Saturday, December 19, 2015

The United States banned gays from immigration not so long ago

Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade has an attention-getting headline on the December 18, 2015 issue, “Remember when U.S. banned gays?”  The article is in response to the press coverage of Donald Trump’s bombastic proposals to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., after the Paris and San Bernadino attacks.

The article, "Trumps anti-Muslim ban recalls restrictions on gay, HIV-positive people", was posted online Dec 13.

The article discusses a 1952 law signed by President Truman, the “Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952” (The McCarran-Walter Act), which had excluded those with a “psychopathic personality”. That might have been an improvement over the Immigration Act of 1917, which had banned gay people. The Senate had decided in 1952 that the language was inclusive enough that homosexuality need not be mentioned.

Johnson discusses the case of Clive Michael Bouilier in the 1960s, a Canadian national.  His apparent admissions of “sodomy” figured into the case. In 1967, the Supreme Court decided that the 1952 law was broad enough to exclude him.

The explicit ban, although not much enforced, would not be repealed until 1990, under the George H. W. Bush administration (during the first Persion Guf War.  Johnson also discusses the HIV travel ban.

I really should have covered this important history in my first (1997) “Do Ask Do Tell” book, inasmuch as it bears on the history of sodomy laws, as well as the past bans of gays in the military.  But the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy did not come into being until 1993, after the ban on gay immigration ended.  I’ll cover this in some detail soon on my Wordpress DADT Notes blog.

This history is important as the nation faces immigration controversy not only for Middle-East refugees, but LGBT refugees from Russia and some African countries, seeking asylum, which has gone on quietly but attracted little public debate so far.  In 1980 there was a real issue with Cuban refugees, for which personal sponsors were sought (which hasn't happened this time much because of the bigger political climate).

As for Donald Trump, he has opposed gay marriage, but he had openly gay candidates on his "The Apprentice" NBC reality show living comfortably with others in his hotel suites during contests.  In one case, he acknowledged the discrimination one particular male candidate might have faced.

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