Court Decision Provokes Gay Counterattack
volume 3
issue 1
Spring 1977

Washington State law has plunged back into the Dark Ages as a result of a recent State Supreme Court decision that could severely damage gay rights for years to come.

Citing the saintly authority of the New Catholic Encyclopedia, the Court upheld a 1972 Tacoma, Washington, School Board decision to fire James Gaylord from his job as a high school teacher because a student signed a statement saying he believed Gaylord was homosexual.

In their medieval ruling, the judges found Gaylord guilty of “immorality.” A “known homosexual” teacher, opined the Court, would be threatening to students and teachers (who strongly supported Gaylord’s battle for his rights!).

The ruling provides employers with a blank check for firing workers solely on account of sexual preference. The court judgment on “morality” affects every worker, not just gays, and conveys sinister national implications. Dissenting Judge James Dolliver, fearful of morality-witchhunts against teachers, warned that “the opportunities for industrious school districts seem unlimited.”

Welcome labor support is being provided by Gaylord’s union, the Tacoma Federation of Teachers, and its state and national affiliates, Washington Federation of Teachers and American Federation of Teachers. The union is paying his legal fees.

In a swift response to the Court’s ruling, gay and feminist groups have banded together to form the Washington Coalition for Sexual Minority Rights, which is pressuring the legislature to pass two bills which would protect the right of gays to work, rent homes, operate businesses, and purchase insurance, among other guarantees.

Support for these bills is critically needed. Anti-gay hysteria is on the rise and messages opposing the bills are running ten to one. The Coalition urges Washingtonians to phone their legislators (on the toll-free line 1-800-562-6000) to support House Bill 689 and Senate Bill 2734.