• Home
  • News
  • With law firm’s help, gay-rights advocate collects historical documents reflecting government bias

Legal History

With law firm’s help, gay-rights advocate collects historical documents reflecting government bias

Posted May 22, 2014 6:15 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

  • Print
  • Reprints
  • Share

Today the federal government is banned from firing employees because they are gay.

But before 1975, government policy held that being gay was a justification for firing. Seeking to shine a light on the history of bias, gay-rights advocate Charles Francis has used public records requests to collect hundreds of documents discussing the government’s anti-gay policies, the New York Times reports.

Francis got help with his “archive activism” from pro bono lawyers at McDermott, Will & Emery. “Gay and lesbian history is often ignored or deleted,” Francis told the Times. “It didn’t happen.”

The story highlights one document written in November 1964 in which a staffer with the Civil Service Commission considered whether a gay person could be rehabilitated through marriage into a trustworthy civil servant. The memo, written in response to a question, said it’s possible, but such people are rarely allowed to keep their jobs.

“Some feel that ‘once a homo, always a homo,’ ” the staffer wrote. “Our tendency to ‘lean over backwards’ to rule against a homosexual is simply a manifestation of the revulsion which homosexuality inspires in the normal person.”

Comments

Add a Comment

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy. Flag comment for moderator.