December 4th, 2009

gay vigilante

Emotionally unstable, immoral, and repugnant – Life Magazine’s “Homosexuality in America," part 6

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(pink highlighting notes some of biased and sensationalistic words and reporting, as well some of the more maddening or outrageous historical details.)

Life magazine, June 26, 1964


By Paul Welch
Photographed for LIFE by Bill Eppridge

A Legal-Religious Debate Grows over Personal Immorality


Florida’s attempt to brand homosexuals in order to prevent their being hired in the state has been a long-standing policy with many governmental agencies. As a result of a 1953 presidential executive order [that would be Eisenhower, see Section 8(a)(1)(iii) here. The executive order stood until 1993.], homosexuality is an absolute bar to security clearance by the federal government. The Department of Defense lists a variety of reasons why it considers sexual deviates poor security risks: they are far more subject to blackmail than heterosexuals; they are emotionally unstable and, therefore, less reliable keepers of secrets.

There is no psychological evidence to support DOD's contention that “the weakness of their moral fiber” makes homosexuals as a group more susceptible to the blandishments of foreign agents. However, FBI and security agency experience does substantiate the charge that homosexuals are particularly subject to blackmail – for fear of exposure which can lead to social ostracism and loss of job.

Homosexuals are unwelcome in the armed forces, where forced segregation of the sexes develops more pressure for deviate activity (as it does in prisons). Many homosexuals are drafted for the service – and quickly weeded out when they have been identified. Homophile groups have protested the unfairness of a system that forces a man into military service and then rejects him with a “less-than-honorable” or “dishonorable” discharge because of a psychological condition over which he has no control. But a DOD official explains the policy: “If we didn’t throw them out, we’d be condoning homosexuality. The services’ position has to be that homosexual practices prejudice morale and discipline.”

Civil Service regulations – which govern 93 per cent of federal employees – state that a person is unsuitable for government employ if he is guilty of “criminal, infamous, dishonest, immoral or notoriously disgraceful conduct.” The Civil Service Commission maintains that homosexuals can be a disruptive influence in a government agency, that a homosexual in a position of influence is likely to bring other homosexuals into government service, and that where security is necessary they are a greater risk than heterosexual co-workers. When the commission has evidence than an employe or prospective employe is a homosexual, he is denied a job – or fired – for “immoral conduct.”

A recent legal challenge to the commission’s stand was made by a homosexual who was denied a Civil Service job although he had passed tests for three personnel and management positions. With the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union, the man went to court, charging that the government has, on grounds of personal immorality, denied him a job for which he was qualified.

David Carliner, chairman of the board of the Capital Area A.C.L.U., which is handling the case, points out that his organization is “not taking a position on homosexuality. We are arguing that qualifications for government employment should be related to the nature of the employment and the employe’s experience and ability to do the job. A majority cannot deny a person certain rights. We concede that homosexuality is considered immoral in this country. But the notion of immorality is a very vague one. This puts the government in the position of being Big Brother in passing judgment on other people’s behavior. It is a rather awesome power to pass on someone’s morality.”

For the first time the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the homosexual’s case, which it will probably consider when the Court reconvenes in October. But no legal procedures are likely to change society’s basic repugnance to homosexuality as an immoral and disruptive force that should somehow be removed. Today, as homosexuals become more visible to the public, there is a need for greater knowledge about them. What science has found out is discussed in the article following.


To read the entire series:
The Way We Were (Reported) - Part 1
When gay was in quotation marks - Part 2
The bitterness of individual homosexuals - Part 3
The Homosexual Faces Arrest, Disgrace - Part 4
The homosexual: Hungry for youth – Part 5