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Openly Gay in Politics

by Ethan Thompson

[commentary by Charlotte Burney]

The clip from The Times of Harvey Milk focuses on an argument between Harvey Milk and John Briggs, the leader of Proposition 6 which was an initiative that aimed to strip openly gay schoolteachers of their jobs. The topic is made visible because this clip contains an actual news clip from 1978 where Briggs and Milk argue about this proposition. On the air, Milk is supported by openly lesbian schoolteacher, Sally Gearhardt. The fact that this is an actual debate from a real-life news clip helps make this topic and discussion even more meaningful. An argument arises because Milk makes a jab at Briggs regarding the statements he made saying that there is a positive correlation between gay schoolteachers and child molestation. Milk then continues to corner Briggs into admitting that he essentially assumes that 100 percent of gay schoolteachers are child molesters, and that the only way to lower the number of child molesters, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is to take out the homosexual group. Clearly, this is a laughable argument, but the point is that it was truly ‘valid’ enough during this time that a conservator state legislator was put on the news to argue about it. The conservatives felt threatened by Briggs’ argument, “we don’t allow people who believe in practicing bestiality to teach our children, we don’t let prostitutes teach our children,” so why should they let gay people?

Openly Gay in Politics

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Harvey Milk argues with conservative politicians about a proposition that would strip gay school teachers of their jobs.

from The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)
Creator: WNET
Distributor: Peabody Archive
Posted by Ethan Thompson