• Sister, Leonore, Mom & Joe
  • "With Liberty and Justice for All...

  • U.S. Pledge of Allegiance

  • “You and your type should be put on a six foot raft and set in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean … You are not fit to mingle with decent human beings… I’ll bet your parents wished many times they should have aborted you…” Anonymous letter to Joe; February 29, 1972
  • “I never went out of my way to say: “Here I am, a homosexual. What are you going to do with me?” But I’ve never gone out of my way to hide it, either. It’s just - I’m living what I am and people are dealing with it.” Joe on CBS 60 Minutes; February 25, 1973
  • “Please, only you can help me.”New Jersey gay teenager’s plea in a letter to Joe; March 25, 1972
  • “But he didn’t do anything and he was really a good teacher. I don’t understand why they took him out.”Eighth-grade student in Joe’s Earth Science class on CBS 60 Minutes;February 25, 1973
  • “Then, I would like to ask further: What homosexual acts do you prefer to engage in or are you willing to engage in?” Dean A. W. Vandermeer, College of Education, Penn State University; at Joe’s teacher certification “morality” interrogation; July 10, 1972
  • “What I’m saying is - stop the intense hatred; stop the discrimination against homosexuals. And any decisions that are made should be made from reason; should be based on fact; and not on prejudice and discrimination.” Joe at his teacher certification “morality” interrogation; July 10, 1972
  • “A Queer is a Queer is a Queer” Postcard to Joe from West Virginia; June 2, 1973
  • “When Joe came out of the closet, I came out of the kitchen” Lee Acanfora, Joe’s mom, to hometown newspaper reporter; April 12, 1973
  • “I have reviewed with care your application for teacher certification …Your performance academically and in the classroom as a student teacher fully meets the requirements of the laws of this Commonwealth …I have decided, therefore, to issue you a certificate to teach …The role of teacher in our schools is an important one… Good luck to you. Secretary of Education, State of Pennsylvania; September 22, 1972
  • “I know about you and I still love you!” Joe’s 8-year old sister’s exclamation to Joe upon waking him the morning after learning from their mom that Joe was “gay”
  • “We are exploring the reassignment of Mr. Acanfora … to a position that does not require contact with youngsters.”Donald Miedema, Deputy Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland in memo to Board of Education upon reading in the NY Times that Joe was gay; September 25, 1972
  • “… a homosexual is a wicked – sinfully wicked – person … God rained Fire and Brimstone from heaven because of evil wicked homosexuals – please go move on an Island so everybody don’t have to suffer – but better still I pray you will repent – O repent of your sins and be Saved … New Jersey woman in letter to Joe;March 29, 1972
  • “I loved him then, I love him now”Joe Acanfora, Jr., Joe’s dad, on WNET public television in New York interview about parents supporting their gay children; November 1972
  • The “Good News” coming from the Memorandum Opinion and Order, United States District Court for the District of Maryland

    “The guarantee of liberty in the Fourteenth Amendment is greater than the sum of particular rights guaranteed in the first eight amendments…

    “ …in matters touching personal liberty, the Fourteenth Amendment expresses an integral philosophy of liberal democracy, not simply an amalgam of differentiated clauses … The quest for judicial objectivism, proposed as most nearly attainable by the incorporation of the particular language of the first eight amendments by the Fourteenth, proved illusory, for that language itself is subject to varying interpretation…While a court must necessarily bear a sense of proportion, with respect to precedent and social mores, a rigidly restrictive theory of interpretation, avoiding the dangers of judicial activism, is open to criticism for abdication of the duty to expound the Constitution.

    “ In this spirit, the Supreme Court has created a sphere of protectable interests, including, but not limited to, the interests specifically designated in the first eight amendments, as “essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.” Meyer, supra, 262 U.S., at 399. It is noteworthy that this sphere includes the right to pursue a career , Meyer, supra ; the right to freely associate for the promotion of political and social ideas , Wiemann v. Updegraff, 344 U.S. 183 (1952); Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U.S. 234 (1957); Shelton, supra; Keyishian, supra; Bruns v. Pomerleau, 319 F.Supp. 58 (D. Md. 1970 ); the right to procreate , Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535 (1942) (Stone, C.J., concurring opinion); the right to marital privacy and choice , Griswold, supra; Loving, supra; and the right to control matters affecting reproduction, regardless of marital status , Eisenstadt, supra; Roe, supra. State action impinging on a protectable interest draws especially careful judicial review.

    “As autonomous and rational beings, individuals are capable of reasoned decisions in pursuit of chosen goals. Given man’s imperfect knowledge , full freedom of thought and association is imperative for individual self-development and social progress. So long as the freedoms of others are not affected, a government intended to promote the life, liberty and happiness of its citizens must abstain from interference with individual pursuits, no matter how unorthodox or repulsive to the majority. As social animals, individuals necessarily place importance on friendships and relationships of trust. Hence the development of a right of privacy. Griswold, Katz, Eisenstadt, Roe, supra.

    “Great concepts like . . . ‘liberty’ . . . were purposely left to gather meaning from experience. For they relate to the whole domain of social and economic fact, and the statesmen who founded this Nation knew too well that only a stagnant society remains unchanged. National Mutual Ins. Co. v. Tidewater Transfer Co., Inc., 337 U.S. 582 (1948) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting opinion). See Roe, supra (Stewart, J., concurring opinion).

    “In this context, the time has come today for private, consenting, adult homosexuality to enter the sphere of constitutionally protectable interests. Intolerance of the unconventional halts the growth of liberty.”
    Judge Joseph Young, United States District Court for the District of Maryland; May 31, 1973
  • The “Bad News” coming from the Memorandum Opinion and Order, United States District Court for the District of Maryland

    “ … mere knowledge that a teacher is homosexual is not sufficient to justify transfer or dismissal. In addition, the homosexual teacher need not become a recluse, nor need he lie about himself. Like any other teacher, he may attend public gatherings and associate with whomever he chooses. But a sense of discretion and self-restraint must guide him…

    “This case does not involve an admission of homosexuality in response to an individual question put to the plaintiff, but rather the repeated, unnecessary, appearances on local and especially national news media. Granted that plaintiff did not advocate homosexuality, but concentrated on his opinion of the injustice and discrimination practiced against homosexuals in this country , his appearances nevertheless inevitably sparked additional controversy regarding the subject of homosexuality and the classroom…

    “The substance of plaintiff’s remarks on “60 Minutes” had an element of sensationalism… Accordingly, despite the initial transgression of the defendants, the Court cannot grant plaintiff the relief for which he prays… ORDERED that the injunctive relief requested by the plaintiff be and the same is hereby DENIED .”

    Judge Joseph Young, United States District Court for the District of Maryland; May 31, 1973
  • “The Good News” coming from the Decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

    “… the record discloses that press, radio, and television commentators considered homosexuality in general, and Acanfora’s plight in particular, to be a matter of public interest about which reasonable people could differ, and Acanfora responded to their inquiries in a rational manner. There is no evidence that the interviews disrupted the school, substantially impaired his capacity as a teacher, or gave the school officials reasonable grounds to forecast that these results would flow from what he said. We hold, therefore, that Acanfora’s public statements were protected by the first amendment and that they do not justify either the action taken by the school system or the dismissal of his suit…
    Decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; February 7, 1974
  • “The Bad News” coming from the Decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

    “… here Acanfora wrongfully certified that his [Montgomery County School teaching] application was accurate to the best of his knowledge when he knew that it contained a significant omission. His intentional withholding of facts about his affiliation with the Homophiles [HOPS] is inextricably linked to his attack on the constitutionality of the school system’s refusal to employ homosexuals as teachers … [the lower court Denial of injunctive relief] is AFFIRMED
    Decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; February 7, 1974
  • “the [Montgomery County Public Schools] Board of Education’s policy of not knowingly employing any homosexuals is objectionable.” Judge Joseph Young, United States District Court for the District of Maryland; May 31, 1973
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