Friday, June 23, 2017

5th Circuit punts on Mississippi religious freedom law; Lavender scare apology law introduced

The Washington Blade has at least two important stories today.

The 5th Circuit in New Orleans let stand a Mississippi “religious freedom” law because the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue (Chris Johnson story).  The law would have allowed religious organizations and medical providers to deny services in certain circumstances based on religious beliefs.  State employees could defer themselves from issuing marriage licenses.  The court said it would consider a case where plaintiffs had suffered "stigmatic harm".
The case catches my attention because in 1985 the 5th Circuit overturned a favorable 1982 ruling by Judge Buchmeyer in the Baker v. Wade case on the old Texas 21.06 sodomy law.  The court had mentioned “moral values”.

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) has introduced a “lavender scare bill” to provide apologies and expunge personnel records of those fired from the State Department in the 1950s during the Cold War.  The same attitude helped contribute to my own William and Mary expulsion in 1961.  Story by Michael Levers here.

Dean Rusk told Mike Wallace of CBS that the State Department "discharges" homosexuals as late as 1967 on  notorious CBS documentary "The Homosexuals".  I started working for the NBS (Commerce) in 1963 and there was certainly a pervasive anti-gay attitude ("removal" for "sexual perversion" was in Civil Service regulations).

The policy reminds one of the career of Frank Kameny, fired from a government Army map service in 1957.

It's interesting that the British government has apologized to the estate of Alan Turing.

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