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Days Gone By Remembered
1988 Year in Review
The Soft Spot
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A Different Look at 1988
I PRIDE IN PRINT I
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Judge to Congress: Anti-Gay Armstrong
Washington, D.C., December 13,1988 -
Lesbians and gays in the nation's capital won
a critical civil rights victory today when a
federal judge struck down the infamous
"Armstrong Amendment" that would have
allowed religious institutions to discriminate
on the basis of sexual orientation.
In a surprise ruling by conservative, Re
agan-appointed U.S. District Judge Royce
Lamberth, the court said the U.S. Congress
did not have the constitutional power to
compel the District of Columbia and its coun
cil members to enact legislation against their
best judgment, including anti-gay legisla
D.C. council members, lobbied by the
Human Rights Campaign Fund (HRCF) and
other national and local activist groups,
opposed the anti-gay Armstrong Amend
ment passed by Congress last October as part
of the D.C. Appropriations bill. The amend
ment, sponsored by Sen. William Armstrong
(R-Colo.), would have permitted religiously
"associated" educational institutions to dis
criminate against "any person or persons that
are organized for, or engaged in, promoting,
encouraging, or condoning any homosexual
act, lifestyle, orientation, or belief."
Congress had forced the District to pass
the law by December 31, 1988, otherwise
risk cutoff of all city funds.
In striking down the Armstrong Amend
ment, Judge Lamberth — who many gay ac
tivists considered more of a conservative
demagogue than Sen. Armstrong himself -
held that the First Amendment protects the
right of elected council members to exercise
their own judgment in voting for or against
legislation. The judge asserted that the United
States had no interest in forcing council
members to vote for anti-gay discrimination.
In vividly worded language, Lamberth
rejected Congress’ contention that the elected
officials of D.C. simply '"hold their noses'
and adopt the law."
"First amendment protection," said the
judge, "encompasses both the right to speak
and the right not to speak, and even the
olfactory burden to which the United States
refers is constitutionally suspect."
Activists heralded the ruling on the case,
formally named "Clarke vs. the U.S." after
D.C. Council Chairman David Clarke, jok
ing that the gay community 'won the case by
"This confirms what we've believed all
along: that the homophobic legislation passed
by Armstrong and the U.S. Congress stinks."
smd Robert Bray, HRCF communications
director. "Members of Congress should be
the ones holding their noses for passing such
foul law. It would have seriously under
mined the power of our Human Rights bill."
The ruling marks a major milestone in a
1 ong, frustrating ordeal for Washington's gays
The ordeal began in 1980 when D.C.'s
Georgetown University was charged with
discriminating against its gay and lesbian
student groups. The university agreed to grant
the groups equal treatment following a sepa
rate court ruling earlier this year.
Although both the university and gay
groups accepted the ruling. Sen. Armstrong
still pushed his amendment through in the
closing days of the 100th Congress.
In this week's decision, the Court did not
mle on the constitutionality of religious
exemption for anti-gay discrimination, but
left that issue to be decided if and when
Congress should act directly to amend D.C.'s
Human Rights Act.
The judge told Congress if they wanted
such laws passed, they would have to pass
them, said Steve Smith, HRCF legislative
counsel. "Congress can't force its dirty work
on local elected officials. If the decision
stands, it will be more difficult for the ex
treme right in Congress to force its will on the
"In any case, we will work with our friends
in Congress and elsewhere to win this vote
the next time it occurs," said Smith.
The U.S. Department of Justice, which
represents the federal government in the case,
did not announce immediately whether it
would appeal the decision.
Unfortunately, the ruling came the same
day the D.C. Council passed two other, sepa
rate anti-gay laws.
One bill was designed to comply with a
Congressional mandate that insurance com
panies doing business in D.C. be allowed to
test applicants for HIV. Local AIDS activists
demanded that insurance companies at least
be required to test all applicants to prevent
"red lining" of gay neighborhoods.
The Council also gave final approval to a
bond issue for Georgetown University. Gay
activists believed the denial of bonds to
Georgetown could be used as political lever
age to force the university to treat its gay
student groups with equality.
Local gay and lesbian and AIDS organi
zations mounted a massive public campaign
to prevent final passage of the laws, includ
ing visits and telephone drives to every
Council office, a full-page advertisement in
the Washington Blade, and a public rally in
sub-freezing weather on Sunday, December
About a hundred community members
packed the Council chambers and filled the
outside hallway the evening the anti-gay
laws were passed. The meeting was dis
rupted several times by gay and lesbian ac
tivists. Some activists chained themselves to
chamber furniture, hurled pink triangles at
the council members, and chanted slogans,
including, "We'll remember in November,"
referring to re-elections of the council
Five protesters were arrested at the meet
ing and eventually released after being
charged with disturbing the peace.
Human Rights Campaign Fund Newsletter
Metrolina AIDS Project
1988 - Year in Review
By David Prybylo
Special to Q-Notes
JANUARY: As 1988 begins, the
CDC reports 50,265 cases of AIDS
(reported since 1981), of whom 28,149
have died. During the month an addi
tional 1,991 AIDS cases and 1,057 deaths
MAP holds its first volunteer training
of the new year on January 30 and 31 at
which approximately 20 new volunteers
FEBRUARY: 2,911 new AIDS
cases and 1,726 deaths are reported
Buddy training is held for 8 new
buddies on February 27 and 28. A buddy
is a special friend who provides emo
tional and practical support to a person
with AIDS (PWA).
MARCH: 3,103 new AIDS cases
and 1,613 deaths are reported during
On March 1 a part-time Administra
tive Assistant is added to the staff. On the
23rd, the Board of Directors holds a
retreat to discuss MAP's goals and ob
jectives and to develop strategies to meet
APRIL: 2,582 new AIDS cases and
1,543 deaths are reported during April.
April marks the appearance of MAP's
first newsletter, designed to provide
information about MAP and AIDS to
our clients, volunteers, and concerned
others. This month also sees the estab
lishment of the Dennis Fund: an emer
gency financial relief fund for PWAs
founded in memory of - and as the last
wish of - one of our former clients. On
the 28th MAP holds a Volunteer Appre
MAY: 3,754 new AIDS cases and
2,167 deaths are reported during May.
Les Kooyman, our Executive Direc
tor, attended a conference at the CDC in
Washington from the 8th to the 11th. On
the 16th, a college intern joins the staff as
Summer Case Coordinator. A cocktail
party is held on th 19th to thank benefac
tors and friends. On the 30th a candle
light vigil is held at Independence Park
to remember those whom we have lost to
JUNE: 1,958 new AIDS cases and
1,280 deaths are reported during June.
Twenty new volunteers are trained at
a session held on the 4th and 5th. Dr. Bob
Barrett, a UNCC psychologist who
works closely with us at MAP, attends
the 4th Annu^ International Conference
on AIDS in Stockholm from the 12th to
the 16th. Also during June, the new
North Carolina Partner Notification law
goes into effect. The law makes it man
datory for any person who tests positive
for HIV to notify his or her sex or needle
sharing partners. Also in June, Meck
lenburg County awards $40,154 to MAP
for fiscal year 1988-89.
JULY: 2,902 new AIDS cases and
1,525 deaths are reported during July.
Les Kooyman attends the Lesbian
and Gay Health Foundation's AIDS Con
ference in Boston from July 20 to 27.
July marks the beginning of a new Be
reavement Support Group at MAP for
families and friends who have lost loved
ones to AIDS.
AUGUST: 3,279 new AIDS cases
and 1,929 deaths are reported during
A picnic to mark our third anniver
sary is held on August 20. The picnic is
attended by clients, volunteers and board
members and is a great way to celebrate
3 years of hard work.
SEPTEMBER: 2,164 new AIDS
cases and 1,153 deaths are reported
September marks the beginning of
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