The Daily Agenda for Monday, April 27

Jim Burroway

April 27th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From High Gear (Cleveland, OH), April 27, 1976, page 8.

From High Gear (Cleveland, OH), April 27, 1976, page 8.

“A Closer Union Than That Of Most Marriages”: 1892. Mary Grew was the daughter of the Baptist preacher Henry Grew of Boston, who, after moving to Hartford, co-founded the Hartford Female Seminary and the Hartford Peace Society, which became a part of the larger New England Anti-Slavery Society. The elder Mary followed her father in his abolitionist footsteps. In 1840, she accompanied her father to the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. But the convention’s most severe debates centered not on slavery, but whether women should be permitted to participate in the conference. The elder Grew sided with the conference organizers who demanded that women be excluded. Mary’s exclusion, which was supported by her own father, opened her eyes to the need to join the cause of women’s suffrage.

Grew dedicated her life to feminism and abolitionism, the latter cause shifting to civil rights for African-Americans following the civil war. Her lifelong companion, Margaret Burleigh, also joined Grew in both causes. They shared a home and bed together until Burleigh’s death in December, 1891. The following April, Grew responded to a sympathy note from fellow suffragist Isabel Howland, herself involved in a relationship with another woman. That may explain Grew’s opening lines in her thank you note:

Your words respecting my beloved friend touch me deeply. Evidently you understood her fine character; & you comprehend & appreciate, as few persons do, the nature of the relation which existed, which exists, between her & myself. Her only surviving niece, Miss Ella Jones, also does. To me it seems to have been a closer union than that of most marriages. We know that there have been other such between two men, & also between two women. And why should there not be. Love is spiritual, only passion is sexual. …

Why do we speak of those who have “gone up higher,” as though they were of the past? They live more really, more fully, than ever before; & they love us with a firmer, tenderer, nobler love. …

And I have the comfort & confident hope that my time on earth is nearing its end; for I am eighty-seven years old. I try to wait patiently. I do not feel wholly separated from her who was so large a part of my life.

[Source: Jonathan Ned Katz. Gay/Lesbian Almanac: A New Documentary (New York: Harper & Row, 1983): 230-231.]

Eisenhower Signs Executive Order Banning Gays from Federal Employment: 1953. By the time Dwight D. Eisenhower began his first term as president, an anti-gay witch hunt had been going on steadily for three years. When Undersecretary of State John Peurifoy, testifying before the US Senate Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Department, revealed that 91 employees “in the shady category” had resigned since 1947 (see Feb 28). Republican Senators took that admission to allege that President Harry Truman’s administration’s employment of “sexual deviants with police records” was recklessly endangering the country’s national security. The Republican Party’s national chairman warned 7,000 party members that, “Perhaps as dangerous as the actual Communists are the sexual perverts who have infiltrated our government in recent years.” (See Apr 18).

So when Eisenhower took office in 1953, he was keen to demonstrate that he wouldn’t be soft on the pansies. Three months after becoming President, Eisenhower invited Sens. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), William Jenner (R-IN), Frank Carlson (R-KS) and Reps. Harold Velde (R-IL) and Edward Reese (R-KS) — all of them longtime communist and homosexual hunters — to brief them on a new Executive Order, known as Executive order 10450 mandating that all federal employees who were determined to be guilty of “sexual perversion,” among other offenses, be fired.

This new Executive Order represented a massive expansion of the Truman Administration’s security and loyalty programs. The Truman policies had only applied to ten federal agencies and a limited number of positions that dealt with classified information. It guaranteed the employee the right to counsel and a right to know the charges against him (although not necessarily his accuser, which typically made cross-examination impossible). It also allowed for an appeal to a review board. Eisenhower’s Executive Order dispensed with all of that. An employee’s fate now rested solely with the department head, and if the department head fired him, he stayed fired. The order also applied to everyone in federal employment, and not just those deemed to be in “sensitive positions.” It no longer matter whether the employee was a diplomat, a typist, a switch board operator, or a cook.

As The Los Angeles Time described it, the “tough new loyalty-security program (is) designed to rid the government of homosexuals, alcoholics and ‘blabbermouths,’ as well as employees deemed subversive and disloyal. The Executive Order deemed all of those categories “security risks,” regardless of whether they were actually disloyal or not. ONE magazine, the first national gay magazine in the U.S., worried about the order’s far-reaching consequences:

Every item in the new standards can be used to hound and harry not only every homosexual in government and in basic industry, but all his friends, acquaintances, and associates, be they homosexual, homosexually inclined, bi-sexual, or heterosexual. Further, every name breathed as fact or as rumor, whether they be National Security employees or not, goes into the National Security files for cross-referencing to Armed Services Files and the local records of the Communities in which they live, towards another day of total mobilization, or a National Registration Act, whichever is first.

For the homosexual, to be loyal is not enough. The homosexual is required to be 100% anti-homosexual as well. He must agree, by taking a loyalty oath, to subvert the Constitution of the United States (which is not his to subvert) and testify against himself. Then, as a homosexual, he must testify against his own decency and integrity thereby making possible acts of aggression against every person he has ever known. Then, having destroyed himself as a person not only to the community but to his own conscience, he is to be tossed aside as a basic security risk by one or all of the five standards of the Security Program.

The homosexual’s life is no longer a private matter to himself. It has become political by Presidential order.

More than 640 federal employees would lose their job because of allegations of homosexuality over the next year and a half. Unknown numbers of others resigned quietly. State and local governments and government contractors followed suit, tossing countless more innocent Americans out of their jobs.

The ban on gays and lesbians in federal employment would continue for the next two decades. In 1973, a federal judge ruled that a person’s sexual orientation alone had no bearing on an individual’s ability to perform his or her job, and it could not be the sole reason for termination from federal employment. But even with that ruling, the U.S. Civil Service Commission held out until 1975 before finally changing their policies and allowed gay people to work in federal jobs (see Jul 3).

[Additional source: Anonymous (“R. Noone”) “You are a public enemy.” ONE 1, no. 5 (May 1953): 5-7.]

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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