Kevin And Don Respond To Being Self Loathing

Looking back at their journey from the Stonewall Democratic Club to Log Cabin Republicans, they claim it was one that was actually started by the democrats. After being told that marriage as not a priority on the agenda in 1995, they became disillusioned with the DEMS. For a decade they felt like they did not belong until they met the republicans of the Log Cabin Republican Club and discovered they too shared a dream of marriage equality. This blog is now a digital time capsule of their time as Republicans and moderated by a friend and supporter.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ronald Reagan, And His Pro Gay Actions On The Anti Gay Briggs Initiative

The Briggs Initiative, which for a time was winning in polls conducted prior to the election with about 61% of voters supporting it while 31% opposed. The extreme right state legislator John Briggs was pushing Prop 6, the ballot initiative describing it as an initiative that would defend your children from homosexual teachers." Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Supervisor Dan White was leading the campaign for the passage of the Briggs Initiative.

It was the first attempt to restrict gay and lesbian rights through a ballot measure. However, it is historically significant that the polls changed in the opponents favor when former Governor Ronald Reagan, later President opposed the measure. Reagan opposed the ballot initiative sponsored by religious conservatives that would have barred homosexuals from teaching in the public schools. As legend has it, Reagan penned an editorial for a major California newspaper in which he opposed the initiative. The timing is significant because he was then preparing to run for president, a race in which he would need the support of conservatives and moderates who felt very uncomfortable with homosexual teachers, nevertheless Reagan chose to state his convictions.

However, in the fall of 2006, a committee of Log Cabin Republicans spearheaded by Trustee Kevin Norte began researching the legend of the Reagan editorial and the Briggs Initiative and utilized the services of a student worker, Grant Grays, at the Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies at the University of Minnesota Libraries. Grays discovered Reagan sent a letter to a pro-Briggs Initiative group in which he opposed the initiative. The entire text of Reagan's letter of opposition was never printed in the public media. The most extensive excerpts from his statement were reprinted in the San Francisco Chronicle of September 24, 1978 where it was revealed that the future President opposed the Briggs Initiative. Reagan's letter also allegedly stated, "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."

Reagan's editorial appeared in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner less than a week before the election on November 1, 1978.  But it was his his public position taken in September and not the editorial itself is believed to have caused the tide of change in support of Prop 6 because his editorial was only published after the polling indicated that Prop 8 was trailing at the polls.

In the end the Briggs Initiative was defeated by over one million votes and would have prevented gay men and lesbians from being public school teachers in California. Even John Briggs' home territory, the conservative Orange County, rejected the measure. Without Reagan's personal, forceful opposition to Briggs it's likely the measure would have passed. There is, however, no public acknowledgement of Reagan's historic stance on the Briggs Initiative at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.