Congress in the Archives will feature a monthly staff post on our blog. June’s post comes from Center archivist, Judy Adkins.
June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride month. It commemorates events that occurred in June, 1969, when patrons and supporters of New York City’s Stonewall Inn resisted police harassment, sparking the modern LGBT rights movement. Five years after Stonewall, Representative Bella Abzug (D-NY) introduced H.R. 14752, the first federal legislation aimed at protecting the rights of gay citizens. Intended to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status, and sexual orientation, the bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Although its Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Constitutional Rights chose to take no further action, the bill was a forerunner of similar legislation introduced repeatedly in the years since.
The subcommittee’s file for H.R. 14752 contains a small amount of incoming correspondence, all in favor. Included is one letter from a serviceman discharged for being gay, one from Virginia bar owner weary of harassment, and another from a group of California Quakers. The group saw gay rights as a continuation of their longstanding social justice mission. The letter says, “We of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) have for over three hundred years advocated equality and justice for all people. We strive for equality and human dignity between and among women and men in the relationships they choose. As a part of this concern we seek total equality for homosexual people.”
Printed bill and letter of 11/17/1974 “on behalf of the Southern California Quarterly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends,” Records of the U.S. House of Representatives