Here's an important piece of homo history I wasn't aware of until this week when I read my friend Rick Rosendall's blog post for the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC.
I was shocked to learn the early 1970s date of the debate in part because of what gay marriage advocate Evan Wolfson says on his group's web site:
Prior to founding Freedom to Marry in 2003, Wolfson launched the marriage movement as co-counsel in the landmark Hawaii marriage case, Baehr v. Miike.
Putting aside his enormous ego and his claim that he alone launched this movement, but not overlooking Woflson's important role in the battle for gay and lesbian marriages, this 1974 debate is a key piece of evidence that the fight was underway before he worked on the Hawaii case. That case went to trial in 1996, more than two decades after the PBS mock trial took place.
Joining Kameny were out lesbian Elaine Noble who was a professor at Emerson College at the time, a year before she was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Dr. Richard Green, a psychiatrist from UCLA, and quite the bear but I don't what his sexual orientation is.
The opposing side was led by Florida civil rights attorney Tobias Simon, who was joined by Robin Smith at Occidental College, and Dr. Charles Socarides, listed as an Associate Clinical Professor at Albert Einstein Medical School.
Socarides was the father two blights upon the LGBT community, the first being the now-discredited bogus "conversion therapy" that held a person with same-sex attractions could be changed to desire the opposite sex, and the second was his son Richard Socarides, a Democratic political strategist who holds the dubious distinction of having written talking points for President Bill Clinton deflecting LGBT advocates' anger over the signing of the Defense of Marriage Act when he was the White House gay liaison.
Unfortunately, WGBH-TV in Boston has shared the video from 1974 on their web site but not made it embeddable. Click here to watch it, please.
These words of Kameny's are from the transcript and serve as an excellent reminder of some of what made him a giant of the gay community:
Our society guarantees first class citizenship to all of its citizens, the right of the pursuit of happiness to all of its citizens, and the right to be different and to be unpopular without disadvantage to all of its citizens. Our society does not always respect those rights in practice.
Exercise by homosexual couples of the right to marry detracts not one iota from the rights of heterosexual couples to marry. Homosexual marriages interfere with no one individually, and such marriages impair or interfere with no societal interest. In fact, they further some societal interest. They provide a myriad of special privileges given to legally married people.
Most important, for many persons a legal marriage is psychologically supportive. The relationship is stabilized by it. For society to accuse us, as it does, of unstable, short-term relationships and then to deny us a powerful means of stabilization is to make their accusation self-fulfilling in a peculiarly vicious way. To extend the definition of the family to include gay couples in no way endangers or diminishes the institution of the family.
Quite to the contrary, it strengthens it. Our society belongs to all of its members and segments. It is our society as homosexuals quite as much as yours as heterosexuals. If heterosexuals wishing it have the right to the benefits of marriage, then homosexuals wis have the right to the benefits of marriage. That equality is what America is all about. It is as simple as that.