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Tue Apr 28, 2015 at 05:49 PM PDT

Riots: From Stonewall to Baltimore

by FogCityJohn

Reposted from Positively Charged Opinion by FogCityJohn

The unrest in Baltimore, brought on by the death of Freddie Gray, has been the source of a lot of commentary in the world of social media. My Facebook feed is full of people offering their opinions about what many call the "rioting" or "violence" in Charm City.  Mind you, most of those commenting use those words only to refer to destruction of property and throwing of rocks. Strangely, they're not talking about the actions of the police, this despite the violence that characterizes so much of the police's treatment of poor black communities.

Lots of those appearing in my news feed are gay white men like me. Some of them have been very critical of the protestors in Baltimore, and they've decried the resort to "violence" and condemned the people for rioting. I'm not a violent guy, and I don't support the indiscriminate destruction of property, but as a gay man, I find it a bit hypocritical when white members of my community wag their fingers at the so-called rioters.  

I'll explain below the nuage de kos.

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Reposted from Readers and Book Lovers by Chrislove
LGBT Literature is a Readers and Book Lovers series dedicated to discussing books that have made an impact on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. From fiction to contemporary nonfiction to history and everything in between, any book that touches on LGBT themes is welcome in this series. LGBT Literature posts on the last Sunday of every month at 7:30 PM EST. If you are interested in writing for the series, please send a Kosmail to Chrislove.
Unfortunately, I must begin this diary with an apology. You see, I had grand plans for a diary on a book that I love very much. But due to technological issues beyond my control, my plans went out the window, leaving very little time to write another diary. And this, kids, is why you don't wait until the last minute--although with dissertation writing this month, I had little other choice.

Which brings me to my diarist beg: I am deep in the throes of writing my dissertation, and I have less time than ever. Technological issues aside, I can write LGBT Literature diaries, but the end of the month is a crunch as I finish up chapter drafts, so of course I always appreciate the help. Over the course of this series, we have had an incredibly diverse array of writers cover a variety of different pieces of LGBT literature. I'd love for your voice to be heard here, as well. You don't have to be an academic, a writer, a prolific reader, or even LGBT. You just have to be a person with an interest in a piece of literature covering LGBT themes. As I said when I took over this series, we have a broad conception of LGBT literature here. If you have something in mind, please get in touch with me, even if you're a lurker who has never written a diary. I am more than happy to put you on the schedule and, if necessary, guide you through the steps of writing a diary. We look forward to hearing your voice here at LGBT Literature!

When I rebooted this series, I did promise a substantive diary every month, and an at least somewhat substantive diary you shall get. After I had my diary disaster, I looked around frantically for something I could cover fairly quickly--in other words, not a complex book that was going to take a while to unpack. As is often the case, the answer was literally under my nose and was actually sitting on my coffee table.

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Reposted from Kossacks for Marriage Equality by Mokurai
Oral arguments in the marriage equality cases will be heard by the SCOTUS justices on April 28, 2015. Much of the discussion will center around the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, and whether it requires states to recognize marriages of same-sex couples. However, another very important event occurred on April 28, 1866 (149 years ago to the day of this important SCOTUS hearing). It had to do with the acceptance and edit to the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. The hero of the following story is Rep. John Bingham, one of the key leaders of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction at the time.

Many of the opponents of marriage equality and other gay rights issues like to say that the 14th Amendment only applies to race. However, the history of the development of the Equal Protection Clause does not support that premise.

From Slate:

The equal protection clause was added to the 14th Amendment—then in draft form—on April 28, 1866, 149 years to the day before the Obergefell argument. To understand the full story of this critical provision, it’s important to begin with some historical context.

Congress established the Joint Committee on Reconstruction in December 1865. The body was tasked with studying the conditions in the post-Civil War South and recommending a congressional response—one that might counter President Johnson, rally the Republican Party, and provide a new blueprint for Reconstruction. The committee’s most enduring legacy is Section 1 of the 14th Amendment—arguably, the most important provision added to our Constitution after the Bill of Rights.

A few days earlier, the committee had agreed on language for the proposed amendment that focused exclusively on the evils of racial discrimination, reading, “No discrimination shall be made by any State, or by the United States, as to the civil rights of persons because of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” However, Bingham convinced his fellow committee members to broaden this language.

Bingham’s key move was to craft a new provision that promised “equal protection of the laws” for all persons, not just African Americans. In one of the most important edits in American history, Bingham added text that was, as he later explained, “a simple, strong, plain declaration that equal laws and equal and exact justice shall hereafter be secured within every State of the Union,” guaranteeing “equal protection” for “any person, no matter whence he comes, or how poor, how weak, how simple—no matter how friendless.”

Had that edit not been made, the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause would have protected against racial discrimination, however there would not have been any protection against gender or sexual orientation discrimination (or for any other minority/class) at the state level.

There is much more to the story, and it is very interesting and educational (for those who don't already know it).


There have been a few (surprisingly few) same-sex couples who have tried to get legally married prior to the 21st century. Probably the most famous couple was that of Richard John Baker and his partner from the Baker v Nelson case in Minnesota that all the SCOTUS briefs from the opposing side keep mentioning. But, there is another couple who wanted their marriage recognized by the US in 1975.


The letter — which states, "You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots" — was in response to Richard Adams and Anthony Sullivan, one of the first gay couples in the nation to try to get their marriage recognized by the federal government. A renegade clerk in Colorado married the couple in 1975, and they tried to use the marriage so Sullivan, an Australian, could remain in the country. The Justice Department flatly rejected their request
The letter from a district director at the Justice Department's Immigration and Naturalization Service is posted below.
It's difficult (if not impossible) to imagine a US government agency responding in this manner to a same-sex couple today. It shows how far the US government has come on gay rights issues, and especially the marriage equality issue under the Obama administration.

The Washington Post has the couple's story.

Sullivan and Adams met on Cinco de Mayo 1971 at a gay bar called the Closet in downtown Los Angeles. They made plans to meet the next day at Greta Garbo’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star on Hollywood Boulevard, and they were pretty much together for the next 41 years.

“I never met another person I fitted so well with,” says Sullivan. “Not to get sloppy, but he meant everything to me, and I meant everything to him.”

But there was a problem bigger than being openly gay in 1971. Although Adams was a naturalized citizen — his Filipino mother married an American when Adams was 12, and they moved to the United States — Sullivan was Australian. He was on a world tour when he first landed in Los Angeles on a tourist visa.

They saw a story in the Advocate about a woman named Clela Rorex, a young feminist county clerk in Boulder, Colo. One day not long after she took office, a gay couple asked whether they could marry. She checked the law and didn’t see anything that said they couldn’t. She asked a county attorney, and he couldn’t find anything, either.

I can't copy the entire story here, but it's definitely worth a read.
Reposted from LGBT Kos Community by librarisingnsf

Too many folks still believe that it's an either/or proposition ... you either side with the gays and are for their rights or you side with G-d/Christianity/religion and reject rights for gay folks. That is a false narrative, and Matthew Vines explains it to us in this video. I'm liking this young man more and more every time I listen to him speak.

Frank Bruni at the New York Times gives us his take on the issue.

From The New York Times:

And homosexuality and Christianity don’t have to be in conflict in any church anywhere.

That many Christians regard them as incompatible is understandable, an example not so much of hatred’s pull as of tradition’s sway. Beliefs ossified over centuries aren’t easily shaken.

But in the end, the continued view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision. It’s a choice. It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing.

It disregards the degree to which all writings reflect the biases and blind spots of their authors, cultures and eras.

The Advocate decided to resurrect what the magazine calls its "most famous cover story" today in response to the issue. Here is that cover.
The article is about Metropolitan Community Churches and how the denomination has been shaking up religion since its founding in 1968 as a denomination that ministers to the LGBT community. From The Advocate:
The Metropolitan Community Church has been shaking up religion since its founding in 1968 as a Christian denomination especially for LGBT people. The Advocate covered the transformative MCC in a December 1994 cover story, and the editor in chief at the time, Jeff Yarbrough, inspired by polemic issues of Time and Rolling Stone, branded the cover with a very provocative title: "Is God Gay?" Reaction was swift:

"Advertisers pulled out," Yarbrough recalls. "My publisher screamed at me and told me someone had called in a death threat. Readers and a lot of nonreaders sent us hate mail. The straight press said we’d stepped over some imaginary line.

So the 'Is God Gay?' cover and story was just another way to point out how marginalized we were at the time. I think it did its job. And I don’t think Jesus would have minded us using him to convey a message of tolerance."

It's a great read. I encourage you to go and read the entire article.
Reposted from Readers and Book Lovers by Chrislove
LGBT Literature is a Readers and Book Lovers series dedicated to discussing books that have made an impact on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. From fiction to contemporary nonfiction to history and everything in between, any book that touches on LGBT themes is welcome in this series. LGBT Literature posts on the last Sunday of every month at 7:30 PM EST. If you are interested in writing for the series, please send a Kosmail to Chrislove.
It comes as no surprise that LGBT people in rural areas--particularly the rural American South--face a peculiar set of challenges. When one thinks of LGBT communities, an urban environment might immediately come to mind: San Francisco's The Castro, Los Angeles County's West Hollywood, Houston's Montrose, Philadelphia's Gayborhood. Historically, the rural land surrounding these urban enclaves has often been seen as a kind of hinterlands, or a very large closet from which LGBT people escape into the city. This is not necessarily completely wrong. Even today, the rural South is especially seen, and not without justification, as an environment of extreme hostility for those who step outside sexual and gender norms. The 2006 documentary Small Town Gay Bar captures this very well as it documents the struggle of gays and lesbians in the rural Deep South to maintain community in the face of such deep, widespread homophobia.

Up until not too terribly long ago, the relatively young field of LGBT history all but neglected two separate, but overlapping, groups of LGBT people: rural dwellers and southerners. I wrote a diary for this series almost a year ago about the book of essays Carryin' On in the Lesbian and Gay South (1997), which really got the ball rolling on uncovering southern (including rural southern) queer history. Not coincidentally, the editor of the book (historian John Howard) is also the author of the book I'm discussing this evening. An excerpt from what I wrote on Carryin' On:

Prior to Carryin' On, historians largely ignored queer southerners. There was certainly no dearth of books on southern history, which some might consider a "queer history" even without the presence of LGBT people, but as Howard notes in the introduction:
Some Southerners and Southern historians may take pride in eccentricity and difference here in "the perverse section," as C. Vann Woodward called the South. But we queers are just a tad too perverse.
Not to mention, as will be made clear in the first article from the volume I highlight below, some southern archivists have very actively sought to scrub queerness from the historical record.

The field of LGBT history, which by 1997 had been in existence for about 20 years, did an equally poor job at including LGBT southerners in the narrative, although perhaps we can chalk that up to historians in a young field necessarily focusing on the obvious urban queer meccas. What had resulted by the 1990s was an LGBT history that had what Howard calls a "bicoastal bias," with historians focusing on gay communities in New York or San Francisco. To some extent, that bias persists today, but we have come a long way. The urban, coastal focus of LGBT history had left entire swaths of rural-dwelling queer people out of the historical record. Howard makes an even more poignant point about the limits of LGBT historiography in 1997:

The history of (homo)sexuality, as currently framed, is less about sex or desire than it is about identity, community, and politics. Southerners, rural people especially, don't fit. Industrialization and urbanization don't figure prominently enough in their lives. Many never move to the city and "come out" in the traditional sense. But to say that individuals don't become a part of an urban culture, don't self-identify as lesbian or gay, doesn't preclude the experience of same-sex desire. Nor does it preclude acting on that desire.
In the introduction to Carryin' On, Howard ties together extraordinarily diverse southern queer experiences by outlining what he calls "the three r's": race, religion, and rurality.
The South holds no monopoly on racism. However, legally sanctioned racism (including the Indian Removal Acts of the 1830s), statutory segregation, and their legacy distinguish the South from other parts of the nation over much of its history.


Racial categories inform and structure homosexual interactions in profound ways.


In teasing out the legal, medical, and religious discourses shaping the lives of lesbians and gays, Christianity--particularly Protestant evangelicalism--proves vital in the South.


Any person, all alone, can experience same-sex desire. Acting on that desire requires the meeting of two of more people, the traversing of distances, great or small.

This analysis excellently foreshadows Howard's next book, Men Like That: A Southern Queer History (1999). Men Like That is one of my favorite books on LGBT history. It unfolds in a very unorthodox way as it moves between long excerpts from oral histories and analysis, and it is not necessarily an easy read because of the theory interwoven throughout the text. This led one scholarly reviewer to call the book "irritating." But at the same time (in this reviewer's opinion), Howard does a masterful job at unearthing queer southern voices that would have otherwise been lost to history. As a historian whose work focuses to a large extent on southern (and often rural southern) LGBT people, I am in debt to Men Like That. I think you'll like it, too. Follow me below the fold for more on the book.
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Reposted from Top Comments by Chrislove


Working on the dissertation can be a dark, lonely task that often makes one question the life choices that have led them to such an undertaking. There are many days when I wonder if I really like history that much. But then, there are other days when I find a delightful rabbit hole to wander down that almost makes all of the previous days worth it. This is a diary on one such rabbit hole. Unfortunately for my project, this little tangent had nothing to do with my dissertation. But sometimes those are the best rabbit holes.

I've been spending a lot of time lately scanning through the entire run of This Week in Texas, which began in the mid-1970s as a gay bar rag and turned by the 1980s into a major provider of Texas gay news. I'm looking for very specific types of articles, but every now and then, something else catches my eye. This happened while I perused a 1983 issue and stumbled upon an article on the thirtieth anniversary of a police raid that occurred when a gay couple attempted to hold a marriage ceremony in Waco. It was fascinating stuff, and I had no idea Waco was the center of such a dramatic scene from LGBT history. I wasn't satisfied when I finished the article, and I kept digging. Unfortunately, it is also an event that has been all but forgotten, escaping the notice of all but those who are particularly interested in Texas gay history, so it was difficult to find more information. But one thing led to another, and I realized I needed more documents from the archive, so I requested them. Finally, I have enough to write about the 1953 "homosexual convention" raid and Tommy Gene Brown, the "Waco Bride" around which the event revolved. Follow me below the fold...

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Reposted from LGBT Kos Community by librarisingnsf
There are a number of christian clergy/ministers who have lead the charge to make many of the Christian denominations more LGBT inclusive. I know more about the Reverend Troy Perry (Founder of Metropolitan Community Churches) than most of the others, although I'm well aware of Bishop Gene Robinson (of the Episcopal Church) as well. Another Episcopal Church minister that helped to lead the charge within the Episcopal Church is the Reverend Malcolm Boyd. He passed away on Friday in Los Angeles at the age of 91, due to complications from pneumonia.

From The Advocate:

Boyd was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1955, having left a career in film, TV, and radio production for the religious life, the Episcopal News Service reports. As the 1950s gave way to the 1960s, he became an activist clergyman, advocating for racial integration and other social justice causes. He embraced the era’s counterculture, speaking in coffeehouses and other unconventional venues, such as the Newport Jazz Festival and the Hungry I nightclub in San Francisco. At the latter he sometimes opened for politically outspoken comedian Dick Gregory.

In 1965, Boyd published a landmark book of prayers called Are You Running With Me, Jesus? It “took prayer out of church onto the city streets in a slangy vernacular not found in Sunday missals,” the Los Angeles Times noted in its obituary. Dealing with such issues as racism and teen pregnancy, the book “is a classic of spiritual writing for its generation,” the Rev. Robert Raines once told the Times. “It tells about the underbelly of society, which Malcolm knew something about. His was a Christian faith lived out in bars and on the streets. His prayers came out of the realization that God is not only in church. God is in the painful situations of your life.”

While many lauded Boyd’s unusual approach to ministry, few of his fans — or members of the church hierarchy — were ready to embrace his homosexuality when he came out in 1976. For several years no church would hire him.

“It was wilderness time,” he told The Indianapolis Star in 2003. “There was criticism, there was unemployability. I learned you have to be flexible in life.” He wrote books on gay spirituality and ran consciousness-raising groups, and finally, in 1982, St. Augustine-by-the-Sea in Santa Monica, Calif., offered him a job.

I haven't read any of his books -- something else to add to my reading list.

From Towleroad:

Boyd is survived by his partner of over 30 years Mark Thompson. In 2004, the two had their relationship blessed in a church ceremony and in 2013 were legally married in California after Proposition 8 was struck down by the Supreme Court.
I just have a minor correction to the Towleroad article. The US Supreme Court did not strike down Proposition 8. They dismissed the case because the Prop 8 defendants did not have Article III standing. That left federal district Judge Walker's ruling (from the Northern District of California) striking down Prop 8 in place.

(H/T Towleroad)

Reposted from Brubs by Brubs

Every night before bed, the alarm on my phone reminds of two things.  One is to take the pill that helps to keep me alive, and the other is just how incredibly lucky I am to count myself among the survivors of a disease that has claimed the lives of millions, and ravaged millions more.  The disease I speak of is HIV/AIDS.

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Reposted from Christian Bentzen by Christian Bentzen
    It would appear that the growing tide of public support for gay rights has yet to reach the National Harbor in Maryland where the unfortunately named Gaylord National Resort will host the annual CPAC event that draws conservatives from all over the nation - that is, presumably with the caveat that they first be heterosexual before entry.

      While the annual mega-gathering of conservatives ranging from Laura Ingraham to Sean Hannity, The NRA, the Media Research Center, and all the other usual characters is poised to be one of the largest, most televised of its kind yet, it will (once again) ban the only group representing LGBT Conservatives.  

     The latest disagreement between the organizers of the event and the gay republican outfit is yet another chapter in CPAC’s colorful past with gay conservatives. The now defunct GOProud organization participated in CPAC in 2010 and 2011 to the protests of social conservatives, but was kicked out of the conference in 2012 after its co-founder/President called conservative attorney Cleta Mitchell a “nasty bigot” and blamed her for the decision by the Heritage Foundation to remove itself from the conference over GOProud’s mere presence.

        In the years prior to this last disagreement, the organizers of CPAC (The ACU) have rationalized the exclusion of LGBT conservative organizations on the basis of their apparent lack of conservatism, that they weren’t sufficiently socially-conservative and that the annual event was for conservatives not libertarians.

       However, the President of Log Cabin has repeatedly argued against that sentiment saying that his organization sent a list of its conservative principles to the American Conservative Union, which included support for gun-ownership rights, preserving budget sequestration, and calls for tax reform. He went on to say that his group is the only LGBT organization that has called for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, signing a letter in 2013 with 21 conservative organizations to denounce the law as “tyrannical.”

      “Time and again, when we showed the ACU that we met their criteria for sponsorship, the reasons for our exclusion changed,” the President of Log Cabin said. “The only conclusion that can be made is that the organizers of CPAC do not feel gay people can be conservative — a position opposed by the thousands of Millennial CPAC attendees who have been asking Log Cabin Republicans for months if we would be participating at this year’s event. We owed it to them to explain why we are not.”

      Of course, the major takeaway here is the larger message that the conservative movement is choosing to send to the nation with regard to American Conservatism’s view of gay and lesbian people in general. It is that they not just oppose the specific rights of marriage, adoption, hospital visitation, etc, but rather oppose their mere presence as a group and that is what is truly disturbing in this whole situation.

     Disturbing not just in the eyes of the thousands of gay and lesbian Americans across the country who are essentially being told that they are not welcome in any ‘big tent’ here, but frankly should be more disturbing in the eyes of Republican strategists, pollsters, and activists because the nation is not only moving on, but it already has moved on and left this issue to the history books. Walk into any bar, any restaurant, any college or gym, just ask anyone on the street if they know a gay person and they will immediately smile at you and rattle off their list of friends, family members, co-workers, and others in their lives and tell you who the are and that they are here to stay.

     Perhaps the President of the Lob Cabin Republicans said it best himself: “CPAC has a problem allowing any formal recognition for organizations affiliated with gay people,” Angelo said. “That is the only logical conclusion to come to.”

Reposted from Top Comments by Chrislove


Two men seal vows with a kiss
And then they were wed...HE to HIM
Newspapers from Denton, Texas, to Singapore carried headlines of what was then a strange curiosity: a gay wedding. The movement for marriage equality really began to take shape in the 1990s, but we often forget that activists had their eyes on marriage much earlier, even in the throes of the gay liberation movement. The gay wedding that briefly captured everybody's attention took place at the kitschy Harmony Wedding Chapel in Houston on October 6, 1972. Thanks to some recent reporting in the Houston Chronicle, this all-but-forgotten episode of LGBT history has been dusted off and remembered, this time in the context of a movement that is on the cusp of attaining nationwide marriage equality. I, for one, knew nothing about this, but I'm happy to know that my city has a place in the history of marriage equality activism. Follow me below the fold to find out how Antonio Molina and William "Billie" Ert tied the knot in the Lone Star State over 40 years ago...
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Reposted from LGBT Kos Community by librarisingnsf
Judge Carlton Reeves was nominated to be a US district court judge for the Southern District Of Mississippi by President Obama in April 2010. He was confirmed by the US Senate in December of 2010 by a voice vote.

Judge Reeves recently struck down Mississippi's marriage ban(s) on same-sex couples. The opinion is excellent, and part of what makes it so good and interesting is the history of anti-gay discrimination (in Mississippi and in the USA) that Judge Reeves has informed us about. This is not the first opinion that discusses the history of anti-gay discrimination, but it is one of the most interesting and thorough discussions on the subject. Below I will highlight some of the better quotes from the opinion.

I'll give you just one quote with regard to anti-gay discrimination at the national level in the opinion.

Earlier federal courts have not hesitated to say that “a homosexual act is immoral, indecent, lewd, and obscene.”Schlegel v. United States, 416 F.2d 1372, 1378 (Ct. Cl. 1969). Much has changed. Today, even courts upholding same-sex marriage bans have had to acknowledge “the lamentable reality that gay individuals have experienced prejudice in this country, sometimes at the hands of public officials.” DeBoer, 2014 WL 5748990, at *18. “Within our lifetime, gay people have been the targets of pervasive police harassment, including raids on bars, clubs, and private homes; portrayed by the press as perverts and child molesters; and victimized in horrific hate crimes. ”Whitewood v. Wolf, 992 F. Supp. 2d 410, 427 (M.D. Pa. 2014).
Other quotes regarding anti-gay discrimination in Mississippi gathered from Right Wing Watch:
Reeves discusses the anti-gay actions of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, which was created in 1956 to maintain racial segregation by any means necessary.
Sovereignty Commission “[i]nvestigators and local officials also targeted local blacks and outsiders involved in civil rights activities as being sexually deviant.” They singled out Rust College, a private historically black institution, on reports that instructors there were “homosexuals and racial agitators.”

Those with power took smaller, yet meaningful, actions to discourage gay organizing and association in Mississippi. The State refused to let gay rights organizations incorporate as nonprofits. The newspaper at Mississippi State University – student-led, with an elected editor – refused to print a gay organization’s advertisement notifying gay and lesbian students of an off-campus “Gay Center” offering “counseling, legal aid and a library of homosexual literature. An advisor to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concluded that the Jackson Police Department took “a series . . . of maneuvers to harass members of Jackson’s gay community.” “As of 1985 not a single university campus in Mississippi recognized a lesbian and gay student group.”

The National Organization For Marriage was not the first organization to try the divide and conquer strategy of turning civil rights leaders in the African-American community against the gay community. Segregationists in the South did so as well. From the opinion:
Any claim that Mississippians quietly accommodated gay and lesbian citizens could no longer be made in the 1960s, when prejudice against homosexuals (and other groups) became more visible during the civil rights movement. Segregationists called their opponents “racial  perverts,” while U.S. Marshals – summoned to enforce civil rights – were labeled “sadists and  perverts.” Klan propaganda tied together “Communists, homosexuals, and Jews, fornicators and liberals and angry blacks – infidels all.”

One Klan photo showed a black man touching the crotch of the white man sitting next to him, attempting to make the link between racial equality and homosexuality explicit.

Civil rights leaders had predicted the attack. In selecting the Freedom Riders, James Farmer had conducted interviews to weed out “Communists, homosexuals, [and] drug addicts.” “We had to screen them very carefully because we knew that if they found anything to throw at us, they would throw it,” he explained.

This reflected society’s notion that homosexuals were “undesirables.” It also placed civil rights leaders in the position of seeking rights for one disenfranchised group while simultaneously seeking to avoid association with another disenfranchised group. Mississippians opposed to integration harassed several civil rights leaders for their homosexuality. Bill Higgs was a prominent gay Mississippi civil rights lawyer. He was targeted for his activism, convicted in absentia of delinquency of a minor, and threatened with “unlimited  jailings” should he ever return to Mississippi.

He never did.

Judge Reeves also discusses Bayard Rustin, the gay African-American civil rights activist who organized the 1963 March On Washington, and how he was discriminated against by members within the civil rights movement as well as the segregationists. From the opinion:
The most interesting part of Rustin’s story, though – and the reason why he merits more discussion here – is that he was subjected to anti-gay discrimination by both white and black people, majority and minority alike. Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, a black Democrat, threatened to feed the media a false story that Rustin was having an affair with Martin Luther King, Jr., unless Dr. King canceled a protest at the Democratic National Convention.

Other persons within the civil rights movement were similarly “put off by Rustin’s homosexuality.” Roy Wilkins, an NAACP executive, “was particularly nasty to Bayard Rustin – very hostile,” in part because he “was very nervous about Bayard’s homosexuality.” Dr. King eventually had Rustin resign “because of persistent criticism of Rustin’s homosexuality and Communist ties and because of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell’s threat.”

Rustin reemerged years later as one of the principal organizers of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A. Philip Randolph and Dr. King wanted Rustin as the march’s chief organizer, but Wilkins pushed back “because [Rustin] was gay . . . something which in particular would offend J. Edgar Hoover.” The group ultimately “decided Randolph would be in charge of the march, that Rustin would be the principal organizer, but that he would stay somewhat in the background.”

The concern about offending Hoover was prescient, as the FBI Director and other top officials soon moved to use Rustin’s homosexuality against him. In August 1963, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and President John F. Kennedy urgently reviewed the transcript of a FBI wiretap in which Dr. King acknowledged Rustin’s homosexuality. A day later, Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina “rose in the Senate to denounce Rustin for sexual perversion, vagrancy, and lewdness.” FBI “headquarters badgered the field offices for new details” of Rustin’s sex life for months.

Reeves discusses how others were mistreated at the time as well:
Rustin’s story speaks to the long tradition of Americans from all walks of life uniting to discriminate against homosexuals. It did not matter if one was liberal or conservative, segregationist or civil rights leader, Democrat or Republican; homosexuals were “the other.” Being homosexual invited scrutiny and professional consequences.

These consequences befell quite a few Mississippians. Ted Russell, the conductor of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, lost his job and his Belhaven College faculty position after he was caught in a gay sex sting by the Jackson Police Department. In the early 1980s, Congressman Jon Hinson drew scrutiny for frequenting an X-rated gay movie theater in Washington, D.C., and although he won reelection, he resigned when he returned to Washington and was caught performing gay sex acts in a Capitol Hill bathroom. As early as 1950, the State’s flagship institution of higher learning, the University of Mississippi, “forced three homosexual students and one faculty member to leave the university” because it “did not tolerate homosexuality.” Lesbian instructors at Mississippi University for Women were pushed out of their jobs, while students at other Mississippi public universities were expelled for their homosexuality. A 1979 article on gay Jacksonians said “most” remained closeted because “they fear losing their jobs, friends and families.”

Reeves also states that this official discrimination was not limited to the past.
In 1990, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed a trial judge who declared that a mother, who was a lesbian, could not visit her children in the presence of her female partner. In Weigand v. Houghton, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed a trial judge who refused residential custody to a father in large part because he was in a long-term relationship with another man. A dissent complained that the father’s sexuality had impaired the court’s judgment, since the child would now have to live with “the unemployed stepfather [who] is a convicted felon, drinker, drug-taker, adulterer, wife-beater, and child-threatener, and . . . the mother [who] has been transitory, works two jobs, and has limited time with the child.”

In 2002, one of Mississippi’s justice court judges, frustrated with advances in gay rights in California, Vermont, and Hawaii, “opined that homosexuals belong in mental institutions.” Although he was reprimanded and fined by the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance, the Mississippi Supreme Court vacated the sanctions. It was more important for gay citizens to know that their judge was biased and seek his recusal than to “forc[e] judges to conceal their prejudice against gays and lesbians,” it wrote. The “Commission urges us to ‘calm the waters’ when, as the guardians of this state’s judicial system, we should be helping our citizens to spot the crocodiles.”

Judge Reeves concludes the history of discrimination section of the ruling this way:
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” That is as true here as anywhere else. Seven centuries of strong objections to homosexual conduct have resulted in a constellation of State laws that treat gay and lesbian Mississippians as lesser, “other” people. Thus, it is easy to conclude that they have suffered through a long and unfortunate history of discrimination.
If you have not read Judge Reeves' opinion in the Mississippi marriage equality case and wish to, you can find it here. It's a great read.
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