William E. Dannemeyer
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from California's 39th district
January 3, 1979 - January 3, 1993
|Charles E. Wiggins|
|Member of the California State Assembly|
from the 69th district
January 7, 1963 - January 2, 1967
|Carley V. Porter|
December 6, 1976 - November 30, 1978
William Edwin Dannemeyer
September 22, 1929
Long Beach, California
|Died||July 9, 2019 (aged 89)|
Thousand Palms, California
|Political party||Democratic (before 1968)|
William Edwin Dannemeyer (September 22, 1929 - July 9, 2019) was a conservative American politician, activist, and author, known for his opposition to LGBT rights. He served as U.S. Representative from the 39th Congressional District of California from 1979 to 1993, during which time he, along with friend and fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Robert K. Dornan, came to personify Orange County conservatism.
Dannemeyer was born in Long Beach, California, to German immigrants, Charlotte Ernestine (Knapp) and Henry William Dannemeyer. He attended Trinity Lutheran School in Los Angeles and Long Beach Poly High School. Dannemeyer was an Eagle Scout and recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America. He entered Santa Maria Junior College in 1947 before transferring to Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana. He graduated from "Valpo" in 1950 and earned a J.D. at Hastings College of the Law of the University of California in 1952. From 1952 to 1954 he served in the United States Army in the Counter Intelligence Corps during the Korean War.
Dannemeyer began practicing law in Santa Barbara in 1955, serving concurrently as a Santa Barbara County deputy district attorney. He moved to Fullerton in 1959 to become the assistant city attorney. He was elected originally as a Democrat to the California State Assembly in 1962 and was re-elected in 1964 when he was also a member of the Electoral College, casting his vote for Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 United States presidential election.
Instead of seeking re-election to the Assembly in 1966, he made a failed bid for a seat in the California State Senate. He then became a judge pro tempore of the municipal and superior courts from 1966–1976. In 1968, he appeared on a television show hosted by fellow future Congressman Bob Dornan to announce that he was leaving the Democratic Party to become a Republican. He would win election to the Assembly for a final term in 1976 as a Republican.
In November 1978, Dannemeyer was elected as a Republican to the United States House of Representatives, and returned for six additional terms. He accumulated a strongly conservative record on the Budget, Judiciary, and Energy and Commerce Committees, supporting legislation to suppress illegal immigration, restrict telephone sex lines, and criminalize flag desecration.
He attempted to block federal funding of evolution-related exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution in 1982, and pushed for easing the separation of church and state. On fiscal issues, he advocated budget cuts for social programs, renegotiation of the national debt, tax reduction, and deregulation. He was the lead Republican sponsor of the 1985 deregulation of natural gas prices. In 1989, he was one of the successful House managers in the impeachment trial of then-Judge Walter Nixon for committing perjury in front of a grand jury. In 1990 he was one of twenty representatives to vote against the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Dannemeyer was an outspoken critic of LGBT rights and on June 29, 1989 read a graphic description of gay sex into the Congressional Record titled "What Homosexuals Do". In this statement, Dannemeyer said:
... activities peculiar to homosexuality include: Rimming, or one man using his tongue to lick the rectum of another man; golden showers, having one man or men urinate on another man or men; fisting or handballing, which has one man insert his hand and/or part of his arm into another man's rectum; and using what are euphemistically termed "toys" such as one man inserting dildoes, certain vegetables, or lightbulbs up another man's rectum.
He gained national notoriety with his proposals to stop the emerging AIDS epidemic in the late 1980s, such as banning HIV-positive immigrants. He was the only prominent politician to support the LaRouche movement's Proposition 64 in 1986. Another California ballot initiative he backed, Proposition 102, would have mandated widespread testing, tracing of sexual partners by state authorities, and a mandatory quarantine of persons with AIDS. It failed by a considerable margin. He did succeed in pushing hospitals to notify post-1977 recipients of blood transfusions that they were at risk. In 1989 he published Shadow in the Land: Homosexuality in America, attacking the gay rights movement. In 1985, Dannemeyer advocated barring persons with AIDS from working in the healthcare industry, stating that there was already "a requirement that nurses who are AIDS victims not work in maternity [wards] because a person with AIDS emits a spore that has been known to cause birth defects." It should be pointed out that such "spores" are not, of course, emitted from people suffering from AIDS.
In 1992, Dannemeyer did not run for reelection to the United States House of Representatives. Instead, he ran for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator, but lost to fellow Orange County Republican John F. Seymour.
In 1994, in a letter to congressional leaders, Dannemeyer listed 24 people with some connection to then-President Clinton who had died "under other than natural circumstances" and called for hearings on the matter. The list was mostly compiled by Linda Thompson, an Indianapolis lawyer who in 1993 gave up her year-old general practice to found the American Justice Federation, a for-profit group which promotes pro-gun causes and various conspiracy theories through a shortwave radio program, a computer bulletin board and sales of its newsletter and videos." The list is known as the "Clinton Body Count" and is still maintained on several right-wing or conspiracy-oriented websites.
In September 2006, Dannemeyer sent a letter to the California Attorney General and other officials arguing that Laci Peterson had been killed by members of a Satanic cult, not by Scott Peterson.
Dannemeyer believed that Jews are trying to take over the world, or as he wrote on his website, "The main goal of the Zionist Jews and their New World Order is exactly the same as it was when Jesus was on earth - to exterminate Christ - and His followers!"
Dannemeyer was honorary national chairman of Citizens For a Better America.
Carley V. Porter
| California State Assemblyman, 69th District
| California State Assemblyman, 69th District
|U.S. House of Representatives|
Charles E. Wiggins
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 39th congressional district