* Benjamin Franklin was the first U.S. military recruiter who enlisted a gay man into the Revolutionary Army.
* George Washington in all probability was the first American to offer domestic-partner rights. He gave housing to a known homosexual couple when housing was a premium at Valley Forge. And when faced with a homosexual scandal at Valley Forge, he took the least harmful course of action and embarrassed the officer accused of sodomy rather than giving him the death sentence as Thomas Jefferson demanded.
* An African-American gay man, George Middleton, lead a troop of black men in the Revolution.
* Several women dressed as men to enlist in the Revolutionary Army. After the war, when they could have taken off the drag, some chose to live out their lives as men.
* A lesbian, Katharine Lee Bates, wrote one of the country’s most patriotic songs, “America the Beautiful.”
* The director of Wheatland, the home and presidential library of President James Buchanan, admits for the first time that it can’t be refuted that Buchanan might have been gay. In an effort to allow historians the opportunity to fully research this, the library has taken down the portrait of Ann Coleman, the one woman Buchanan ever romanced.
* It might also surprise many Americans that the father of the United States military was a gay man: Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben. He wrote the “Revolutionary War Drill Manual” and introduced drills, tactics and discipline to the rag-tag militia, which resulted in victory over the British.
So think about that today everybody when you are stuffing a footlong in your mouth.
On July 4th. 1965, gay rights activists gathered outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, carrying picket signs and demanding legislation that would codify the rights of homosexuals as a minority group. Referencing the Constitution’s inalienable right to the “Pursuit of Happiness” and its foundational belief that “all men are created equal,” the activists called for legislative changes that would improve the lives of American homosexuals. (Which at that time included the lesbian, trans and bi community. Compartmentalization and isolation was not part of the movement yet and all groups were together as one and fought as such)
The protest would be called “Reminder Day” and would continue for the next five years in a row
The name of the event was selected to remind the American people that a substantial number of American citizens were denied the rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” enumerated in the United States Declaration of Independence.
Thirty-nine people attended the first picket, including veteran activists Frank Kameny, Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin. As with the Washington, D.C. picket Kameny insisted on a strict dress code for participants, including jackets and ties for the men and dresses for the women. Kameny’s goal was to represent homosexuals as “presentable and ’employable'”. Picketers carried signs with such slogans as “HOMOSEXUAL BILL OF RIGHTS” and “15 MILLION HOMOSEXUAL AMERICANS ASK FOR EQUALITY, OPPORTUNITY, DIGNITY”.
The picket ran from 3:30-5:00 PM. and press coverage was sparse, although Confidential magazine ran a large feature about the Reminder and other gay pickets in its October 1965 issue under the headline “Homos On The March”.
The annual Reminder continued through July 4, 1969. The final Annual Reminder took place less than a week after the June 28th. Stonewall riots,
At the last Annual Reminder Rodwell received several telephone calls threatening him and the other New York participant’s lives, but he was able to arrange for police protection for the chartered bus all the way to Philadelphia. About 45 people participated, including the deputy mayor of Philadelphia and his wife. The dress code and behavior code was still in effect at the Reminder, but two women from the New York contingent broke from the single-file picket line and held hands. When Frank Kameny tried to break them apart, Rodwell furiously denounced him to onlooking members of the press.
The annual Reminders were commemorated in 2005 by the placement of a Pennsylvania state historical marker by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission at 6th and Chestnut Streets where it is viewed by thousands of visitors daily.
In 2015 the city of Philadelphia celebrated the 50th. Anniversary of the reminders. Unfortunately. the event did not draw the crowds it had hoped and the city itself tried to re-write LGBT history by wrongly claiming that it was the “birthplace of the LGBT rights movement.” The organizers dropped that false claim before the event after much pressure from this website and other LGBT historians.
Via email blast from Family Research Council hate group leader Tony Perkins:
The Fourth of July is a time of national celebration and commemoration. We rejoice in our liberty and remember those who won our freedoms and have preserved them at great cost. Yet underlying these things is a foundation that must remain strong for “liberty and justice for all” to mean anything.
It’s the rule of law. Law that is fair and impartial, consistent and understandable. Without allegiance to the rule of law, we become a nation where those in power can do what they want without accountability. And in this 244th year of our independence, I fear we are on the brink of that happening.
Last month, the court ruled in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia that the 1964 Civil Rights Act opposing discrimination based on the biological sex of an individual now must mean that “discrimination based on homosexuality or transgender status necessarily entails discrimination based on sex.”
Justice Neil Gorsuch, who wrote these words, even acknowledges in his decision that the meaning of “sex” in 1964 was not even vaguely connected to homosexuality or transgenderism. In his words, the court “proceeds on the assumption that ‘sex’,” in 1964, referred “only to biological distinctions between male and female.”
America has never been a perfect nation and never will be. But with all our problems, we have made tremendous progress in securing the God-given rights we too often take for granted.
But the exercise of those rights will be increasingly diminished and put in jeopardy if Congress refuses to safeguard them and, instead, allows the Supreme Court to rule however its justices prefer, regardless of the text of the Constitution and the law itself.