On this day in July 1967, just under 2 years before the Stonewall Riots in the United States – The Sexual Offences Act of 1967 received royal assent from Elizabeth II, decriminalizing private homosexual acts in England and Wales. The age of consent for homosexual acts was set at 21, compared to 16 for heterosexual acts.
In the 1960s, one MP, Leo Abse, and a peer, Lord Arran, put forward proposals to change the way in which criminal law treated homosexual men by means of the Sexual Offences Bill. This attempt to liberalise the law relating to male homosexuality can be placed in a context of the rising number of prosecutions of homosexual men.
In his 1965 Sexual Offences Bill, Lord Arran drew heavily upon the findings of the Wolfenden Report (1957) which recommended the decriminalization of certain homosexual offences.
The Wolfenden committee had been set up to investigate homosexuality and prostitution in the mid 1950s, and included on its panel a judge, a psychiatrist, an academic and various theologians. They came to the conclusion (with one dissenter) that criminal law could not credibly intervene in the private sexual affairs of consenting adults in the privacy of their homes. The position was summarized by the committee as follows: “unless a deliberate attempt be made by society through the agency of the law to equate the sphere of crime with that of sin, there must remain a realm of private that is in brief, not the law’s business” (Wolfenden Report, 1957).
There was no political impetus after the publication of the Wolfenden report to legislate on this matter, but by 1967 the Labour Government of the time showed support for Lord Arran’s mode of liberal thought. It was considered that criminal law should not penalise homosexual men, already the object of ridicule and derision. The comments of Roy Jenkins, Home Secretary at the time, captured the government’s attitude: “those who suffer from this disability carry a great weight of shame all their lives” (quoted during parliamentary debate by The Times on 4 July 1967).
The Bill received royal assent on July 27, 1967 after an intense late night debate in the House of Commons.
Lord Arran, in an attempt to minimize criticisms that the legislation would lead to further public debate and visibility of issues relating to homosexual civil rights made the following qualification to this “historic” milestone: “I ask those [homosexuals] to show their thanks by comporting themselves quietly and with dignity… any form of ostentatious behavior now or in the future or any form of public flaunting would be utterly distasteful… [And] make the sponsors of this bill regret that they had done what they had done”
The Act applied only to England and Wales and did not cover the Merchant Navy or the Armed Forces
In 1972, after the Alice B. Toklas Memorial Democratic Club delivered one-third of the signatures needed to secure George McGovern the first position on the California Democratic primary ballot, gay rights and political activist James Foster was added to the list of speakers at the 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami, Florida. Originally, Foster had been given a prime time speaking slot, but George McGovern’s campaign manager, future U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart, changed it to a 3:00 a.m. speaking slot. The campaign had decided they needed to tone down their radical image. Foster and fellow delegate Madeline Davis were the first openly LGBT people ever to address a national party convention. He called upon the Democratic Party to add a gay rights plank to the party platform, saying:
We do not come to you begging your understanding or pleading your tolerance. We come to you affirming our pride in our lifestyle, affirming the validity of our right to seek and to maintain meaningful emotional relationships and affirming our right to participate in the life of this country on an equal basis with every citizen.
Foster and other gay rights activists got a minority report to the floor, but the plank was defeated. Instead he Democrats included “the right to be different” in their 1972 platform. According to the party, this right included the right to “maintain a cultural, ethnic heritage or lifestyle, without being forced into a compelled homogeneity”
Interestingly in 1973 Foster was approached by fledgling gay politician Harvey Milk . Milk sought Foster’s endorsement for his first campaign for Supervisor. Foster, who through the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club had staked out a position that it was best for the gay community to work with liberal establishment politicians than try to elect gay candidates, refused to support Milk’s campaign. This led to an animosity between the men which lasted until Harvey Milk’s assassination in 1978. It has been suggested that this event led to the founding of the alternate Harvey Milk-founded San Francisco Gay Democratic Club.
When its next nine-month term begins in October the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the use of race in college admissions and the intersection and the use of free speech and gay rights.
GAY RIGHTS- SCOTUS will hear an appeal from Lorie Smith, a Colorado resident, is challenging a state law that prohibits businesses from discriminating on a variety of factors, including sexual orientation. Smith refused to start creating pages for same-sex weddings because doing so would be at odds with her faith.
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: SCOTUS will hear an appeal from a special interest group called Students for Fair Admissions accused Harvard of favoring Black and Hispanic applicants over Asian Americans. Lawrence Bacow, Harvard’s president, has said eliminating race as a factor would make it more challenging for the school to create a diverse student body. In the North Carolina case, the Supreme Court took the rare step of intervening before a trial judge’s decision made it to the appellate level.
On this Harvey Milk Day 2022 as we find our rights, our very live still being attached by the GOP/Right Wing. NOW more than ever we need to remember these words.
“My name is Harvey Milk, and I’m here to recruit you. I’ve been saying this one for years. It’s a political joke. I can’t help it. I’ve got to tell it. I’ve never been able to talk to this many political people before, so if I tell you nothing else, you may be able to go home laughing a bit.
This ocean liner was going across the ocean, and it sank. And there was one little piece of wood floating. And three people swam to it. And they realized only one person could hold onto it. So they had a little debate about which was the person.
It so happened that the three people were the Pope, the President and Mayor Daley. The Pope said he was the titular head of one of the greatest religions of the world, and he was spiritual adviser to many, many millions. And he went on and pontificated. And they thought it was a good argument.
Then the President said he was the leader of the largest and most powerful nation of the world. What takes place in this country affects the whole world. And they thought that was a good argument.
And Mayor Daley said he was the mayor of the backbone of the United States. And what took place in Chicago affected the world. And what took place in the Archdiocese of Chicago affected Catholicism. And they thought that was a good argument. So they did it the democratic way and voted. And Daley won seven to two.
About six months ago, Anita Bryant, in her speaking to God, said that the drought in California was because of the gay people. On November 9, the day after I got elected, it started to rain. On the day I got sworn in, we walked to City Hall. And it was kind of nice. And as soon as I said the word “I do,” it started to rain again. It’s been raining since then. And the people of San Francisco figure the only way to stop it is to do a recall petition. That’s the local joke.
So much for that. Why are we here? Why are gay people here? And what’s happening? What’s happening to me is the antithesis of what you read about in the papers and what you hear about on the radio. You hear about and read about this movement to the right, that we must band together and fight back this movement to the right. And I’m here to go ahead and say that what you hear and read is what they want you to think.
Because it’s not happening. The major media in this country has talked about the movement to the right, so the legislators think that there is indeed a movement to the right and that the Congress and the legislators and the City Council will start to move to the right and the way the major media want them. So they keep on talking about this move to the right.
So let’s look at 1977, and see if there was indeed a movement to the right. In 1977, gay people had their rights taken away from them in Miami. But you must remember, that in the week before Miami and the week after that, the word “homosexual” or “gay” appeared in every single newspaper in this nation in articles both pro and con. And every radio station and every TV station and every household, for the first time in the history of the world, everybody was talking about it, good or bad.
Unless you have dialogue, unless you open the walls of dialogue, you can never reach to change people’s opinion. In those two weeks, more good and bad, but more about the word homosexual and gay was written than probably in the history of mankind. Once you have dialogue starting, you know you can break down prejudice.
In 1977, we saw a dialogue start. In 1977, we saw a gay person elected in San Francisco. In 1977, we saw the state of Mississippi decriminalize marijuana. In 1977, we saw the convention of conventions in Houston. And I want to know where the movement to the right was happening.
What that is is a record of what happened last year. What we must do is make sure that 1978 continues the movement that is really happening and that the media don’t want you to know about. That is the movement to the left. It is up to CDC to put the pressures on Sacramento, but to break down the walls and the barriers so the movement to the left continues and progress continues in the nation.
We have before us coming up several issues we must speak out on. Probably the most important issue outside the Briggs which we will come to, but we do know what will take place this June. We know that there’s an issue on the ballot called Jarvis-Gann. We hear the taxpayers talk about it on both sides. But what you don’t hear is that it’s probably the most racist issue on the ballot in a long time.
In the city and the county of San Francisco, if it passes and we indeed have to lay off people, who will they be? The last in and the first in and who are the last in but the minorities. Jarvis-Gann is a racist issue. We must address that issue. We must not talk away from it. We must not allow them to talk about the money it’s going to save, because look at who’s going to save the money and look at who’s going to get hurt.
We also have another issue that we have started in some of the north counties. And I hope in some of the south counties, it continues. In San Francisco, elections were asking– at least we hope to ask– that the US government put pressure on the closing of the South African consulate. That must happen.
There is a major difference between an embassy in Washington, which is a diplomatic borough and a consulate in major cities. A consulate is there for one reason only, to promote business, economic gains, tourism, investment. And every time you have a business going to South Africa, you’re promoting a regime that’s offensive.
In the city of San Francisco, if every one of 51% of that city were to go to South Africa, they would be treated as second class citizens. That is an offense to the people of San Francisco. And I hope all my colleagues up there will take every step we can to close down that consulate and hope that people in other parts of the state follow us in that lead.
The battles must be started someplace. And CDC is a great place to start the battles. I know we are pressed for time, so I’m going to cover just one more little point. That is, to understand why it’s important that gay people run for office, and that gay people get elected. I know there are many people in this room who are gay who are running for a central committee. And I encourage you.
There’s a major reason why. If my nongay friends and supporters in this room understand it, they’ll probably understand why I’ve run so often before I finally made it. You see right now, there’s a controversy going on in this convention about the gay governor. Is he speaking out enough? Is her strong enough for gay rights? And there is controversy. And for us to say that there is not would be foolish. Some people are satisfied. And some people are not.
You see there is a major difference– and it remains a vital difference– between a friend and a gay person, a friend in office and a gay person in office. Gay people have been slandered nationwide. We’ve been tarred and we’ve been brushed with the picture of pornography. In Dade County, we were accused of child molestation. It is not enough anymore just to have friends represent us, no matter how good that friend may be.
The black community made up its mind to that a long time ago. The myths against blacks can only be dispelled by electing black leaders so the black community could be judged by its leaders and not by the myths or the black criminals. The Spanish community must not be judged by Latin criminals or myths. The Asian community must not be judged by Asian criminals or myths. The Italian community must not be judged by the mafia–myths.
And the time has come when the gay community must not be judged for our criminals and our myths. Like every other group, we must be judged by our leaders and by those who are themselves gay, those who are visible. For invisible, we remain in limbo. A myth. A person with no parents, no brothers, no sisters, no friends who are straight, no important positions in employment.
A tenth of the nation’s supposedly composed of stereotypes and would-be seducers of children. And no offense meant to those stereotypes but today, the black community is not judged by its friends but by its black legislators and leaders. And we must give people the chance to judge us by our leaders and legislators.
A gay person in office can set a tone, can command respect, not only from the larger community, but from the young people in our own community who need both examples and hope. The first gay people we elect must be strong. They must not be content to sit in the back of the bus. They must not be content to accept pabulum. They must be above wheeling and dealing. They must be, for the good of all of us, independent, unbought.
The anger and the frustrations that some of us feel is because we are misunderstood. And friends can’t feel that anger and frustration. They can sense it in us, but they can’t feel it. Because a friend has never gone through what is known as “coming out.” I will never forget what it was like coming out and having nobody to look up toward.
I remember the lack of hope, and our friends can’t fulfill it. I can’t forget the looks on faces of people who have lost hope, be they gay, be they seniors, be they blacks looking for an almost impossible job, be they Latins trying to explain their problems and aspirations in a tongue that’s foreign to them. I Personally will never forget that people are more important than buildings.
I use the word “I” because I am proud. I stand here tonight in front of my gay sisters, brothers and friends, because I’m proud of you. I think it’s time that we have many legislators who are gay and proud of that fact and do not have to remain in the closet. I think a gay person upfront will not walk away a responsibility and be afraid of being tossed out of office.
After Dade County, I walked among the angry and frustrated night after night. And I looked at their faces. And in San Francisco, three days before Gay Pride Day, a person was killed just because he was gay. And that night I walked among the sad and the frustrated at City Hall in San Francisco, and later that night, as they lit candles on Castro Street and stood in silence, reaching out for some symbolic thing that would give them hope. These were strong people whose faces I knew from the shop, the streets, meetings, and people who I never saw before but I knew. They were strong, but even they needed hope.
And the young gay people in Altoona, Pennsylvanias, and the Richmond, Minnesotas, who are coming out and hear Anita Bryant on television and her story. The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right. Without hope, not only are the gays, but the blacks, the seniors, the handicapped, the “us-es.” The “us-es” will give up.
And if you help elect the Central Committee and other offices, more gay people– that gives a green light to all who feel disenfranchised, a green light to move forward. It means hope to a nation that has given up, because if a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone. So if there’s a message I have to give, it is that I found one overriding thing about my personal election. It’s the fact that if a gay person can be elected, it’s a green light. And you and you and you– you have to give people hope. Thank you very much. – Harvey Milk
A little over a year after the Stonewall riots of 1969, Black Panther Party leader Huey Newton spoke these words on August 15th, 1970, in an attempt to guide his more homophobic and patriarchal brothers into remembering that oppression, any kind of oppression is wrong, even if its directed towards gays and women.
To The Revolutionary Brothers and Sisters About The Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation Movements
During the past few years strong movements have developed among women and among homosexuals seeking their liberation. There has been some uncertainty about how to relate to these movements.
Whatever your personal opinions and your insecurities about homosexuality and the various liberation movements among homosexuals and women (and I speak of the homosexuals and women as oppressed groups), we should try to unite with them in a revolutionary fashion.
I say ”whatever your insecurities are” because as we very well know, sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a homosexual in the mouth, and want a woman to be quiet. We want to hit a homosexual in the mouth because we are afraid that we might be homosexual; and we want to hit the women or shut her up because we are afraid that she might castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have to start with.
We must gain security in ourselves and therefore have respect and feelings for all oppressed people. We must not use the racist attitude that the white racists use against our people because they are Black and poor. Many times the poorest white person is the most racist because he is afraid that he might lose something, or discover something that he does not have. So you’re some kind of a threat to him. This kind of psychology is in operation when we view oppressed people and we are angry with them because of their particular kind of behavior, or their particular kind of deviation from the established norm.
Remember, we have not established a revolutionary value system; we are only in the process of establishing it. I do not remember our ever constituting any value that said that a revolutionary must say offensive things towards homosexuals, or that a revolutionary should make sure that women do not speak out about their own particular kind of oppression. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite: we say that we recognize the women’s right to be free. We have not said much about the homosexual at all, but we must relate to the homosexual movement because it is a real thing. And I know through reading, and through my life experience and observations that homosexuals are not given freedom and liberty by anyone in the society. They might be the most oppressed people in the society.
And what made them homosexual? Perhaps it’s a phenomenon that I don’t understand entirely. Some people say that it is the decadence of capitalism. I don’t know if that is the case; I rather doubt it. But whatever the case is, we know that homosexuality is a fact that exists, and we must understand it in its purest form: that is, a person should have the freedom to use his body in whatever way he wants.
That is not endorsing things in homosexuality that we wouldn’t view as revolutionary. But there is nothing to say that a homosexual cannot also be a revolutionary. And maybe I’m now injecting some of my prejudice by saying that “even a homosexual can be a revolutionary.” Quite the contrary, maybe a homosexual could be the most revolutionary.
When we have revolutionary conferences, rallies, and demonstrations, there should be full participation of the gay liberation movement and the women’s liberation movement. Some groups might be more revolutionary than others. We should not use the actions of a few to say that they are all reactionary or counter-revolutionary, because they are not.
We should deal with the factions just as we deal with any other group or party that claims to be revolutionary. We should try to judge, somehow, whether they are operating in a sincere revolutionary fashion and from a really oppressed situation. (And we will grant that if they are women they are probably oppressed.) If they do things that are unrevolutionary or counter-revolutionary, then criticize that action.
If we feel that the group in spirit means to be revolutionary in practice, but they make mistakes in interpretation of the revolutionary philosophy, or they do not understand the dialectics of the social forces in operation, we should criticize that and not criticize them because they are women trying to be free. And the same is true for homosexuals. We should never say a whole movement is dishonest when in fact they are trying to be honest. They are just making honest mistakes. Friends are allowed to make mistakes. The enemy is not allowed to make mistakes because his whole existence is a mistake, and we suffer from it. But the women’s liberation front and gay liberation front are our friends, they are our potential allies, and we need as many allies as possible.
We should be willing to discuss the insecurities that many people have about homosexuality. When I say “insecurities,” I mean the fear that they are some kind of threat to our manhood. I can understand this fear. Because of the long conditioning process which builds insecurity in the American male, homosexuality might produce certain hang-ups in us. I have hang-ups myself about male homosexuality. But on the other hand, I have no hang-up about female homosexuality. And that is a phenomenon in itself. I think it is probably because male homosexuality is a threat to me and female homosexuality is not.
We should be careful about using those terms that might turn our friends off. The terms “faggot” and “punk” should be deleted from our vocabulary, and especially we should not attach names normally designed for homosexuals to men who are enemies of the people, such as [Richard] Nixon or [John] Mitchell. Homosexuals are not enemies of the people.
We should try to form a working coalition with the gay liberation and women’s liberation groups. We must always handle social forces in the most appropriate manner. And this is really a significant part of the population, both women, and the growing number of homosexuals that we have to deal with.
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
Huey P. Newton Black Panther Party
*From Panthers to Promise Keepers: Rethinking the Men’s Movement” – Judith Newton Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Dec 10, 2004
When Congress overhauled the nation’s immigration laws in 1950, it was still in the grip of the McCarthy Red and Lavender Scares. Consequently, Congress banned Communists and “persons afflicted with psychopathic personality” from entering the U.S. That latter clause was added by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee with the express purpose of excluding “homosexuals and other sex perverts.” The legislation that was ultimately signed into law didn’t mention homosexuals, but the U.S. Public Health Service consistently interpreted the language to be “sufficiently broad to provide for the exclusion of homosexuals and sex perverts.” When Congress addressed immigration reform again in 1965, it added “sexual deviation” to the list of characteristics that would preclude immigration. But even then, the law didn’t single out homosexuality for exclusion, but it nevertheless remained official immigration policy even after homosexuality was removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders in 1973.
The nation’s doctors may have changed their understanding of gay people, but immigration authorities did not. That change wouldn’t come about until Congress again set out to reform the nation’s immigration laws again in 1990. This time, Congress decided to lift the political litmus test which automatically barred Communists and people with other potentially controversial political views from entering the U.S., and it also specifically struck down the exclusion of entry based on sexual orientation. When President George H.W. Bush signed the bill into law, gay people, for the first time, could enter the U.S without fear of automatic exclusion if their sexuality were discovered.
The new law was supposed to go further, with a clause which was intended to eliminate the automatic exclusion of people with AIDS from immigrating. But the law contained another clause which left it up the Health and Human Services Department to determine the list of communicable diseases which would prevent travel and immigration to the U.S. That list, as of 1990, still included HIV/AIDS, thanks to an amendment added to a 1987 appropriations bill by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) which required that HIV/AIDS be included on the list of excludable diseases. When public health officials tried to remove AIDS from the list, it touched off a massive political firestorm of opposition from conservatives. HHS backed down, and the HIV travel and immigration ban would remain in place as an interim policy. When HHS moved to remove AIDS from the list in 1993, Congress retaliated by approving a measure that made the HIV/AIDS immigration and travel ban law. That ban was finally lifted in 2010.
But one of the biggest steps toward gay equality, the end of America’s sodomy laws, began 20+ years ago on November 17, 1998 when a 911 operator received a call about “a black male going crazy with a gun” at John Geddes Lawrence’s home in the Houston suburbs. Harris County sheriff’s deputies responded and entered Lawrence’s unlocked apartment. There, they purportedly found Lawrence and Tyron Garner engaging in consensual sex. What they actually found is a matter of debate. Lawrence and Garner weren’t lovers — in fact, that false report had been phoned in by Garner’s actual lover, Robert Eubanks, who suspected Garner and Lawrence were having an affair. One deputy wrote in his report that he saw Garner on the bed “on all fours” on the receiving end of anal sex with Lawrence, and that both were completely naked. Another said that he saw them on the floor, and that Garner wasn’t naked. He wasn’t sure whether he saw them having anal sex or oral sex — two completely different acts which would be very difficult to confuse. “The black guy was giving him head or they was [sic] doing each other from behind. I don’t remember.”
Lawrence and Garner were arrested, held in jail overnight, and charged with violating Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code. That law, otherwise known as the Texas Homosexual Conduct law, prohibited engaging “in deviant sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex.” They both denied having sex that night, but their lawyers, sensing that the case might have the makings of a landmark case, advised them to plead no contest, neither admitting guilt nor protesting innocence. Because they didn’t actually have sex, the lawyers didn’t want to make the case about their innocence. After all, it’s hard to argue that two consenting adults of the same sex have the right to have sexual relations in the privacy of their home when the two adults in question hadn’t actually had sex. And so on November 20, 1998, Lawrence and Garner were convicted of the Class C misdemeanor by a Justice of the Peace in Houston, and were fined $200 each.
And with that, the landmark case of Lawrence v. Texas began to make its way through the court system: to the Texas Criminal Court (which rejected the defense’s request to dismiss the charges), a three-judge panel of the Texas 14th Court of Appeals (which ruled the law unconstitutional), and the full nine-judge panel of the 14th Court of Appeals (which reversed the three-judge panel). The appeal then reached the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which serves as the state’s supreme court for criminal cases. That court refused to hear the case, which left the lower court’s decision standing. Lawrence vs. Texas was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. On June 26, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Texas anti-sodomy law in a 6-3 ruling, along with similar laws in twelve other states.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion which Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer joined. The Court held that homosexuals had a protected liberty interest to engage in private, sexual activity; that homosexuals’ moral and sexual choices were entitled to constitutional protection; and that moral disapproval did not provide a legitimate justification for Texas’s law criminalizing sodomy.
Kennedy wrote: “The petitioners [Lawrence and Garner] are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.” Kennedy reviewed the assumption the court made in Bowers, using the words of Chief Justice Burger’s concurring opinion in that case, that “Condemnation of [homosexual practices] is firmly rooted in Judeao-Christian moral and ethical standards.”
He reviewed the history of legislation that criminalized certain sexual practices, but without regard for the gender of those involved. He cited the Model Penal Code’s recommendations since 1955, the Wolfenden Report of 1963, and a 1981 decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Case 7525/76 Dudgeon v UK.
He endorsed the views Justice Stevens had outlined in his dissent in Bowers and wrote: “Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today. It ought not to remain binding precedent. Bowers v. Hardwick should be and now is overruled.” The majority decision also held that the intimate, adult consensual conduct at issue here was part of the liberty protected by the substantive component of the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process protections. Kennedy said that the Constitution protects “personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, [and] child rearing” and that homosexuals “may seek autonomy for these purposes.” Holding that “the Texas statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual”, the court struck down the anti-sodomy law as unconstitutional. Kennedy underscored the decision’s focus on consensual adult sexual conduct in a private setting:
The present case does not involve minors. It does not involve persons who might be injured or coerced or who are situated in relationships where consent might not easily be refused. It does not involve public conduct or prostitution. It does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter.
What should not come to a shock to any is that Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a dissent stating:
Today’s opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct…. [T]he Court has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed.
He cited the majority opinion’s concern that the criminalization of sodomy could be the basis for discrimination against homosexuals as evidence that the majority ignored the views of most Americans:
So imbued is the Court with the law profession’s anti-anti-homosexual culture, that it is seemingly unaware that the attitudes of that culture are not obviously “mainstream”; that in most States what the Court calls “discrimination” against those who engage in homosexual acts is perfectly legal.
He continued: “Let me be clear that I have nothing against homosexuals, or any other group, promoting their agenda through normal democratic means.” The majority’s “invention of a brand-new ‘constitutional right'”, he wrote, showed it was “impatient of democratic change”.
The case attracted much public attention, and a large number of amici curiae (“friends of the court”)briefs were filed. Its outcome was celebrated by gay rights advocates, and set the stage for further reconsideration’s of standing law, including the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges which recognized same-sex marriage as a fundamental right.
One of the founding members of the Daughters of Bilitis and one half of the first same-sex couple to be legally married in San Francisco in 2004, Phyllis Lyon, has passed away. She was 95, and reportedly died of natural causes early Thursday.
Lyon and her wife Del Martin (pictured above) were famously the first couple to be granted a marriage license by then Mayor Gavin Newsom on Valentine’s Day 2004, and her life was characterized by a commitment to activism and equal rights for all.
“I’m very sad to learn of the death this morning of Phyllis Lyon,” writes legendary LGBTQ activist Cleve Jones. “I met Phyllis and Del in 1972 and it changed my life. Two of the most remarkable people I’ve ever known.”
The DOB advertised itself as “A Woman’s Organization for the purpose of Promoting the Integration of the Homosexual into Society.” The statement was composed of four parts that prioritized the purpose of the organization, and it was printed on the inside of the cover of every issue of The Ladder until 1970:
Education of the variant…to enable her to understand herself and make her adjustment to society…this to be accomplished by establishing…a library…on the sex deviant theme; by sponsoring public discussions…to be conducted by leading members of the legal psychiatric, religious and other professions; by advocating a mode of behavior and dress acceptable to society.
Education of the public…leading to an eventual breakdown of erroneous taboos and prejudices…
Participation in research projects by duly authorized and responsible psychologists, sociologists, and other such experts directed towards further knowledge of the homosexual.
Investigation of the penal code as it pertain to the homosexual, proposal of changes,…and promotion of these changes through the due process of law in the state legislatures.”
Both Phyllis Lyon and her partner Del Martin went on to form the Council on Religion and the Homosexual (CRH) in northern California to persuade ministers to accept homosexuals into churches, and used their influence to decriminalize homosexuality in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They became politically active in San Francisco’s first gay political organization, the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, which influenced Dianne Feinstein to sponsor a citywide bill to outlaw employment discrimination for gays and lesbians. Both served in the White House Conference on Aging in 1995.
They were married on Feb. 12, 2004, in the first same-sex wedding to take place in San Francisco after Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the city clerk to begin providing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but that marriage was voided by the California Supreme Court on August 12, 2004. They married again on June 16, 2008, in the first same-sex wedding to take place in San Francisco after the California Supreme Court’s decision in In re Marriage Cases legalized same-sex marriage in California.
Voters in Switzerland have backed a proposal to make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sexual identity illegal. The result of 63.1% in favour to 36.9% against is a huge boost for Switzerland’s LGBT community.
It had argued Swiss law on the issue lagged far behind other countries in Europe. Opponents of the new law argued it could restrict free speech. In Switzerland, discrimination because of race or religion is already illegal.
In the run up to the vote, campaigners had said they thought the result would be tight, and that a yes vote of more than 60% was unlikely. Sunday’s outcome shows public opinion is far more receptive to strengthening anti-discrimination legislation than analysts had predicted.
Under the new law, those who “publicly degrade or discriminate” others on the basis of their sexual orientation, for example by denying same-sex couples entry to a nightclub, could face a jail sentence of up to three years. The law does not affect private conversations such as among friends or family.
Several European countries such as Belgium, Germany, France, Ireland and the UK already have similar legislation in place.
Human Rights Day is observed every year on the 10th of December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.
As the world marks 70 years of the adoption of the UDHR, the UN’s year long campaign #StandUp4HumanRights draws to a close. By this campaign, the UN aimed to “call on people to take action for greater freedoms, stronger respect and more compassion for the rights of others”.
We must reaffirm our common humanity. Wherever we are, we can make a real difference. In the street, in school, at work, in public transport; in the voting booth, on social media.
The time for this is now. “We the peoples” can take a stand for rights. And together, we can take a stand for more humanity.
It starts with each of us. Step forward and defend the rights of a refugee or migrant, a person with disabilities, an LGBT person, a woman, a child, indigenous peoples, a minority group, or anyone else at risk of discrimination or violence.
“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. […] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” — Eleanor Roosevelt