I was going to call this a “fun fact,” and then I realized it wasn’t that fun. From Margot Canaday, “Building a Straight State: Sexuality and Social Citizenship under the 1944 GI Bill”:
Much less commonly remarked upon [when considering GI benefits] is a 1945 Veterans Administration ruling that denied G.I. Bill benefits to any soldier with an undesirable discharge “issued because of homosexual acts or tendencies.” The G.I. Bill deserves consideration by historians because it was the first federal policy that explicitly excluded gays and lesbians from the economic benefits of the welfare state.
WOW. From a history of sexuality perspective (a subdiscipline I’m growing ever more passionate about), that’s an incredibly interesting fact.
One of the main themes we’re learning about in the class I did that reading for (Gender and Sexuality in Modern America) is the idea of “institutionalized heterosexuality.” This refers to the trend, as the American state got ever larger in the 20th century, to enshrine the traditional nuclear family in law and exclude LGBT folks from the benefits given to the traditional nuclear family. This can include more obvious things, like marriage law, but also things like how postwar social security benefits were initially distributed in a way that favored a family where the husband was the breadwinner and the wife was dependent on him. This is something that it would never have occurred to me to consider in a million years… which is why, I suppose, I’m going to college and am strongly considering studying history.
Okay. I’ve got about 80 more pages of reading to go.