Gay Activist Attorney Schwab Dies of AIDS Infections
By Robert Hyde
The illusive killer AIDS struck the gay
community close to its heart Thursday
(Dec. 15) and robbed it of one of its more
respected and influential leaders, Morton
It had been announced about a year ago
that Schwab had been diagnosed with
Born in Chicago 36 years ago, Schwab
obtained a Ph.D. and went on to become a
noted civil rights attorney who was the
chief strategist behind the landmark case
of Baker vs. Wade, which resulted in section 21.06—the "sodomy statute"—of the
Texas Penal Code being ruled unconstitutional in August, last year.
Don Baker, plaintiff in the case and
close friend of Schwab, said, "I personally
join hundreds of thousands of gay men
and women in Texas to mourn the loss of
one of our state's foremost gay rights leaders.
"Robert and I were comrades-in-arms
over the years, something that solidified a
deep sense of respect and camaraderie
when we were caught in the trenches
Robert Schwab in 1982
Baker said that Schwab became a close
friend of his in 1976.
"We worked together for so long," he
said near tears.
"His loss extends to the entirety of the
state, because he's worked with so many of
us," he continued. "I'm saddened by the
fact that we've lost one of the pillars of our
movement, as well as a deep personal
Schwab, founder of the Texas Human
Rights Foundation and co-founder of
Houston's Gay Political Caucus, was also
known nationally as a co-founder of the
National Education Foundation for Individual Rights, the Gay Rights National
Lobby and the American Bar Association
Committee of Gay Rights.
GPC current president Larry Bagneris
said, "The gay rights movement here in
Houston has definitely lost a true friend
and we at GPC will truely mourn one of the
founders of GPC. Before his death, he was
able to make a large contribution to the
gay community with his fight against
Former GPC President Lee Harrington
stated: "Almost all social change and pro
gress begins with the court system. Robert
chose this avenue in his endeavor to
remove the so-called sodomy statute from
the Texas Penal Code. Oppressive and
unjust, it affected heterosexual as well as
"His efforts were tireless and successful;
the gays, in particular, will miss him very
His body was scheduled to be flown to
Miami, Fla., at 10:30 p.m. Thursday evening.
Schwab is survived by his mother, Mrs.
Esther Schwab of Ft. Lauderdale, and by
his sister, Mrs. Charlene Touby of Miami.
Levit-Weinstein Memorial Chapel, 1921
Pembroke Road, Hollywood, Fla., handled
the final arrangements. Levy Funeral
Directors at 1402 Cleburne handled the
A local memorial service has been scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 8, at Rothko
Chapel at 3900 Yupon in Montrose.
Contributions in lieu of flowers may be
made to the Texas Human Rights Foundation; 3128 Lemmon Avenue, East; No. 304;
Dallas, TX 75204.
For additional information, call (713)
Hollis Hood, p.3
The Newspaper of Montrose Dec. 16. 1983 Issue *..164 Published Every Friday
Spirit Soars at the Lighting of the Montrose Christmas Tree
By Billie Duncan
Hundreds of people lined the street across
from Mary's last Sunday evening for the
annual lighting of the Montrose Community Christmas tree, sponsored by Mary's
and the Gay Political Caucus.
They were in faded jeans, leather, cotton, dresses, cut-offs. They were holding
hands and holding babies. They were
neighborhood people of all kinds, both gay
And for that brief amount of time, while
the traffic rolled down the street and the
carols floated up the sky, it really seemed
that there was peace on earth and good
will towards man.
The Montrose Symphonic Band, under
the dynamic leadership of Andy Mills,
provided the musical backbone of the
evening's Christmas caroling.
Voices were provided by the MCCR
choir (under the direction of John Kirk-
land) and the crowd. Also singing was
Sharon Steenbergen in full clown costume. Her strong operatic presentation
added immeasurably to the entire sound.
This was the fifth year of the lighting of
the tree and the fourth time the ceremony
has been at Mary's. The first year, the tree
was put up at the little park at the beginning of Westheimer.
The Montrose Singers were there that
year to sing songs of peace and love. Someone called the police. Activists Ray Hill
and Phil S'usser were arrested because
they had no sound permit.
Later that tree was set on fire.
Five years later, the mayor of Houston
was at Mary's to throw the switch that lit
Also on hand were city councilman
George Greanias and GPC president
Larry Bagneris. After mercifully short
speeches by all concerned, Kathy Whitmire flipped the switch that lit the tree.
About the same time, searchlights came
on from the Union Jack and Numbers.
After one last song, Andy Mills invited
interested members of the crowd to join
with him and the MSB to go on a caroling
expedition of the Montrose. "Over a
hundred singers and the band went
around," said Mills. "We were invited into
the Godfather, and we all went in and sat
around the tables and entertained."
They made a big circle that included a
good portion of lower Westheimer, Taft,
Avondale, Pacific and California.
Then they returned for more Christmas
cheer at Mary's.
Contributions to the event were made by
the Westheimer Colony, the Avondale
Association, Union Jack, Numbers and