Kameny Papers Expose a Dark Legacy
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Published in: January-February 2011 issue.


THE “REVULSION LETTER” is on its way to the Supreme Court. Triggered by gay and lesbian Americans picketing the White House in 1965, and hidden away in the attic of pioneer gay civil rights activist Frank Kameny until he donated it to the Library of Congress in 2006, this single-spaced, three-page letter established a viciously discriminatory federal policy toward homosexuals that lasted for decades. It reverberates still, each time a judge scrutinizes a law that treats gay and lesbian Americans differently from everyone else.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker cited this 1966 letter from President Lyndon Johnson’s U.S. Civil Service Commission chairman to the Mattachine Society of Washington, DC, as a “finding of fact” in his opinion in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which struck down California’s voter-approved Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage in California. What Judge Walker documented with this letter is the fact that gays and lesbians have long been victims of discrimination in the U.S. for no good reason, and for one bad reason: a sense of “revulsion.”
What John W. Macy, Jr., Civil Service Commission Chairman, wrote in 1966 was this:

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