Although lying, in the path of the "bible belt,"
Dallas is no stranger to gay civil rights cases. A
nationally publicized lesbian child custody case was
tried there in 1977. In 1976 the Supreme Court upheld
a lower court ruling that a state may prohibit homosexual acts between consenting adults in private. Without
hearing arguments or issuing an opinion, the justices
decided six to three to uphold a Virginia law aimed at
"crimes against nature."
Baker's attorney is using a somewhat different
argument in this suit. Patty O'Kane says, "We are in
a better position to win than in 1975 or in the 1950's,
The movement is stronger, we have more communication."
To Baker, the March on Washington was "one of the
greatest experiences of my life." The Village Station,
a Dallas disco which sponsored several March on Washington benefits, has already honored their newest celebrity with his very own benefit. After their regular
'show, the Bottoms Up Revue came to the Village Station
to perform for the Don Baker benefit. "This is not my
case, this is not Dallas' case. . . this case comes
from all of our hearts," Baker stated. "I knew when
people spoke of homosexuals, they thought of degenerates, perverts - all the negative things. But that's
not true. It would be completely wrong, morally, for
me to allow this kind of lie to continue in this society," Baker added.
Don Baker had time for a quick cocktail and a conw
versation at Baja Sam's with several of the people he
had spoken to that evening, before flying back to Dallas.
He'd planned to spend the night, but changed his schedule late that afternoon. For at least part of the
weekend, Baker would be in Bryan, Texas, with his friend
Bill Nelson, to show a new gay group at A & M University their slides of the March on Washington. And, of
course, to discuss that new civil rights case just
launched in Federal District Court in Dallas.
(reprinted from UPFRONT)
TEXAN APPOINTED TO NATIONAL BOARD
Kathy Deitsch, Moderator of the Texas Gay Task
Force, has been appointed to serve on the Gay Rights
National Lobby Board of Directors. GRNL is based in
Washington, D.C; its Executive Director and lobbyist
is Steve Endean.
Deitsch organized, coordinated, and served as
fundraiser for the Texas gay/lesbian lobby (the Human
Rights Advocates) during the last meeting of the state
Deitsch said, "GRNL is our only voice and defense
in the U.S. Congress. With the recent formation of
several anti-gay lobbies who purport morality, religion, and the family, the New Right and the ultra conservative fringe need to be monitored carefully. Their
constituency can produce thousands of letters to Congress, and they have millions of dollars to spend on
insuring that gays and lesbians are singled out for
discrimination. Gay Texans have supported and under- '
stood the need to have a voice in the lawmaking pro-'
cess. Now it is time that Gay Texans do their part
in extending support to this vital national lobby
Deitsch points out, "If federal laws are enacted
to either protect or single us out for discrimination,
everyone in the country is affected. Likewise, if
state laws are passed, they affect all Texans. The
point is we_ must take responsibility for our lifestyle
at all levels of government. I believe the time has
come for us to either prove up or shut up. The 8o's
is the decade when our community will be under heavy
attack. We need strong local, state, and national
action to ensure our fair share."
American Statesman Opposes Ban
The Austin American-Statesman came out strongly
against the current federal law barring the admission
of homosexual foreigners to the United States.
In a January 7 editorial, the Statesman said,
"By insisting on strict compliance with an outdated
law, Justice Department attorneys have made a good
case for congressional modernization."
The editorial was a response to Justice Department attorneys informing the Immigration and Naturalization Service that it must enforce the law. The
INS had temporarily lifted the ban last summer, in
response to a Public Health Service decision that the
government would no longer consider homosexuality a
"mental disease or defect."
But John M, Harmon, assistant attorney general
for the office of legal counsel, says the Immigration
and Nationality Act of 1952 must be enforced. "Congress considered homosexuality a disease" when it
passed the act, and "not a word in the statute or its
history suggests a congressional intent that the surgeon general be empowered in the future to eliminate
homosexuality as a ground for exclusion by declaring
his disagreement with Congress' determination,"
The American-Statesman concluded, "The solution
is to bring that determination up to date by explicitly striking the sexual preference criterion. Medical and social perceptions of homosexuality, as well
as legal regard for gay rights, have changed radically
in the last 27 years, and Congress should make sure
the law keeps pace."
by Daniel Curzon
San Francisco, Ca. (IGNA) A 1 million dollar
damage suit has been filed on behalf of Jaime Chavez,
the Mexican dress designer who was arrested, interrogated, and held incommunicado under armed guard at
San Francisco International Airport because he was
thought to be gay.
The suit is against the United States Government,
Braniff Airlines, Mexicana Airlines, Burns International Security Service and their employees involved in
the detention of Chavez. The claim seeks damages for
unlawful arrest, search and imprisonment, as well as
intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Speaking for Mr.Chavez, his lawyer, Donald Knutson
of Gay Rights Advocates, said that he hoped that the
damage suit would have "a dampening effect on over-
zealous Immigration officials." Knutson added that the
"gay community is up in arms over this harassment and
won't let it rest." He expressed his pleasure—and
surprise—that many newspapers in recent days have
written editorials against the Immigration's anit-gay
IGNA spoke with Mr. Chavez through his interpreter, Edward Morales, and asked what might be the repercussions for Chavez in Mexico, his home country.
He replied that he did not know yet if the Mexican
press has picked up the story. He is worried if it
has, because his income might be hurt by business lost
from the adverse publicity.
Knutson and associate attorneys William 0. Dill-,
ingham and Jeff T. Appleman have been invited to Washington, D.C. to meet with representatives of the White
House, the Justice Department, the State Department,
the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Public
Health Service, and the Select Committee on Immigration on January 17 and 18, to attempt to settle, once
and for all, whether the Immigration Act of 1952 permits the exclusion of aliens on the basis of homosexuality.