Alcohol

How Liquor Licenses Sparked the Stonewall Riots

Gay bars were crucial in the fight for equal rights, which is why they kept getting shut down by the government.

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When patrons of the Stonewall Inn rebelled against police on June 28 and 29, 1969, they were rioting for equality, for dignity, and for a decent a place to get a drink. Today, the Stonewall riots are widely seen as the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. In his second inaugural address, President Barack Obama cited Stonewall in the same breath as Seneca Falls and Selma. But the story of this civil rights victory is incomplete without an examination of one of the most powerful weapons the government used to stop gay activists: liquor licensing laws.

Police harassment of gay bars was a top concern of the queer community in New York in the 1960s, second only to entrapment, according to Dick Leitsch, who headed the Mattachine Society of New York, one of the nation's first gay rights groups.

Sodomy laws were still on the books in 49 states (Illinois became the first to decriminalize homosexuality only in 1962), so a group of gay people in public was practically a criminal conspiracy. Amidst an atmosphere of fear and repression, gay bars were crucial to creating a sense of community and brewing political agitation.

Just three years before Stonewall, gay New Yorkers won the right to drink in bars. But that right was contingent on hiding any trace of a queer identity: Kissing, dancing, or trying to find someone of the same sex to take home for the night were all lumped under the designation "disorderly conduct." Bars could lose their liquor licenses if caught playing host to such criminality.

Sensing an opportunity, the Mafia opened establishments under the ruse of being members-only "bottle clubs" that had no need for a license. One of their more popular—and more profitable—bars was also one of the few places queer men and women could dance: the Stonewall Inn.

"Homosexuals knew the Mafia would find some way to supply us with a place to meet and socialize," remarked Leitsch in historian David Carter's 2004 book Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution. "The sad philosophy of the gay world was that expressed by [Bertolt] Brecht's [1939 play] Mother Courage: 'Our only hope lies in corruption.'"

Gay and Disorderly

The ban on gay bars dated back to the repeal of Prohibition. Once alcohol was re-legalized, state lawmakers created new agencies with the power to license the selling of liquor. In California, an establishment that hosted homosexuals was considered a "disorderly house…injurious to the public morals." Under New Jersey's post-Prohibition liquor laws, gays were considered a "nuisance" and were denied service. The Garden State also banned serving liquor to "persons of ill repute," which lumped "female impersonators" together with "criminals, gangsters, racketeers, pick-pockets, swindlers, confidence men [and] prostitutes."

In New York, the State Liquor Authority (SLA) was granted the power to revoke the license of owners who "suffer or permit [their] premises to become disorderly." (Legislators deliberately declined to define "disorderly,"  "lest the craft of men evade the definition.") As in other states, the SLA considered the mere presence of gay people at a bar "disorderly."

In one of the earliest gay bar cases, the SLA shut down Gloria's Bar & Grill in 1939 for "permitting homosexuals, degenerates and undesirable people to congregate on the premises." One SLA investigator was even blunter: Gloria's manager was "a fag and a leader of that element." When the bar failed to comply with the SLA's order to boot all of its "degenerate" patrons, Gloria's lost both its license and the ability to license the premises to other owners for one year.

Gloria's sued the SLA, arguing that the Authority didn't actually have the authority to ban serving gay people as long as they were behaving in an orderly manner. Nevertheless, the bar lost in trial court and on appeal. Without any judicial check on its crackdowns, over the next 25 years, the SLA closed hundreds of bars that catered to—or merely tolerated—gays and lesbians.

With the rise of agencies like the SLA across the country, liquor license holders now had a potent legal incentive to shun LGBT clientele. It became almost impossible for queer people to freely express themselves and associate with one another in public. As Yale historian George Chauncey argued in his Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940, liquor licensure "expanded the reach of state surveillance into every establishment serving liquor in the state," transforming bar owners into "deputy enforcement agents." He wrote that "the SLA had only a small staff of plainclothes agents to investigate the compliance of bars. But by threatening proprietors with the revocation of their licenses if its agents discovered that customers were violating the law, it forced proprietors to uphold those regulations on behalf of the state."

Law enforcement was "at once invisible and pervasive," wrote Chauncey, allowing the government to "police most of the common sites of urban sociability."

San Francisco Gay Blues

A favorite of John Steinbeck and Allen Ginsberg, the Black Cat in San Francisco catered to disaffected bohemians and gays alike after World War II. It was also home to José Sarria, a buoyant, aria-singing drag queen and one of the nation's earliest gay rights activists. With slogans like "There's nothing wrong with being gay—the crime is getting caught," Sarria held rallies with Black Cat patrons outside of jails where gays were imprisoned. To clog up the court dockets, he advocated that everyone who was arrested demand trial by jury.

By incubating gay advocates, the Black Cat found itself targeted by a 15-year-long campaign of harassment by the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC). In 1948, Sol Stoumen, the Black Cat's (straight) proprietor, had his liquor license suspended because his bar was a "disorderly house" frequented by "persons of known homosexual tendencies." Stoumen sued.

An appellate court upheld the suspension, even going so far as to argue that regular meetings of gay people draw up "all of the potentialities for evil and immorality." But Stoumen appealed to the California Supreme Court and won. His license was reinstated in 1951.

In  Stoumen v. Reilly, the California Supreme Court ruled, "Members of the public of lawful age have a right to patronize a public restaurant and bar so long as they are acting properly and are not committing illegal or immoral acts." A restaurant or hotel that merely served prostitutes didn't lose its license, the court reasoned, so the same should apply for "the patronage of a public restaurant and bar by homosexuals." Instead, it found that a license could only be suspended if the government actually had evidence that gays were breaking the law.

The top court in the nation's then second-biggest state had ruled that gay men had a right to meet in public. That decision "may have been the first significant appellate victory of the young gay rights movement," according to New York Law School Professor Arthur Leonard. At the time, Harvey Milk was fresh out of college, and some of the Stonewall rioters were toddlers. The decision also came almost seven years before the U.S. Supreme Court held that the First Amendment protected gay publications, because such publications were not in fact "obscene" by nature.

The victory was short-lived. Just four years after Stoumen, the California legislature passed a law that allowed liquor licenses to be revoked if "the premises of the licensee are a resort for prostitutes, pimps, panderers or sexual perverts." Kissing, dancing, caressing, and gender bending were grounds for license revocation, and the appellate courts regularly rubberstamped the ABC's crackdowns.

In 1959, the California Supreme Court once again unanimously ruled in favor of a gay bar (the First and Last Chance Bar in Oakland) and held that the new law was unconstitutional. But the decision in Vallerga v. Department of Alcohol Beverage Control did precious little to protect the LGBT community. Instead, the court created a massive loophole: Gay men and lesbians who displayed their "sexual desires and urges" would now constitute "sufficient evidence" of immoral conduct. The court even suggested that "women dancing with other women, and women kissing other women" could be "sufficient evidence." Such displays would be considered "contrary to public welfare or morals" and could be grounds for suspending or revoking a gay bar owner's liquor license.

In other words, the only government body willing to rein in the ABC had now given it carte blanche to raid gay bars for the flimsiest of reasons. Out of the 30 gay bars in San Francisco, 12 lost their licenses in in the two years after Vallerga.

Amid this new wave of police harassment, José Sarria ran for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1961, becoming the first openly gay candidate for public office. Sarria lost, but earned some 7,000 votes and inspired new forms of political activism. After his historic race, Sarria, along with other gay-bar employees and owners, formed the Tavern Guild of San Francisco, the nation's first association of gay businesses. During the 1960s, the Guild devoted its efforts to challenging police raids and ABC crackdowns, though it was unable to stop the ABC from permanently shutting down the Black Cat in 1963.

"Despite the symbolic importance of statements that homosexuals had the same rights as other citizens to congregate in public places for social intercourse and recreation," legal scholar Arthur Leonard noted, "these decisions did not make the gay bars a safe place in which people could connect with others for romantic purposes." 

From Sip-In to Stonewall

On April 21, 1966, after trying out three other bars, four men walked into Julius, a tavern in Greenwich Village, and ordered drinks. When the bartender learned they were gay, he put his hand over the glasses and denied them service. The Sip-In had just made history.

In New York, "the Sip-In was the opening shot in the campaign to make gay bars legal," historian David Carter said in an interview with The Village Voice. "It was actually the challenge to SLA policy that led to private clubs like the Stonewall Inn being open."

As Carter noted in his history of the Stonewall riots, the Mattachine Society of New York had examined the New York Alcohol Beverage Control Law and determined it was not against the law to serve gays per se, so long as they were not being disorderly. Taking a page from the civil rights movement, Mattachine decided to stage a protest at a bar. Members would out themselves just before ordering a drink. If the establishment refused to serve them, Mattachine would sue both the bar and the SLA for "violating their constitutional rights to free assembly and equal accommodation."

Less than a week after the Sip-In, the SLA announced it "would take no action against bartenders or liquor licensees who refuse to serve drinks to homosexuals." The Sip-In also catalyzed two 1967 landmark rulings in New Jersey and New York that partially legalized gay bars.

Adopting arguments made by the Mattachine Society in an amicus brief, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously ruled that gay people have "the equal right to congregate within licensed establishments such as taverns, restaurants and the like." Their rights to "assemble in and patronize licensed establishments are intertwined with the asserted rights of licensed establishments to serve them."

In deciding One Eleven Wines & Liquors, Inc. v. Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the court cited not only the Stoumen and Vallerga California gay bar cases as precedent, but also famed U.S. Supreme Court decisions like Griswold v. Connecticut, (access to contraceptives), NAACP v. Alabama (confidentiality of membership lists) and Pierce v. Society of Sisters (parental rights). The New Jersey Supreme Court was linking the gay rights movement to past struggles for individual liberty.

One month later, New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals, similarly ruled, "The mere congregation of homosexuals…does not make the premises disorderly." A liquor license could not be annulled unless there was "substantial evidence" of an actual "breach of the peace."

With looser restrictions in place, legitimate business owners started to invest in and open their own gay bars. Yet victory was far from complete. While bars in New York and New Jersey could no longer refuse service to someone just because he was gay, establishments could deny those who acted gay.

In his concurrence to the One Eleven Wines & Liquors case, Justice Haydn Proctor wrote, "Well-behaved homosexuals cannot be forbidden to patronize taverns." But their rights didn't extend to anything "which would be offensive to public decency." For Proctor, that included "men kissing each other on the lips."

Likewise, less than a month after it ruled in favor of a "mere congregation of homosexuals," in late December 1967, New York Court of Appeals held that gay men who were slow-dancing close together, "sexually fondling" each other, or "embracing one another and gyrating," were, in fact, disorderly. Living in a real-life version of Footloose, gay New Yorkers turned to the black market and patronized the Stonewall Inn, one of the few places they could dance.

After Stonewall

Visiting an illegal bar was risky business. Stonewall's Mafia owners routinely blackmailed patrons. The Ladder, a lesbian publication, noted, "Since the SLA refuses to issue licenses to gay bars, these bars are generally run…under unsanitary conditions." Stonewall was no exception, with constantly overflowing toilets, a lack of fire exits and no plumbing behind the main bar. A hepatitis outbreak was reportedly linked to the bar staff rinsing glasses in tubs of stagnant water. Despite Stonewall's owners bribing police at least $1,200 a month—four times the bar's rent—the inn still faced monthly raids. Just days before the riots, Lilly Law arrested bar personnel and confiscated liquor.

Long-simmering tensions finally came to a boiling point. For one weekend in June 1969, 53 Christopher Street in New York City became a war zone. Rioters threw garbage, shards of glass, bricks, cobblestones and Molotov cocktails. A parking meter became a battering ram. "There was never any time that I felt more scared than I felt that night," Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine, who led the NYPD's raid on Stonewall, would later remark in an interview. Pine literally wrote the book on hand-to-hand combat for the U.S. Army during World War II. He also survived a mine explosion at the Battle of the Bulge.

After the Stonewall riots, gays would not go gently into that good night. According to Frank Kameny, one of the pioneers in the U.S. gay rights movement, in June 1969, there were 50 or 60 gay groups in the United States. Two years after Stonewall, that number soared to 2,500. During the 1970s, 20 more states joined Illinois and repealed their sodomy bans.

Facing newfound political and legal pressure from an increasingly assertive LGBT community, state liquor authorities began to back down. "The key variable became how much of its resources a liquor board was actually willing to invest in vendettas to close down particular bars," noted Yale Law Professor William Eskridge. Less regulatory hostility fostered unprecedented growth for gay bars. Between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s, the number of gay bars doubled in New York City and quintupled in Chicago. By 1976, there were some 2,500 nationwide.

But Stonewall wasn't one of them. With boycotts over its Mafia ties and an inability to sell liquor (a stint as a juice bar was unsuccessful), the inn closed a mere three months after the riots.

Despite all the advances for gay rights since Stonewall, licensing continues to be wielded as a form of harassment. In 2013, Pat Newton wanted to re-open a gay bar in Shannon, Mississippi. In a past life, Shannon's bar was the only LGBT establishment within 100 miles. It was even profiled in the documentary Small Town Gay Bar. But when Newton applied for a license at a town meeting, a crowd of 30 to 40 people angrily grilled her. One of them presented a petition that had been reportedly signed by nearly 200 people (Shannon has fewer than 2,000 residents). Newton later said she received anonymous, threatening phone calls.

Ultimately, the town's aldermen denied her the license. The town's city attorney told a local paper the decision was based on prosaic concerns like congestion and "public need" as another bar was across the street.

Partnering with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Newton filed a civil rights lawsuit, instead arguing that this denial was "indicative of purposeful discrimination" and violated her First Amendment rights, as well as her right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment. According to a complaint filed in October 2013, the SPLC argued, "No legitimate evidence regarding health and safety concerns was presented to [the aldermen], and they had been advised by a zoning consultant that Newton met all the requirements to obtain a license." The complaint also noted that others did try to open a gay bar at that same location, "but Shannon officials denied all applicants." After a media firestorm, the town decided to settle the case in May 2014.

While prejudice against queer Americans is not as widespread as it once was, licenses to run certain types of establishments or practice certain trades, still prevalent in the nation, continue to give small-minded officials excuses to quash people's right to assemble freely or even to earn an honest living.

More than four decades on, Stonewall continues to inspire resistance to state-sanctioned tools of oppression. Just as crucially, the years of legal challenges to liquor-license regimes before the riots are a stirring reminder of how an engaged judiciary is vital to uphold Americans' constitutional rights, especially for those who have been shunned and spurred by society.

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  1. When patrons of the Stonewall Inn rebelled against police on June 28 and 29, 1969, they were rioting for equality, for dignity, and for a decent a place to get a drink.

    The Stonewall Inn in 1969, a “‘decent'” place to get a drink? Well I guess I can safely skip the rest of this article.

    1. Too gay for you, or not gay enough?

      1. They couldn’t make a decent long island iced tea.

        1. No self-respecting gay person would drink a long island ice tea.

          Now, an appletini, yes.

          1. This is now, that was then.

          2. An appletini cannot hold a candle to nectarini. Anyone with any taste in anything would know that. Appletini? How gauche!

            1. You need to change your name to Crusty Metrosexual.

              1. That’s actually the name of a popular gay marital aid.

          3. Wha? A Long Island Ice Tea was the thing to order at most gay bars (in the early 90s at least). And the bartenders always made them strong AF and they were usually cheap.

      2. I believe he’s referring to the fact that is was a dive with no running water, no fire exits, and utterly filthy restrooms.

        Like even worse than a woman’s restroom.

        1. Check, but now I think what Nick is saying is that they were rioting so they didn’t have to go to places like The Stonewall to drink.

          1. its amazing how profoundly ones opinion of an article can change from actually reading the article.

        2. Sounds like every NYC bar I hung out at during the 00’s.

    2. If you had RTFA you would have found that they were rioting in art because the Stonewall Inn was a shit hole, and being

      Visiting an illegal bar was risky business. Stonewall’s Mafia owners routinely blackmailed patrons. The Ladder, a lesbian publication, noted, “Since the SLA refuses to issue licenses to gay bars, these bars are generally run?under unsanitary conditions.”

      1. That should be part not art, although I imagine gays rioting in art would be fabulous.

        1. You win.

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  3. When patrons of the Stonewall Inn rebelled against police on June 28 and 29, 1969, they were rioting for equality, for dignity, and for a decent a place to get a drink.

    But the law is the law!

    /Tony

  4. Which is why they’re going to be at the forefront of getting the government out of marriage entirely now; they’re going to be lobbying hard to legalize polygamy; and they’re going to be pushing to abolish BarryCare, no, the entire welfare state. Right?

  5. Prior to prohibition, there was no regulatory agency responsible for liquor licensing. State governments used repeal as an opportunity to control establishments and used the regulatory power of the state to harass, criminalize, suppress those they did not like.

    Now, under the guise of civil rights, gays will use the power of the state to criminalize and suppress those who won’t bake them a cake. Nice.

    Lesson: Using the treat of violence by the state to control the behavior of those you disagree with is frequently counterproductive and is downright shitty.

    1. According to Reason, using the state to criminalize and suppress those who don’t want to bake you a cake is liberty.

      Remember, it isn’t really a marriage unless it is recognized by god government, and true liberty is using the power of the state as a weapon against those who doesn’t agree with you.

      This magazine has gone full retard.

      1. “According to Reason, using the state to criminalize and suppress those who don’t want to bake you a cake is liberty.”

        I seem to recall Reason being against forced cake baking.

        1. Which was somewhat disingenuous, anybody with the brains god gave earthworms could have seen that coming as an obvious consequence. Especially when every occasion of using the law to mainstream marginal groups for at least the last 60 years or so has wound up being used as a bludgeon against the majority. If you’re crying “but we didn’t want that!” after the fact when every example you can point to would have showed you exactly what would happen makes you either an idiot or a liar.

        2. What is it you say about foreseeable consequences?

      2. What Irish said. What are you talking about, sarcasmic? A simple Googling of “Reason.com,” “gay,” and “bakery” bring up numerous posts in which Reason.com does NOT support using the state to criminalize and suppress those who don’t want to bake homosexual pastry.

        Do you even read the articles here?

        https://reason.com/blog/2015/01…..tion-compl
        https://reason.com/blog/2013/09…..ay-wedding
        (Two examples.)

        1. Sorry, but I find that to be disingenuous. The moment the SSM crowd declared that they were fighting for a civil right to gay marriage, it was obvious that the next step was to sue people who disagree. Can’t claim to be for SSM and not for suing people, because the two cannot be separated once SSM becomes a civil right.

          It’s a package deal.

          1. What does one have to do with the other? People were being sued before Friday’s decision, and I’ve been told several times on this site that gay people could always get married.

            The “civil right” that allows someone to force a baker to make a cake for a gay wedding has to do with public accommodation and non-discrimination laws, not the government’s recognition of gay marriage.

            1. Public accommodation laws and non-discrimination laws are not going away. All proponents of SSM have done is given those who use those laws as a weapon another arrow in their quiver.

              1. It’s a stupid reason to be against legalized gay marriage though.

                1. So giving in to aggression is OK if you like the cause. Gotcha.

                  1. I could have a party or a ceremony for a civil union or an interracial gay orgy and sue if a baker refused to make me a cake, before th SCOTUS decision. If sexual orientation was a protected class in that jurisdiction. Now that gay marriage is legal I don’t think I can sue a baker in a jurisdiction where sexual orientation is not a protected class.

          2. Right, with or without gay marriage, those laws aren’t going away. So why does gay marriage matter?

            It’s not as if there were a bunch of libertarian activists clamoring for the specific outcome. There is no contradiction between saying that gay couples should have the same legal treatment as straight ones and saying that no one should be forced to serve anyone they don’t want to serve.
            Prettu uch everything that libertarians want is going to work that way. Drug legalization is similar. It’s great that weed is being legalized in many places. It sucks that it will inevitable be heavily regulated.

            Not allowing same sex marriages to be legally recognized is a huge violation of equal protection. It just is. Public accommodation laws are a big violation too. But they really are separate issues.

            Why the fuck do you turn into John every time this comes up? The fact tha tsome other people who favor it will want to take it too far doesn’t invalidate the libertarian position on gay marriage. If we thought we needed to think strategically about practical politics we wouldn’t be libertarians.

            1. Right, with or without gay marriage, those laws aren’t going away.

              Exactly.

              So why does gay marriage matter?

              Because it gives those who sue based upon those laws more people to attack.

              If those laws aren’t going away, then why strengthen them?

              Why give the assholes who feed off those laws more fodder?

              It seems to me that to be a cool-kid libertarian, you’ve got to abandon the NAP because the end (gay couples having legal protections without compromising over the word marriage) justifies the means (totally foreseeable aggression against those who believe marriage to be between a man and a woman).

              1. You have not explained how this has strengthened non-discrimination laws. You just keep asserting that some new coercive license has been created. If there is a non-discrimination law applying to sexual orientation, a gay couple can use it against a bakery for any event, whether it’s for their legally-recognized marriage, or their non-recognized marriage, or their orgy party.

                FFS, sarcasmic.

              2. If the state issues licenses for the Sacraments of one group of churches, those that do not perform same sex marruages, but not those of xhurchs that do, we have an established set of state approved churches.

      3. This magazine has gone full retard.

        Yeah, but I still come here because it always offers an opportunity to pop off a few choice insults. I gave up on actually reading the articles years ago.

        1. I guess I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m not a True Libertarian because I oppose using force of government to redefine marriage and give license to sue anyone who disagrees with the cool kids.

          1. Nothing that says you have to be a libertarian. At this point the movement has been so thoroughly coopted by other interests there isn’t much of a point anyway. There’s plenty of other of political movements that are still potent and vital. At least until they get successful and threatening enough that the Cathedral borgs them as well.

            1. I was being sarcastic. I consider myself a libertarian because I support liberty. I do not support using government to attack people for their beliefs, because that goes against the NAP, which the cool-kid libertarians seem to have abandoned.

          2. Why must we all define marriage the same way? Or love. Or God….

    2. Using the treat of violence/

      Is that like pelting someone with Halloween candies? Maybe those old-school caramel popcorn balls? Those got pretty hard as they aged as I recall.

      1. I have certainly surpassed John as the Typo, Spelling, Grammar Error Champion, yes?

        So, where’s my trophy?

        1. Sorry about that. Here you are.

    1. Holy fuck, that is some tortured and retarded logic. At no point did Roof mention Geller or Wilders or Daniel Pipes. His argument that they’re at fault comes from a grand total of one paragraph Roof wrote:

      “From this point I researched deeper and found out what was happening in Europe. I saw that the same things were happening in England and France, and in all the other Western European countries. Again I found myself in disbelief. As an American we are taught to accept living in the melting pot, and black and other minorities have just as much right to be here as we do, since we are all immigrants. But Europe is the homeland of White people, and in many ways the situation is even worse there. From here I found out about the Jewish problem and other issues facing our race, and I can say today that I am completely racially aware.”

      First of all, he mentions ‘the Jewish problem’ in this paragraph and Pamela Geller IS JEWISH. Somehow I doubt he got his Jew hatred due to his pro-Geller views, especially given that he never even names her. He could have gotten his views on what was going on in Europe from reading about European white supremacists (and there are no shortage of neo-Nazis in Scandanavia and Germany) or even from neutral news reports about the diversification of Europe. There’s no evidence he ever even read Geller.

      1. I don’t even think Juan Cole himself believes what he wrote. He and Spencer have been in a bare-knuckles brawl of rhetoric and essaying for 15 years now, and I think Cole took the opportunity to act like a catty little bitch and smear his opponents because he knew he could do so with impunity.

        1. Juan Cole is very likely the product of a traditional marriage.

      2. A white man killing black Christians is obviously taking orders from a Jewish woman whose focus is on a Muslim ‘threat.’

        Checks out.

    1. Gay-had? Ho-mujahideen?

      I blame Sayyid Qutb.

    2. The only thing I find interesting about this is England doesn’t have freedom of speech, so how this ever got off the ground, I know not.

  6. Hey whoa, I went over to Facebook last night to check up on a friend and everyone had some kind of rainbow avatar. Is that now a Facebook requirement? am I in violation of something because I still have my fake picture of a guy with a mullet.

    1. We’re now in the ‘forced jubilation’ phase of gay marriage. Those of us who have always supported gay marriage but don’t like being required to weep and wail and thank heavens every time we get what we want will probably be referred to as homophobes in a few short years due to the fact that we don’t think everything is right in the world now that gays are allowed to marry.

      I’m particularly disgusted that 200+ people were murdered on three continents and in 5 separate coordinated attacks by Islamic fundamentalists and the media decided to completely ignore that story (which is front page news in every other country on the planet) because gay marriage is more important than a few hundred people butchered in cold blood.

      And one of those attacks was at a Tunisian resort because Islamists are actively trying to bankrupt Tunisia’s tourism industry so that they can cause mass unemployment/poverty and use that to overthrow the democratic government and re-institute an Islamic state. But fuck it- why talk about the desperate state of a nascent democracy before the barbarous violence of Islamic terrorism when you can send a correspondent down to the gay pride parade and think happy thoughts without much effort.

      1. It’s not like BBC or CBC were different. And I prefer it that way – at least they get to be honest, rather than usual “oh nothing to see here, let’s not hasten to judgement, possible blowback, individual action, bring some guy to toss out the usual platitudes, now we move on”

      2. Remember the old joke that in the Soviet Union when Stalin made a speech, you didn’t wan’t to be the first one to stop applauding?

        Apparently it isn’t a joke any more.

    2. Maybe if you photoshop in a rainbow mullet, you’ll be allowed to stay.

      1. I want to change mine to a confederate flag with the rainbow filter and see if I can just piss everyone off.

        1. I like this one.

    3. You may be a scheduled for some re-educational indictrination.

  7. Stonewall

    You mean this hasn’t yet become a term we are no longer allowed to use because of it’s ties to the CSA?

    1. -1 Left Arm

  8. So was there some big thing in gay rights that happened recently? I’ve been away from the internets.

    1. Ah, looking about I see that the Civil Rights Issue of Our Time has been settled and it is presumably on to the New Civil Rights Issue of Our Time, whatever that will be. (Have we started a betting pool on that one yet?) I imagine that lawyers everywhere are thrilled at the mountain of lawsuits that will be filed across the country as a result of this decision.

      1. Trans-rights. Although that’s pretty much over since trans people can now marry whoever they want for the same reasons as gay marriage has been legalized. As a result, the trans-rights movement is going to consist of even more meaningless gestures like angrily denouncing anyone who accidentally uses the wrong pronoun or fails to use invented pronouns in the event a trans person identifies as xir.

        So we can look forward to massive political shitfits based on making sure people call the 0.3% of the population that is trans by the proper pronoun. That’s going to be fun.

        1. Hmm, I dunno. Maybe. It’s going to be a few years before we move on to something new I think because the retrebutative lawfare that the SCOTUS ruling opens up will take a little while to shake out. (Suing everyone that objects and then on to those who don’t applaud hard enough and so forth) Could be something not quite on the radar yet, like lowering the burden of proof in rape cases or reparations for the descendants of slaves, maybe.

          1. I keep wondering what kind of knock-on effect our deteriorating financial situation will have on social changes.

            When we’re all broke and our healthcare and higher ed systems collapse will we still be advocating for transgender pronoun equality with the same enthusiasm?

            1. I imagine that when we hit that point the issue will become some kind of “living wage for all” or something like it, no matter what it does to worsen the situation. I shudder to think what could happen in America if we have another Great Depression like event given our society’s general lack of toughness.

            2. Probably more enthusiasm. When you can’t resolve the large issues, focus attention on the small ones.

              1. We had a massive economic retraction 7 years ago and responded by freaking out about microaggressions and declaring that anyone who accidentally calls Caitlyn Jenner ‘Bruce’ is a vulgar bigot and by having Mexican students get angry that they served Mexican food at a sci-fi themed dinner because it made them think of illegal aliens.

                Young people in this country are fucked and have responded by retreating deeper and deeper into trivialities.

                1. I’m not sure if it’s that young people are more focused on trivialities rather than the fact that it’s more possible than ever before to live inside of an echo chamber and the resultant lack of emotional toughness and ability to withstand conflicting ideas that such a thing engenders. I remember 20 years ago college kids I knew could get excited about all sorts of silly shit, but couldn’t incubate in it to the degree it is possible now.

                2. Young people in this country are fucked and have responded by retreating deeper and deeper into trivialities.

                  Seems to be a somewhat rational response. After all, outrage over the economy is pointless, since there is nothing that can be done about it by the little people. Like the Serenity Prayer says, don’t waste energy on that which you cannot change. Focus on things that you can. While I agree that the battles they choose are stupid, they are being rational in that they’re picking battles that they have a chance of winning.

      2. I suspect a lot of energy will be redirected towards the war on women narrative, especially with Clinton running. As Irish said, trans-rights seems like it would be the next step, but I’m not sure what else there is to do that would interest enough people.

  9. The interesting thing about Stonewall to me is that it demonstrates a dynamic I see in every major movement. From withing the civil rights movement to the environmentalists, and from within the libertarian movement, to the gun rights movement to the gay rights movement–and every other movement–there are always two dynamics at work.

    There’s always one group that wants to say that the minority group in question is mainstream. Gay people are just like everybody else–with this one difference! They’d say they’re doctors and lawyers and Indian Chiefs and soccer moms! Their tactics are always to get mainstream society to accept their movement as mainstream itself. They generally hate and are embarrassed by the second group.

    The second group of people don’t give a damn if mainstream society accepts them. In fact, their main tactic is to shock and horrify mainstream society. Their main take is about how they can do whatever the fuck they want to do–outrageous behavior at gay pride events for instance–and if mainstream society can’t handle it (and they may hope it can’t), then mainstream society can go fuck itself. The rioters are Stonewall were largely from that second group.

  10. In the Civil Rights movement, you had mainstreamers like MLK, on the one hand, and defiant instigators who didn’t care about the mainstream–like Malcolm X–on the other. The feminists had the same two dynamics. The environmentalists have the Sierra Club on one hand and the eco-terrorists on the other. The gun rights movement has the NRA on one hand and the open carry at Starbucks instigators on the other. Libertarians have…

    Well, we have mainstreaming organizations like the LP and Reason on the one hand. …and I guess we’ve got the instigator, feet first through the woodchipper, Reason commentariat on the other hand. Both sides need each other to be effective. The mainstreamers thought the Stonewall riots were a travesty and an embarrassment to the gay rights movement when it happened–but now we look back and say that’s where the movement really began.

    It takes both sides. Virginia Postrel and Agammamon. God bless them both!

    1. Libertarians have…

      Our mothers telling us to take out the garbage.

    2. Libertarians have…

      An unhealthy level of interest in other peoples’ foreskins?

    3. Hey Schultzie – could you provide us with a photo of yourself so we can run it through memegenerator.net?

    4. We have Paul and Dances-with-Woodchippers and Agammamon and hundreds of others running riot in the comments section like it’s Stonewall!

      People like Michael Hinh and Virginia Postrel are mainstreamers. One of them is about trying to get libertarians elected by popular vote, and the other is writing books and blogs about glamor–or how things come to seem desirable to the mainstream.

      We tend to react to them the same way the Stonewall rioters reacted to the gay rights mainstreamers–with our middle fingers in the air.

    5. Libertarians have…. Somalians?

    6. I think the heaviest lifting is done by the 3rd group: Those who don’t demand to be treated as part of the main stream, don’t care what the main stream thinks of them, & therefore have no interest in shocking the main stream.

    7. It takes both sides. Virginia Postrel and Agammamon. God bless them both!

      One day I will be known as the ‘Malcolm X’ of libertarianism?

      1. Agammamon X

  11. Well at least I now understand why this developed the way it did. It was never about being left alone – ie freedom. It was always about being given permission, getting licensed, being approved, being on the inside so that someone else can be screwed with – ie rights

    Strike another blow against common law

    1. your comment is unintelligible. are you claiming that there is no right to free association or a lawful employment, so that complaints about abtirary licensing laws are pointless?

      1. Stonewall was about getting a liquor license. The SSM was about getting a marriage license. That’s all gay politics is about – the right to get a license from the state

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  13. Makes me proud to be a subscriber. This is even better than the old Jack Wheeler articles. Finally libertarians can write their own stuff without depending on borrowed wavering conservatives!
    If you look up the history of the word “corruption” (as in the Stonewall article) it really means 1. exploiting markets damaged by coercive intervention (e.g. Plunkitt of Tammany) 2. bamboozling tax looters.

  14. Sensing an opportunity, the Mafia opened establishments under the ruse of being members-only “bottle clubs” that had no need for a license.

    “This democracy we set up, it did not exist in the Stonewall Inn,” she said. “You were captain of the ship. It wasn’t a world of ‘freedom’?it was a place with a lot of rules. It was a world of your laws.”

    1. You are playing with fire, my friend.

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