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Today In Gay History – June 2nd: AIDS Tax, Bill Clinton, and Crimes Against Nature

Gay History timeline

June 2 –

1983 – US Congressman Larry McDonald (D-GA) proposed that a “user-tax” be imposed on people with AIDS to finance research, saying that since they caused the epidemic they shouldn’t expect others to pay for the research necessary to find treatments.

McDonald, who considered himself a traditional Democrat “cut from the cloth of Jefferson and Jackson,” was known for his conservative views, even by Southern standards. Given his Old Right and Southern views, he was more conservative than the Republican Party. In fact, one scoring method published in the American Journal of Political Science named him the second most conservative member of either chamber of Congress between 1937 and 2002.

McDonald sponsored amendments to stop government aid to homosexuals and also co-sponsored a bill “expressing the sense of the Congress that homosexual acts and the class of individuals who advocate such conduct shall never receive special consideration or a protected status under law”.

MacDonald was also the second president of the John Birch Society and opposed the establishment of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day saying the FBI had evidence that King “was associated with and being manipulated by communists and secret communist agents.”

Larry McDonald on board Korean Air Lines Flight 007 when it was shot down by Soviet interceptors and presumed dead.

Who said there is no such thing as Karma?

1987 – “A Chorus Line” creator Michael Bennett died of complications from AIDS at age 44 in Tucson, Arizona

1989 – The first annual Lambda Literary awards ceremony was held.  The “Lammy” is the most prestigious, competitive, and comprehensive literary award offered specifically to LGBT authors writing about queer lives across multiple genres published by large and small presses.

1998 – The Rhode Island legislature voted to repeal the state’s sodomy law. The prison sentence under the law had ranged from 7-20 years.

2000 – Bill Clinton, the first U.S. President to proclaim June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, issued his final pride proclamation. Clinton took the occasion to renew his call for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  Four years earlier in 1996 Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act which prevents the Federal Government from recognizing same sex marriages in America.

2008Charges of crimes against nature were dropped against two men who were arrested for having consensual sex in Wake County, N.C. since it was in private. Though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003 that consensual gay sex is not a punishable offense, North Carolina still classified sodomy as an illegal activity. Raleigh police were told that they could continue to arrest gay men for having public sex, but not private sex.

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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