30 years ago in PGN

Sen. moves to ban gay officers

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Clarence Bell introduced a bill Jan. 16 that would prohibit openly gay individuals from obtaining employment at numerous state agencies.

The bill would have banned openly gay individuals, along with sex offenders, from being hired as state police officers or corrections workers or in positions where they could come into contact with mentally ill, mentally retarded or physically handicapped patients, as well as juveniles and orphans.

According to the bill, an employer who knowingly hires an “admitted homosexual” could be fired, fined up to $300 and imprisoned for up to 90 days.

A similar bill was introduced in the previous legislative session but did not pass.

Bell served six years in the Pennsylvania House and 41 in the Senate, and at the time of his death in 2002 was the longest-serving public official in the state.

Mayor shares screen with Anita Bryant

Pittsburgh mayor Richard Caliguiri appeared on a fundraising telethon on Christian talk show “The 700 Club” alongside antigay crusader Anita Bryant.

In an ad for the telethon, Caliguiri was included as one of several “notables in the fields of sports, entertainment, education and government” slated to participate in the telethon, which sought to “highlight the international work of the viewer-supported ‘700 Club’ and its worldwide counseling ministry.”

In addition to Bryant, the telethon, hosted by “The 700 Club” host and founder of Christian Broadcasting Network Pat Robertson, featured Christian musicians Pat and Debby Boone and author Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.

Caliguiri had already drawn the ire of the Pittsburgh LGBT community when he commented that gay bars in the city were “an affront to all of Pittsburgh.”

Community lays legislative goals

Attendees at the Lesbian and Gay Town Meetings held in December and January formulated a list of legislative demands for candidates in the May 1979 primary election.

The LGBT platform called on the mayoral candidates to pledge to issue a proclamation banning discrimination against LGBT employees in city agencies and private firms that contract with the city. The community also urged candidates to create a Mayor’s Council on Sexual Minorities, similar to a state-level agency that existed at the time.

The platform also demanded that City Council pass a comprehensive gay-rights bill that would include sexual orientation in the city’s nondiscrimination law, and encouraged the police commissioner to institute training for police officers on how to approach issues involving the LGBT community.

“The point of this platform is to get the candidates’ position on the record,” said Larry Gross, who oversaw the formulation of the platform. “From this platform we can discuss what candidates we are interested in and how much we’ll expect from them.”

City Council expanded the city’s nondiscrimination law to include the LGBT community in 1982.

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