Tag Archives: Ronald Reagan

Gay History – November 7, 1978: California’s Prop 6 aka The Briggs Initiative Against Gay Teachers Defeated

California’s Proposition 6 was an initiative on the California State ballot on November 7, 1978.  More commonly known as The Briggs Initiative, sponsored by John Briggs, a conservative state legislator from Orange County. The failed initiative would have banned gays and lesbians, and possibly anyone who supported gay rights, from working in California’s public schools.

The Briggs Initiative came on the heels of successful anti-gay campaign headed by Anita Bryant and her organization Save Our Children in Dade County, Florida, to repeal it’s local gay rights ordinance.

The initiative provided that a public school teacher, teacher’s aide, administrator, or counselor could be fired if the employee was found to have engaged in either (1) “public homosexual activity,” which the initiative defined as an act of homosexual sex which was “not discreet and not practiced in private, whether or not such act, at the time of its commission, constituted a crime,” or (2) “public homosexual conduct,” which the initiative defined as “the advocating, soliciting, imposing, encouraging or promoting of private or public homosexual activity directed at, or likely to come to the attention of, schoolchildren and/or other employees.”

The employee would be terminated if the school board, after a hearing, determined by a preponderance of the evidence that the employee had engaged in “public homosexual activity” or “public homosexual conduct” and “that said activity or conduct render[ed] the employee unfit for service. The factors that the board would consider in the determination of “unfitness for service” would “include, but not be limited to: (1) the likelihood that the activity or conduct may adversely affect students or other employees; (2) the proximity or remoteness in time or location of the conduct to the employee’s responsibilities; (3) the extenuating or aggravating circumstances which, in the judgment of the board, must be examined in weighing the evidence; and (4) whether the conduct included acts, words or deeds, of a continuing or comprehensive nature which would tend to encourage, promote or dispose schoolchildren toward private or public homosexual activity or private or public homosexual conduct.”

The initiative further provided that a person could not be hired as a public school teacher, teacher’s aide, administrator, or counselor if the person had “engaged in public homosexual activity or public homosexual conduct should the board determine that said activity or conduct render[ed] the person unfit for service

San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk along with a coalition of gay and lesbian activists including including Sally Gearhart, Bill Kraus, Tom Ammiano, and Hank Wilson mobilized under the slogan “Come out! Come out! Wherever you are!” and worked fiercely to defeat the initiative. Gay men and lesbians went door to door in their cities and towns across the state to fight and to talk about the harm the initiative would cause.

In the beginning of September, the ballot measure was ahead in public-opinion polls, with about 61% of voters supporting it while 31% opposed it. The movement against it initially succeeded little in shifting public opinion, even though major organizations and ecclesiastical groups opposed it.

A diverse group of politicians opposed the bill including Jerry Brown, Gerald Ford, then-president Jimmy Carter who publicly opposed the bill, citing its potential infringement on individual rights.

Surprisingly the former state Governor of California and later US President Ronald Reagan (who would later go down in gay history as murderous villain during the AIDS Crisis) Ronald Reagan moved to publicly oppose the measure. Reagan issued an informal letter of opposition to the initiative, a week before the election

Reagan’s November 1 editorial stated, in part, “Whatever else it is, homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles. Prevailing scientific opinion is that an individual’s sexuality is determined at a very early age and that a child’s teachers do not really influence this.” 

It is not known if Carter’s or Reagan’s involvement is what helped sway the final vote but the Briggs Initiative was defeated by over a million votes on November 7, 1978. 

Briggs’s own Orange County, a conservative stronghold voted against the initiative.

In 2008 (the same year MILK came out and in which he was featured) Briggs stated  he was not an “intolerant person.” He stated that he continued to regard singer Anita Bryant as “a hero,” but he also said that, “with the passage of over thirty years, America has changed — including me.  Briggs went on to say that he and his wife “not only stood for our principles, but fought for principles as we then saw them.” But he also said that the 1970’s and 1980’s were “a much different America,” in which “President Reagan and the country shamefully neglected the AIDS epidemic causing the deaths of thousands.”

Below see long lost photos of Harvey Milk debating, Republican state Sen. John Briggs of Orange County,  on Sept. 15, 1978, at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek. over the Briggs Initiative 

Long Lost Photos of Harvey Milk Unearthed

Gay History – July 29: The Village People, Jerome Robbins, and the Murder of John O’Connell in San Francisco

July 29, 

1905: Dag Hammarskjold, the second Secretary-General of the United Nations (1953-1961), is born in in Jonkoping, Sweden.  Hammarskjold will die in a plane crash in what was then the Belgian Congo under mysterious circumstances in 1961 .  Secretary General Hammarskjold is the first SG to die while holding office. President John F Kennedy referred to him as “The greatest statesman of our century,” and he was posthumously awarded the 1961 Nobel Peace Prize. While it is rumored that Hammarskjold was homosexual, it never seems to have been proven in any consequential way. Still, we honor his birthday here for the amazing leaps he made toward world peace as the Secretary General.

1967: Ian Campbell Dunn writes to Antony Grey, secretary of the Homosexual Law Reform Society in London, about establishing a chapter in Scotland. Grey refuses because of problems with another branch.

1975: The Annual Conference of the Metropolitan Community Church is held in Dallas, Texas. Among the speakers was Elaine Noble, who was the first person to be elected to public office while running openly as a lesbian.   Noble was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for two terms starting in January 1975. She was the first openly lesbian or gay candidate elected to a state legislature

1978: 43 years ago today The Village People’s first hit single “Macho Mandebuts in Billboard’s Top 40 Hits chart.  Feel old yet?

1981: Tennis player Martina Navratilova is outed by reporter Steve Goldstein of the New York Daily News. But comes out publicly through a column written by Skip Bayless. After all is said and done very few are surprised she’s a lesbian. And very few actually care.

1984: John O’Connell is brutally murdered by five men who drove to San Francisco looking for “some fags to beat up.”  The assailants were convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to prison terms of 15 years to life.  

Via UPI:

A 9 p.m. in the Polk Street district, a favorite area of homosexuals, two men walking along the street were accosted by four of the Vallejo group, one of them shouting anti-homosexual epithets.

John O’Connell, 42, suffered two blows and fell to the pavement. The medical evidence was that it was the fall, not the blows, that produced the cerebral trauma that caused death. 

The defendants left the scene laughing

In 1989 a  California  Court of Appeal, in a 2-1 decision, reduced the convictions to involuntary manslaughter, ruling that the two bare-handed blows struck by the assailants in a 1984 sidewalk attack were not sufficiently life-threatening .

“The appeal court said correctly that a slap and a punch do not make a murder,” said Maureen R. Kallins, a San Francisco lawyer. “This was a classic example of a hysterical jury verdict . . . and a classic example of being tried by the press.”

Three of the men who were finally convicted  were released only after serving 5 years in prison.

1986: Chicago’s city council defeats a gay rights bill by a vote of 30-18.

1987: U.S. President Ronald Reagan nominates homophobic judge Robert Bork to the US Supreme Court. He would be rejected by the senate 58-42.

1987: The International Lesbian and Gay Association’s 9th annual conference begins in Cologne, West Germany.

1993: Seven years after legalizing gay sex, New Zealand’s parliament amends the Human Rights Commission Amendment Act, outlawing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation (“heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or lesbian”) or HIV, passing Parliament after only 1 1/2 days of debate but intensive lobbying. It exempted the Government until December 31, 1999.

1998: Famed choreographer and director Jerome Robbins (pictured above), dies at age 79, four days after suffering a stroke. Among the numerous stage productions he worked on during his career were On the TownPeter PanHigh Button ShoesThe King And IThe Pajama GameBells Are RingingWest Side StoryGypsy: A Musical Fable, and Fiddler on the Roof. Robbins was a five time Tony Award winner and a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. Robbins also received two Academy Awards, including the 1961 Academy Award for Best Director with Robert Wise for West Side Story.

But not all was success and high-points for Robbins. In the 1950’s, Robbins found himself swept into the whirlwind of the McCarthy era and, as a former Communist, pressured by the FBI to name the names of party associates at hearings held by The House Committee on Un-American Activities. (HUAC). For three years he resisted. But threatened by exposure of his homosexuality, he at length agreed to testify before HUAC and named eight people. Robbins himself never spoke of his testimony publicly; in his journal he wrote, “Maybe I will never find a satisfying release from the guilt of it all.”

1998: The U.S. House of Representatives votes 214-212 in favor of a bill to withhold federal housing money to San Francisco because of the city’s policy welcoming private companies contracting with the city that offer domestic partner benefits equal to those offered to married employees.

2002: The federal government of Canada decides to appeal an Ontario Superior Court ruling which supported gay marriages. Less than a year later the government loses the appeal and introduces legislation legalizing gay marriage.

2003: Bishop Fred Henry of the Catholic diocese of Calgary, Alberta, in Canada, warns Canada’s (straight) catholic Prime Minister that the PM risks jeopardizing his “eternal salvation” by introducing legislation legalizing gay marriage. Prime Minister Jean Chretien ignores the warning and introduces the legislation anyway.

2006: The first World Outgames opens in Montreal, Quebec, with about 18,600 participants from 111 countries as conference delegates, athletes, volunteers or participants. About a half million spectators attended the Outgames, an athletic event set up after a quarrel with the long-established Gay Games.

PRIDE Month Gay History – June 5th: Torch Song Trilogy, Federico Garcia Lorca and the Committee for Homosexual Freedom

PRIDE MONTH + Gay History – June 5: Torch Song Trilogy, Federico Garcia Lorca, The Committee for Homosexual Freedom and MORE!

June 5th.

1883 – Birth date of John Maynard Keynes, economist and mathematician. Keyes an English economist, fundamentally changed the theory and practice of macroeconomics and the economic policies of governments. He built on and greatly refined earlier work on the causes of business cycles, and is widely considered to be one of the most influential economists of the 20th century and the founder of modern macroeconomics.  Time magazine included Keynes among its Most Important People of the Century in 1999, saying that “his radical idea that governments should spend money they don’t have may have saved capitalism.

Attitudes in the Bloomsbury Group, in which Keynes was avidly involved, were relaxed about homosexuality. Keynes, together with writer Lytton Strachey, had reshaped the Victorian attitudes of the Cambridge Apostles: “since [their] time, homosexual relations among the members were for a time common”, wrote Bertrand Russell. Artist Duncan Grant, was one of Keynes’s great loves. Keynes was also involved with Lytton Strachey though they were for the most part love rivals, not lovers. Keynes had won the affections of Arthur Hobhouse and as with Grant, fell out with a jealous Strachey for it. Strachey had previously found himself put off by Keynes, not least because of his manner of “treat[ing] his love affairs statistically”.

Political opponents have used Keynes’s sexuality to attack his academic work. One line of attack held that he was uninterested in the long term ramifications of his theories because he had no children.

1898 – Birth date of gay Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca.  García Lorca achieved international recognition as an emblematic member of the Generation of ’27. The Generation of ’27 was a group consisting of mostly poets who introduced the tenets of European movements (such as symbolism, futurism, and surrealism) into Spanish literature. He was executed by Nationalist forces at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War  His body has never been found. In 2008, a Spanish judge opened an investigation into Lorca’s death.

Significant controversy exists about the motives and details of Lorca’s murder. Personal, non-political motives have been suggested. García Lorca’s biographer, Stainton, states that his killers made remarks about his sexual orientation, suggesting that it played a role in his death

1968 – William Weisel of ABC News was shot in the stomach by Sirhan Sirhan during the assassination of Robert Kennedy in Los Angeles. During the 1970’s. Weisel owned a popular gay dance club in Washington, DC.

1969 – The “Committee for Homosexual Freedom” newsletter announced that after two weeks of picketing, Frank Dennaro, who was fired from his job at Tower Records because he was gay, was re-hired. Tower Records also instituted perhaps one of the first non-discrimination hiring policies which included gay men because of the picketing.  This was one month before the Stonewall Riots in New York City would happen.

1974 – Out actor and activist Chad Allen was born in Cerritos, California. First gaining attention as an autistic child in the T.V. drama St. Elsewhere, Allen appeared in nearly a dozen shows during the 1980s and 90s, including Our House, Webster, My Two Dads, and Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman. Allen came out in an interview in The Advocate in 2001, after pictures of a same-sex kiss appeared in a tabloid in 1996. When Allen appeared in The End of the Spear, playing a conservative missionary who was murdered by natives in South America the role angered many KKK-ristians who viewed Allen’s activism as being against the principles of their faith.

1981 – At 4 am on the night of  May 30th. fifty-four police officers smashed through the back door of the Pisces Bath House in Edmonton, Canada. . Fifty-six men were arrested. Mug shots with names were taken. Crown prosecutors issued court summons with charges under the Canadian Criminal Code.  Six men, owners and employees, were charged with being keepers of a common “bawdy house”. On June 5th all plead guilty in Provincial Court. The owners receive heavy fines.

1983 – Harvey Fierstein’s play “Torch Song Trilogy” won the Tony Award for Best Play of the 1982-83 season.

Torch Song Trilogy is a collection of three plays by Fierstein rendered in three acts: International StudFugue in a Nursery, and Widows and Children First! The story centers on Arnold Beckoff, a Jewish homosexual, drag queen, and torch singer who lives in New York City in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The four-hour play begins with a soliloquy in which he explains his cynical disillusionment with love.

The first act derives its name (International Stud) from an actual gay bar of the same name at 117 Perry Street in Greenwich Village in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The bar had a backroom where men engaged in anonymous sex. The backroom plays a central role in the act.

The popular work broke new ground in the theatre: “At the height of the post-Stonewall clone era, Harvey challenged both gay and straight audiences to champion an effeminate gay man’s longings for love and family.

1989 – Congressional Republicans began circulating a memo that Democratic House Speaker Thomas Foley was a homosexual. The memo compared Foley’s voting record to openly gay Rep. Barney Frank. Those responsible for the memo apologized after Frank threatened to start outing Republican members of congress.

1997 – Colorado governor Roy Romer vetoed a state measure seeking to ban same-sex marriage for the second time. He instead appointed a commission to investigate the rights and responsibilities of same-sex relationships.

1997 – Former Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers, who fought to have the US Supreme Court uphold Georgia’s sodomy law, admitted to having had an adulterous affair that lasted over a decade. Georgia’s sodomy law carries penalties for adultery.

1999 – “Time” magazine placed Harvey Milk alongside Mother Theresa and Rosa Parks as one of the Heroes of the Century.

2003 – A federal judge rejected a Christian hate group’s attempt to remove a no-fly zone around Disney World so it could fly planes trailing anti-gay banners over the resort during the annual Gay Days event.

2003 – California’s Assembly passed legislation giving gay and lesbian domestic partners many of the rights of marriage.

GAY HISTORY – March 18, 1986: William F. Buckley, Jr. Proposes Tattooing All “AIDS Carriers” in New York Times Op-Ed

William F. Buckley was an American conservative author, journalist and commentator who founded National Review magazine in 1955. He hosted 1,429 episodes of the television show Firing Line (1966–1999), where he became known for his transatlantic accent and wide vocabulary. Buckley also wrote a nationally syndicated newspaper column.

On March 18th, 1986 two op-eds appeared in The New York Times’s editorial page under the heading, “Critical Steps in Combating the AIDS Epidemic.” One was written by Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, and the other by Buckley. Dershowitz’s column, in keeping with the general hysteria of the day, was not without its alarmist elements. He repeated the belief that “AIDS may, in fact, be transmissible by tears, saliva, bodily fluids and mosquito bites” — a contention that was quickly refuted by those more familiar with the disease. But he also pleaded that “the flow of solid data should not be polluted by personal moralism. … We have a right to know the hard facts about AIDS, unvarnished by moralistic prejudgments.”

That recommendation contrasted sharply with Buckley’s op-ed. Buckley acknowledged that many who see homosexuality as morally wrong also saw AIDS as a “special curse of the homosexual, transmitted through anal sex between males.” But that didn’t stop him from trying to claim that those who “tend to disapprove forcefully of homosexuality … (tend) to approach the problem of AIDS empirically.” And how did Buckley “empirically” approach the AIDS crisis?

We face a utilitarian imperative, and the requires absolutely nothing less than the identification of the million-odd people who, the doctors estimate, are carriers.

How?

Well, the military has taken the first concrete step. Two million soldiers will be given the blood test, and those who have AIDS will be discreetly discharged. …The next logical step would be to require of anyone who seeks a marriage license that he present himself not only with a Wassermann test but also an AIDS test.

But if he has AIDS, should he then be free to marry?

Only after the intended spouse is advised that her intended husband has AIDS, and agrees to sterilization. We know already of children born with the disease, transmitted by the mother, who contracted it from the father.

…The next logical enforcer is the insurance company. Blue Cross, for instance, can reasonably require of those who wish to join it a physical examination that requires tests. Almost every American, making his way from infancy to maturity, needs to pass by one or another institutional turnstile. Here the lady will spring out, her right hand on a needle, her left on a computer, to capture a blood specimen.

Is it then proposed …that AIDS carriers should be publicly identified as such?

The evidence is not completely in as to the communicability of the disease. But while much has been said that is reassuring, the moment has not yet come when men and women of science are unanimously agreed that AIDS cannot be casually communicated. Let us be patient on that score, pending any tilt in the evidence: If the news is progressively reassuring, public identification would not be necessary. If it turns in the other direction and AIDS develops among, say, children who have merely roughhoused with other children who suffer from AIDS, then more drastic segregation measures would be called for.

But if the time has not come, and may never come, for public identification, what then of private identification?

Everyone detected with AIDS should be tattooed in the upper forearm, to protect common-needle users, and on the buttocks, to prevent the victimization of other homosexuals.

A year later, Buckley “withdrew” his proposal under the unique kind of protest that only Buckley could muster:

Sixteen months ago, in a thinking-out-loud exchange with Professor Alan Dershowitz, I suggested that perhaps AIDS carriers should be tattooed discreetly, to guard uncontaminated sexual or needle partners from danger. This proposal reminded everyone of Auschwitz, and I have seen, in print, that Mr. Buckley “wants to tattoo all homosexuals.” It is as though anyone who found a use for barbed wire was secretly a concentration-camp fetishist. Never mind: I quickly withdrew the proposal for the simple reasoning that it proved socially intolerable. I have ever since been waiting for a socially tolerable alternative to be proposed…

But in 2005 when the news media would initiate a new round of hysteria over an imaginary AIDS “superbug,” Buckley was there again, suggesting that the tattoo idea be revived:

The objective is to identify the carrier, and to warn his victim. Someone, 20 years ago, suggested a discreet tattoo the site of which would alert the prospective partner to the danger of proceeding as had been planned. But the author of the idea was treated as though he had been schooled in Buchenwald, and the idea was not widely considered, but maybe it is up now for reconsideration.

The so-called “superbug” was a phantom, but Buckley’s Buchenwaldist proposal was, apparently, serious — serious enough for him to raise it again unapologetically 20 years later adding; “If the protocol had been accepted, many who caught the infection unguardedly would be alive. Probably over a million.”

Buckley died at his home in Stamford, Connecticut, on February 27, 2008. Ronald Reagan’s widow, Nancy, commented, “Ronnie valued Bill’s counsel throughout his political life.”

Which in hind-site explains a helluva lot.

It’s Ronald Reagan’s Birthday: The Hateful Legacy of Ronald Reagan Who Let Gay Men Die In The Name Of “God”

As Republicans and Tea Party members remember and celebrate the revisionist life history of Ronald Reagan on what would be his 107th birthday today.  Let us, the friends, the family, and the loved ones of the victims of Ronald Reagan’s bigotry and homophobia remember the REAL legacy of genocide, war mongering, and poverty that he left behind all in the name of “God”  and never let it be forgotten.

Ronald Reagan was and always should be remembered as the President who helped bring back poverty to the masses, the President who changed American foreign policy, by selling arms to Iran, and forwarding the profits to right-wing Central American dictators to help fund their death squads, and most of all as the President who is personally responsible for the deaths of thousands who died of AIDS and  literally wiped out almost an entire generation of gay men.

Ronald Reagan deliberately ignored one of the deadliest diseases in history of the world which is now affecting over 70 million people around the globe all  in the name of God, bigotry and homophobia.

In 1981 with the emergence of the AIDS epidemic also came the emergence of the Christian Right, who Reagan ushered into power and seized the moment that AIDS was a sign of God’s abhorrence for gay men. . Reagan, who saw the first signs of the AIDS epidemic in 1981, his first year in office, . said “maybe the Lord brought down the plague because illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments.”

Ronald Reagan may have done laudable things but he was also a monster and, in my estimation, responsible for more deaths than Adolf Hitler. He is one of the persons most responsible for allowing the plague of AIDS to grow from 41 cases in 1981 to over 70 million today. He refused to even say the word out loud for the first seven years of his presidency and when he did speak about it it was with disdain. He was, in the words of his domestic policy adviser, Gary Bauer, “irrevocably opposed to anything having to do with homosexuality” (personal communication from the White House office in April of 1983). The Tragedy of Today’s Gays (Penguin, 2005),

“I can locate no work of any urgency, or indeed, much work at all, on AIDS” during his entire presidency, thus allowing many millions of gay men all over the world to be exposed to the virus without so much as a warning from anyone in his government. Those of us on the front lines can attest to this stone wall that was unbreachable. – Larry Kramer.”

AIDS research was chronically under-funded in the beginning of the outbreak when money for research and treatment were the most needed.  When doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health asked for more funding for their work on AIDS, they were routinely denied.  Between June 1981 and May 1982 the CDC spent less than $1 million on AIDS and $9 million on Legionnaire’s Disease. At that point more than 1,000 of the 2,000 reported AIDS cases resulted in death; there were fewer than 50 deaths from Legionnaire’s Disease. This drastic lack of funding would continue through the Reagan years.

Newly unearthed audio of Ronald Reagan’s White House Press Secretary in daily meetings with the Press Corps from that period puts a face on the homophobic Reagan administration and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that because AIDS affected mostly gay men that the Regan administration could not be bothered and did could care less that American citizens dying because of their homophobic bigotry.

It would not be until  October 1987 when pushed that Reagan would publicly speak about the AIDS epidemic in a major policy address. By the end of that year, 59,572 AIDS cases had been reported and 27,909 of those women and men had died. He and his administration did almost nothing during the first seven years of the epidemic.

In 1986, Reagan ordered Surgeon General C. Everett Koop to prepare a major government report on AIDS. Critics attacked Reagan for ordering the report on the same day he submitted requests to reduce the AIDS budget, according to the Globe. Koop’s report called for mandatory sex education for children as early as elementary school, but Reagan’s education secretary, William Bennett, and his undersecretary of education, Gary Bauer, strenuously opposed those efforts, calling for abstinence-oriented education.

With AIDS research being underfunded community education and prevention programs were routinely denied federal funding and would have been even more so if Regan had had his way. Only when pushed did Reagan offer any assistance.

Finally in 1986 Reagan requested $85 million for AIDS research, but Congress horrified at the low number bumped that figure up to $244 million only to have Reagan then unsuccessfully try to rescind $50 million of that figure, according to the Boston Globe, but he ultimately agreed to Congress’ figure.  In 1987, Reagan proposed cutting the research budget for AIDS down to $214 million. Congress again responded dramatically against Reagen by raising it to about $400 million.

The Boston Globe reported that in 1986 – 1987 that AIDS patients were dying at a rate of about 80 per week.

As Barbra Streisand put it in an address to an AIDS Project Los Angeles fundraiser in 1992: “I will never forgive my fellow actor Ronald Reagan for his genocidal denial of the illness’ existence, for his refusal to even utter the word AIDS for seven years, and for blocking adequate funding for research and education which could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.”

By the end of 1989, 115,786 women and men had been diagnosed with AIDS in the United States—more then 70,000 of them had died.

This is Ronald Reagan’s TRUE legacy, and everyday may we never forget it and remember those who died because of it.

Gay History – August 2, 1988: Ronald Reagan Orders Ban on Discrimination Against People With AIDS. But Only For A Certain Few

After blatantly ignoring the first 6 years of the AIDS epidemic which helped push many gay men to their graves finally in 1986,  SIX YEARS AFTER the plague began Ronald  Reagan finally requested $85 million for AIDS research. Congress horrified at the low number bumped that figure up to $244 million only to have Reagan then unsuccessfully try to rescind $50 million of that figure.  After months if fighting Reagan ultimately agreed to Congress’ figure.

In 1987, during the height of the epidemic Reagan once again proposed cutting the research budget for AIDS down to $214 million. Congress again responded dramatically against Reagan by raising it to about $400 million.

On August 2nd, 1988 on a recommendation from a 13-member President’s Commission On the HIV Epidemic, President Reagan ordered a ban on discrimination against federal workers with AIDS. His actions, however drew sharp criticism from AIDS activists for not acting on many of the other recommendations from his commission, which also urged federal legislation to protect HIV+ workers outside of the federal government. The President instead urged a voluntary approach and asked “businesses, unions and schools to examine and consider adopting” similar policies. Acting on a few other recommendations, Reagan also ordered the FDA to notify those who received blood transfusions to advise them to take an HIV test, promised to help accelerate the development of AIDS medications, and ordered another round of studies on the Commission’s 500 other recommendations. Meanwhile, Vice President George Bush, who was running for President, had already endorsed the commission’s recommendations which included a spending increase of $3.1 billion to combat the disease.

Dr. Frank Lilly, the commission’s only openly gay member, criticized Reagan’s limited action on just a tiny handful of the commission’s recommendations. “We’ve got a blueprint for a national policy on AIDS,” he said. “It’s a piece of whole cloth. You can’t pick and choose your own menu from it.” Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who had led the charge in Congress to increase the federal government’s response to the epidemic, accused Reagan of stalling: “This administration has done its best to avoid making even a single helpful AIDS decision in the eight years of the Reagan presidency,” he said. “They handpick a commission, and then don`t even have the courage to accept its recommendations… What we need is leadership, and while Dr. (Surgeon General C. Everett) Koop and (HIV Commission chairman) Adm. (James) Watkins have given that, once again the President is hiding.”

By this time AIDS patients, mostly gay men were dying at a rate of about 80 – 100 per week.

#NeverForget

#NeverForgive

Gay History – September 18, 1985: Ronald Reagan FINALLY Mentions AIDS For The First Time

Although AIDS was first identified in 1981, and the victims, mostly gay men were succumbing to the disease at an epidemic rate, President Ronald Reagan did not mention it publicly for over four years. 

When Reagan finally mentioned AIDS, briefly a press conference in 1985, he was asked about the budget allocation for research:

Q: Mr. President, the Nation’s best-known AIDS scientist says the time has come now to boost existing research into what he called a minor moonshot program to attack this AIDS epidemic that has struck fear into the Nation’s health workers and even its schoolchildren. Would you support a massive government research program against AIDS like the one that President Nixon launched against cancer?

President Reagan: I have been supporting it for more than 4 years now. It’s been one of the top priorities with us, and over the last 4 years, and including what we have in the budget for ’86, it will amount to over a half a billion dollars that we have provided for research on AIDS in addition to what I’m sure other medical groups are doing. And we have $100 million in the budget this year; it’ll be 126 million next year. So, this is a top priority with us. Yes, there’s no question about the seriousness of this and the need to find an answer.

During the diseases early years between June 1981 and May 1982 the CDC spent less than $1 million dollars on AIDS and over $9 million dollars on Legionnaire’s Disease. At that point in time more than 1,000 of the 2,000 reported AIDS cases resulted in death; there were fewer than 50 deaths from Legionnaire’s Disease during the entire course of it’s disease.

This drastic lack of funding would continue.

In 1986 Reagan requested $85 million for AIDS research, but Congress horrified at the low number bumped that figure up to $244 million only to have Reagan then unsuccessfully try to rescind $50 million of that figure. According to the Boston Globe, but he ultimately agreed to Congress’ figure.

In 1987, Reagan proposed cutting the research budget for AIDS down to $214 million. Congress again responded dramatically against Reagan by raising it to about $400 million.

During the year of 1986 – 1987 that AIDS patients were dying at a rate of about 80 per week.

By the end of Reagan’s presidential term on January 20, 1989 115,786 men mostly gay and some women had been diagnosed with AIDS in the United States—more then 70,000 of them died.

Never, never forget.

George H.W. Bush Is Dead: Not As Bad As Reagan But He Still Had AIDS Victim's Blood On His Hands - Video

George H.W. Bush Is Dead: Not As Bad As Reagan But He Still Had AIDS Victim’s Blood On His Hands – Video

Via Andy Humm on Facebook:

If you’re mourning George H.W. Bush, watch this. All of it. ACT UP v. Bush in 1992. He gave us LOTS of reasons to protest vociferously–and said during one of the debates that we just had to change our behavior. At the end of the video, Larry Kramer says that unless we can get this president to listen, “We’re as good as dead.” It closes with AIDS activists–many still active–dancing in the streets when Bush lost to Clnton. (No, that didn’t change everything. But it was the beginning of the change.)

Click the arrow below and watch a compilation of AIDS activist actions against President George H.W. Bush.

 

Happy Anniversary! – June 5, 2004: Ronald Reagan Died 13 Years Ago Today!

June 5, 2004 – U.S. President Ronald Reagan died from Alzheimer’s disease. Ironically, this was also the date in 1981 when the AIDS virus was first identified (although under another name: GRID – Gay Related Immune Deficiency). It was during Reagan’s term in office that the AIDS crisis started. Although AIDS was discovered in 1981, President Reagan did not mention the illness publicly until October 1987. By that time, there were nearly 60,000 cases of the disease with almost 28,000 deaths.

Ronald Reagan deliberately ignored one of the deadliest diseases in history of the world which is now affecting over 70 million people around the globe all  in the name of God, bigotry and homophobia.

From Back2Stonewall.com:

Ronald Reagan was and always should be remembered as the President who helped bring back poverty to the masses, the President who changed American foreign policy, by selling arms to Iran, and forwarding the profits to right-wing Central American dictators to help fund their death squads, and most of all as the President who is GUILTY of genocide and murder against the gay community and is personally responsible for the deaths of thousands who died of AIDS

It would not be until  1987 near the end of his second term in office when pushed that Reagan would publicly speak about the AIDS epidemic. By the end of that year, 59,572 AIDS cases had been reported and 27,909 gay men had died. He and his administration did almost nothing during the first seven years of the epidemic. AIDS research was chronically underfunded and community education and prevention programs were routinely denied federal funding. Only when pushed by massive protest and shamed by other countries did Reagan offer any assistance.

By that time AIDS patients were dying at a rate of about 80 per week

Newly unearthed audio of Ronald Reagan’s White House Press Secretary in daily meetings with the Press Corps from that period puts a face on the homophobic Reagan administration and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that because AIDS affected mostly gay men that the Reagan administration could not be bothered and did could care less that American citizens dying because of their homophobic bigotry.

Happy Anniversary Ronnie.  

On behalf of myself, my friends, and all the friends I lost.  I hope that HELL is hot enough for you.

Quote of the Day – Michael Musto on Hillary’s AIDS Comment: “We were there and we won’t forget.”

“I must say the furor over Hillary’s dumbass remarks has been one of the most inspiring things I’ve witnessed recently. It said “Excuse me, but we were there and we won’t forget. How dare you crap on the memory of those who died grisly deaths and those who loved them? We are not going to let you rewrite our horrifying history!” At the time, as AIDS mounted in a seeming vacuum, I became wildly politicized, adding HIV screeds into my gossip/nightlife column and taking to the streets with ACT UP to scream bloody murder at the Reagans’ callous indifference to a plague that was according gruesome fates to tens of thousands of vital people, the numbers growing in a clearly out-of-control manner. And they stayed silent–except for the White House rep who made a wisecrack and laughed, thinking the deaths of hard working, talented gay men was nothing more than a hilarious joke!!! The community mobilized, Broadway fought back, the gay press went there, and the Reagans waited and waited. They even denied the pleading request from their friend Rock Hudson to help with overseas treatments that were the only hope at that time. If the Reagans were AIDS activists, then Hitler was a humanitarian. But as I said, the backlash has been astounding and thank God Hillary had to backtrack, as we all learned something (including a little glimpse into what Hillary’s agendas are).” – Michael Musto gay  journalist and a former columnist for The Village Voice posted on Facebook