Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ideological soul mates Thatcher and Reagan were poles apart on AIDS, gay rights

On the one hand, Reagan's inaction on AIDS in the US was a sharp contrast to a vigorous (if late-starting) campaign against AIDS in the UK, including needle exchanges, during Thatcher's tenure as prime minister.
     On the other hand, while Thatcher distinguished herself by advancing the passage of Section 28, which effectively shut down support of gay kids in schools, Ronald Reagan publicly opposed the Briggs Amendment in California, which would have led to the firing of gay teachers. Wrote David Mixner:

Despite all our good work, everyone involved had taken the Proposition from 75% in favor of firing homosexual school teachers down to only 55%. We were having a helluva time gaining that last 6%. We knew we needed something big to push us over the top and we needed it soon since we were in the last weeks of the campaign.
     There is no doubt in my mind that the man who put us over the top was California Governor Ronald Reagan. His opposition to Proposition 6 killed it for sure.

The Briggs Amendment, a prominent part in the movie, Milk, was the first defeat for Anita Bryant and her followers and gave birth to the Log Cabin Republicans, which was founded in 1977 in California as a rallying point for Republicans opposed to the initiative. Log Cabin Republicans relentlessly lobbied GOP officials to oppose the measure.
     Reagan publicly opposed the measure by issuing an informal letter of opposition to the initiative, answered reporters' questions about the initiative by saying he was against it, and, a week before the election, wrote an editorial in the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner opposing it.

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