Sexual Injustice: Supreme Court Decisions from Griswold to Roe

By Marc Stein | Go to book overview

7 :
Forgetting Boutilier

As a profoundly and transparently conservative ruling, Boutilier presented problems for those committed to the notion that the Court’s doctrine was expansively liberal and liberalizing. Much of the mainstream and legal press resolved this problem by ignoring Boutilier, downplaying its significance, or emphasizing that the ruling concerned the limited rights of aliens rather than the full rights of citizens. As for judges, some acknowledged the central holdings of Boutilier, but others found ways to limit and qualify the decision’s conservative meanings. Gay and lesbian periodicals initially denounced the ruling in Boutilier, but soon began to ignore and forget the case, partly because it concerned aliens, partly because it was not viewed as a useful precedent, and partly because of the historical amnesia that developed after New York City’s Stonewall riots of 1969, when many gay liberationists and lesbian feminists began to dismiss the homophile struggles of the past. Clive Boutilier was ignored and forgotten as well. Deported from U.S. territorial space, he was also deported from U.S. collective memory.


Mainstream Media

In November 1967, the New York Times Magazine published “Civil Rights and the Homosexual,” a lengthy article asserting that “attitudes toward homosexuality seem to be changing,” but “laws are not.” Accompanying the text by journalist Webster Schott was a photograph of a homophile movement demonstration in Philadelphia with a caption that declared, “Our sex attitudes have been updated—in some ways, drastically—but our sex laws are still those a Mayflower Pilgrim would approve.” According to Schott, “To make private sexual acts between consenting adults an issue of morality, not law, is the first goal of those who care about the phenomenon of homosexuality in the United States.” He observed, however, that “the United States homosexual wants more than freedom from prosecution as a sodomite.” Activist Drew Shafer was quoted as saying that the “average homosexual would really like to feel like a citizen.” Summarizing Shafer’s point, Schott wrote that the homosexual “wants to be free to pursue homosexual love, free to serve in the

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