Miriam Ben-Shalom Papers, 1971-1999

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains personal papers and other documentation collected by Miriam Ben-Shalom, the first gay or lesbian member of the United States military service to be reinstated after being discharged for her sexual orientation. The collection documents Ben-Shalom's legal battles with the military from 1976, when she publicly expressed her sexual identity as a lesbian, to 1990, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear her appeal and effectively ended her military career. It includes recordings of Ben-Shalom's appearances on local and national television and radio programs. The collection contains a wealth of material accumulated by Ben-Shalom documenting the general topic of gay men and lesbians and the military. This material falls roughly between the enactment of Department of Defense Directive 1332.4 passed in 1982, which stated the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service, and the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy enacted in 1993 (U.S. Code Title 10 § 654). Other materials collected by Ben-Shalom include organizational papers, newsletters, and correspondence from the Campaign for Military Service; American Civil Liberties Union; Grassroots Vets; Human Rights Campaign Fund; and the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Veterans of America. Of special note are materials pertaining to the gay and lesbian veterans movement.