FDR was a homophobe, and I’m not sure I care

Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a serious problem with gays. And I’m not sure I care.

I recently got into a discussion on Twitter with some Tea Party Millennials who were livid that I tweeted something positive about the legacy of FDR.

The conservative youth argued that Japanese Internment in the 1940s, and Roosevelt’s earlier treatment of gays as assistant secretary of the Navy in 1917, disqualified FDR for liberal icon status:

by default 2016-06-06 at 11.29.45 AM

A number of people also sent me a link to an article detailing Roosevelt’s support for an anti-gay witch hunt in the Navy.

Here’s more from the Daily Beast:

When Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer refused Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt’s request to have the Justice Department begin a searching and rigorous investigation of Newport’s Naval Base and Training Station, the YMCA and its vicinity, Roosevelt was incensed and took matters into his own hands because he already had designs on the office of Vice President.

Original color transparency of FDR taken at 1944 Official Campaign Portrait session by Leon A. Perskie, Hyde Park, New York, August 21, 1944. Gift of Beatrice Perskie Foxman and Dr. Stanley B. Foxman. August 21, 1944.

Original color transparency of FDR taken at 1944 Official Campaign Portrait session by Leon A. Perskie, Hyde Park, New York, August 21, 1944. Gift of Beatrice Perskie Foxman and Dr. Stanley B. Foxman. August 21, 1944.

He also fully understood that a campaign against “immorality” in America was political dynamite, one that could eventually blast him into the White House.

Thus, politically motivated, Roosevelt had no compunctions about ordering a hidden and undercover investigation to uproot the conditions of vice (homosexuality) and depravity (homosexual acts) that existed in Newport.

These secret investigations, its funds and personnel were hidden in a clandestine Navy Department document, “Section A, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy.”

Men attached to and serving on the staff had to perform the following: keep their eyes wide open, “observing all and ears open for all conversation and make himself free with this class of men [homosexuals], being jolly and good natured, being careful to pump these men for information, making them believe that he is what is termed in the Navy as a ‘boy humper,’ making dates with them and so forth.”

It was, in short, entrapment.

Pretty bad. And yet, I still don’t put much stock in FDR’s anti-gay history from 100 years ago, at least in terms of how it colors my overall view of his presidency. Let me explain.

There’s a movement of late, especially on college campuses, to redefine American history, and to deep-six a growing number of American historical figures in light of new (or not so new) evidence that many were pretty darn awful on a variety of civil rights issues. I’ll limit this discussion to LGBT issues, since, as a longtime national gay rights activist, I’m particularly close to those issues.

Most Americans, most citizens of the world, were terrible on gay rights issues in 1917. (And forget about trans issues.) And while such behavior was abominable, and lots of gay people suffered as a result, I have an issue with entirely “disqualifying” the historic achievements of those figures based on their abhorrent actions with regards to gays. Why? Because everyone was bad on our issues back then.

Now, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Were, for example, Roosevelt responsible for a genocide against gays, I’d be more upset with any veneration of him. But he wasn’t. Still, I fought against anti-gay witch hunts in the US military, so why doesn’t this witch-hunt bother me as much?

The answer is “time.”

I’m still thinking this through, but time matters. Being an anti-gay bigot in 1917 is different from being an anti-gay bigot in 2016, 99 years later. And you don’t even have to look back 100 years to find the nuance. Some people criticize Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton for not coming around on gay marriage until 2009 and 2013, respectively. I don’t criticize either one.

First, both Hillary and Bernie are both generally great on our issues. When you go through the LGBT checklist of major issues, both candidates support the right things. So I’m not willing to let one particular LGBT issue, from several years ago when gay marriage was still a debatable issue even in the Democratic party, terminally tarnish their otherwise stellar LGBT record. More on that in a moment.

The second reason I shrug when people tell me that Bernie and Hillary were latecomers to embracing marriage equality is because everyone, gay activists included, was late to the SSM party. While it might be hard to understand in 2016, gay marriage was a pipe-dream only a little over a decade ago. Many of us, top activists all, didn’t think it would happen in our lifetime. So we weren’t that interested in criticizing otherwise-super-pro-LGBT politicians for not embracing something that was never going to happen anyway — especially, when embracing it risked an LGBT ally’s political future in a country not yet ready to accept such dramatic change.

Then, suddenly, everything changed. Gay rights became LGBT rights, and LGBT rights went into overdrive. All you need do is look at the incredible progression on trans rights over the past year — heck, over the past 6 months — to appreciate how quickly the dynamic, the ground, shifted on LGBT issues in this country.

It’s easy now to say that of course every politician should have been in favor of same-sex marriage just a few years ago. But history is more complicated than that. Time is a factor. And you can’t fully judge people in the past — even the recent past — by today’s standards, and claim to fully understand them, and their heart, and their legacy. What’s “easy” today was not easy even a few years ago. And while I don’t think politicians should only take the easy way out, purity in politics is a recipe for certain failure.

(It should be noted that the Tea Partyers are coming at this from a different motivation. They’re far-right conservatives and they want, need, to destroy FDR’s legacy in order to destroy, in their minds, the underpinnings of modern liberalism. That’s why they’re more outraged at FDR’s anti-gay politics 100 years ago than they are at their own party’s homophobia, and their own presidential candidate’s fascism, today.)

The other thing going on here, which I noted above, is a recent fad of attempting to destroy someone’s entire life’s work based on one or two sensational, and bad, things from their past.

The argument goes that FDR was a horrific president, disqualified from a modern-day liberal embrace, because he led an anti-gay witch hunt, and interned Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Along the same lines, Bill Clinton’s eight-year presidency was awful for gays because of DADT and DOMA. (In fact, it was a historic presidency for the LGBT community.) Nothing Bill Clinton did for gay or trans people in his eight years in office matters, regardless of whether those pro-LGBT actions cumulatively outweigh DADT and DOMA, because Clinton gave us DADT and DOMA. Those two bad things outweigh all the good things, even if they really don’t.

And finally, Bernie Sanders must be a pervert, and shouldn’t hold public office, because of the weird things he wrote and said about women and children decades ago. And he’s also anti-Latino and likes guns, so that’s two more reasons he’s the worst liberal in the world.

I’m not arguing that we should ignore, or forgive, these historical slights. I am saying that it’s simplistic to disqualify anyone’s life’s work based on one, or even a few, incidents, unless those incidents rise to an extreme and unforgivable level (e.g., genocide). You simply do not “know” someone based on one moment you’ve cherry-picked from their entire life.

What are your thoughts? Feel free to join in, in the comments below. Thanks.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis  — Win a pony! (not really)


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in New York City, and is the cofounder of TimeToResign.com. Bio, .

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  • WampusKat

    There’s too much reality in my comment… disturbing as that is for the Berniacs.

    “Professional Left podcast is so incredibly careful not to come out in favor of one progressive versus another.”

    That’s quite the whopper. Maybe you missed an episode :)

  • WampusKat

    I’m perfectly aware of who “Bluegal” is (I used to listen to her podcast until about the 150th repetition of what amounts to the same podcast on instant replay) and she’s perfectly aware of my meaning. This isn’t our first go-round.

  • Frito Pendejo

    Thank you and Driftglass for an outstanding podcast. Some podcasters bring concise, finely-reasoned argument to the table. Some deliver cathartic stem-winding rants on the regular. Still others exhibit genuine empathy and heartfelt passion. There must be some out there who bring together all the above like you two do every week, but surely none approaches your longevity.

  • bluegal

    Thanks Frito! Yeah our reader emails were such that Greenwald-free podcasts are the norm now. :D

  • Frito Pendejo

    Perspective is everything

    Ramen to that. It’s easy to judge our forebears by the standards of our day. And sometimes irresistible; who doesn’t enjoy enjoy a self-righteous rant now and then? The thing is, we’re products of our times, and before ripping people like FDR for being products of theirs we’d do well to keep in mind that our great-grandchildren will one day recoil in disgust at some of our values and beliefs. They cut up animals? And ATE them?! (I think this is the part where Bible Bitch opens a can of “judge not lest ye be judged” whupass.)

  • Frito Pendejo

    I often wish that they were more critical of the GGreenwald purists

    They don’t go after Greenwald as frequently as they do Beltway both-siderists, but when they do they rip him with gusto.

  • Frito Pendejo

    Have you gained any perspective yet or are you still telling people
    via your podcast that Obama and Clinton are Republican lite, courtesy of
    Greenwald?

    Wait, what? You must be confusing Bluegal with someone else. She and Driftglass aren’t what you’d call major Glenn Greenwald fans. The snippet below from one of their podcasts is fairly representative, if somewhat mild.

    https://soundcloud.com/user-120702290/bluegal-and-driftglass-on-glenn-greenwald

  • RancidPubesRNC

    There is so much wrong with your comment, where do I even begin? The Professional Left podcast is so incredibly careful not to come out in favor of one progressive versus another.
    In fact, I often wish that they were more critical of the GGreenwald purists, they are very unbiased except to the well-deserving GOP asses.
    Both Bluegal & Driftglass are as respectful as any fans of the Obama Administration. They kvelling about how amazing Obama has been when you compare him with his predecessor.
    That comment was incredibly disingenuous and I can’t believe you’d go after THAT podcast, so blatantly dishonestly.

  • bluegal

    You’ve mistaken me for someone else… here’s what my podcast partner and husband Driftglass has to say about GG. Enjoy. http://driftglass.blogspot.com/search?q=greenwald

  • bluegal

    Wampus you have me confused with someone else. My podcast has never made the statements you say in this comment. And my husband and podcast partner Driftglass is VERY well known for being a strident critic of Greenwald, to a fault. Please delete this libelous baloney. Thanks.

  • cpinva

    first off, anyone who uses a picture of R.E. Lee as their avatar, is not to be taken seriously. treason in defense of slavery I would wager, far outweighs any wrongs committed by FDR. secondly, you’re right, judging positions taken 100 years ago, by today’s standards, is ludicrous. I may not like those positions, but had I been around 100 years ago, I probably would have held them as well.

    in fact, the tea baggers themselves hold positions anathema to those of society in general, and they represent such a miniscule % of the total population, who cares what they think, assuming they actually are capable of such?

  • Karl Dubhe

    They also knew them as comedy characters in the movies. Ever see the old gangster movies? There’s one where Cagney goes into a suit store, and the tailor is soooo Camp. Not all the portrayals were evil, some were fun.

  • Karl Dubhe

    Damn, I can’t remember which of them said it, and I can’t remember the exact quote. But… :)

    There was a founding father who was aware that the generations which followed them would hold them to be as much a bunch of barbarous thugs as they viewed the generations which preceded their generation.

    That’s the same for us. The children of our generations grandchildren, should they be born at all, will view us as the grossest bunch of idiots ever to have lived.

  • Karl Dubhe

    You’re right to judge the person by the standards of their day. Was he an asshole towards gays, yes. Did his economic policies help the gays as well as everyone else, again, yes. I’d rather live in a world where everyone was allowed to live to their fullest potential and not have to worry about police entrapment. But if I had to choose between food and shelter, or being free to have sex; I’d choose the food and shelter.

    I’ve been out for 30 years…

  • David Ehrenstein

    As my dear late mentor Richard Rouillard used to say “More Eleanor, Less Franklin”

  • JS

    What? Past people, decisons and events should be continually reevaluated. But your comment is out of context. I don’t think you read the thread.

  • WampusKat

    The Tea Party’s historical confusion should be a surprise to nobody:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEC68vTQwP8

  • WampusKat

    You want to criticize something? Start with the real life horror show that passes for the Tea Party: http://www.sanders.senate.gov/koch-brothers

    When we get that under control, then we can feel free to nitpick and rehash history.

  • WampusKat

    No, he’s a Libertarian:
    http://www.politicalresearch.org/2013/11/22/nullification-neo-confederates-and-the-revenge-of-the-old-right/#sthash.Oxdhj7If.dpbs

    He may or may not be young, it makes no difference, for young libertarians are being schooled in alternative history: http://inthesetimes.com/article/15406/rebels_with_a_far_right_cause

  • WampusKat
  • WampusKat

    “most people gain perspective with age”

    I’ll believe it when I see it. Have you gained any perspective yet or are you still telling people via your podcast that Obama and Clinton are Republican lite, courtesy of Greenwald? ”

    “Vote Obama – if you want a centrist Republican for US president”
    – Glenn Greenwald
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/dec/27/vote-obama-centrist-republican

    Have you bothered to correct the record on Greenwald’s supposed “progressivism”? This is not a progressive and yet nobody is interested in telling the public the truth: http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2005/11/reality-of-latin-american-reaction-to.html

    Are you aware that Greenwald has not only been feeding young Berners right-wing talking points dreamt up during the Clinton administration with which to attack Hillary Clinton? Needless to say, I’ve run into many a yongster unfamiliar with what went down in the 1990s ans are repeating those talking points with zero correction from the Sanders campaign: http://www.dailykos.com/news/GlennGreenwald

    Meanwhile, he’s been touring colleges with white power broker Ron Paul: http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2005/11/reality-of-latin-american-reaction-to.html

    And still is: http://www.yaliberty.org/posts/yalcon14-videos-ron-paul-glenn-greenwald-rand-paul

    THIS Ron Paul: http://www.politicalresearch.org/2013/11/22/nullification-neo-confederates-and-the-revenge-of-the-old-right/#sthash.YBhDH1gn.dpbs

    News Flash: this isn’t the 1930s, so can we focus on not undermining the Democratic Party, at the behest of Greenwald and company AGAIN? How’s Governor Tea Party working out for you all in Illinois, by the way? Pure enough for you or what?

  • WampusKat

    “Tea Party Millennials”… the Tea Party is pretty good at listing one or two reasons why one should vote for white supremacist gay-haters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMgaqhTZBlg

    Are we clear yet that Libertarians aren’t our allies? Those Tea Party millennials are simply repeating lines fed to them by the GOP. College Libertarian “Rebels with a Far Right Cause” http://inthesetimes.com/article/15406/rebels_with_a_far_right_cause

    It may not have dawned on them that nobody in the 1930s supported gay rights. Hell, women weren’t granted universal suffrage until 1920, so it goes without saying that that was then, this is now.

  • Helenrscheele

    “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet $98/hr”…..!tl303ur

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  • phred

    They didn’t realize they were living in the past, as one of my more brilliant teachers was fond of saying.

  • sam

    Woodrow Wilson is another good example of this – a big reason people want to remove his name from various buildings, etc., is not just because he was a racist, it’s because he was a racist *even for his time* – he rolled back significant achievements for African-Americans in the US government that had been put in place by the prior administration, essentially firing or forcing out many/most black people from their jobs.

    The question is always – did this person act *reasonably* within the existing norms of the day, or did this person go out of their way to be an asshole?

    Re: FDR, all props to him for the New Deal (which he stole most of from Al Smith, of course), but query whether he starts trending toward the asshole line (even for the 1940s) with both Japanese internment and turning away ships full of jewish refugees.

  • Stellaa

    A few weeks ago they were branding him as the spirit animal of Bernie, the true socialist. They are all twisted and confused. Lashing out.

  • bluegal

    This is such a good article. Perspective is everything. My kids are 12, 13, and 17, and for THEM, gay rights took six months to achieve. I have to tell them about ActUP, nevermind Stonewall (!) happening in my lifetime. If your first experience with gay culture is RuPaul’s Drag Race, then sure, FDR was a terrible bigot. Fortunately, most people gain perspective with age. It’s not such a drag getting old. :D

  • devlzadvocate

    True. Isn’t that what is called “progress”? That is how we measure how far we’ve come.

  • Patriciabmiles2

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    two days ago grey McLaren. P1 I bought after earning 18,512 Dollars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k Dollars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over hourly. 87 Dollars…Learn. More right Here !tr944u:➽:➽:.➽.➽.➽.➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsMaxGetPay$98Hour…. .★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★::::::!tr944o….,…

  • Baal

    It would be hard to imagine that Lincoln would be acceptable on LBGT issues by modern standards. Probably not Gandhi either. How much do you want to bet that MLK was uncomfortable about this? What about Einstein? Jonas Salk?

    Of course time matters. FDR’s policies helped millions of people and continue to do so today. But he was a product of his time.

    Nobody is perfect. In the future, it will be clear that we are all, currently, wrong about a bunch of stuff. Millennials included. And people will wonder how we could have been so evil.

  • noland_abc

    So, FDR was a raging homophobe. He was a sign of his times. For the quick to judge, least we forget, MOST of the (revered) Fathers of this Nations owned slaves and women couldn’t vote. Should they, too, not be held accountable, by today’s standards, for what were the legal [though highly immoral] mores of their time? It’s easy to point fingers based on our current norms. We should not judge [most of] those who came before us, on social issues, for they did NOT understand the error of their ways.

  • ECarpenter

    You must be a very young person, or a very ignorant person, with only the haziest impression of what the world was like before you were born. Try reading some gay history, and find out what the world was like for gay men and lesbians as well as straight people a hundred years ago.

  • ECarpenter

    There were almost no out gay people in 1917. The tiny numbers who WERE out lived in isolated enclaves like Greenwich Village.

    What that meant was that nearly no one knew a gay man or lesbian. We know that they did, of course, but THEY didn’t. The gay people they knew maintained solid straight fronts, and successfully fooled everyone.

    So what did the general public know about gay people? They knew what preachers told them (vile stories) and what early psychologists told them (vile stories based on the religious stories) as well as what they read in sensationalized newspaper accounts about “dens of vice” and “predatory perverts”.

    If you had been a straight person back then, it’s very likely you would have been anti-gay too.

    The biggest single thing that changed the attitudes in Western cultures is that gay men and lesbians started to come out in increasing numbers after WW II. When a big enough percentage of gay men and lesbians had come out, and enough people knew a real live gay man or lesbian, the tipping point was reached.

    So of course Roosevelt was anti-gay. He had to be, given his ignorance and the public ignorance of the time, and the long, long religious tradition of maligning gay people and threatening them with death or ostracism which kept them in the closet.

  • JS

    Says someone who obviously doesn’t hang with and talk to liberals a lot. I do. And we spend a lot of time criticizing liberals for all sorts of things. If you regularly spent time with everyday people you would get that. I’ve been critical of FDR since I was 22. I’ve read two biographies and worked for a year at the National Park Service at his home in New York State. Most of the people I spend time with are liberal or left-leaning moderates. And there’s quite a lot of criticism about past politicians, celebrities and supposedly “good people.” But that doesn’t fit your stereotype so I’m sure you’ll just ignore this comment.

  • Chris

    Of course the author doesn’t care, he was a liberal. Liberals give other liberals a pass on their true racism and homophobia.

  • Hue-Man

    The marriage equality issue is very recent history. This story from October 2010 is a good example:

    “Stonewall [UK] is split by row about same-sex marriages”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/stonewall-is-split-by-row-about-same-sex-marriages-2095468.html

    I agree with your point about FDR but would add that the public positions of politicians is often different from their private positions. I wouldn’t be surprised if FDR was well-acquainted with homosexuals in his society life; I don’t need to remind you of the rumors about his wife…

    On the change of positions on marriage equality by Clinton and Sanders, I would add the abuse that is heaped on conservatives when they decide to support marriage equality. Instead of welcoming their support especially given the homophobic nature of the Republican party, the typical reaction from the LGBT commentariat is to heap scorn on them. The LGBT strategy has been to seek to change hearts and minds but when minds are changed, that doesn’t seem to be enough.

  • Don Chandler

    Haha, we have laws and philosophy based on a society that accepted what can only be called pederasty. Not sure I can or should categorized the sexual proclivities of the ‘ancients’ but they don’t fit well in our world. Still, if we are going to indulge in witch hunts, why not go way back in time. It’s absurd, ofc. Judging old cultures by our modern standards is absurd. It’s also arrogant. It’s also stupid.

    I was reading Greek Homosexuality by Dover. One story seemed close to a modern witch hunt against a gay person. Read about Timarchus and his trial. You probably have, John. He was a victim of an out of control prosecutor.:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Against_Timarchus

    Timarchus seemed less pederast and more into guys. I’m sure a classicist could say much more on the topic. For me it was just an interesting reference.

    Nothing wrong with guns, John. It’s our laws that regulate guns that need to be looked at. I don’t know any bad comments by Sanders. I do know Hillary is a bit out of touch on some issues ;)

  • It’s amazing how ignorant most people are of what our society was like only a few decades ago.

    Yes, by our standards not only was FDR homophobic but you’d be hard pressed to find any public figure mentioning that topic who wasn’t. (I can’t think of any.) He was also by our standards sexist and racist too.

    We have whitewashed our own past and this is what we get as a result. Sometime when you have some free time dig around in the Library of Congress sheet music collection. Sheet music was the youtube of American culture from about 1870-1950. People bought a lot of it and every aspect of culture and politics is reflected in the songs. What is shocking is how racist much of it is. and not just about African Americans but any immigrant group (especially the Irish and the Chinese but plenty of others as well). It’s shocking. Mostly because we haven’t seen it and aren’t used to that level of ugly racist stereotypes. But that material was front and center in our culture. It was in every parlor in the country. And then on radio. And then on tv. We have even edited whole scenes from movies (like Holiday Inn) because they are so revolting. And so we pretend like people in the past lived by our modern standards. They didn’t. Not at all.

    So yeah, FDR was a homophobe. Duh. He did a lot of things I like and a lot of things I don’t. What part of that is so hard for some people to grasp. How did we get into this mess of finding one bad thing in someone’s history and then dismissing everything they did as garbage? How is that even possible? Are we that stupid now? What the fuck???

  • percysowner

    Interestingly, the only place I’ve seen this discussed is when a few Sanders supporters have screamed that we need Sanders to take us back to the legacy of FDR. The response has more been that FDR did lots of good things, but they were mostly for the benefit of white, straight men.

    We have to remember that people are part of their culture and they can and do say things that are appalling by today’s standards, but by the standards of their time were incredibly liberal. I’m sure that in 50-100 years many of our liberal leaders will look conservative by the standards of those future days.

  • You said very well something I was trying to get across, but didn’t put as well. I think part of our historical outrage, or present-day outrage, is when people are even out of touch with the times they live in. Though even that gets complicated, as most of the American public was not on board gay rights in the early 90s, but we still hate Jesse Helms for the horrible animus he showed our community back then.

  • That’s a great quote.

  • dcinsider

    I believe that history just needs to be honest.

    Let’s face it, I’m not sure I’d like to make the case to John Adams or Thomas Jefferson for gay rights. It was a different time and place. So was the early 20th century for that matter. Context is important.

    This does not mean that historical figures are immune from criticism. Far from it. Woodrow Wilson’s record is fair game for the folks at Princeton (or any other university).

    History and historical figures should be judged, debated, criticized, and discussed at all levels. However, to apply today’s morality code on people who have been dead for many decades, or even centuries, seems to be a rather intellectually dishonest exercise.

    One of the beauties of Justice Kennedy’s opinion in Obergefell was this quote.

    “The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.”

    Today’s politicians need to be judged against today’s standards for decency. Yesterday’s politicians cannot be judged by the standards of anything other than their own times. I would love to find a quote from John Adams about the need for LGBT rights, but there isn’t one. Does that make him a homophobe? Yes, as we define that term today, all of our founding fathers were very likely homophobic. Does it lessen their accomplishments to freedom and democracy?

    No, not even the slightest bit.

  • icanhazconservative?

    “I have an issue with entirely “disqualifying” the historic achievements of those figures based on their abhorrent actions with regards to gays. Why? Because everyone was bad on our issues back then.” Completely agreed that people need to be seen in light of the standards of their day. For instance, Andrew Jackson was *particularly* appalling in his treatment of Native Americans, even by the standards of his day. Virtually the entire world had abandoned slavery and it was considered horrible by the standards of its day just when the south was wanting to expand it and fight to maintain it. Those are examples of people we can judge. FDR not being a gay marriage supporter or whatever? No.

  • I wasn’t even going to get into the other non-LGBT issues, as I’m sure a certain segment of the Internet couldn’t handle the discussion.

  • AnitaMann

    Go back a few generations and it’s hard to find anyone who was NOT a homophobe. It’s tricky holding people of different generations to current standards. All liberal heroes were flawed by standards of today. See also: Thomas Jefferson/slaves.

  • Blogvader

    It is very odd to see all of the people who invoked the “sunshine and rainbows” meme about Sanders’ proposals do this sudden about-face and decide that they suddenly like and endorse New Deal politics.

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