50 years on: remembering the first LGBT picket of the White House

How better to commemorate the first LGBT civil rights protest in front of the White House–50 years ago today–than by opening up the personal papers of John Macy, former head of the U.S. Civil Service Commission, still sealed up in the LBJ Presidential Library.

In an animus-drenched 1966 letter to the Mattachine Society of Washington D.C., Macy wrote:

“Pertinent considerations here (for maintaining the ban on homosexuals in government) are the revulsion of other employees by homosexual conduct and the consequent disruption of service efficiency, the apprehension caused other employees by homosexual advances, solicitations or assaults, the unavoidable subjection of the sexual deviate to erotic stimulation through on-the-job use of common toilet, shower and living facilities, the offense to members of the public who are required to deal with a known or admitted sexual deviate.”

Despite Macy’s role in continuing federal persecution and humiliation of gays and lesbians, his papers are not subject to FOIA requests because Macy donated them to the National Archives before the passage of the Freedom of Information Act. According to the LBJ Presidential Library, 47 linear feet of Macy’s papers remain sealed and unprocessed–containing volumes of LGBT political history waiting to be told.

Read more about the new Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C.’s archive activism in MSDC President Charles Francis’ latest opinion piece, published today in the Washington Blade.

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Sister Souljah and DOMA

Bill Clinton's other Sistah Souljah moment

Bill Clinton’s other “Sistah Souljah moment”

President Clinton’s liaison to the gay and lesbian community Marsha Scott warns, in this Memorandum, Vice President Gore about the “growing fear… that we are doing a ‘Sister Souljah’ and distancing ourselves” from the gay and lesbian community by potentially supporting the Defense of Marriage Act. The openly gay and lesbian appointees who were about to hear from the Vice President could only imagine, in March 1996, what was about to happen.

We have not seen this “Sister Souljah” warning in the immediate press coverage of the just-released Clinton Library’s DOMA papers… so in case the library withheld it, we are releasing a copy of the “Sister Souljah DOMA Memorandum” obtained by the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C.

Read the documents:

May 15, 1996 Memorandum to Vice President Gore from Marsha Scott

May 16, 1996 Backgrounder on Gay and Lesbian Presidential  Appointees Reception

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Homosexuals and “other sex perverts” unsuitable for Federal employment

Cover, Employment of Homosexuals

In the 1950 report and resolution Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in Government, a Senate subcommittee charges the Civil Service Commission with stepping up investigations–and dismissals–of alleged “moral perverts” employed by the Federal government, arguing that homosexuals and “other sex perverts” are “generally unsuitable” for employment and “constitute security risks.”

Perverts and homosexuals, the authors argue, “lack emotional stability of normal persons,” incapable of taking on positions of responsibility. Homosexuals furthermore have a “corrosive influence upon his fellow employees,” because they “frequently attempt to entice normal individuals to engage in perverted practices.” Indeed, the presence of “one homosexual can pollute a Government office.” Continue reading

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Persecuted by their own government


Rick Rosendall, a member of the original Mattachine Society of Washington D.C. and founding member of the present Mattachine Society, wrote this week in the Washington Blade about the leadership of Frank Kameny in the fight for LGBT civil equality, and the grim history of those persecuted by their own government.

Read the article

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A Culture of Animus


Memorandum from John W. Steele to O. Glenn Stahl (Nov. 17, 1964)

A “culture of animus” is brought to chilling life in our amicus brief to the Supreme Court, written by a fantastic team of attorneys at the international law firm McDermott Will & Emery. Our brief has links to the documents we have uncovered over the past three years, including the newly released “Homosexual” and “Suitability” files of the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Civil Service Commission–the predecessor to today’s Office of Personnel Management. Here is where the investigations, the interrogations and the firings were conducted for decades.

Read McDermott Will & Emery’s press release

Continue to Legal Documents

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“Suitability” files of the former Office of Personnel Management–soon to be released


After two years of Freedom of Information Act requests and visits to the National Archives, at last we have uncovered the “suitability” files (“homosexuality”) of the Office of General Counsel (OGC) of the U.S. Civil Service Commission–the old Office of Personnel Management. These papers document decades of outrageous animus. We photocopied and have scanned more than 450 pages. We will be releasing them soon.

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Surrounded by Staff, Nancy Reagan “just said no” to Rock Hudson

Rock Hudson with the Reagans, courtesy of the Reagan Library

Rock Hudson with the Reagans, courtesy of the Reagan Library

Mattachine Society researchers discovered these Rock Hudson/Nancy Reagan documents at the Reagan Presidential Library, an illuminating 1985 time capsule from inside the Reagan White House. BuzzFeed did an amazing job reporting–worldwide–and providing the factual context.  It is the Reagan White House nonchalance that galls us the most, in the midst of a raging epidemic.  The Supreme Court should bear this kind of demonstrated animus in mind as they analyze the discrimination in same-sex marriage arguments.

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