Readings — From the December 2014 issue

Stonewalled

Download Pdf
Read Online

From a June 30, 1987, memo to President Ronald Reagan from Gary L. Bauer, Reagan’s chief domestic policy adviser. In July of 1987, Reagan appointed Frank Lilly, an openly gay geneticist, to the thirteen-member Presidential Commission on the HIV Epidemic. The previously unreleased document was acquired this September after a Freedom of Information Act request was made by the law firm McDermott, Will & Emery, and the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., an organization that performs archival research related to gay and lesbian history.

Memorandum for the President:
As you know, I have opposed the notion that we should seek out a homosexual to be on your AIDS commission, for the
following reasons:

1. Those pushing the hardest to name a homosexual are generally not our friends. They will not be satisfied with one gay, but will sense that if enough pressure is exerted we will cave on other issues.

2. The gay member of the commission will be an automatic media star. His opinions will be given more weight by the media, and he will be in great demand for the talk shows. The pressure on him to attack you and the commission’s work will be overwhelming.

3. Millions of Americans raise their children to believe that homosexuality is immoral. To appoint a known homosexual to a presidential commission will give homosexuality a stamp of acceptability.

4. While it is true that homosexuals have been major victims of AIDS, they are also responsible for its spread. Recent studies show that the average gay man with AIDS has had over 150 different sexual partners in the previous twelve months.

5. I know you realize AIDS is not just a health issue; it is also a heated political issue. We must be careful not to create a situation where certain members of your own commission end up booing Administration policy.

I believe we can handle the critics short of appointing an avowed homosexual. If you feel we must, I would recommend a “reformed” homosexual — that is, someone not currently living a gay lifestyle. We have identified several individuals that meet that criteria.

You are currently viewing this article as a guest. If you are a subscriber, please sign in. If you aren't, please subscribe below and get access to the entire Harper's archive for only $45.99/year. Or purchase this issue on your iOS or Android devices for $6.99.

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Download Pdf
Single Page
Share

Get access to 167 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

THE CURRENT ISSUE

May 2018

Driven to Distraction

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Dinner Party

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Exiled

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Church and State

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Seven Years of Identity Theft

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Drinking Problems

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content
Close

Sign up to receive The Weekly Review, Harper’s Magazine’s singular take on the past seven days of madness. It’s free!*

*Click “Unsubscribe” in the Weekly Review to stop receiving emails from Harper’s Magazine.