Printer Friendly

Advocate Archives: 20 years ago - Briggs initiative defeated.

If the current push in the Oklahoma state legislature for a bill that would bar lesbians and gay men from working in public schools has a familiar ring, that's because it is just the latest incarnation of a 20-year-old struggle. In 1978 a critical victory for equal treatment of gays in public education came in the defeat of the so-called Briggs initiative in California.

In 1977 John Briggs, an archconservative California state senator, proposed putting an initiative on the ballot in the 1978 election that would prohibit lesbians and gay men from teaching in public schools on the grounds that gay people were "immoral." In May 1978 Briggs and his followers officially filed petitions bearing the 500,000 signatures needed to qualify his initiative for the November ballot, and the proposal officially became Proposition 6.

But gays did not take the attack lightly. They responded with a well-orchestrated campaign with supporters from around the nation speaking out against the proposition. During the months leading up to the election, activists called on gay people and their supporters in even the smallest California towns to get out and urge their neighbors to oppose such blatant discrimination. In June at a sold-out benefit concert in Santa Monica, Joan Baez, Harry Chapin, Holly Near, and Peter Yarrow raised $25,000 to fight Proposition 6.

By November pollsters figured the initiative would be defeated but only by a narrow margin. Instead, Proposition 6 went down in flames, rejected by 58% of California voters. The victory gave the national movement for lesbian and gay representation and equal rights in electoral politics much-needed inspiration. Still, as the action in Oklahoma reveals, that struggle continues today.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Liberation Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:failed 1978 California referendum banning gays from public school jobs
Author:Romseburg, Don
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Column
Date:Jun 9, 1998
Previous Article:Needling Clinton.
Next Article:Without a parish: a straight minister loses his job and church after marrying gay and lesbian couples.

Related Articles
Cruel crusade: the holy war against lesbians and gays.
Too little, too late?
Are we really asking for special rights?
September 10, 1991: Colorado initiative frightens activists.
Take a Wilde RIDE.
November 21, 1989: Want to work with gay company? Think again.
A Smorgasbord of Ballot Measures.
The quiet crusader: Stephen Herbits has worked for every Republican president since Richard Nixon. Now the openly gay Defense Department insider--who...
Predicting the future of being gay: January 10, 1984.
Howdy, partners: you can't go it alone. Gay activists in Texas, Maine, and elsewhere are partnering with straight leaders and civil rights groups as...

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters