Read about Charlie Baker’s fight in the “Huffington Post”.
No longer “immoral, infamous, scandalous and notoriously disgraceful”
Charles W. “Charlie” Baker was fired in 1971 from his job at the National Bureau of Standards for being homosexual. The letter he received from the U.S. Civil Service Commission–sent to his parents’ house–was an outrage: “In view of the above described immoral, infamous, scandalous and notoriously disgraceful conduct, you are invited to show cause why you should not be disqualified from federal employment,” said the animus-drenched letter.
Charlie Baker, “scandalous” no more
Baker’s personal counsel was Frank Kameny who helped him get his job back after three years of litigation and a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge June Green. Green ruled to reinstate Baker with back pay, but upheld the right of the Civil Service Commission to discriminate, investigate and fire homosexuals if their homosexuality was directly related to job performance. Green miserably failed the test of history and let the brutal discrimination continue for years to come. This month, Baker returned to Washington to meet with the new Mattachine Society of Washington and our pro bono legal counsel McDermott, Will & Emery. He has come full circle and intends to “show cause” why Congress must act now on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
Lilli Vincenz and Charles Francis with a crate of her historic films
From 16mm tins “bicycled” around the country for $30 rental fees to today’s Library of Congress digital global platform, Lilli Vincenz’ documentaries on the earliest gay rights demonstrations are now part of the “mainstream” American history. The two films, “2nd Largest Minority” (1968) and “Gay and Proud” (1971) were posted yesterday on the Library’s “Now See Hear!” blog of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center. We look forward to seeing how schools and libraries across the country incorporate these films into their programs and teaching plans. Lilli was the first lesbian member of The Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. and had the brilliance to shoot these two documentaries with a borrowed Bealieu and a vision of gay and lesbian history.
A number of the epic picket signs carried in 1965 in front of LBJ’s White House by the original Mattachine Society of Washington will be on display in the White House for this year’s Pride. These pickets have a power of their own, “carried in lawful, dignified and orderly protest…against the treatment being meted out to fifteen million homosexual American citizens by their government.” ( From the letter to Lyndon Johnson handed to the White House guard by Dr. Franklin E. Kameny).
Our research on J. Edgar Hoover’s “Sex Deviate” program; and the U.S. Civil Service Commission internal memoranda (1964) on homosexuality–“something uniquely nasty”– is featured in a New York Times, May 21 report by Matt Apuzzo.
The 10th Archivist of the United States David Ferriero (center) addressed The Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., May 21, at a reception hosted by the international law firm McDermott, Will & Emery. Stressing the National Archives’ new “commitment to identify and make more accessible the stories and documents of LGBT American history”, Ferriero talked about plans for new LGBT finding aids and research at the National Archives. He was followed by historian (left) David K. Johnson, who discussed how he researched his groundbreaking history, “The Lavender Scare” at the Archives ten years ago when things were not so enlightened. Charles Francis, President, Mattachine Society of Washington (right).
Our “archive activism” is highlighted in a feature in this week’s “Washington Blade”.