things easy, not to push too fast, not stick their necks out too far. For instance, demonstrations, as far as I’m concerned, are one of the very first steps toward changing society. The NAACP never reached this stage — or at least not until it was pushed into at least giving lip-service to demonstrations by other Negro organizations. And I think that in the homophile movement, some segments will have to be so vocal and so progressive, until they eventually push the ultra-conservative segments into a more progressive line of thinking and action.

She also was frustrated that the organization was spending so much of its time and energy to what she called “the personal problems of its members”:

This getting involved in individuals’ problems is a factor that has held back some of the homophile groups quite a bit, I think. My feeling is that there are certain broad, general problems that we all have as homosexuals, across the board so to speak, and we should concentrate on those -the discrimination by the government in employment and military service, the laws used against homosexuals, the rejection by the churches. The kinds of things that touch us all, affect us all, or substantial segments of the homosexual population, rather than things that simply touch individuals.

By 1968, Eckstein had grown tired of the constant disagreements within the DoB over tactics and strategy. She left New York in 1968 and moved to Northern California, where she joined the radical Black Women Organized for Action (BWOA) in Oakland.Beyond that, little else about her is known. In fact, most of what we know about her comes from that Ladder interview, except that she passed away on July 15, 1992 in San Pablo, California, at the age of 51.

[Source: Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin (pseud. of Kay Lahusen). “Interview with Ernestine.” The Ladder 10, no. 9 (June 1966): 4-11.]

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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