Tag Archives: civil rights

Gay History - 1974: The Equality Act Introduced to Congress and We Are Still Waiting

Gay History – January 14 1974: Bella Abzug Introduces the First Equality Act to Congress

In 1974, gay activists in New York City were fighting to pass a city-wide gay rights ordinance. Then NY Representative to Congress Bella Abzug (pictured above), inspired by the emergence of the first national gay rights organization, the then newly formed National Gay Task Force (NGTF), had the idea to circumvent local homophobes by introducing federal legislation that would give gays and lesbians full FEDERAL equality under the law.

Enlisting the co-sponsorship of Ed Koch (D-NY), (the closeted New York Congressman who would go on to become the mayor of New York City), Abzug courageously introduced the Equality Act on  January 14th of 1974 — the first piece of federal legislation to address discrimination based on sexual orientation. The act would amend Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status, or sexual orientation in public accommodations, public facilities, public education, federally assisted programs, housing, and financial services. Anticipating contemporary “hate crime” legislation, the act further stipulated penalties for anyone who willfully injured, intimidated, or interfered with a person on the basis of sex, marital status, or sexual orientation and empowered the U.S. Attorney General to take civil action against such discrimination

Of course it failed.

In 1975, the National Gay Task Force urged Abzug and Koch to try again. This time, the pair got twenty-four members of Congress (including themselves) to co-sponsor their proposed legislation: the Civil Rights Amendment of 1975. Bruce Voeller, director of the NGTF, along with NGTF national coordinator Nathalie Rockhill, organized a press conference on Capitol Hill, inviting prestigious organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Organization for Women (NOW), to attend. Rockhill was slated to introduce Congresswoman Abzug, who would then explain the bill to the press. The Civil Rights Amendment of 1975, Abzug explained as she spoke into the microphone, would extend the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968 to protect gays and lesbians in all of the areas covered by the proposed Equality Act of 1974; and like the Equality Act, the amendment would penalize anyone who discriminated against someone on the basis of their sexual orientation.

And once again the bill did not pass.

Beginning in the 1990’s, Congressional efforts shifted to the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). More narrow in scope than the Equality Act, ENDA would prohibit discrimination in hiring practices and employment on the basis of sexual orientation and, in some versions of the bill, gender identity without amending the Civil Rights Act. In 1994, ENDA was introduced in the House by Congressman Gerry Studds (D-MA) and in the Senate by Ted Kennedy (D-MA). Both times, the bill died in committee.

ENDA was introduced in every Congress since 1994 except the 109th. The bill gained its best chance at passing after the Democratic Party gained the majority after twelve years of Republican majorities in the 2006 midterm elections. In 2007, gender identity protections were added to the legislation for the first time. Some sponsors believed that even with a Democratic majority, ENDA did not have enough votes to pass the House of Representatives with transgender inclusion and it was dropped the bill, it was the closest that the bill ever got to passing,  ENDA passed the House and then died in the Senate. President George W. Bush threatened to veto the measure even if it did make it to his desk.

A trans-inclusive ENDA was again introduced again in 2009 by Frank in the House and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in the Senate, only to die in each chamber’s respective committee.

ENDA was introduced twice more by Merkley: in 2011, where it again stalled in committee and in 2013, where it passed the Senate with bipartisan support — including the backing of President Barack Obama — in a 64–32 vote only to then die in the Republican controlled House.

Some 45 years later Abzug’s “Equality Act” was reborn. This version, introduced on May 2nd, 2017, in the House by Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) and in the Senate by Jeff Merkley, would go back to amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Jury Selection and Services Act, and laws regarding employment with the federal government to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories. .

Now once again the Equality Act waits gathering dust while LGBT Americans in 30 states have no civil protections at all.

48 years later.

Shameful.

Gay History – October 10, 1949: Newsweek Magazine Publishes Homophobic Article “Queer People”

 

Gay/LGBT History Month - October 10th: Newsweek Publishes "Queer People", Gays Get Fed Up, and Romer v. Evans

On this day October 10th:

1915:  Albert D. J. Cashier (born Jennie Irene Hodgers, was an Irish-born immigrant who served as a male soldier in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

Cashier returned to Belvidere, Illinois for a time where he lived as a man, vote in elections and later claimed a veteran’s pension. On May 5, 1911, Cashier was moved to the Soldier and Sailors home in Quincy, Illinois. He lived there as a man until his mind deteriorated and was moved to the Watertown State Hospital for the Insane in March 1913.  Attendants at the Watertown State Hospital discovered that he was female-bodied when giving him a bath, at which point he was forced to wear a dress.

Albert Cashier died on October 10, 1915. He was buried in the uniform he had kept intact all those years and his tombstone was inscribed “Albert D. J. Cashier,

1949: The periodical Newsweek published a story titled “Queer People” calling out “gay perverts” and comparing them to exhibitionists and sexual sadists. It challenged the idea that homosexuals hurt no one but themselves and are in truth EVIL!

“The sex pervert, whether a homosexual, an exhibitionist, or even a dangerous sadist, is too often regarded merely as a ‘queer’ person who never hurts anyone but himself. Then the mangled form of one of his victims focuses public attention to the degenerate’s work. And newspaper headlines flare for days over accounts and feature articles packed with sensational details of the most dastardly and horrifying crimes.”

The editorial reviewed The Sexual Criminal, a book by J. Paul DeRiver who headed the Los Angeles Police Department’s Sex Offenses Bureau. Newsweek lauded the “factual scientific book” with 43 case histories, including “lots of very queer people” including “the sadistic pedophile,” “zoophiles, psychopaths who performed sadistic acts on animals, and the necrophiles, who …commit acts of moral degeneracy upon or in the presence of dead bodies.” Eugene D. Williams, a California “special assistant attorney general,” wrote the introduction to the book, in which he warned that “the semi-hysterical, foolishly sympathetic, and wholly unscientific attitude of any individual engaged in social work and criminology to regard sex perverts as poor unfortunates who are suffering from disease and cannot help themselves, has a tendency to feed their ego.” To which Newsweek added:

A sterner attitude is required, if the degenerate is to be properly treated and cured. Williams suggests that the sex pervert be treated, not as a coddled patient, but as a particularly virulent type of criminal. “To punish him,” he concludes, “he should be placed in an institution where the proper kind of rehabilitory work can be done so that, of capable of being brought to the realization of the error of his ways, he may be brought back to society prepared to live as a normal, law-abiding individual, rather than turned out as he now is from the penitentiary, confirmed in his perversion.

1964: The East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO) Hosts First Conference Calling for Direct Action:

The Daughters of Bilities, the Janus Society of Philadelphia, and the Mattachine Societies of New York and Washington, D.C., met in the nation’s capital for the second conference of the East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO), a loose confederation formed in 1962. Attendance was light: only about a hundred people showed up at the Sheraton Park Hotel, thanks to ECHO’s difficulty in getting the word out about where the event would take place. The Mattachine Society of Washington (MSW), which was hosting the conference, saw three other hotels cancel their bookings and three newspapers refusing to run ads for the conference. Those who showed up were charged up and impatient with the old ways of doing things. The DoB’s newsletter, The Ladder, set the scene:

“I’m an activist,” said a handsome young man present at the ECHO conference for 1964. “I’ve read nearly 75 books in the New York Mattachine Society library, and I’m fed up with reading on the subject of homosexuality.” His statement seemed to typify the attitude pervading this serious conference.

Any disappointment over the small attendance (less than 100 persons) could be offset by the fact that this was a down-to-business meeting attended primarily by those dedicated to immediate action. It was a gathering of men and women impatient to remedy the discriminations against the homosexual citizen in our society.

We talked with a long-time friend of one of the sponsoring organizations, and his remarks confirmed our view. “A few years ago,” he said, “ours was a sweeter, clubbier, less insistent organization. Now there seems to be a militancy about the new groups and new leaders. There’s a different mood.”

Signs of that different mood were everywhere, beginning with MSW’s Robert King’s prescient keynote address , which described that growing new mood. He said that gay people were asking for “the rights, and all the rights, afforded the heterosexual. We are still in the asking stage. We will soon reach the demanding stage. (… A) dormant army is beginning to stir.” J.C. Hodges, president of the Mattachine Society of New York, challenged the prevailing timidity of previous homophile leaders to get involved with politics, declaring that “politics is everybody’s business.” He urged attendees to throw themselves into established political organizations. “Involve yourself if  you are to have any voice on your own behalf.”

1987: As a sign of protest over two thousand gay and lesbian couples are “married” in a mass mock wedding in front of Washington, DC’s Internal Revenue Service building as part of the Second National March on Washington.

1990: Members of the London-based LGBT rights group OutRage held a kiss-in at Brief Encounter, a gay pub that previously banned same-sex kissing. A month prior to the kiss-in, the organization delivered a formal letter of complaint to the pub in an effort to lift the ban.

1995: Romer v. Evans went to trial and the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments. A landmark legal battle, it was the first Supreme Court case to address issues of LGBT rights since  Romer vs. Evans laid the foundation for the historic Lawrence v. Texas case years later.

1997: The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) took part in the National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights, involving around twenty congregations. Within this same time period, MCC founder Reverend Elder Perry oversaw a massive commitment ceremony in conjunction with this event for over 2,000 gay and lesbian couples.

1998: Prominent British actor, broadcaster and lesbian activist Jackie Forster passed away. Following her coming out in 1969, she joined the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and later became a founding member of London’s Gay Liberation Front. She was immortalized by the LGBT rights group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as “Saint Jackie of the Eternal Mission to Lay Sisters” in 1994.

2008:  In Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 vote that the state’s constitution protects the right to same-sex marriage. The decision made Connecticut the third state, after Massachusetts and California, to have its state supreme court declare a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

 

Michigan LGBT Rights Ballot Initiative Falls Short Of Signatures Needed

Michigan LGBT Rights Ballot Initiative Falls Short Of Signatures Needed

The Michigan elections bureau has determined that Fair and Equal Michigan gathered nearly 299,000 signatures, short of the roughly 340,000 needed for a ballot drive to prohibit discrimination against LGBT Michiganders according to a report released Thursday. 

Election staffers ruled many ineligible because the signers were not registered voters or there were address, date or others errors. The bipartisan Board of State Canvassers will meet Tuesday to consider a recommendation to not certify the initiative.

“The Bureau of Elections threw out thousands of signatures that are valid and we will fight for every valid signature so no voters are disenfranchised,” said Josh Hovey, spokesman for Fair and Equal Michigan.

Michigan is one of 27 states without LGBT housing, employment. and accommodation protections.

In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a landmark federal civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from employment discrimination but did not cover the other main tenets in the LGBT discrimination issues facing American’s

For the 40 years the Equality Act or some version of it has been introduced into Congress and it still has not passed that would add LGBT protections to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Our community needs to focus on getting the Equality Act passed once and for all because once that happens many of the other minor issues we keep getting hung up on will dissipate also.

Gay History – April 17, 1965: Frank Kameny Leads The First Gay & Lesbian Protest At The White House

On April 17th, 1965 Dr. Frank Kameny, along with gay rights pioneer Jack Nichols, who co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, DC  bravely led the first “homosexual rights” protest at the White House at a time in history when being gay and lesbian was viewed as an abomination in this country.

The Mattachine Society fought for the equal treatment of gay employees in the federal government, the repeal of sodomy laws, and the removal of homosexuality as a mental disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s manual of mental disorders..

Ten MSW members along with members of the Daughters of Bilitis picketed in front of the White House against Cuban and the US governments repression of homosexuals.

The group also included:  Gail Johnson,  Gene Kleeberg, Judith Kuch, Paul Kuntzler, Perrin Shaffer, Jon Swanson, Otto Ulrich, Lilli Vincenz (editor of MSW’s quarterly).

Of the protest, Jack Nichols wrote “Never before had gay people as an organized group paraded openly for our rights.”

Nichols recalls:

The picket took place during mid-afternoon. It was the Saturday before Easter, and tourists walked the downtown streets. Lige [Clarke], driving the convertible, took me to the White House curb and helped me unload signs. Then he drove off to work the afternoon shift at the Pentagon. Gail arrived at the site on the back seat of Ray’s motorcycle.It was agreed I should lead the picket line. The reason for this was that I was tall and an all-American sort. Also, I suppose, because I’d conceived the event. Frank Kameny marched behind me and Lilli Vincenz behind him …

As we marched, I looked about at our well-dressed little band. Kameny had insisted that we seven men must wear suits and ties, and the women, dresses and heels. New Yorkers later complained that we Washingtonians looked like a convention of undertakers, but given the temper of the times, Kameny’s insistence was apropos. “If you’re asking for equal employment rights,” he intoned, “look employable!” In the staid nation’s capital, dressing for the occasion was, in spite of New York critics, proper.

We paraded in a small circle. Behind lampposts stood unknown persons photographing us. Were they government agents? Perrin and Otto wore sunglasses so absolute identification would be difficult should they fall prey to security investigations. We walked for an hour that passed, as I’d predicted, without incident. A few tourists gawked and there were one or two snickers, more from confusion than from prejudice.

We’d hoped for more publicity than we got. Only The Afro-American carried a small item about what we’d done. But we’d done it, and that was what mattered. We’d stood up against the power structure, putting our bodies on the line. Nothing had happened except that we’d been galvanized, and, to a certain extent, immunized against fear.”

The Mattachine Society protest was not welcomed by the mainstream gay movement of the time.  The more conservative leaders of the gay movement felt picketing would draw adverse publicity and even greater hostility. (Which sounds very familiar to what we hear today from some LGBT rights groups.)

The Mattachine Society’s protest of the White House, along with the Stonewall Riots are among two of the most significant events in LGBT History. But sadly as we look at the pictures and read the slogans on the picket signs of our LGBT activist forefathers I realize many of the slogans on these signs could still be carried in protest today.

In 2009 I wrote an article for Cincinnati CityBeat  the Queen City’s alternative newspaper called Reason To Rally where I offered an explanation of why I believe the momentum of our fight for equality has stalled to a snail’s pace

Since then, (the Stonewall riots) the cause for Equality has undertaken many different forms.

An angry queer in a T-shirt and jeans might have symbolized the gay activism of the 1970s, but the AIDS epidemic of the ’80s caused a significant change in approach.

By the end of the 90’s gay advocacy became symbolized by well groomed and overpaid white people sitting on boards, issuing press releases, asking for contributions and hosting fabulous galas instead of multitudes taking to the streets and demanding our rights

We now donate instead of protest. We sign countless petitions and then sit behind our computers and bitch and moan about our oppression instead of doing something about it ourselves.

Our cause has been splintered, fragmented and hijacked into piecemeal specific issues such as gay marriage, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act instead of what we should be doing: standing together as one and fighting for and demanding federal recognition and protections in toto

Now with the push of “religious liberty” laws by those who hate us to roll back the rights we have fought so hard for we must  stand together, side-by-side and fight the hatred and bigotry that we deal with everyday and let them know that we’ll no longer accept being treated as second-class citizens and allow them spread lies and propaganda about us and our lives.

Too many years have passed and too many of our friends have left us without knowing what true equality is.

We must ALL stand up and start fighting again.

We must not only fight  for ourselves and those in out community but also for the memory of those who bravely began this fight and are no longer with us and left this world without achieving equality.

We must achieve that goal for them, for us, and those who will come after.

This is still our time.  This is still our fight.

Michigan LGBT Rights Ballot Initiative Falls Short Of Signatures Needed

Democrats Reintroduce The LGBT Equality Act…… AGAIN.

A screenshot of a press release introducing the Equality Act from Rep. Cicilline and Sen. Merkley. The introduction says: U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) today announced the introduction of the Equality Act, comprehensive civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community in the areas of employment, education, credit, jury service, federal funding, housing, and public accommodations.

Via Lambda Legal:

Today, U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) announced the introduction of the Equality Act, bipartisan federal legislation that will update existing federal nondiscrimination laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act, to confirm that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is unlawful discrimination based on sex. The Equality Act clarifies sex discrimination laws to prohibit LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing, credit, education, and other areas, and explicitly extends sex discrimination protections to public accommodations and federally funded programs.

Lambda Legal applauds the re-introduction of the Equality Act, long past-due federal legislation which provides clear, comprehensive, and explicit protections for LGBTQ people in federal law. Coupled with President Biden’s early action applying the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County to all federal laws currently prohibiting sex discrimination, we can see true equality on the horizon. And it can’t happen soon enough: the LGBTQ community has been asking Congress for protections since Reps. Bella Abzug and Ed Koch first introduced the Equality Act of 1974, 47 years ago, and nearly fifty years of waiting is long enough. (Click the highlighted link to read the history of The Equality Act.)

Unfortunately the Republican Party’s evil puppet masters – the evangelicals – will not allow the Equality Act to pass the Senate. It’ll be filibustered there.

Eliminate the filibuster and this has a chance of finally after almost 5 decades becoming law.

Nancy Pelosi Calls Passage Of LGBT Equality Act A 'Priority'

Nancy Pelosi Calls Passage Of LGBT Equality Act A ‘Priority’ Despite Biden Team’s Backpedaling

A few weeks ago we reported that the Biden administration backpaddled on the LGBT Equality Act and the promise Joe Biden made during his election campaign that the Equality Act would be one of the first bills that would be passed and signed into law during his first 100 days because now they fear that they don’t have enough votes in the Senate to pass the bill with the razor thin new Democratic majority.

Regardless of the worry about Senate passage this week House Majority leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday called passage of the Equality Act a “priority.” and that the House could vote on the legislation as early as March.

“I’m optimistic about it because I do think we will get strong bipartisan support in the House and in the Senate. We passed it in the last Congress. No success in the Senate. It went to Mitch McConnell’s graveyard, the ‘grim reaper,’” ” Pelosi said

Pelosi called the Equality Act “an early priority for us.” “And again, it’s about ending discrimination,” she added.

The Equality Act has faced a long and hard road since it was introduced it’s first time in Congress in 1973 by Bella Abzuz. Since then it has gone through, different incarnations: Notably as The Civil Rights Amendment of 1975 and since 1994 The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). ENDA was introduced in every Congress from the 110th. to the 115th. without passing.

Now almost 50 years later the Equality Act will be introduced once again in the hopes of it becoming law. Will this finally be the time that it passes both the House and the Senate and makes it to Joe Biden’s desk to sign?

Only (more) time will tell.

Gay History: The Incredible Life of Black and Gay Civil Rights Icon Bayard Rustin (March 17, 1912 – August 24, 1987)

PRIDE MONTH: The Incredible Life of Black Gay Civil Rights Icon Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin

Bayard Taylor Rustin was born in West Chester, Pa., March 17, 1912. He had no relationship with his father, and his 16-year-old mother, Florence, was so young he thought she was his sister. From his grandparents, Janifer and Julia Rustin, he took his Quaker “values,” which, in his words, “were based on the concept of a single human family and the belief that all members of that family are equal,”

As a teenager, Rustin wrote poems, played left tackle on the high school football team and, according to lore, staged an impromptu sit-in at a restaurant that would serve his white teammates but not him. When Rustin told his grandmother he preferred the company of young men to girls, she simply said, “I suppose that’s what you need to do.”

In 1937, Rustin moved to New York City after bouncing between Wilberforce University and Cheney State Teachers College. Enrolling at City College, he devoted himself to singing, performing with the Josh White Quartet and in the musical John Henry with Paul Robeson. He also joined the Young Communist League. Though he soon quit the party after it ordered him to cease protesting racial segregation in the U.S. armed forces. By this time he was already on the radar of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI.

Disappointed when the 1941 March on Washington was called off, Rustin joined the pacifist Rev. A.J. Muste’s Fellowship of Reconciliation, and when FOR members in Chicago launched the Congress of Racial Equality in 1942, Rustin traveled around the country speaking out. Two years later, he was arrested for failing to appear before his draft board and refusing alternative service as a conscientious objector. Sentenced to three years in prison, he ended up serving 26 months, angering authorities with his desegregation protests and open homosexuality to the point they transferred him to a higher-security prison.

Once released, Rustin embarked on CORE’s 1947 Journey of Reconciliation, an early version of the Freedom Rides, to test the Supreme Court’s ruling in Morgan v. Virginia (1946) that any state forcing segregation on buses crossing state lines would be in violation of the Commerce Clause. It was a noble attempt, but Rustin soon found himself on a chain gang in North Carolina.

As part of his deepening commitment to nonviolent protest, Rustin traveled to India in 1948 to attend a world pacifist conference. Mahatma Gandhi had been assassinated earlier that year, but his teachings touched Rustin in profound ways. “We need in every community a group of angelic troublemakers,” he wrote after returning to the States. “The only weapon we have is our bodies, and we need to tuck them in places so wheels don’t turn”

In January 1953, Rustin, after delivering a speech in Pasadena, Calif., was arrested on “lewd conduct” and “vagrancy” charges, allegedly for a sexual act involving two white men in an automobile. With the FBI’s file on Rustin expanding, FOR demanded his resignation

In 1956, on the advice of labor leader and activist A. Philip Randolph, Rustin traveled to Alabama to lend support to Dr. King, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. While remaining out of the spotlight, Rustin played a critical role in introducing King to Gandhi’s teachings while writing publicity materials and organizing carpools. After helping King organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1956-1957, Rustin demonstrated against the French government’s nuclear test program in North Africa. As he once said, so simply and clear, “I want no human being to die”

In 1960 Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. of New York, angry that Rustin and King were planning a march outside the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, warned King that if he did not drop Rustin, Powell would tell the press King and Rustin were gay lovers. Regardless of the fact that Powell had concocted the charge for his own malicious reasons, King, in one of his weaker moments, called off the march and put distance between himself and Rustin, who reluctantly resigned from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was led by King.  Rustin put the movement ahead of this vicious personal slight.

The idea for the 1963 march again came from A. Philip Randolph, who wondered if younger activists were giving short shrift to economic issues as they pushed for desegregation in the South. In 1962, he recruited Rustin, and the two began making plans, this time to commemorate the centennial of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Rustin traveled to Alabama to meet with King and expanded the march’s focus to “Jobs and Freedom.” From the march’s headquarters in New York, he looked forward to leading the planning coalition of the “Big Six” civil rights organizations: SNCC, CORE, SCLC, the National Urban League, the NAACP and Randolph’s Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. But Rustin’s past again came into play when Roy Wilkins of the NAACP refused to allow Rustin to be the front man because of his homosexuality. “This march is of such importance that we must not put a person of his liabilities at the head,” Randolph agreed to serve as the march’s director with Rustin as his deputy.

The march itself, of course, turned out to be a tremendous success, including those glorious moments when the official estimate of 200,000 was announced (actually, there was as many as 300,000, says Life.com); when Marian and Mahalia sang; when Mrs. Medgar Evers paid tribute to “Negro Women Freedom Fighters”; when John Lewis and Dr. King spoke; and when Bayard Rustin read the march’s demands.

Afterward, the leaders of the Big Six met with President Kennedy at the White House. Rustin remained out of sight, though he and Randolph did make it onto the cover of Life Sept. 6.  Eight days later, four young girls went to their deaths in the Birmingham church bombing; in November, President Kennedy was gunned down, leaving President Lyndon Johnson to shuttle the Civil Rights Act through Congress, signing it in 1964, the same year Dr. King received the Nobel Prize, with Rustin planning the logistics of his trip to Oslo. It was, to say the least, history at its most dramatic, shocking — and unpredictable — at every turn.

Rustin remained engaged in the struggle for justice despite tensions from other black activist. When Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., Rustin participated in the memorial march and demanded economic justice for sanitation workers. At the same time, he expanded his focus on international causes, including offering support to Israel, promoting free elections in Central America and Africa and aiding refugees as vice chairman of the International Rescue Committee.

During the 1980s, Rustin also opened up publicly about his homosexuality (This coincided with his falling in love with Walter Naegle, who now serves as executor and archivist of Rustin’s estate.)

Rustin testified on behalf of New York State’s Gay Rights Bill. In 1986, he gave a speech “The New Niggers Are Gays,” in which he asserted,

Today, blacks are no longer the litmus paper or the barometer of social change. Blacks are in every segment of society and there are laws that help to protect them from racial discrimination. The new “niggers” are gays…. It is in this sense that gay people are the new barometer for social change…. The question of social change should be framed with the most vulnerable group in mind: gay people.

For his part, Rustin worked to bring the AIDS crisis to the attention of the NAACP, once predicting, “Twenty-five, 30 years ago, the barometer of human rights in the United States were black people. That is no longer true. The barometer for judging the character of people in regard to human rights is now those who consider themselves gay, homosexual, lesbian.”

Bayard Rustin died on August 24, 1987, just four days shy of the March on Washington’s 24th anniversary

On November 20, 2013, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 

Arizona Supreme Court Rules Business Can Refuse to Make Invitations for Same-Sex Couples

Arizona Supreme Court Rules Business Can Refuse to Make Invitations for Same-Sex Couples

In a 4-3 vote the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Phoenix-based Brush & Nib Studio, a small business that refused to produce wedding invitations for a lesbian couple.

Justice Andrew Gould for the majority wrote:

“The rights of free speech and free exercise, so precious to this nation since its founding, are not limited to soft murmurings behind the doors of a person’s home or church, or private conversations with like-minded friends and family. These guarantees protect the right of every American to express their beliefs in public. This includes the right to create and sell words, paintings, and art that express a person’s sincere religious beliefs. With these fundamental principles in mind, today we hold that the City of Phoenix … cannot apply its Human Relations Ordinance … to force Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners of Brush & Nib Studio, LC (“Brush & Nib”), to create custom wedding invitations celebrating same-sex wedding ceremonies in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Adopted in 2013, City Code 18-4(B)(1)-(3) prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability. It applies to businesses offering services to the general public. But the state of Arizona itself has no such protections on it’s books as law.  And as we all know there are currently no federal protections against LGBT discrimination.

Alliance Defending Freedom which is designated as hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center represented the printers.

Koski and Duka spoke at Alliance Defending Freedom’s Scottsdale office in a press conference with lawyer Jonathan Scruggs.

“This is a win not just for Breanna Koski and me; it is a win for everyone,” calligrapher Joanna Duka said at a press conference in the Scottsdale office of Alliance Defending Freedom. “Everyone should be free to live and work according to their beliefs.”

The city of Arizona issued the following statement:  “The city of Phoenix’s anti-discrimination ordinance is still a legal, valid law and remains in effect,” the city said in a statement after the ruling. “It currently affirms that everyone should be treated fairly and equally regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, sex, gender or disability.  The Arizona Supreme Court made a very narrow ruling that one local business has the right to refuse to make custom wedding invitations for same-sex couples’ weddings that are similar to the designer’s previous products. This ruling does not apply to any other business in Phoenix. The city of Phoenix has had an anti-discrimination ordinance since 1964 to protect all residents and believes that everyone should be treated equally

The Mormon Church Releases Statement Opposing The LGBT Equality Act

The Mormon Church Releases Statement Opposing The LGBT Equality Act

The leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka The Mormons) released a statement Monday morning opposing the Equality Act which would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to protect LGBT Americans over concerns regarding their “religious liberty”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deeply concerned that the ongoing conflicts between religious liberty and LGBT rights is poisoning our civil discourse, eroding the free exercise of religion and preventing diverse Americans of good will from living together in respect and peace. Lawmakers across the nation, including members of Congress, are working to enact or strengthen laws that ensure LGBT persons fair access to important rights, such as nondiscrimination in areas like housing, employment and appropriate public accommodations. The Church is on record favoring reasonable measures that secure such rights.

At the same time, we urgently need laws that protect the rights of individuals and faith communities to freely gather, speak out publicly, serve faithfully and live openly according to their religious beliefs without discrimination or retaliation, even when those beliefs may be unpopular. This includes the right of religious organizations and religious schools to establish faith-based employment and admissions standards and to preserve the religious nature of their activities and properties.

This does not represent a change or shift in Church doctrine regarding marriage or chastity. It does represent a desire to bring people together, to protect the rights of all, and to encourage mutually respectful dialogue and outcomes in this highly polarized national debate.

Conflicts between rights are common and nothing new. When conflicts arise between religious freedom and LGBT rights, the Church advocates a balanced “fairness for all” approach that protects the most important rights for everyone while seeking reasonable, respectful compromises in areas of conflict. The Church affirms this as the best way to overcome sharp divisions over these issues. The Church supported the 2015 “fairness for all” legislation in the Utah Legislature that successfully protected both religious freedom and LGBT rights in employment and housing and that has helped facilitate greater understanding and respect.

The Equality Act now before Congress is not balanced and does not meet the standard of fairness for all. While providing extremely broad protections for LGBT rights, the Equality Act provides no protections for religious freedom. It would instead repeal long-standing religious rights under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, threaten religious employment standards, devastate religious education, defund numerous religious charities and impose secular standards on religious activities and properties. The Church joins other religious organizations that also strongly oppose the Equality Act as unbalanced, fundamentally unfair and a path to further conflict.

The Church calls upon members of Congress to pass legislation that vigorously protects religious freedom while also protecting basic civil rights for LGBT persons. It is time for wise policymakers to end this destructive conflict and protect the rights of all Americans.

What the LDS Church fails to or “forgets” to mention is that religious discrimination is already protected under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religion (or lack of religious belief) in hiring, firing, or any other terms and conditions of employment. The law also prohibits job segregation based on religion, such as assigning an employee to a non-customer contact position because of actual or feared customer preference. But they have no problem by wanting religious organizations and religious schools to discriminate by establishing faith-based employment and admissions standards.

Hypocrites.

Michigan LGBT Rights Ballot Initiative Falls Short Of Signatures Needed

House Judiciary Committee Passes LGBT ‘Equality Act’ in 22-10 Vote. All GOP Members Vote ‘No’

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing, and public accommodation.

The Equality Act was approved in a 22-10 party-line vote, setting the bill up for a potential floor vote.

The bill, introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), has more than 230 Democratic co-sponsors, along with only two GOP Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.) and John Katko (N.Y.).

The measure prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit and the jury system.

It also defines and includes sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation.

The anti-LGBT Heritage Foundation, has argued that the Equality Act would force employers and workers to conform to new sexual norms and force hospitals and insurers to provide and pay for therapy against any moral or medical objections and also said it would harm families by normalizing hormonal and surgical interventions for gender dysphoric children, leading to the erasure of women by dismantling sex-specific facilities and sports and affect faith-based charities.

The LGBT community has been fighting for full federal civil rights since 1974.