1977 March 26

Lesbian and Gay Activists Meet in White House, First Time Ever


The National Gay Task Force met with aides to President Jimmy Carter at the White House on this day. This meeting was the first time lesbian and gay activists had ever been invited to the White House to discuss policy issues related to homosexuality. President Jimmy Carter was at Camp David when the meeting occurred, but he had called for an end to discrimination against homosexuals during the 1976 presidential election campaign, on May 21, 1976. He was the first candidate of a major political party ever to publicly support lesbian and gay rights.

The meeting was arranged by Carter’s aide, Midge Costanza, director of the Office of Public Liaison in the White House. (Costanza was forced out on August 1, 1978, because of conflicts with Carter.)

The first lesbian and gay rights movement in the world originated in Berlin, Germany, in the 1860s. This included the invention of the word “homosexuality.” Read Robert Beachy, Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity (2014).

Learn more: Eric Marcus, Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1945–1990: An Oral History (1992)

Read a history of the lesbian and gay rights movement: Dudley Clendinin and Adam Nagourney, Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America (1999)

Learn more about President Carter’s record on civil liberties: Samuel Walker, Presidents and Civil Liberties From Wilson to Obama (2012)

Learn more about Carter’s post-presidential work at the Carter Center: http://www.cartercenter.org/index.html

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