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John V. Briggs (born 1930) is a retired Californiamarker state politician who served in the California State Assembly and the California State Senate. He is perhaps best known for sponsoring Proposition 6 in 1978, also known as the Briggs Initiative, which attempted to remove all gay or lesbian school employees or their supporters from their jobs. The measure failed.


Personal life

Briggs was born in Mitchell, South Dakotamarker and moved to southern California in 1935, where he was raised by his single mother. He attended high school and college in southern California and later served in the United States Air Force from 1947 to 1951, seeing action in the Korean Theater. After his stint in the Air Force, Briggs served in the United States Naval Reserve. Near the end of his military service, Briggs met his future wife, Carmen Nicasio, at a USO dance. Together, they had three children and currently have eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

After his military service, Briggs started a successful insurance brokerage. In June 1973 (during his fourth term as Assemblyman), Briggs was selected by his Alma Mater, California State University, as Outstanding Alumnus.

Throughout the years, Briggs has remained active in a variety of community groups including the Jaycees, the Rotary Clubmarker, and the Boys and Girls Club.

Political career

Briggs’ political career began as an outgrowth of his participation in the Jaycees. He served as a local Jaycee president and California State Director as well as President of the Senior Chamber of Commerce. He also served as President of the Walter Knott Young Republican Club. In 1962 and 1964, Briggs ran unsuccessfully as the Republican nominee for the California State Assembly in the 69th District (which includes parts of Orange Countymarker). He was finally elected two years later in the adjacent 35th District (which includes parts of Santa Barbaramarker and Venturamarker Counties). Re-elected three times in this district, Briggs went on to successfully compete in the 69th District in the 1974 election.

In 1976, Briggs ran for, and was elected a member of the California State Senate, representing the 35th District, comprising most of Orange County. He unsuccessfully sought the 1978 Republican nomination for governor. Re-elected in 1978 and 1980, Briggs resigned from the Senate at the end of December, 1981.

While in office, Briggs concentrated much of his attention on insurance reform, a wider application of the death penalty, nuclear energy development, and construction regulation. He was member of the Western Interstate Nuclear Board from 1971 to 1972. In the Assembly, he chaired the Agriculture and the Atomic Development Committees; and while in the Senate chaired the Governmental Efficiency and Governmental Investigations and Reports Committees.

Briggs was a leader in several legislative initiatives in California, including:
  • Proposition 6 : (Failed) Would have required the firing of any teacher who was found to be “advocating, imposing, encouraging or promoting” homosexual activity;
  • Proposition 13: Restricted property tax to 1% of the full cash value of the property;
  • Proposition 7: Expanded the application of the death penalty and life imprisonment without parole;
  • California Indoor Safe Air Act: Banned smoking in public buildings.


Proposition 6

Briggs sponsored the 1978 initiative known as Proposition 6 or the Briggs Initiative that would have prevented gays or those who supported gay rights from working in public schools. Of gay teachers, he said, "Most of them are in the closet, and frankly, that's where I think they should remain."

Former California governor Ronald Reagan spoke out publicly against the Briggs Initiative. In a November 1, 1978, editorial in the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, Reagan wrote, "Whatever else it is, homosexuality is not a contagious disease like measles. Prevailing scientific opinion is that an individual's sexuality is determined at a very early age and that a child's teachers do not really influence this.” California Governor, Jerry Brown, denounced Proposition 6, as did U.S. President Jimmy Carter. The Log Cabin Republicans, a national organization of gay Republicans, subsequently credited Proposition 6 as being the catalyst leading to its formation. Opposition by leading politicians combined with grassroots lobbying led to the defeat of Proposition 6 by 58.6% to 41.6%.

Post-political life

Following his retirement from politics, Briggs operated a successful political and business consulting firm for fifteen years. He was a registered California lobbyist from 1983 to 1996. In 2000, he moved to the Lake Tahoemarker area where he became a successful real estate investor. Briggs and his wife moved to Sun City Anthem in 2003, an age-restricted community in Nevada where he has run for the community's Board. In a campaign statement in 2008 published on the resident created blog, The Anthem Voice, Briggs refuted statements made about him in various blogs. He stated his views on gays had changed since the days of Prop 6. He also said he was friendly with Harvey Milk and gay activist Randy Shilts and mourned the deaths of both men. [217114]

References




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