Morality Talk Slows Sex Hearing
Post, August 9, 1963
By John M. Goshko, Staff Reporter
A Congressional hearing on a bill to hobble the Mattachine Society, a group
dedicated to protecting homosexuals from discrimination, bogged down yesterday
amid questions of legal constitutionality and public morality.
Most of the House District Subcommittee members debating the bill seemed to
be for "morality"as described by Rep. John Dowdy (D-Texas), the
subcommittee chairman and author of the bill. Said he:
"If these people are a charitable organization promoting
homosexuality, Ive grown up in the wrong age."
Law Requires Permit
The object of his frequently expressed indignation is a small group of
homosexuals and persons sympathetic to them who have obtained a fund-raising
permit under the citys Charitable Solicitations Act. The law requires
issuance of a permit to any group whose representatives answer permit
Dowdys bill would limit issuance of such permits to organizations that
the Commissioners determine to be beneficial to "the health, welfare and
morals of the District of Columbia." It also would specifically revoke
the permit already issued to the Mattachine Society.
Robert F. Kneipp, Assistant Corporation Counsel, told the subcommittee that
the Commissioners oppose the bill. His objection was based on these grounds:
- The number of hearings required by the first part of the bill would
impose an "unreasonable" administrative burden and expense on
the District Government.
- The singling out of the Mattachine Society for a specific penalty
appears to be unconstitutional in light of Supreme Court rulings against
legislative acts that inflict punishment without judicial trial.
Dowdy Cites Other Curbs
These arguments were brushed aside by Dowdy who said: "You contrast
that with permitting the solicitation of funds for perversion and immorality.
Which is more important to the community"?
Dowdy also noted that Congress has passed laws designed to curb Communist
Party and remarked: "As far as I know, all the security risks that have
deserted the United States have been homosexuals. Do you place them on a
higher plane than Communists"?
He was joined by Rep. Basil L. Whitener, who asked if the Commissioners
"want to repeal the section of the Criminal Code dealing with
Kneipp replied that "the position of the Commissioners is not to be
construed as approving homosexual practices." He also noted that the D.C.
Court of Appeals had ruled that homosexual relations may not be criminal acts
if committed in privacy between consenting adults.
Will Try To Draft Bill
His only support came from Rep. B. F. Sisk (D-Calif.) who said he would
vote against any bill imposing sanctions against a specific group. However,
Sisk also won Kneipps tentative agreement to try drafting a bill that would
give the District power to investigate and revoke charitable solicitation
Also testifying yesterday was the Mattachine Society president, Franklin E.
Kameny, an astronomer who was fired from the Defense Department after refusing
to answer questions about alleged homosexual affiliations.
Kameny also dodged the subcommittees questions about whether he is a
homosexual. He was just beginning to read a prepared statement when the
hearing was adjourned until today.
The hearing was continued on the following day. The Washington Post
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