HRC Blog

Senators “On Trial” for Anti-Gay Blackmail and a Colleague’s Death

gavel, scalePost submitted by Brian Moulton, Former HRC Legal Director

This Wednesday in Washington, a dark and largely unknown episode from LGBT history in our nation’s capital will be brought to light. 

Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) and two other former members of the United States Senate will go “on trial” in Washington, DC, for their alleged roles in the 1954 suicide of Wyoming Senator Lester C. Hunt.  Senators Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin), Styles Bridges (R-New Hampshire) and Herman Welker (R-Idaho), all deceased, are “charged” with a criminal conspiracy to blackmail Hunt who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his senate office in 1954.  A year earlier, Hunt’s son was publicly disclosed as gay after an arrest in a sting operation in Lafayette Park. 

A mock trial of the three senators will be held at All Souls Church Unitarian on October 23rd beginning at 7:30 PM in the church sanctuary. All Souls Church Unitarian is located at 1500 Harvard Street NW in Washington, DC.  Admission is free. 

The “trial” is a readers’ theater presentation based on the research conducted by Rodger McDaniel for his book Dying for the Sins of Joe McCarthy-The Suicide of Wyoming Senator Lester Hunt.  Former Senator Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming will open the proceedings with an address to the mock court, jury, and audience.  A number of prominent attorneys will read roles in the mock trial, including HRC Legal Director Brian Moulton. 

The event is being sponsored by the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C.  HRC is proud to support this event casting a bright light on an important and tragic event in the history of our nation.    

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