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“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Federal judge finds Missouri ban unconstitutional

Timothy Kincaid

November 7th, 2014

A few days ago a state judge found Missouri’s anti-gay marriage ban to be a violation of the US Constitution. The ruling is under appeal at the state Supreme Court, but is not stayed in the interim.

Today a federal judge, Ortrie D Smith, has come to the same conclusion.

Smith has stayed the Federal ruling until it passes appeal, but the state ruling continues to allow for marriage licenses to be issued. There is some uncertainty as to whether the state ruling applies to the entire state, but at present those Missouri couples wishing to marry may get their license in St. Louis and have it recognized throughout the state.

In Other News — Sun Rises, NOM Takes Credit

Jim Burroway

November 5th, 2014

NOM puffs its chest over yesterday’s elections:

“Marriage won an overwhelming victory last night,” said Brian Brown, president of NOM. “In red states and blue, candidates who supported marriage as the union of one man and one woman won election and those who didn’t were rejected by voters. The Republican Party should take note that their nominees who favored gay ‘marriage’ were opposed by NOM and they were resoundingly defeated.”

A Prediction

Rob Tisinai

November 4th, 2014

A hundred years from now, Christians will proudly recall how they fought for LGBT rights at the beginning of the 21st Century, and if anyone reminds them of Christian opposition to our equality, they will reply, “But that was a FALSE Christianity!” So it happened with slavery, so it will happen with gays.

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, November 12

Jim Burroway

November 12th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Buenos Aires, Argentina; Gotland, Sweden; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Tromsø, Norway.

Other Events This Weekend: International Gay Rodeo Convention, Denver, CO; Maspalomas Winter Pride, Maspalomas, Gran Canaria; Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, November 21, 1973, page 30.

From The Advocate, November 21, 1973, page 30.

 

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

According to Yelp, the Pub is has recently closed. Chris and I were in Santa Barbara yesterday, but we didn’t have a chance to check it out. Instead, we were playing tour guide for my mother and her husband, who had flown down to Tucson from Ohio for the next week. On Monday we made the drive from Tucson to Santa Barbara — complete with a rush-hour traffic tour through L.A.

Yesterday, we had a much more relaxing day, visiting the old mission at Santa Barbara, followed by a stop at La Purisma in Lompoc before stoping again for the night last night in San Luis Obispo. This morning, we’ll take a quick gander at the old mission in SLO before heading up California 1 to Big Sur. I hope to get in some tacky time at the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. If all goes well, we may make it to Carmel or Monterey tonight.

La Purissima, Lompoc, CA

La Purissima, Lompoc, CA

And the Purisma Longhorn

And the Purisma Longhorn

 

The November 1954 issue of ONE.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
60 YEARS AGO: Miami’s Anti-Gay Mayor Writes To Gay Magazine: 1954. Miami’s witch hunt against gay people wasn’t just the subject of headlines in South Florida (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 15Aug 16Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7, Sep 15, Sep 19, Oct 6 and Oct 20). ONE magazine, the pioneering Los Angeles-based gay magazine was paying close attention and relaying events to its national audience. In its November 1954 cover story, Jim Kepner (writing as Lyn Pederson) brought ONE’s readers up to date with a complete chronology beginning with the murder of a 27-year-old Eastern Airlines flight attendant, William T. Simpson and the police’s discovery of a gay community  with a “nominal head of the colony — a queen” (see Aug 3). Kepner mocked the investigation: “Pulling two and twaddle together, detectives guessed if Simpson hadn’t been the queen, perhaps he’d been a sort of royal pretender, killed by his rival.” But after recounting all of the events that followed, Kepner warned that what was happening in Miami was no laughing matter:

The Miami story illustrates what trumped up hysteria can do in a few weeks to any city in the United States. Corrupt politicians and opportunistic demagogues can endanger any community that permits itself to be herded into pogrom. …And one begins to realize that by all the requirements, the fantastically large minority of homosexuals is perhaps the top candidate for any new and large scale witch hunt In America.

Now that homosexuality has become mentionable in polite society, the social balance can be seen quickly shifting as society tries to decide what new attitude it must take to the problem. It seems certain to this author that the shift will be fast, and the new attitude drastic, and that it will determine in large part the extent to which this nation remains a free and open society.

If Miami had caught the attention of ONE, it can also be said that ONE also caught Miami’s attention as well. The Miami News published a front-page article in August on “how Los Angeles handles its 150,000 perverts.”: “In California the homosexuals have… established their own magazine and are constantly crusading for recognition as a ‘normal’ group.” On November 4, ONE wrote a letter to Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz, who was leading the anti-gay witch hunt. We don’t know what that letter said, but Aronovitz replied on November 12. Based on the Mayor’s reply, it appears that at least one of ONE’s objectives was to take Aronovitz to task for his proposal to try to shut down the city’s gay bars (see Sep 15Sep 19Oct 6 and Oct 20). Whatever other objections ONE may have raised, Aronovitz’s reply remained limited to just that one item. That reply was printed in ONE’s January 1955 issue:

Mayor Aronovitz’s letter and ONE’s response (ONE, January 1955, page 36).

November 12, 1954.

One, Inc .
232 South Hill Street
Los Angeles 12 , California

Attn: Mr. Marvin Cutler , Secretary
Bureau of Public Information

Gentlemen:

In reply to your letter of November 9th, this is to advise that I have never advocated harassing homosexuals or other deviates. I have always insisted that the lowest form of human being is the individual who while operating a public business violates many laws and caters to homosexuals for the purpose of taking advantage of other human beings.

Miami is not required to provide a haven for the homosexuals and deviates of the nation and therefore, if you will keep informing the nation of this fact, I will be much obliged.

Yours very truly,
(signed)
Abe Aronowitz,
Mayor

ONE recounted several statements that Aroniwitz had uttered over the past several months and concluded, “The editors of ONE feel that the above statement by the Mayor of Miami is slightly at odds with statements attributed to him by the MIAMI DAILY NEWS.” As for providing a haven for the homosexuals of the nation, ONE curtly observed: “Editorially, we might also point out to the Mayor of Miami that it is quite possible that some of the homosexuals in Miami might have been born there.”

[Sources: Lyn Pedersen. “Miami Hurricane.” ONE 2, no. 11 (November 1954): 4-8.

Unsigned. Letter from Mayor Abe Aronowitz. ONE 3, no. 1 (January 1955): 36.]

45 YEARS AGO: Gay Liberation Front Protests Time Magazine: 1969. The cover story of Time magazine two weeks earlier (see Oct 31) continued to weigh heavily on the minds of New York’s gay activists. The article said a few nice things about gays — it included a few comments from New York Mattachine member Dick Leitsch and Washington Mattachine founder Frank Kameny to represent gay people. But it also included quotes by Dr. Charles Socarides and a man he claimed to have cured. (Socarides would go on to co-found NARTH in 1993.) Those views and the article might have been acceptable if it had appeared just a year earlier, but in November of 1969, just four months after the Stonewall Rebellion, members of the Gay Liberation Front saw no need to sit by while so-called “experts” cast judgments on their mental health and moral beliefs. Many in GLF were particularly angry because they had cooperated with the writer, only to find the article emphasizing the old tired stereotypes, particularly of gay men.

On November 12, members of the Gay Liberation Front and the Daughters of Bilitis picketed the Time-Life building and handed out leaflets to passers-by. They read, “In characteristic tight-assed fashion, Time has attempted to dictate sexual boundaries for the American public and to define what is healthy, moral, fun, and good on the basis of its own narrow, out-dated, warped, perverted, and repressed sexual bias.” But due partly to the cold and snowy weather, the protest didn’t attract much attention, save for some jeers from construction workers across the street and a very brief mention during the eleven o’clock news on the ABC affiliate.

[Source: Edward Alwood. Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 97-98.]

The most feared Man on Capitol Hill.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Mike Rogers: 1963. “The Most Feared Man On Capitol Hill” is known for his ability to snoop out closeted anti-gay politicians and expose them long before the mainstream media catches on. Rogers’s targets have included Virginia Congressman Edward Schrock, Idaho Senator Larry Craig, and former RNC chair Ken Mehlman. Some have criticized him for it, but he says what others call “outing” he calls “reporting.” In 2009, Rogers appeared on a local Washington, D.C. news program with host Doug McKelway, who criticized Rogers and said that he would like to “take you (Rogers) outside and punch you across the face.” Rogers demanded an apology, but never got one. Ask him his favorite movie, and he will answer Outrage, the 2009 documentary by Kirby Dick which discusses the hypocrisy of closeted politicians who work against the gay community.

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, November 11

Jim Burroway

November 11th, 2014

World War I Navy recruitment poster attributed to P.N. Leyendecker (Click to enlarge.)

Today is Veterans Day, the day set aside to honor all armed forces veterans — all of them, including LGBT veterans. The chosen date, November 11, marks the date and time of the armistice which ended the Great War, 11/11 at 11:00 a.m. The date was originally known as Armistice Day in 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed:

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.

An advertisement for Cannon Towels during World War II. (Click to enlarge.)

In 1938, Congress made Armistice day a permanent annual holiday as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.” After the end of the Second World War, Armistice day was expanded to honor all veterans, not just those of World War I. Congress officially changed the name of Armistice day in 1954 to Veterans Day.

Many other countries continue to observe this date as either Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, where observances combine the recognition of living veterans with commemorations of those who died (more akin to our observance of Memorial Day in late May). In many British Commonwealth countries, Remembrance Day is also known as Poppies Day, after the red poppies in the poem “In Flanders Fields” which bloomed on some of the worst battlefields of Flanders. The poppies’  brilliant red color is symbolic of the blood that was spilled.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Blade (Washington, DC), November 6, 1981, page A-16.

From The Blade (Washington, DC), November 6, 1981, page A-16.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Woman Who Posed As Man 60 Years, Dead: 1907. That was the headline in The Trinidad (Colorado) Advertiser above this news item:

Katherine Vosbaugh, who for sixty years posed as a man, wearing male garb, living the rough life of the pioneers in the Southwest and who even “married” another woman, died yesterday morning at the San Raphael Hospital in this city, where she had been a county charge since he secret of her life was discovered by Dr. T.J. Forham, of this city two years ago.

Born nearly four-score years ago in France of a good family, this remarkable woman donned male garb when but a slip of a girl, came to America and worked as a bank clerk, bookkeeper, restauranteur, cook, and sheep herder for over half a century without her sex being known.

In July, two years ago, “Frenchy,” a cook and sheep herder on the Sam Brown ranch, near this city, was taken with pneumonia and brought to the hospital where her secret was revealed. Even then, this strange woman refused to wear skirts. Clad in regulation man’s attire, she has since worked about the hospital and was known by the nickname of “Grandpa.”

Katherine Vosbaugh was left an orphan at the age of twenty years. Her father, a well educated man of considerable means, gave her an excellent business education. At her death she was an expert accountant and spoke her native tongue, English, German, and Hungarian. Her only motive in assuming the disguise at first seems to have been to enable her more easily to secure employment.

She worked in several cities all over the country before settling at Joplin, Mo., where she worked for fifteen years as a bank clerk, and it was in this city where she married. The name of her “wife” was never learned, but the ceremony seems to have taken place for the purpose of saving the woman’s good name. A few months after the marriage a child was born to the wife, which died after a few months.

Shortly after the death of the child the two women came to this city and opened a restaurant on Commercial street. Here she was known as “Frenchy” and the establishment was one of the most popular restaurants in the Southwest.

What became of “Frenchy’s” wife is not known. She drifted away and her “husband” refused until the time of her death to reveal the woman’s name.

After leaving here the woman secured a position as cook on a big sheep ranch near Trinche ranch. The eccentricities of youth became more pronounced as she grew older and more and more she came to look like a man. For years she lived with men on the ranch, cooking for them, assisting them in the ranch work, and sleeping in the same rooms, but her secret was never suspected.

Two years and four months ago she was stricken with pneumonia, and it was then that her secret was discovered. Since then she failed rapidly in body and mind and her death was due to a general breakdown.

Two days later, another story appeared in local papers:

Woman Laid to Rest in Attire of Man

Trinidad, Colo., Nov 13 — In compliance with a request made a few days before her death, the remains of Katherine Vosbaugh, who for sixty years wore male attire without her sex being discovered, were laid to rest yesterday in the Catholic cemetery garbed in male attire. Two sisters of charity and two strange women were the only attendants at the simple services held i the chapel of the undertaking company.

[Source: Jonathan Ned Katz. Gay/Lesbian Almanac (New York: Harper & Row, 1983), pages 323-324.]

An exceptionally rare photo of early members of the Mattachine Foundation. Pictured are Harry Hay (upper left, Apr 7), then (l-r) Konrad Stevens, Dale Jennings (Oct 21), Rudi Gernreich (Aug 8), Stan Witt, Bob Hull (May 31), Chuck Rowland (in glasses, Aug 24), Paul Bernard. Photo by James Gruber (Aug 21). (Click to enlarge.)

First Meeting of the “Society of Fools” (Mattachine Foundation): 1950. Harry Hay (see Apr 7) had been kicking around the idea for several years. In 1948, he attended a party near the University of Southern California attended by gay men who supported the presidential campaign of Progressive Party candidate Henry Wallace. Sometime during the evening, a discussion ensued of Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, which had been published earlier that year (see Jan 5). Someone brought up the Kinsey statistic that said that 37% had experienced at least one homosexual encounter and that 10% were more or less gay. To Harry, who had cut his teeth as a Communist and labor organizer, this seemed like an extraordinarily large number of people just waiting to be organized. That night, he he began drafting a five-page proposal, “The Call,” which envisioned an organization for the “androgynes of the world.” His first effort, Bachelors for Wallace, didn’t get anywhere. His second attempt, to form a Kinsey discussion group, also fizzled.

But the third time was the charm. Hay continued revising “The Call,” which by 1950 envisioned an International Bachelors Fraternal orders for Peace and Social Dignity:

We, the androgynes of the world, have formed this responsible corporate body to demonstrate by our efforts that our psychology and psychological handicaps need be no deterrent in integrating 10 percent of the world’s population toward the constructive social progress of mankind.

In July, 1950, Hay met Rudi Gernreich (see Aug 8), a professional dancer and soon-to-be famous fashion designer from Austria. Gernreich read “The Call” and told Hay, “It’s the most dangerous thing I’ve ever seen and I’m with you one hundred percent.” They took another stab at organizing a homosexual organization by distributing sixty copies of “The Call” at a gay beach below the Palisades. That, too, ended in failure. Gernreich then encouraged Hay to approach Bob Hull (see May 31), a student in Gernreich’s music class, and Hull’s friend and former lover, Chuck Rowland (see Aug 24).  Hull then shared the idea with his then-current boyfriend, Dale Jennings (see Oct 21).

On November 11, the five met at Hay’s home on Red Hill in Silver Lake and formed the “Society of Fools,” with lofty ambitions. Hay’s forward-thinking contribution was to envision the group as a means of unifying “an oppressed cultural minority.” To Hay, being gay was more than just having sex. It was a way of life, with unique cultural aspects akin to an ethnic minority. Not everyone saw things that way. Jennings, for example, opposed the idea, contending that gay people were just exactly like everyone else except for who they wanted to have sex with. There was nothing special about being gay itself, and the issue wasn’t cultural liberation for gay people. For him, the real issue was sexual freedom for everyone regardless of whether they were gay or straight. This controversy would carry on for much of the next two decades. But the real underlying importance of the new group, as Rowland later explained, went much deeper.

“To me, the gay culture idea was the cornerstone of the Mattachine. …we wanted to change the laws, and that was and is a worthy objective. But changing laws  laws is almost meaningless unless one changes the hearts of men, both homosexual and heterosexual, and the heart change is, to me, what the Mattachine was all about.”

The new society, initially, was in danger of going the way of the earlier attempts at organizing as they struggled to find new members. People would show up for a meeting but fail to return. April of 1951 would bring a turnabout in the young group’s fortunes when Konrad Stevens and James Gruber (see Aug 21) joined and brought with them a new sense of urgency. Gruber also suggested the group rename itself the Mattachine Foundation, in honor of the medieval masque troops known as “matachines” (originally spelled with one “t”), whose role it was to stand up and speak truth to power without regard to direct consequences. Hay loved the idea, Jennings scoffed and thought it was silly, but the group decided to accept Gruber’s suggestion, and for the next three years, they were the Mattachine Foundation.

[Sources: James T. Sears: Behind the Mask of the Mattachine: The Hal Call Chronicles and the Early Movement for Homosexual Emancipation (New York: Harrington Park Press, 2006): 113-120.

C. Todd White. Pre-Gay L.A.: A Social History of the Movement for Homosexual Rights (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2009): 16-19.]

Six Year Old Child Has An Odd Trait: 1960. That headline was given for a column titled “Child Care” by Dr. Milton I. Levine and Jean H. Seligmann, in which a mother writes in about her cross-dressing son. Naturally, it’s the parents’ fault:

(Q) “My son is 6 year old and has a peculiar trait which has me very worried. He likes to dress up on girls’ or women’s clothing. I have two older daughters aged 9½ and 11 and he loves to wear their clothes whenever he gets the chance. He says theirs are much nicer than his. One day I found him in one of my dresses walking around in my high-heeled shoes. I am terribly frightened that he may be abnormal when he is older. What can I do? He seems normal otherwise and plays equally well with both boys and girls. He sees his father a little in the evenings and his father is home every weekend.”

Mrs. T.R.D.

(A) The desire to dress in the clothes of the opposite sex is fairly common in young children, but is a tendency which should not be encouraged. Sometimes this activity continues on into adult life when it becomes more and more difficult to change.

Although a child or adult prefers the clothes of the opposite sex, this does not necessarily mean that the person is a homosexual. As a mater of fact, in the vast majority of cases studied these children grew up with normal sex desires. But undoubtedly there are some who do become homosexual.

We do not know enough about your home environment or the manner in which your son has been brought up to say just why he likes to dress in female attire, but there are a number of possible causes. Sometimes boys feel their parents really wanted a girl and they try to act or look like one. Boys who live in a home atmosphere which is largely feminine may want to dress like women. (We know of instances where boys have been allowed to dress like girls without any objection from their parents.) If a boy is too close to his mother, or if he hasn’t enough contact with his father, he may want to dress like a woman to be like his mother.

Be sure your son feels the importance of being a boy. He should know that both you and his father wanted a son and are happy he is a boy. He should be discouraged from wearing girls’ clothes but not teased or laughed at. He should get a great deal more attention from his father who should encourage him in male interests. He should look more and more to his father as his model.

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?

The Daily Agenda for Monday, November 10

Jim Burroway

November 10th, 2014

IMG_0518.JPGTucson held its annual All Souls Procession through the streets of downtown last night. The procession began in the 1990s as a participatory performance art event inspired by the traditional Dia de los Muertos observances held throughout Mexico on All Souls Day (Nov 2). But over the past three decades, it has mushroomed into a gigantic grass-roots celebration with an estimated 100,000 participants. The parade itself is barely organized — it’s mostly just people deciding to dress up, maybe build a few props, decorate some art bicycles, and join in. The procession ends with a performance at the old Mercado, with arial acrobats, musicians and the traditional burning of a giant urn filled with small scraps of paper containing prayers and remembrances. The entire experience is a mixture of solemnity, whimsy, irreverence and creativity, and it can only be found in Tucson.

My mother and her husband flew down from Ohio to spend about a week and a half with us last week. (Between that and long hours of work, it’s why I’ve been AWOL on this blog.) Chris and I brought them to the Procession last night, and this morning we’re taking off for a road trip to Big Sur in California. Which means I’ll continue to be more or less out-of-pocket for another week. I may post a few photos through the week.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, July 12, 1979, page 12.

From The Advocate, July 12, 1979, page 12.

Before Grindr and Scruff, before the rainbow spinning wheel and the waiting hourglass, before the blue screen of death, computers held the promise of solving all of our problems with mathematical precision down to the umpteenth decimal point. Things didn’t quite work out that way, but I did manage to meet my partner of 11 years online back in the gay.com days.

Sir Francis Galton

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
Homosexuality and the Social Hygiene Movement: 1917. The theories behind the Eugenics movement were formulated by Sir Francis Galton, half-cousin of Charles Darwin. Drawing on Darwin’s theories of evolution, Galton sought to create a practical application of those theories in his 1883 book, Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development, in which he suggested that, through carefully considered interventions, the human condition could be improved. He coined a word for these theories, Eugenics, from the Greek words for “good” and “born,” and he emphasized the inheritability of positive and negative traits, both through genetics and through environmental factors. In addition to Eugenics, which took a more narrow genetic human-husbandry approach to improving the population, his ideas also launched a broader “social hygiene” movement which had many positive influences: the regulation and eventual abolition of child labor, mandatory and free primary and (eventually) secondary education, workplace health and safety rules, anti-tenement ordinances, pre-natal care, food safety regulations, immunizations, sanitation, and birth control — although the latter, in some of its manifestations, also had its negative qualities as well, particularly where forced sterilization of “undesired” population groups were concerned.

Eugenics was the dark side of the social hygiene movement, as was its “racial hygiene” component which simply provided a weak scientific gloss over longstanding prejudices and racial policies against “race-mixing.” While not everyone involved in social hygiene programs were eugenicists, there were a great degree of crossed influences between the two areas, and the boundaries between them weren’t very clear. Indeed, few at the time thought that the boundaries needed to be clear; Eugenics didn’t become a toxic topic until the Nazis took those ideas to their more extreme yet logical conclusions.

Dr. William Alanson White

An interesting example of less toxic forms of social hygiene theories can be found in a textbook published in November 1917 by William Alanson White, a professor of nervous and mental diseases at Georgetown University and superintendent at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for the Insane. In The Principles of Mental Hygiene, he touched on a large number of topics, including homosexuality. That passage is particularly striking because of the way White described homosexuality according to its impact on “the herd.”

THE HOMOSEXUAL

This social group, like the others, is a complex and heterogeneous one and one, too, that we have only recently come to study scientifically. Perhaps no group of individuals have suffered from less understanding, have been treated with greater lack of consideration, than this group. The antipathic emotions have held almost complete sway and so have made the scientific approach to the problem practically impossible. The history of society’s attitude towards the homosexual is much the same as the history of its attitude towards the prostitute except that it has, if possible, been more completely dominated by the antipathic emotions.

Homosexuality has come of late to have a much broader meaning than that usually connoted by the popular speech. It means that degree of attraction for the same sex which turns the individual aside on the path towards a heterosexual goal and therefore away from those activities which naturally lead to procreation and are therefore race-preservative. The term by no means necessarily connotes actual concrete acts of sexual perversion. In this large sense it is readily seen why it should be tabooed by the herd. Its tendency is destructive to the interests of the herd as a biological unit and therefore the reaction against it. The reaction of hate and its congeners is the instinctive way of self-protection and must necessarily precede any judicial, intelligent attitude based upon scientific knowledge which can only come in the course of development when instinct shall have been controlled and directed by reason.

As already intimated, the homosexual group is a large and complex one and we are only beginning to be able to approach its problems with a clear scientific vision, but as we are able to do this we come more and more to an appreciation of how widely this particular type of inefficiency is distributed. Again, therefore, we come to appreciate the emphasis which I have all along put upon the necessity for studying the individual in order that he may be dealt with for what he is rather than perfunctorily classified with this or that social group just because, and for no other reason, the accident of circumstance has found him momentarily identified with it. Distinct homosexual types are found among the insane, the criminal, the feeble-minded, the epileptic, the vagrant, etc., etc., so that we must come to realize that it is a type of reaction, not a label to distinguish a given individual from all others, and try in our investigations to evaluate the part it has played in the social inadequacy of the particular individual under consideration.

Viewed in this way it becomes a problem like all the others and the objects of treatment come out clearly instead of being befogged by a haze of emotion.

The homosexual reaction should be corrected if possible. Psychotherapy is the most hopeful way of approach. Failing this the individual should be taught to use his energies as best he can based upon an understanding of himself. The ideal, next to cure, would be a direction of the energies into socially useful channels, which direction would at the same time afford an adequate fulfilment (sic) of the individual.

Homosexuality, in the broad sense here used, is found as a type of reaction in a great many conditions which constitute or lead to social inadequacy. It, therefore, offers a natural barrier to procreation of the socially inadequate classes the immense value of which, to the herd, has not been appreciated. It is, so to speak, a natural means of sterilization.

[Source: William A. White. The Principles of Mental Hygiene (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1917): 208-211. The book is available in PDF and EPUB versions for free via Google Books here.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
90 YEARS AGO: Phyllis Lyon: 1924. The Oklahoma native earned a degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley in 1946 and worked as a reporter for a California paper before moving to Seattle to work at a trade magazine in 1950. That’s where she met the love of her life, Del Martin (see May 5). They became a couple in 1953 when they moved to San Francisco together. “We really only had problems our first year together,” she later told The Washington Post. “Del would leave her shoes in the middle of the room, and I’d throw them out the window.” Del responded “You’d have an argument with me and try to storm out the door. I had to teach you to fight back.”

Their life together was all about fighting back. In 1955 Phyllis and Del, along with six other women, formed the Daughters of Bilitis, the first national lesbian organization in the U.S. (see Oct 19). Phyllis was the first editor of the DOB’s groundbreaking newsletter, The Ladder from 1956 to 1960, when Del took over. Pseudonyms were common then, and Phillis edited The Ladder as “Ann Ferguson” for the first few months, but she killed her alter ego in an editorial encouraging readers not to hide (see Jan 20). By October 1957, they had 400 subscribers across the country. In 1964, Phyllis and Del helped found the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, bringing together national religious leaders and gay and lesbian activists for a national discussion of gay rights. Phyllis became the first open lesbian to serve on the board of the National Organization for Women in 1973. Phyllis and Del were also active in San Francisco’s Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club.

On February 12, 2004, Phyllis and Del married for the first time when San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom ordered that marriage licenses be granted to same-sex couples. That marriage lasted until August 12, but not because the couple split up. That was when the California Supreme Court voided several thousand marriage licenses given to same-sex couples. Del and Phyllis were deeply dissapointed. “Del is 83 years old and I am 79,” Phyllis said at the time. “After being together for more than 50 years, it is a terrible blow to have the rights and protections of marriage taken away from us. At our age, we do not have the luxury of time.”

Phyllis Lyon (right) and Del Martin (left) married in San Francisco in 2008, just a few months before voters approved Proposition 8.

But they had the luxury of just enough time. They were married again on June 16, 2008 after the California Supreme Court ruled that prohibiting same-sex marriage was against the state constitution. Del and Phyllis were given the honor of being the first same-sex couple to be married, and they wore the same outfits in which they were first married in 2004. Del passed away two months later, on August 27, 2008.

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?

 

The Daily Agenda for Sunday, November 9

Jim Burroway

November 9th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, Indianapolis, IN; Palm Springs Pride, Palm Springs, CA; Mazipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic; Bear Pride, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Our Comminity (Dallas, TX), October 1971, page 9. (Source.)

From Our Comminity (Dallas, TX), October 1971, page 9. (Source.)

Dr. Paul Blocq

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
120 YEARS AGO: “They Cannot Whistle”: A European Overview of Sexual Inversion: 1894. Most original thought on homosexuality in the nineteenth century was being published in Germany and France, where obscenity laws declined to interfere with what was billed as “scientific” material. The same was not necessarily true in Britain or the U.S., where authorities were more strict about what could be published. But if a publication first appeared abroad in a foreign language, its translation into English and publication in journals and books sold exclusively to the medical professions was typically allowed. This had the effect of stifling the study of sexuality in Britain and the U.S. and giving the new science of sexology on the continent a multi-decade head start. Consequently, late nineteenth century American and British medical professionals were still dependent on French, German and Italian sources for information on sexuality. And so the November 1894 edition of the American journal Physician and Surgeon included this lecture by Dr. Paul Blocq from Paris on the topic of “sexual inversion”:

It is important, first of all, to explain what we mean by sexual inversion, and show how it differs from the other perversions of the genital instinct. We may arrange these aberrations in three classes: (1) Where the instinct is abolished, impotence and agenisis. (2) When it is exaggerated, satyriasis and nymphomania. (3) Perversions. This last class includes onanism, fetichism, masochism, and sadism. Then comes inversion, which may be defined as a sexual attraction between individuals of the same sex — homo-sexuality. In man we may, according to [Albert] MOLL, give it the name of uranism, keeping the expression, pederast (sodomist) for the group of persons who practice coitus in ano. In woman it is called tribadism, saphism or lesbism [sic], according to the method they may employ to produce the sexual orgasm. [All parentheticals and italics in the original, bracketed info added.]

Acknowledging that “the medical study of this state is quite modern,” homosexuality itself has existed in Biblical times “and in the ancient history of different nations.” He reviewed the European literature on homosexuality (Richard von Kraftt-Ebing (see Aug 14), Heinrich Kaan, Albert Moll, Julien Chevalier, Carl Westphal (see Mar 23), among others), and concluded — not by science but solely by way of analogy — that homosexuality was a pathological condition:

Take hunger, for instance: it recalls to the normal organism the want of food, but of course we know plenty of states where this instinct is wanting and yet the stomach is in a normal condition. It is probably the same in a man whose sexual organs are in a normal state and yet his instinct is perverted. That is to say, it is easy to understand that the genital instinct can present the same abnormalities that the other functions do. Nevertheless, the objection will be made that a person in good health is pushed by nature to perpetuate his species, and one cannot qualify as morbid the absence of sexual desire when its reproduction is possible, for it is known that some uranists have had wives and had children by them. But take up the comparison again. We can see also that there is no sufficient reason for denying the pathological nature of inversion in these facts, for no one, for instance, will deny that the absence of appetite is pathological whether the  organism receives the usual quantity of food or not, and the default of sexual propensity is likewise a pathological fact whether coition is possible or not.  The comparison is possible also with those persons who have a taste for indigestible substances, such as chalk, lead, et cetera. These are pathological tastes and yet the normal one for nutritive substances may and often does exist with this state.

That is what passed for science in the late nineteenth century and well into the twentieth. His descriptions  of gay men is equally based on impressions rather than rigorous scientific study:

The first thing noticed in such patients, as a rule, is effeminacy. This modifies the physiognomy, voice, attitude and walk. It must not be supposed, though, that all persons who act and walk like women are of this class, n0r that there are not any uranists who preserve the normal appearance of man. It is only to be remarked that many of them take the woman type, or at least they imitate it and make efforts to reproduce it artificially by shaving off the beard or moustache, some going so far as to have it pulled out (epilation). If they have not naturally a soprano or alto voice they will try to cultivate one. [Karl] ULRICHS states that they cannot whistle but this sign is not proven. …

They will adopt ladies’ silk stockings, high heeled boots and even wear corsets. The furniture of their rooms will show the same tendency, with a profusion of fans, toys, and perfumes. Some of them will even work at crochet and women’s needlework. GYURKOWECHSKY [?] says that they resemble women more than men by their caprices, changeableness, and facility for telling lies (not gallant) while they have an excessive prudery.

Their intellectual state is not, however, as a rule bad, as they have been known to direct large business enterprises with some ability. They possess a real aversion to women and never approach them if possible. …

As to their sexual feelings, they make ‘psysical manifestations of inversion by making the actual love they seem to feel to the person they have chosen and express their passion just as normal men do for the women of their choice. They seem to feel the same passion as men do for women and express it strongly in letters of which many hundreds are extant. … According to their own confessions they know one another by an oblique look of the eyes, but this sign is certainly very indefinite.

What caused this condition?

A large number of theories have been proposed to account for the genesis of this state. [Paulo] MANTEGAZZA thinks that it is anatomical in its origin. For instance, in passive sodomists, the nervous filaments which should be distributed to the genital organs are given off to the rectal mucous membrane, but there is no demonstration given of this idea. As the normal excitation of these nerves comes from the brain and cord it is more likely that [Valentin] MAGNAN and [Eugene] GLEY are in the right in thinking that it is a corticle trouble. KRAFT-EBING [sic] is also of this opinion, and while we have no confirmation of it by post-mortems, still, it is a possible explanation of the state. Personally, we share the ideas of [Albert] MOLL, who thinks that there is an abnormal genital instinct in these cases simply because this instinct in degenerated subjects is their locus minoris resistentiæ.

Once a diagnosis is made, what should the physician do then?

About treatment:– Two indications present themselves. In some of these subjects there is a sort of hyperesthesia of the genital organs and this must be met by proper medication. Warm douches, bromides, and camphor combined with lupulin are useful drugs, and in the other cases one can insist on their returning to the normal as regards sexual life. Sometimes this is best carried out by suggestion without hypnotism. Surgical intervention by castration has been suggested.

[Source: Paul Blocq. “Sexual Inversion.” Physician and Surgeon 16, no. 11 (November 1894): 549-553. Available online via Google Books here.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Kate Clinton: 1947. The Syracuse native was raised in a large Catholic family, got her degrees from a hometown Jesuit college and Colgate University in Hamilton, and worked as a high school teacher for eight years. She came out of her closet and began her standup comedy career in 1981, using all of that background, plus her lesbianism and liberal politics, as fodder. (She described her closet has having “a foyer, a turnstile and a few locks.”) It wasn’t easy at first finding mainstream clubs willing to hire a lesbian comedian, but she nevertheless was able to find a receptive audience in the LGBT community through her recordings, including Making Light! (1982), Making Waves! (1984), Live at the Great American Music Hall (1985), Babes in Joyland (1990), Comedy You Can Dance To (1998), Read These Lips (2001), The Marrying Kind (2004), and Climate Change (2008). She has also authored three books — Don’t Get Me Started, (2000), What the L (2005), and I Told You So (2010)– and she’s appeared on Broadway for The Rocky Horror Pictures Show (2001) and The Vaginal Monolagues (2002). She and her partner Urvashi Vaid have been together since 1988, and they currently live in New York City and Provincetown.

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?

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, November 8

Jim Burroway

November 8th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, Indianapolis, IN; Palm Springs Pride, Palm Springs, CA; Mazipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic; Bear Pride, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, May 1982, classified section, page 15.

From The Advocate, May 1982, classified section, page 15.

I’ve acquired quite a collection of vintage Advocates, among other newspapers and magazines from across the U.S. and a few from Europe. Each issue inevitably tells at least one interesting story about the times, either through its articles or the ads. And then there are the pages like this one, which tell us a little something about a previous reader of that particular paper, not so much by what’s in it but by what’s not.

Gladys and Mame (the “bitch and the butch”), two lesbians from the TV episode “Flowers of Evil”.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
40 YEARS AGO: Police Woman “Flowers of Evil” Episode Airs: 1974. When NBC’s hour-long action drama Police Woman starring Angie Dickinson began airing in 1974, it was so popular that even its reruns in the spring and summer of 1975 ranked number one in the Nielsen ratings. It was first successful police drama to feature a woman in the starring role. Dickinson’s unabashed sex appeal, undoubtedly, played a far greater role in its success than the plot lines themselves. One particularly odious episode, “Flowers of Evil,” had Dickinson’s character, Sgt. Pepper Anderson, investigating a trio of lesbians who run a retirement home where they murdered and robbed their elderly residents.

To add insult to injury, the Police Woman episode aired one month to the day after a similarly negative plot line appeared on ABC’s Marcus Welby, M.D., in which a child molester was portrayed as gay (see Oct 8). Police Woman’s “Flowers of Evil” was originally scheduled to air on October 25, but after the National Gay Rights Task Force organized national protests and advertisers began canceling, NBC pulled the episode for re-editing. But with the filming wrapped up, the edits were mostly cosmetic. After the episode aired on November 8, TV Guide called it “the single most homophobic show to date.” A week later, a group known as Lesbian Feminist Liberation occupied NBC’s Standards and Practices office overnight, unfurled a banner from an office window reading “Lesbians Protest NBC.” Advocates continued to negotiate with NBC for several more months, and NBC finally agreed in 1975 to not rebroadcast the episode during re-runs and to withhold it from syndication. The “Flowers of Evil” episode did re-appear again, but only after thirty years had passed, in the Season 1 DVD box set where in today’s context it can be safely viewed as a historic and cultural artifact.

Harvey Milk taking the oath of office.

Harvey Milk Elected to San Francisco Board of Supervisors: 1977. Newspapers across American carried this two-paragraph news item a few days after election day:

Homosexual Elected to Supervisors’ Board

San Francisco (AP) — Harvey Milk Tuesday became the first avowed homosexual to be elected to the city’s board of supervisors, some 25 years after he was discharged by the navy when it learned he was gay. Mr. Milk, 47, a camera store owner, said Wednesday, “I’m a symbol of hope for gays and all minorities. My election, against all the odds, shows that the system can work and that there is hope.”

Mr. Milk defeated a field of 17 candidates which included several other gays and former San Francisco 49ers football player Bob St. Clair.

This was Milk’s third run for Supervisor. He lost in 1973 and 1975 when all six Supervisor seats were elected in city-wide at-large elections where the top six vote getters joined the board. He also ran for the State Assembly in 1976, but lost in a close race. In 1977, San Francisco switched to single-member districts, and Milk won a seat on the Board of Supervisors on his third try.

Networks Reject PFLAG Ads as Offensive: 1995. Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays created at least three television ads to address the effect of anti-gay rhetoric on bullying and suicide. (According to Commercial Closet, the ads were this, this, and this – but only the last one matches the descriptions provided in news reports.) One of those ads, “Guns,” featured a teenage girl rummaging through her parents’ bedroom looking for a gun. Another ad featured a young man being beaten by bullies (that ad does not appear to be online.) Those images were disturbing enough. But what made the ads particularly controversial was that intercut between those images were video clips of Rev. Jerry Falwell, Rev. Pat Robertson, and Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC). The “Guns” ad, for example, went like this:

(Young woman enters her parents’ bedroom)
Jerry Falwell: Homosexuality is moral perversion and is always wrong. God hates homosexuality.

(Young woman frantically searchers dresser drawers and linen closet)
Pat Robertson: Homosexuality is an abomination. The practices of these people is appalling. It is a pathology. It is a sickness.

(Young woman finds a gun in a cedar chest)
Jesse Helms: A lot of us are sick and tired of all of the pretenses of injured innocence. They are not innocent.

(Young woman holds gun and cries.)
Announcer: It is estimated that thirty percent of teenage suicide victims are gay or lesbian.

(PFLAG logo appears)

The ad drew a direct threat from Bruce Hausknecht, associate general counsel for Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcast Network. “The spots contain defamatory material and cast Pat Robertson and CBN in a false light by implying that Pat advocates/promotes heinous crimes against gays or directly caused the suicide of one or more homosexual persons. This is outrageously false and severely damaging to the reputation of Dr. Robertson and this ministry.” Hauskenecht warned that if the ads were aired, CBN would “immediately seek judicial redress against your station,” including injunctions and monetary damages. As a result, the ads were rejected by eight stations in Washington, D.C., Tulsa, Houston and Atlanta, and by CNN, which had tentatively accepted them for Larry King Live. Some of those stations did accept the companion ad depicting the young man being beaten.

PFLAG criticized stations for not airing the ad. Pointing out that talk radio was filled with anti-gay statements on a regular basis, PFLAG’s board president Mitzi Henderson said, “These people (Falwell, Robertson and Helms) are particularly accessible and public. We think they’re representative of a variety of sources. … We wanted to say, ‘Wake up and join us in opposing hate speech.’”

PFLAG executive director Sandra Gillis said that Tulsa, Atlanta and Houston were chosen “because they’re heartland America. Mainstream, middle Americans are not an intolerant lot. They don’t realize the level of abuse and violence against gays and lesbians.” She said the campaign’s message was “watch your words. They can create a climate in which violent people think their violent action is okay.”

Charles Demuth, Self Portrait, 1907.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Charles Demuth: 1883-1938. An important modernist watercolorist and oil painter, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania native studied at Drexel University and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine arts before moving on to Académie Colarossi and Académie Julian in Paris. While in Paris beginning in 1907, Demuth became part of the avant-garde scene as one of the first American painters to embrace modernism.

That exposure proved profoundly influential but Demuth didn’t stay in Paris long, just a little over a year. On returning home, he began a relationship with a longtime friend from Lancaster, decorator-designer Robert Evans Locher, a relationship that would last for the rest of Demuth’s life.

Demuth returned to Paris again in 1912, where he met the painter Marsden Hartley (see Jan 4). The two became lifelong friends. Hartley introduced Demuth to Gertrude Stein (see Feb 3), Ezra Pound, and Leo Stein. Demuth’s esthetic ideas were further sharpened on his return to American in 1914, where he became close associates with the gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz and artists Georgia O’Keefe and Marcel Duchamp. His first solo exhibit was that same year, at the Daniel Gallery in New York. Later, he would exhibit regularly in Steiglitz’s gallery, where his work was purchased by such important collectors as Louise and Walter Arensberg, Ferdinand Howald, and pharmaceutical industrialist Albert C Barnes.

Charles Demuth, Turkish Bath with Self Portrait, 1918

While Demuth traveled frequently to Provincetown, New York, Philadelphia and, occasionally, to Europe, Lancaster would always be his home base. While in New York, he frequented the Lafayette Baths, which likely inspired his 1918 homoerotic Turkish Bath with Self PortraitIn 1919, Demuth began a series of paintings inspired by the architecture and industrial landscape of Lancaster. These larger-scale paintings, which represented a kind of a simplified Cubism established Demuth as an important Precisionist artist which anticipated modern regionalism styles of the 1920s and 1930s.

Demuth returned to Paris in 1921, but ill health forced his return home, where he was treated for diabetes. He become one of the first people in the U.S. to take regular insulin injections, and Barnes often footed the bill for his sanitarium stays. But the debilitating effects of diabetes would plague him for the rest of his life.

Charles Demuth, I Saw the Figure 5 In Gold, 1928.

From the mid- to late 1920s Demeth produced a series of symbolic “poster portraits,” which were intended to depict several of his friends. His most famous painting of this series, I Saw the Figure Five in Gold, was inspired by his friend William Carlos Williams’s poem “The Great Figure.” The Wall Street Journal’s Judith Dobrzynski described its importance:

It’s the best work in a genre Demuth created, the “poster portrait”. It’s a witty homage to his close friend, the poet William Carlos Williams, and a transliteration into paint of his poem, “The Great Figure”. It’s a decidedly American work made at a time when U.S. artists were just moving beyond European influences. It’s a reference to the intertwined relationships among the arts in the 1920s, a moment of cross-pollination that led to American Modernism. And it anticipates pop art.

He created other poster portraits to honor several of his friends: Gertrude Stein, Eugene O’Neil, Georgia O’Keefe, and Marsden Hartley among them.

Charles Demuth, My Egypt, 1927.

In 1927, Demuth returned to his Lancaster landscapes, producing some of his iconic My Egypt (1927), Buildings, Lancaster (1930), Chimney and Water Tower (1931), and And Home of the Brave (1931).  Those paintings today are regarded as among the most notable achievements in American art. His last painting in the series, After All, was completed in 1933. By then, the ravages of diabetes were taking their toll. Demuth finally succumbed in 1935 at the age of 51. Demuth’s house on King Street in Lancaster was bequeathed to Locher, who lived there until his own death in 1956.  The home is now a museum.

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?

The Daily Agenda for Friday, November 7 (Updated)

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2014

I have an update on the history of lesbian literature added to the bottom of Lisa Ben’s biography.

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, Indianapolis, IN; Palm Springs Pride, Palm Springs, CA; Mazipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic; Bear Pride, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Ladder, August 1960, page 25.

From The Ladder, August 1960, page 25.

“Frankie and Johnnie” was a popular song from 1904, which tells the story of a woman named Frankie who shoots her man, Johnnie, after discovering him in bed with another woman. Based on a true story of a murder in St. Louis in 1899, “Frankie and Johnnie” has been recorded by hundreds of artists, including Lead Belly, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Johnny Cash, Lena Horne, Elvis Presley (who sang it in the 1966 film Frankie and Johnny), Taj Mahal, Sam Cooke, Van Morrison and Stevie Wonder. Lisa Ben’s rendition however as a parody, with the lyrics changed to tell the story of two gay lovers:

Frankie and Johnnie were lovers
Lordy, but how they could camp.
Swore to stick to one another
Just like two wet postage stamps;
He was his man, but he done him wrong.

Frankie swished down to the gay bar
to sip him some pink lemonade.
He asked, “Has my Johnnie been in here,
Was he caught in last night’s raid?
Ooh, he’s my man, is he a-doing me wrong?”

The bartender said, “Listen Frankie,
I ain’t gonna tell you no lie.
Your John’s got it made with a piece of trade
Who is known as Nellie Bly.
If he’s your man, he’s a-doin’ you wrong.”

Frankie went to the hotel room,
knelt down by the keyhole to spy.
And sure enough, there was his John-boy
Foolin’ ’round this other guy.
He caught his man, he was a-doing him wrong.

Frankie flew down to the gun shop,
Bought a pearl-handled ’44.
Toot-a-toot-toot at his fickle fruit
He shot right through that door,
He shot his man, for a-doin’ him wrong.

Frank was not much of a marksman
And that hotel door was shut.
Those bullets were meant for their cruel, cruel hearts.
And they landed in there — but
He shot his man, for a-doin’ him wrong.

Now this story has quite a moral
as you can plainly see:
There’s plenty more fruit in the orchard
so go out and shake that tree.
Don’t shoot your man for a-doing’ you wrong.
Never, never shoot your man for a-doing’ you wrong!

TODAY IN HISTORY:
José Sarria Runs for San Francisco City Supervisor: 1961. He lost, of course, but he also won by losing. Before throwing his tiara into the ring, José Sarria (see Dec 12) was better known as a drag performer and waiter at San Francisco’s Black Cat bar, where he regaled audiences with campy versions of Italian opera. He fought constantly against police raids against gay men and gay bars — he himself had been arrested in an entrapment case. One tactic was for police to raid gay bars and arrest everyone dressed in drag for violating a city ordinance that barred men from dressing as women with “an intent to deceive.” He printed up buttons for drag queens to wear on their dresses reading, “I am a boy.” That tactic effectively ended the raids on drag queens.

When Sarria decided to run for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1961, he became the first openly gay candidate for public office in the United States. The elections that year were for five at-large seats in which the top five vote-getters citywide were seated. Sarria almost won by default until city officials put out a call for more candidates at the last minute when they realized what was up. Thirty-four candidates ended up running for the five slots. Sarria’s platform was a simple one:

My platform when I ran was “Equality Before the Law.” The San Francisco Court House had just been built and that was the slogan on it and I said, “This is what my slogan will be. I’m going to take it and shove it right down their throat.” I saw that there were two interpretations of the laws and that they were trying to make gay people second rate citizens. I’ve never been a second rate citizen.

Sarria earned nearly 6,000 votes, putting him in ninth place. While he didn’t make it onto the Board of Supervisors, his 6,000 votes effectively defined a significant voting block which could not be ignored in future elections. Sarria’s loss marked a change in San Francisco city politics as a result. As Sarria recalled, “From that day on, nobody ran for anything in San Francisco without knocking on the door of the gay community.”

Prop 6/Briggs Initiative Defeated: 1978. State Sen. John Briggs had been a part of Anita Bryant’s campaign two years earlier to roll back a gay rights ordinance in Miami, Florida. So when he decided to run for the Republican nomination for California Governorship in 1978, he thought he had hit on the perfect campaign platform: the so-called threat posed by gay teachers in the public schools. He lost the nomination, but managed to get placed on the California ballot Proposition 6, which would have banned gays and lesbians from being teachers. It also would have banned anyone else from teaching, gay or straight, who defended gays and lesbians whether they did so in the schools or outside. And with Prop 6 on the ballot, Briggs saw an opportunity to really make a name for himself. He told the Escondido Times-Advocate, “I could well end up being America’s newest and biggest folk hero, or I could very well end up being the world’s biggest chump.” If the amendment passed, Briggs told the paper that it would put him into position to challenge the U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston (D) in 1980.

CA state Sen. John V. Briggs

CA state Sen. John V. Briggs

Briggs played to society’s fears of gays as predators. He told the San Francisco Examiner, “One-third of San Francisco teachers are homosexuals. I assume most of them are seducing young boys in toilets.” The pro-Prop 6 campaign called themselves “Defend Our Children,” and their campaign was both nasty and personal. One television ad that ran in Los Angeles featured Heraldsburg  school board president Lee Lee, saying that in her school district there was a second-grade teacher who “uses his status as a teacher to promote homosexuality.” The teacher wasn’t specifically named, but the Sonoma County school district was so tiny – there was only one male second-grade teacher in the Heraldsburg district — that Larry Berner was quickly singled out as the one who was teaching “reading, writing and homosexuality,” according to the Prop 6 campaign. The school board was pressured to fire Berner, but the state Supreme Court had already ruled that homosexuality wasn’t valid grounds to dismiss a teacher. Lee instead promised to do everything she could to see Prop 6 pass, and the campaign sought to make Berner their poster child. In the official voters handbook, the Briggs campaign said, “If you don’t think Proposition 6 is necessary, then ask the parents of Heraldsburg.” They probably should have. Heraldsburg parents, outraged over how their teacher was being treated, printed up T-shirts that read, “Ask a Heraldsburg Parent — No on 6.” Berner also got the backing of nineteen out of the district’s twenty-one teachers.

Prop-6-ad-e1336466369414Yet in September, Prop 6 still looked like a sure thing, with 61% supporting the proposal. But several events conspired to lead to the measure’s defeat: with San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk (see May 22) setting the example, thousands of gays and lesbians emerged from the closet for the first time to their friends, families and co-workers. For many gay people, it was their first time engaging in a political campaign. Log Cabin Republicans organized to become a rallying point for other conservative Republicans to oppose the measure, and former Gov. Ronald Reagan came out against it — going so far as to write an op-ed against Prop 6 for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. “Whatever else it is, he wrote, “homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles. Prevailing scientific opinion is that an individual’s sexuality is determined at a very early age and that a child’s teachers do not really influence this.” Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter also came out against it.

No on 6 poster: “You don’t have to be gay to be fired.” (Click to enlarge.)

But what likely killed the Biggs Initiative was Briggs’s overreach. Briggs started out just wanting to ban gay people from teaching, but he crafted his initiative so broadly that even straight teachers who supported gay rights, publicly or privately, were threatened. Del Martin (see May 5), the San Francisco lesbian-rights activist who had co-founded the Daughters of Bilitis in 1955, showed how Prop 6 threatened to unleash a witch hunt that would hurt everyone. “All you have to do is point your finger and say, ‘you’re gay,’” she said. “That kind of thing is as damaging to heterosexuals as to homosexuals.” For many straight voters, opposition to Prop 6 wasn’t so much a show of support for gay people as it was a vote for self-protection.

When election day came, Prop 6 went down in defeat, 58-42%. In San Francisco, Prop 6 was lopsidedly defeated in a 75-25% landslide. Berner’s Sonoma County rejected Prop 6 by 62-38% Even Briggs’s own Orange County turned against him by a 53-47% margin. The only urban county to approve Prop 6 was San Bernardino, 57-43%.

With Prop 6′s defeat, California’s teachers were safe from political witch hunts. But more importantly, the victory helped to usher the emergence of a truly national gay rights movement out of what had been a series of relatively isolated, autonomous local communities. For the first time, gays and lesbians across America began to see themselves as part of a larger community, which would take visible form a year later when 75,000 showed up for with the First National March on Washington (see Oct 14).

Anti-Initiative 13 poster (via Gay Seattle History. Click to enlarge.)

Seattle Voters Reject Repeal of Gay Rights Ordinances: 1978. While the nation’s eyes were on California’s Briggs Initiative, voters in Seattle were contending with yet another Anita Bryant-inspired effort at the ballot box to eliminate gay rights ordinances. Since Bryant’s 1977 victory in Miami (see Jun 7), she took her anti-gay show on the road to similar victories in St. Paul, Minnesota (see Apr 25); Wichita, Kansas (see May 9);  and Eugene, Oregon (see May 23). Now the steam roller was headed for Seattle.

Seattle had come to the idea of protecting its gay community relatively early, passing a non-discrimination employment ordinance in 1973, and extending discrimination protections to housing two years later. Those bills generated little controversy at the time, but with Bryant’s national barnstorming attracting widespread attention, Seattle Police officers David Estes and Dennis Falk decided to act. They founded a local group, Save Our Moral Ethics (SOME), and launched a campaign to place Initiative 13 on the ballot and repeal the city’s non-discrimination ordinances.

A counter group, Citizens to Retain Fair Employment, rose up the challenge the initiative, but right away they ran into a stark political reality: how do you get straight people to care about such a tiny and reviled minority? CRFE studied the campaigns in Miami and St. Paul and concluded that trying to argue for the civil rights of gay people was a flop. Either the electorate didn’t care or was overtly hostile to that idea. Repeating that same formula in Seattle, they reasoned, would produce the same result. Sure, fighting for civil rights was important, but it would take years — perhaps decades — of dialogue and conversations before the public could be moved to look at gay people as equal citizens. CRFE only had a few months. Clearly they needed a different approach, which that could bring quick results and which hinged on something everyone cared about now. CRFE found that issue: privacy.

So while SOME were throwing mud and claiming that seventy percent of all child molestations were at the hands of homosexuals, CRFE didn’t bother trying to make Seattleites feel good about gay people. Instead, they countered that Initiative 13 would give employers and landlords carte blanche to look into everyone’s private backgrounds, especially those who were single, had roommates, or were just generally not well-liked or thought of as being a little different. One anti-13 poster showed a keyhole with an eye peering through it, while television ads depicted people living in a fishbowl. And nobody’s comfortable with that kind of scrutiny. On election day, Seattle voters drove that point home by defeating Initiative 13 by a whopping 63-37% margin.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Lisa Ben: 1921. Her job as secretary at RKO Studios didn’t involve a lot of work, even though her boss wanted her to look busy. So she used her side project to fill the time. Using five sheets of carbon paper, she would type out her little newsletter twice over, making a total of twelve copies at the most. She could have used a mimeograph machine, but that would have meant using a machine in a common area where other secretaries might discover what she was up to. Between June 1947 to February 1948, she put out nine issues of Vice Versa, which, as modest as that was, is believed to be the first known lesbian publication in the world. Each issue consisted of a dozen or so pages of book and film reviews, essays, short stories, opinion pieces, and a smattering of poetry. She mailed three issues to friends; the rest she hand-distributed at her favorite lesbian bars in Los Angeles. And she always encouraged her readers to pass their copies on to others when they were done with them.

She was born Edith Edye, an only child who grew up on an apricot farm in Santa Clara County. She developed her first crush on another girl while in High School. Devastated when the other girl broke it off, she wen to to her mother for solace, but her mother reacted so badly that she knew she’d never be able to discuss her personal life with her parents again. In 1945, she left Northern California and moved to Los Angeles, where she met other women in her apartment building who were as little interested in boys as she was:

“I don’t know what brought up the subject, but one of the girls turned to me and said, ‘are you gay?’ And I said, ‘I try to be as happy as I can under the circumstances.’ They all laughed. Then they said, ‘No, no’ and told me what it meant. And I said, ‘Well, yes, I guess I am because I don’t really go out and search for boyfriends. I don’t care for that.’ So they said, ‘You must come with us to a girl’s softball game.’ I went with them, but I didn’t tell them that softball bored the tar out of me. I just don’t care for sports. I know that’s very funny for a lesbian to say. But it’s true, I never have cared for sports. I went along to be with the crowd.”

Meeting other lesbians quickly became a priority for her. “The most common way for us to meet others of the same inclination was to frequent the gay bars,” she remembered.” It was easy to form friendships and be invited to the apartments and dwelling-places of these acquaintances … sometimes someone would have a party and invite quite a few friends, who would bring their friends along. There were no lesbian organizations and, of course, one could never place an ad in a personals column!”

There was also no reading material. That’s where she got the idea for Vice Versa, which had the added benefit of helping her to expand her social circle. “When I turned out my first copy I probably knew about four people. And the next month, they introduced me to some more, and I knew, like, ten people. And so on and so on and so on. So it grew. And eventually it grew to more girls than I had copies and I couldn’t turn out anymore!”

From the first issue of Vice Versa (Source. Click to enlarge.)

That’s when she adopted her public pseudonym of Lisa Ben, an anagram of “lesbian.” Her first issue of Vice Versa explained what she had in mind for her magazine. She noted that on every newsstand, there were magazines specializing on just about every topic imaginable:

Yet, there is one kind of publication which would, I am sure, have a great appeal to a definite group. Such a publication has never appeared on the stands. News stands carrying the crudest kind of magazine or pictorial pamphlets appealing to the vulgar would find themselves severely censured were they to display those other type of publication. Why? Because Society decrees it thus.

Hence the appearance of VICE VERSA, a magazine dedicated, in all seriousness, to those of us who will never quite be able to adapt ourselves to the iron-bound rules of Convention. The circulation of this publication, under the circumstances, must be very limited, going only to those who, it is felt, will genuinely enjoy such a magazine. … If the contents interest you and please you, that is the purpose of the magazine. If the material included herein seems rather monotonous, please keep in mind that the entire publication was originated and compiled by one person.

An ad for Lisa Ben’s record. From ONE, September 1960, page 22.

Ben had to end her run with Vice Versa after the Valentine’s Day issue in 1948. That’s when Howard Hughes bought RKO, and almost everyone was let go. Ben’s next job was much busier, leaving her with no time to work on Vice Versa. But by then Ben was enjoying her expanded social circle so much that, as she later said, “I wanted to live it rather than write about it.”

A tiny pebble thrown in the pond — it may be an overused cliché, but it perfectly describes Vice Versa’s impact. Copies were passed around and copied some more, like the Samizdat dissident newsletters that were the lifeline of Soviet dissidents half a world away. Very few originals survive; what we have today are almost always copies of copies. Over the next several years, those copies attained near-mythical status as hundreds, then thousands, read Vice Versa. When the Daughters of Bilitis began publishing The Ladder, some of Ben’s Vice Versa material appeared again, this time under her pseudonym “Lisa Ben,” an anagram of “lesbian.” (Vice Versa had carried no byline.) She also wrote some original articles as well for The Ladder.

Writing wasn’t her only talent. After her Vice Versa days were over, she indulged her love of music and began writing and performing a variety of gay-themed parodies. Her aim was to entertain, but to do it in a way that wasn’t demeaning. “I was absolutely appalled at the gay (male) entertainers who would, on stage, make derogatory remarks and dirty jokes about themselves to entertain the non-gay people who came there to be entertained and ‘see how the queers lived,’” she said. “No wonder society had such a bad opinion of us.”

From the film  Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community, 1984.

From the film Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community, 1984.

She often based her parodies on older popular songs: “I’m a Boy Being a Girl,” “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write My Butch a Letter”, and “The Vice Squad Keeps On Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine.” She didn’t take her singing very seriously. But, again, it helped to expand her social circle. “It was always a lot of fun and I found myself attending more and more parties and meeting more and more gay folks, both men and women.” In 1960, two of her songs, “Cruising Down the Boulevard” and “Frankie and Johnnie,” were recorded on 45 rpm and sold by the Daughters of Bilitis through ads in The Ladder and ONE magazine.

But it was those nine issues of Vice Versa that secured her place in history by providing a model for ONE and The Ladder. In 1972, she was honored by ONE, Inc., as “the father [sic] of the homophile movement,” and she appeared in the 1984 PBS Emmy-winning documentary Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community, and she was inducted into the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Hall of Fame in 2010. All of which fulfilled a wish she shared in the fourth issue of Vice Versa in 1947: “Perhaps even Vice Versa might be the forerunner of better magazines dedicated to the third sex, which in some future time might take their rightful place n the newsstands beside other publications, to be available openly and without restriction to those who wish to read them.”

lisaben98Lisa Ben still lives in California, and even though her real name is easy to find on the Internet, she still prefers to be known publicly by her pseudonym. And why not? Tab Hunter has his.

You can see an interview with Lisa Ben online at the Herstories digital collection of the Lesbian Herstory Archives here and here.

[Sources: “Vice Versa, by Lisa Ben.” Queer Music Heritage web site. You can find scans of all nine issues of Vice Versa here.

Eric Marcus. Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights: 1945-1990. An Oral History (New York: HarperCollins, 1992): 5-15.

Marcia M. Gallo. Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement(Emeryville, CA: Seal Press, 2007): xxxii-xxxv]

Update: A BTB reader in Austria sent the following:

Hi Jim,

>>
Between June 1947 to February 1948, she put out nine issues of Vice Versa, which, as modest as that was, is believed to be the first known lesbian publication in the world.
<<

Maybe the first lesbian publication in the United States or in the English speaking world.

In Weimar Germany there existed several lesbian publications in the 1920es and early 30es, the best known being “Die Freundin” (= girlfriend). It was published from 1924 to 1933 according to Wikipedia.

Other German Papers authored by and targeted at lesbians were Garçonne (1930–1932), Frauenliebe (1926–1930), BIF – Blätter Idealer Frauenfreundschaft (presumed 1926–1927), Ledige Frauen (1928–1929), Frauen Liebe und Leben (1928) and Liebende Frauen (1926–1931).

Most of these papers were only of local reach (mostly in Berlin) all all of them ceased to be published when the Nazis took over.

“Die Freundin” is even available in some German libraries, I haven’t found any digital version of it though.

The situation was different in Austria, as lesbian sex was illegal according to section 129 of the former criminal code. (In Germany only male gay sex was illegal.) We had numerous women’s magazines and feminist magazines in the second half of the 19th and first decades of 20th centuries, but none of them were explicitely lesbian, as far as I know.

Thank you, Zutta!

John Fryer: 1938-2003. You have John Fryer to thank for that fact that you’re not crazy. For many years, he was known only as Dr. H. Anonymous, the disguised gay psychiatrist whose talk at an American Psychiatric Association panel on homosexuality is credited for paving the way for the organization’s removal of homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. But friends who knew him knew a complicated man: gregarious and charming, difficult and biting, always intense.

He knew he was gay from the age of fourteen, and did little to hide it through his high school and college years. But when he became a medical intern at Ohio State, he understood that it was in his best interest to keep his sexuality a secret from his superiors. His psychiatric residency at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka only reinforced his closet door. There were only about 100,000 people in Topeka, and if he went to a gay bar there, he was almost certain to run into someone connected with the clinic — either as a patient or an employee. Menninger was a very homophobic place, and Fryer soon became depressed. A supervisor noticed and set him up with free therapy with a psychoanalyst. Fryer went out on the limb and confessed everything to her. “There is only one solution,” she said. “Did you ever think of leaving Topeka?”

Leave he did, to the University of Pennsylvania in 1964. That residency lasted about six months until his supervisor there found out that he was gay. “You can either resign or I’ll fire you.” Fryer accepted six months’ severance and resigned. He ended up working at Norristown State Hospital in northern Philadelphia, where he was given the worst assignment: Building 11 as the only psychiatrist for 400 male patients, and Building 13 which housed the chronically incontinent. Fryer set up a behavioral program in Building 13 which rewarded patients who controlled themselves with trips to the Poconos. By the time he was finished, he had solved the incontinence problem in Building 13. He also found himself surrounded by staff that could accept the fact that he was gay.

By 1970, he became a part of what was loosely called the Gay-PA, an underground network of closeted gay psychiatrists who attended the annual meetings of the APA. They watched in 1970 when “outside agitators” — Frank Kameny (see May 21), Barbara Gittings (see Jul 31), among others — picketed the APA meeting in San Francisco in 1970 (see May 14). Fryer later recalled, “We in the Gay-PA commented, ‘Isn’t that nice?’ But we weren’t about to do anything that might expose us.”

But things quickly changed for Fryer. The APA asked Barbara Gittings to be a part of a panel on “Lifestyles of Non-Patient Homosexuals.” Barbara’s partner, Kay Lahusen (see Jan 5), noticed that the panel had gays who weren’t psychiatrists and psychiatrists who weren’t gay. What the panel needed, she said, was a gay psychiatrist. Fryer recalled:

Barbara Gittings called and said, “John, we need you to be on a panel [in May of 1972],” and I said, “Tell me about it.” She said, “It’s going to be a panel about homosexuality, and we need a gay psychiatrist.” I said, “Sooo . . . ?!” She responded, “Well look, you…um…think about it.”

He had a lot to think about. His father had died and he was between jobs. This was not a good time for him to expose himself, either emotionally or professionally. But he had already been thrown out of one residency for being gay and lost another job for the same thing. He knew that his fellow psychiatrists needed to hear about that. So he called Gittings back and said he would do it — on one condition: he couldn’t do it as himself. He would need a disguise. His lover at the time, a drama major, devised one: a formal suit several sizes too big — not an easy task for such a big man to begin with — and a wig and rubber mask that was distorted beyond recognition. He also spoke into a special microphone to disguise his voice.

L-R: Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny, and John Fryer as “Dr. H. Anonymous”

Speaking as “Dr. H. Anonymous,” Fryer opened with the words, “I am a homosexual. I am a psychiatrist.” He talked about just a few of the different closets he was forced to hide in: as a gay man who had to hide his sexuality among his professional colleagues, and as a gay man who had to hide his profession among other gay people. “There is much negative feeling in the homosexual community towards psychiatrists,” he explained. “And those of us, who are visible, are the easiest targets from which the angry can vent their wrath.”  He also addressed the “more than a hundred [gay] psychiatrists” attending the convention, urging them to find ways to help change the attitudes of their patients, both gay and straight, towards homosexuality. It would be risky, but “We are taking an even bigger risk, however, not accepting fully our own humanity, with all the lessons it has to teach all the other humans around us and ourselves. This is the greatest loss: our honest humanity.”

The panel was a resounding success. That night, Fryer wrote in his diary:

The day has passed — it has come and gone and I am still alive. For the first time, I have identified with a force which is akin to my selfhood. I am not Black. I am not alcoholic. I am not really addicted. I am homosexual, and I am the only American psychiatrist who has stood up on a podium to let real flesh and blood tell this nation it is so.

The next year, Dr. Robert Spitzer, who was in charge of revising the APA’s Diagnostics and Statistics Manual (DSM) which defined the official list of mental disorders, met with members of the Gay-PA, and those meetings eventually led to the removal of homosexuality from the DSM in 1973.

But for Fryer, life continued to be difficult. After the 1972 APA meeting, he took a job at another psychiatric hospital in Philadelphia. A medical student learned that Fryer was gay — Fryer later hinted that he may have come on to the student but insisted that it went no further — and went to the Administration. Fryer was called in and told, “If you were gay and not flamboyant we would keep you. If you were flamboyant and not gay we would keep you. But since you are both gay and flamboyant, we cannot keep you.” Ironically, that same administrator had sat in the front row at the APA meeting during Fryer’s talk the year before, and had no idea who he was.

Fryer then took a teaching assignment at Temple University. In 1978, he got his associate professorship and with it came tenure. He could no longer be fired. He was free to be out, and he could also, finally, tell the full story behind Dr. H. Anonymous. Fryer retired from Temple in 2000, and died in 2003 at the age of 64. In 2004, the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists endowed an award in his name. The first John E. Fryer Award, sponsored by AGLP and given by the APA, was awarded to Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings in 2006 for their role in that fateful APA panel in 1972.

[Source: David L. Scasta. “John E. Fryer, MD, and the Dr. H. Anonymous Episode.” Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy 6, No. 4 (2002): 73-84.

Jeanne Lenzer. “John Fryer.” British Medical Journal 326, no 7390 (March 22, 2003): 662. Available online here.]

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?

ACLU To Appeal Sixth Circuit Decision Straight to the U.S. Supreme Court

Jim Burroway

November 6th, 2014

Chase Strangio, staff attorney for the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project, has announced that they will bypass an en banc review and appeal today’s Sixth Circuit decision directly to the U.S. Supreme Court:

“This decision is an outlier that’s incompatible with the 50 other rulings that uphold fairness for all families, as well as with the Supreme Court’s decision to let marriage equality rulings stand in Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia. It is shameful and wrong that John Arthur’s death certificate may have to be revised to list him as single and erase his husband’s name as his surviving spouse. We believe it’s wholly unconstitutional to deny same sex couples and their families access to the rights and respect that all other families receive. We will be filing for Supreme Court review right away and hope that through this deeply disappointing ruling we will be able to bring a uniform rule of equality to the entire country.”

Meanwhile, this dissent of today’s decision, written by Sixth Circuit Judge Martha Daughtrey, caught my eye. She denounced the majority’s opinion which refused to recognize the judiciary’s responsibility for guaranteeing the rights of all Americans (PDF: 309KB/64 pages):

Today, my colleagues seem to have fallen prey to the misguided notion that the intent of the framers of the United States Constitution can be effectuated only by cleaving to the legislative will and ignoring and demonizing an independent judiciary. Of course, the framers presciently recognized that two of the three co-equal branches of government were representative in nature and necessarily would be guided by self-interest and the pull of popular opinion. To restrain those natural, human impulses, the framers crafted Article III to ensure that rights, liberties, and duties need not be held hostage by popular whims.

More than 20 years ago, when I took my oath of office to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, I solemnly swore to “administer justice without respect to persons,” to “do equal right to the poor and to the rich,” and to “faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me . . . under the Constitution and laws of the United States.” See 28 U.S.C. § 453. If we in the judiciary do not have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to right fundamental wrongs left excused by a majority of the electorate, our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams

She also wonders aloud:

These four cases from our sister circuits provide a rich mine of responses to every rationale raised by the defendants in the Sixth Circuit cases as a basis for excluding same-sex couples from contracting valid marriages. Indeed, it would seem unnecessary for this court to do more than cite those cases in affirming the district courts’ decisions in the six cases now before us. Because the correct result is so obvious, one is tempted to speculate that the majority has purposefully taken the contrary position to create the circuit split regarding the legality of same-sex marriage that could prompt a grant of certiorari by the Supreme Court and an end to the uncertainty of status and the interstate chaos that the current discrepancy in state laws threatens. Perhaps that is the case, but it does not relieve the dissenting member of the panel from the obligation of a rejoinder.

Sixth Circuit upholds anti-gay marriage bans

Timothy Kincaid

November 6th, 2014

marriage 2014

In a 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the state constitutional bans on marriage of the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. Writing for the majority, Judge Jeffrey Sutton said:

When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers. Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.

This determination ignores the fact that when animus in present, a minority cannot become the “hero of it’s own stories” as they lack the ability to win in the “customary political processes”. When confronting Goliath on the field of political battle, the only stone in David’s sling is that of judicial protection. Judge Sutton would have David face the giant with no stones at all.

This is, of course, not the end of the story.

It is likely that the plaintiffs will ask for an en banc review and, if they do not prevail in that venue, will appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, November 6

Jim Burroway

November 6th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, Indianapolis, IN; Palm Springs Pride, Palm Springs, CA; Mazipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic; Bear Pride, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Los Angeles Advocate, October 1968, p. 20.

What was once a rowdy gay bar in what would later become West Hollywood is now home to the Tbilisi and Yerevan Bakery.

London’s Piccadilly Circus.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Britain Lift Ban on Plays Portraying Gay Themes: 1958. The Lord Chamberlain’s office, which acted as the nation’s official censor, notified the Theatres National Committee that the ban on the portrayal of homosexuality in plays in public productions was officially lifted. Previously, plays such as Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge or Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof had been produced in London, but only at private theater clubs and not in public venues. The Earl of Scarborough, Sir Roger Lumley, who was serving as the Lord Chamberlain, wrote in a letter to the Committee, “This subject is now so widely debated, written about and talked of that its complete exclusion from the stage can no longer be regarded as justifiable. In future, therefore, plays on this subject which are sincere and serious will be admitted.”

One couple among many who registered their partnerships on the first day Domestic Partnerships became available.

San Francisco Voters Approve Domestic Partnerships: 1990. The road to providing even limited recognition of same-sex couples was long and plagued by seeming dead ends. In 1983, and in response to numerous reports of longtime partners being barred from their loved ones’ hospital rooms and funerals, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors enacted a Domestic Partnership ordinance. The law created a partnership registry and gave registered partners of city employees the same benefits as those available to spouses of married couples. It also ensured that domestic partners were granted the same visitation rights at city hospitals. But owing to tremendous pressure exerted by Catholic Archbishop John Quinn and much of the rest of the major religious leaders — including the Episcopal bishop — Mayor Dianne Feinstein vetoed the bill, much to the fury of San Francisco’s gay community.

Feinstein left office in 1988, and the following year the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a Domestic Partnership ordinance which, this time, was signed into law by Mayor Art Agnos. But before it could take effect, the ordinance became the subject of a repeal initiative. That initiative narrowly won by fewer than 2,000 votes with an unusually high turnout for an off-year election. This time the gay community fought back in 1990 with Proposition K, which provided for a more limited version of Domestic Partnership without formal benefits. This time, Prop K prevailed, 60% to 40%. The registry went into effect the following Valentine’s Day.

Sunset Blvd.

30 YEARS AGO: West Hollywood Residents Approve Incorporation as a City: 1984. Voters in the an unincorporated area of Los Angeles known as West Hollywood voted to incorporate as a city and elected a city council in a combined election. Attention in the news media focus on the fact that three of the five new council members were gay or lesbian in the new municipality, while many gay leaders hailed the new city with gays making up an estimated 40% of the population as a “gay Camelot.” But the main issue that ignited the incorporation campaign in a city where 90% were renters was the decision by the County of Los Angeles to significantly reduce its rent-control regulations. Nevertheless, gay leaders saw incorporation as yet another stepping stone toward full acceptance.

Valerie Ferrigno, who was selected by the council to serve as mayor for the council-manager city government, became the first known lesbian mayor of an American city. “You don’t have to say avowed lesbian or admitted lesbian,” she said. “I am a lesbian. I won’t deny it.” She then summed up the significance: “We were illegal not too long ago. The first consenting adults bill wasn’t proposed until 1968. Ten years ago I couldn’t have been elected, and not because I was too young. We’ve come a long way in a very short time.” The city’s incorporation took effect on November 29.

Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington Approve Marriage Equality: 2012. For the first time in history, voters in three states turned back aggressive challenges by anti-gay force and became the first in the nation to enact marriage quality by popular vote. In Maine, voters approved Question 1 by 53-47%, which not only reversed a 2009 ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage but also guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry. In Maryland, voters approved Question 6 and allowed that state’s marriage equality law to go forward in a 52-48% vote. Washington state voters came through even more strongly for Referendum 74 by approving marriage quality by a 54-46% vote.

And just to add icing on the cake, Minnesota voters rejected Amendment 1, which would have placed a permanent ban on same-sex marriage in that state’s constitution. Minnesotans rejected that ban 53-47%.

This marked the first time in history in which every attempt by anti-gay forces to deny marriage equality to same-sex couples went down in defeat. Same-sex marriages began in Washington on December 6, followed by Maine (December 29) and Maryland (January 1). Five months later, Minnesota joined the marriage equality movement after the legislature and governor gave their approval legalizing same-sex marriage.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Jackie Forster: 1926-1998. She began her adult life as an aspiring actress in London’s West End before becoming (as Jacqueline MacKenzie, her maiden name) a television presenter and reporter in the mid-1950s. In 1957, she went on a lecture tour in North American and entered her first lesbian affair, but it wasn’t enough to convince her she was lesbian:

“I didn’t see myself as being a Lesbian, or her, because I didn’t look as I imagined they did, and nor did she. We weren’t short back and sides and natty gent’s suiting. I got the image from The Well of Loneliness, like we all did. There were drug stores around the States, with these pulp books, lurid stories about lesbians who smoked cigars and had orgies with young girls. I thought, Where are these women? We never met anyone we knew were lesbians. There were no other books that I found about lesbians, no films that we ever saw: nothing at all.”

She returned to Britain and married novelist Peter Forster in 1958. They divorce four years later when she decided she was one of them after all. She joined the Minorities Research Group, an early UK lesbian rights organization, and she came out publicly in 1969 as a member of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. She was a founding member of London’s Gay Liberation Front in 1970 and co-founded Sappho, whose eponymous magazine became one of Britain’s longest running lesbian publications. In 1992 until her death, she was an active member of the Lesbian Archive and Information Centre, which is currently housed at the Glasgow Women’s Library.

65 YEARS AGO: Brad Davis: 1949-1991. Born Robert Davis and known as “Bobby” while growing up, Brad Davis took his stage name after learning that there already was a Bob Davis registered in Actors Equity. Acting was always his ambition, from appearing in productions at Theater Atlanta at the age of sixteen, and moving to New York to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and at the American Place Theater. Television roles soon followed, in a short-lived soap opera and in the miniseries Roots and Sybil (both 1976). But it was his role as Billy Hayes in the film Midnight Express which rocketed him to fame and won him two Golden Globes.

Davis’s career should have taken off. Instead, it languished, somewhat due to homophobia — his bisexuality was generally known if not always acknowledged — and more directly due to his own drug and alcohol abuse. He sobered up in 1981 in time to take a minor role in Chariots of Fire. In 1983, he took a professional risk playing a gay sailor in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Querelle (which flopped), and a dying man of AIDS in Larry Kramer’s play The Normal Heart. That last role mirrored, somewhat, his own life. When he died in 1991, news reports distinguished him as “the first heterosexual actor to die of AIDS.” Only a small part of that phrase was true. His bisexuality aside, he didn’t, strictly speaking, die of AIDS. He decided to end his life on his own terms when it became clear that death from AIDS was imminent.

Michael Cunningham: 1952. He’s gay and he’s a writer, but don’t call him a gay writer. That’s not what he does. He wins Pulitzers for writing novels with the title of The Hours, or at least he did in 1998. He also won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in 1999. In 2002, The Hours was made into an Academy Award-winning film starring Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore.

Born in Cincinnati, raised in Pasadena, Cunningham studied English Lit at Stanford and received a Masters of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. While studying for his Masters, he had short stories published in Atlantic Monthly (back when Atlantic used to publish short fiction) and Paris Review. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993 and an NEA Fellowship in 1998. He has taught at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and at Brooklyn College. He currently teaches at Yale. His most recent novel, The Snow Queen, was released last May.

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?

State judge throws out Missouri anti-gay marriage ban – Updated

Timothy Kincaid

November 5th, 2014

St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Denying Missouri’s gay couples the opportunity to marry is unconstitutional, a judge ruled this afternoon.

As a result, St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison said in his decision, marriage licenses can be issued.

“The Court finds and declares that any same sex couple that satisfies all the requirements for marriage under Missouri law, other than being of different sexes, is legally entitled to a marriage license,” Burlison wrote.

He said that the Missouri Constitution violates the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Last month the courts found that marriage conducted outside of Missouri must be recognized by the state. The Attorney General did not appeal. It is unclear whether he will appeal this decision.

UPDATE:

The language seems to suggest that this applies only to St. Louis.

UPDATE:

The Attorney General has appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court. However, he has NOT requested a stay while under appeal. Marriage licenses are being distributed in St. Louis.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, November 5

Jim Burroway

November 5th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, Indianapolis, IN; Palm Springs Pride, Palm Springs, CA; Mazipatra Queer Film Festival, Prague/Brno, Czech Republic; Bear Pride, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Advocate, May 24, 1972, page 38.

From the Advocate, May 24, 1972, page 38.

The Coronet opened in 1947 and quickly established itself as an important center for the performing arts. In its first year, it hosted the world premiere of Bertolt Brecht’s Galileo Galilei and the west cost premiere of Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of our Teeth. Over the decades, it hosted several daring productions and experimental films. In 2008, the theater changed hands and was renamed Largo at the Coronet, where it now operates as a music hall and comedy club.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
45 YEARS AGO: 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 event, 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.]

40 YEARS AGO: 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. She also learned a lot about her fellow liberals’ lack of backbone when it came to walking the progressive walk for anti-discrimination proposals. “We can never expect other liberal people to speak for us. It is our responsibility to speak for ourselves. Nobody is going to do it for us ….Power is what it’s all about. And that is why I think it is important for more gay people to get involved in the political process.” 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.

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?

And Kansas makes 33

Timothy Kincaid

November 4th, 2014

marriage 2014

Kansas is in the Tenth Circuit, which has ruled anti-gay marriage bans unconstitutional. The Supreme Court opted not to hear an appeal to that ruling, which establishes that states within the Tenth Circuit are bound by the Appeals Court’s ruling.

Same-sex couples requested that the federal courts direct Kansas to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and now a federal judge has done so. (Topeka Capital-Journal:)

Judge Daniel Crabtree, in a written ruling, granted a preliminary injunction that had been sought by the ACLU of Kansas on behalf of two lesbian couples who had been denied marriage licenses in Sedgwick and Douglas counties. The injunction will prevent the state from enforcing the ban on same-sex marriage found in the Kansas Constitution.

However, marriages will not begin immediately. Crabtree stayed the injunction until 5 p.m. on Nov. 11.

The state has a week to appeal Judge Crabtree’s decision, which – by all accounts – would be a waste of time and state resources. Should they inform him earlier that they will not appeal, the stay will be lifted at that time.

The odds are that Governor Sam Brownback will happily waste the taxpayers’ money on a futile attempt to appeal so as to grandstand on the issue. However, as the election is today, it’s possible that he’ll not see any political value to foolish, time-consuming, wasteful, quixotic efforts and will allow couples to marry sooner than next Tuesday.

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