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Friends of Harvey Milk Talk Gay Marriage

In 1978 Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to major office in the US, led the fight against Proposition 6. The California ballot measure would have banned gay teachers, including those already teaching, from public schools. Milk's organization against Prop. 6 is featured in the upcoming movie MILK, staring Sean Penn. A group of close friends, including Cleve Jones and Anne Kronenberg, surrounded Milk in his quest to preserve the human rights of gay Americans. I recently got the chance to meet longtime civil rights activists Cleve and Anne and ask them what they make of today's gay rights movement.

How does Proposition 6 compare with today's Proposition 8 to outlaw gay marriage?

Anne: Proposition 6 was (about) a basic fundamental right of gay men and women being allowed to teach in our schools. It was based on a morality that gays would be recruiting the kids and trying to turn them over into homosexuals, which is so bizarre. I think the same right-wing, Christian, born-again (groups) certainly play a big role in Prop. 8 currently. But (now) we're talking about an equality issue. . . . If you think in 30 years the difference (between) the paranoia of "I have a teacher and they're going to make me a dyke," to now we're talking about marriage — I think Harvey is smiling that we are even there.

To find out if Cleve thinks Proposition 8 will be defeated tomorrow as well as what he makes of today's gay activists,

.

Cleve: I think we're going to win, but I don't feel the level of fear that I felt then. I feel that history's on our side, that we are moving in the right direction. And that if we do lose it will be a setback and I will be angry and disappointed, but I won't feel the same gut-level fear that we felt then. If Prop. 6 passed, we were going down a slippery slope right to fascism. I mean, that was outrageous — how would they determine who was homosexual? How would they test us? And it also included language for those who advocated for homosexuals. There was much more . . . real fear in the pit of your stomach and of the violence that could be unleashed. . . . It's very different now. We are winning and winning and winning. If we lose this one, it will be a minor and temporary setback.

Do you think today's gay youth have the same passion?

Cleve: I often say to younger people, "you know things are only new once, and I'm sorry you missed it" (laughs). But I think you can look at all the economic changes in San Francisco. It was much easier to live in the city then, it was much cheaper. Artists, students, young people could live on very little money. . . . But things are only new once. And all of us that were participating in the movement were keenly aware that we were participating in something that had never been seen. . . . It was just an amazing time. And everything was brand new: the first marching band, the first gay synagogue, the first gay film festival, all of the institutions and structures we now take for granted.

Photo courtesy of Focus Films

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True-Song True-Song 7 years
Don't worry. There's a new Citizen bot who says things like "This is exciting!" and "Who did you vote for?"
milosmommy milosmommy 7 years
Ok I really really need to go home. Good night all. :wave:
milosmommy milosmommy 7 years
Wait! Is no one going to comment on the fact that GS said that Citizen was laid off??? I'm totally bummed out now.
stephley stephley 7 years
What I'm hearing is that there is no valid objection to gay marriage. I don't care who does what in private, but my state has a proposition on the ballot that would keep gays from marrying.
Roarman Roarman 7 years
Ok. But that is not what Undave was saying. At least he wasn't getting it across as well is you if that is what he was trying to say.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 7 years
That's what I've been saying!
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 7 years
That's what I've been saying!
Roarman Roarman 7 years
I don't care either what the relation between the two consenting adults wishing to marry is, just that they are afforded the same rights as all other couples who marry.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 7 years
See, TS gets it!
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 7 years
See, TS gets it!
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 7 years
I haven't mentioned pedophilia. I am saying that saying that you are born attracted to or being this one way, can go many ways. What about the guy who thinks he was born attracted to livestock? Cousins who can't help their attraction. And cousins, even first cousins have no more chance of birth defects than a woman over 35. I'm not saying one of these is more valid than homosexual marriage. I am just bringing up a different side of the argument here.
True-Song True-Song 7 years
I don't care if cousins marry or people practice polygamy. Cousins have the same chance of producing a baby with a disability as and older woman does, and historically polygamy has been the most common form of marriage in human history. I do not care how consenting adults chose to structure their families.
Roarman Roarman 7 years
My point is if we are going to define marriage it should be between two consenting adults, period. There should not be this definition of man and woman. And for those against it being classified as anything other than man and woman, why? I just don't understand why two consenting adults who happen to be of the same sex aren't afforded the same marriage rights as a man and a woman. Undave's argument never cleared that up, yours does not either GS. Pedophilia etc. are not examples at all, they have nothing to do with consensual adult unions.
Roarman Roarman 7 years
My point is if we are going to define marriage it should be between two consenting adults, period. There should not be this definition of man and woman. And for those against it being classified as anything other than man and woman, why?I just don't understand why two consenting adults who happen to be of the same sex aren't afforded the same marriage rights as a man and a woman. Undave's argument never cleared that up, yours does not either GS. Pedophilia etc. are not examples at all, they have nothing to do with consensual adult unions.
em1282 em1282 7 years
Well, homosexuality rests on being attracted to a member of the same sex...so the defining characteristic of that argument would be that they are born with an attraction to someone who shares the same sex or gender. In the case of cousins...what's the defining "attraction" characteristic there? Shared blood? Isn't that a bit trickier (and in my mind, different) than that 'born like this' argument with homosexuality?
stephley stephley 7 years
Cousins marrying can produce impaired offspring, polygamy can create unique stresses that burden society - but, for the sake of argument, if the only valid argument against gay marriage is the libertarian one, then why not? How would gay people marrying be relevant to any straight marriage?
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 7 years
If all "marriages" were legally recorded as "civil unions," and homosexual and heterosexual "civil unions" were granted the exact same rights and obligations, then I would be very happy with that.
Here's hoping the good people of CA here you. Keep truckin', Jude.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 7 years
<blockquote>If all "marriages" were legally recorded as "civil unions," and homosexual and heterosexual "civil unions" were granted the exact same rights and obligations, then I would be very happy with that.</blockquote>Here's hoping the good people of CA here you. Keep truckin', Jude.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 7 years
But legally, if you are going to use the born this way argument, cousins can argue that as well. Well, anyone could really.
stephley stephley 7 years
It's not libertarians vs the rest of the country on this one - it wouldn't have any traction. Denying homosexuals the right to marry is to deny people a right because of the way they are born. Two men or two women walk in and say they want to marry each other, it's an automatic no.
stephley stephley 7 years
It's not libertarians vs the rest of the country on this one - it wouldn't have any traction.Denying homosexuals the right to marry is to deny people a right because of the way they are born. Two men or two women walk in and say they want to marry each other, it's an automatic no.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 7 years
I see your point GS. However, I don't think that that was the point UD was trying to make.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 7 years
But I'm talking about a legal standpoint. Right to marry stuff. From a libertarian point of view, everyone should be able to marry or no one should. You see what I mean?
stephley stephley 7 years
Polygamy and cousin marriage are choices - like marrying more than once. Homosexuals are born homosexual. There is a difference.
stephley stephley 7 years
Polygamy and cousin marriage are choices - like marrying more than once. Homosexuals are born homosexual. There is a difference.
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