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NOW News Bay Area Chapter,Vol. 12, No. 7, July 1984
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NOW News Bay Area Chapter,Vol. 12, No. 7, July 1984 - Page 6. July 1984. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. March 3, 2021. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2354/show/2346.

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(July 1984). NOW News Bay Area Chapter,Vol. 12, No. 7, July 1984 - Page 6. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2354/show/2346

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

NOW News Bay Area Chapter,Vol. 12, No. 7, July 1984 - Page 6, July 1984, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed March 3, 2021, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2354/show/2346.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title NOW News Bay Area Chapter,Vol. 12, No. 7, July 1984
Publisher National Organization for Women, Bay Area Chapter
Date July 1984
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Periodicals
  • Newsletters
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  • National Organization for Women
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .N682
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332563~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
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Title Page 6
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File Name femin_201109_278f.jpg
Transcript Tuesday, June 19, 1984, was a memorable day for gay rights in the city of Houston. The Houston C i ly Council by a 8 to 7 vote passed amendments to two city ordinances in order to prohibit discrimination against city employees and contractors on the basis of sexual orientation. NOW has long had a policy of support for lesbian and gay rights. Judi Hoffman and Diane Berg, co-chairs of the Texas MOW Tank Force on Lesbian Rights, were at the meeting. Although the ordinances passed, the report from Judi on the mood and attitude of the crowd that gathered was frightening. Somehow a crowd that chooses to sing "Onward Christian Soldiers", "God Bless America", and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and then shout over and over, contradiction there. ># "DEATH TO ALL HOMOSEXUALS" makes The hate was overwhelming at city Greanias, Rodney Ellis, Dale Gorczynski, Anthony Hall, Kathy Whitmire deserve our thing so much better than support I can. one believe that there must be some type of hall. Council-persons Ernest McGowen, George Elinor Tinsley, Judson Robinson and Mayor and thanks. The following letter to the Houston Post says every- Edltor'B note: On Tuesday, The Houston Post ran an editorial against city legislation barring city job discrimination based on sexual orientation. The following article is a reply to that editorial. By THOMAS J. COLEMAN JR. On Tuesday, the Houston City Council passed amendments to two city ordinances in order to prohibit discrimination against city employees and contractors on the basis of sexual orientation. The amendments do not affect private employers, but rather are a codification of executive orders, concerning city employment that have been in effect since the administration of Mayor Jim McConn. They were carefully drafted to eliminate any possibility that they might be used for the establishment of goals or quotas for gays and lesbians. These amendments were introduced in December 1983 and were duly reported by the Houston media. They were extensively considered and discussed by the City Council and the public for two weeks. However, a last-minute, well-organized and well-financed campaign of misinformation, innuendo and vicious attacks against homosexuals was conducted in an attempt to delay and defeat the amendments. A bank president paid for two large newspaper advertisements comparing gays and lesbians with public drunks. The chairman of the Harris County Republican Party dredged up and trumpeted the long-disproved myth that homosexuals recruit. And members oi me council, especially those who supported the amendments, were subjected to what Councilwoman Eleanor Tinsley called a "sad and dangerous outpouring of hatred." Indeed, the council found it difficult even to conduct a discussion on the amendments the day of its vote due to the hostile shouts from a crowd constituted primarily of religious fanatics, members of the Ku Klux Klan and others who actively seek not only to discriminate against gays and lesbians, but against other traditionally persecuted minority groups as well. Backers carried vote Despite these tardy but obvious attempts at intimidation, the seven council members who had previously pledged their support for the amendments, along with Mayor Kathy Whitmire, remained steadfast, securing passage. On the day of the vote, The Houston Post printed an editorial entitled "Pressure Politics," taking the srtde of those who opposed the amendments. This commentary, like those of the others who opposed the amendments, was based on faulty assumptions and ignored the real problems that must be faced when considering, confronting and dealing with this issue in a truly conscientious manner. The editorial began by expressing outrage that the Gay Political Caucus could be in a position to influence and persuade the council to secure equality and dignity for gays and lesbians in city government. No attention was given to those who spent thousands of dollars and en- en*nf\A In •» p.iwnftl"m t\f Intontlrmil distortion and intimidation to obtain a Jast-minute change in the council vote. ' Gays have been active In city poll- tics, working legitimately within the system, for many years. Our program has never been changed: We seek legal protection from irrational discrimination, not special favors. Those council members who pledged their support for legal equality for gays and lesbians did so voluntarily, when they were first questioned on these matters, not because they were "pressured." At one time, council members Christin Hartung, JTphn Goodner and Ben Reyes agreed S> support this type of equal protects but, in the end, did not. v The real issue here is not one of "pressure politics" but of political integrity. I And it most hypocritical that someone should gladly seek and accept gay support, in whatever form, in order to be elected and then, once elected, find it more expedient to use deliberate distortion, fear and misinformation to attack that very support. A question that other political groups should ask themselves is when it will become expedient to attack them. The question of choice However, in the final analysis, this type of political decision stands or falls on its merits. And it is on the merits that The Post made the most fundamental misstatement — that a person may be bom of a certain race or gender but ". . .to become gay was his or her freedom of choice in America," — thus, any anti-gay discrimination is voluntary on the part of the person on whom it is inflicted. First, the mere fact that someone Is born black or a ytoman rather than "becoming" gay makes no difference as concerns the Irrational prejudice that all these groups have historically suffered from. Second, in 23 states, one Is not "free" to "become gay." To do so is to attain the status of a criminal. In Texas, we are no longer criminals only because of a recent successful court challenge to Texas' "Homosexual Conduct" statute. This case remains on appeal due to the efforts of two anti- gay groups in Dallas. They have spent at least $50,000 in legal fees to turn approximately 1 million Texas residents back into criminals and cast us back onto the rubbish heap of second-class citizenship. Most distressing, however, is The Post's opinion that people somehow "choose" to be gay, as they would choose whether to drink whiskey or drive a foreign car. In fact, the great bulk of scientific evidence holds that sexual orientation is determined before the age of Ave, long before one has the ability to "choose" much of anything. To make comparisons of this sort is to trivialize a characteristic that is innate and personal, and only serves to encourage further misunderstanding. Finally, contrary to The Post's stated position, there is a real need for these amendments. The opponents to these amendments intentionally Ignore documentation already on file when they assert that there is no discrimination against gays In city government. Indeed, they are actively advocating establishment of legal discrimination in hiring in some departments. Without these amendments, a city employee Pt is required to maKe a teaeral case out of this type of discrimination. In the context of governmental employment, the case of Gary Van Oo- teghem is illustrative. Van Oo- teghem, a former Harris County employee, sued the county for loss of his job due to the fact that he is gay and publicly supported gay rights. Despite a clear finding of a violation of Van Ooteghem's constitutional rights of free speech, as determined by dozens of judges who have reviewed the case, It remains in court after nine years of litigation, having been twice appealed to the United State Supreme Court by the county, with another appeal promised. Endless court battles ! Clearly these claims could be handled more quickly and inexpensively, for the aggrieved party and for the taxpayer — through the local civil service, as provided for in these amendments — than through endless court battles. In fact, the reason for the long delays in resolving the Van Oo- teghem case, as well as the strident opposition to the Houston City ordinance amendments, is the same: It is homophobia — the irrational fear of homosexuals and homosexuality. Regardless of the cause of homophobia — ignorance, religious fanaticism or anxiety about one's own sexual identity — the effect on government employees is the same:' justice delayed, Justice denied. Considering the strident hostility encountered by Mayor Whitmire and the council members who supported the amendments, their courageous steadfast support should be appreciated by all who support human rights and human dignity. To fall to recognize the need for this sort of legal protection is unconscionable. To fall to take issue with the bigotry and hatred that is all too apparent from those who support this discrimination, regardless of who they are, is inexcusable. Cafaman, a local aftarnay, It a baard mambar af tha Haastan Gay Political Caucus and a mtmbir af C PAC, two political organliaflom that suppartad