Sexual Politics and the Alien Invert: Boutillier v. I.N.S.
When Clive Boutillier applied for citizenship in 1963, he disclosed a 1959 sodomy arrest (the case was dismissed). After Boutillier admitted to homosexual activity during interviews conducted by INS officers, the Public Health Service determined that he had a psychopathic personality and was a sexual deviate, and thus was excludable from the U.S. under §212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The government began deportation proceedings, and Boutillier was ordered to be deported in 1967. He fought deportation in court, and the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari.
The Court upheld Boutillier's deportation. The Court framed the case as one of statutory interpretation, viewing the phrase "psychopathic personality" as a legal, not a medical term. The Court did not rule on whether Congress should have included homosexuals in the definition of "psychopathic personality," only that it was Congress' intent to do so. Nevertheless, the term "psychopathic personality" is rooted in psychiatry. The inclusion of homosexuality within the term's ambit reflected the view that homosexuality was a mental illness. By including homosexuality within the meaning of "psychopathic personality" the Court tacitly endorsed this view.
The trend of medicalizing homosexuality dates to the late nineteenth century. Freud saw it as a mere variation on sexuality, but his work established the concept of homosexuality as a medical condition. World War II brought a heightened focus on the psychiatric aspects of homosexuality. Homosexuals were excluded from the draft as unfit to be soldiers. Psychiatrists developed and conducted screening tests to identify and disqualify homosexuals. This process institutionalized the notion that homosexuals were mentally ill and reinforced the view of homosexuals as gender deviants. After the war, the Kinsey Report and Donald Webster Cory's book The Homosexual in America presented homosexuality as more common than previously thought and concluded that homosexuals were often happy and well-adjusted. An anti-homosexual backlash to such conclusions arose as "experts" published books debunking Kinsey's report and Cory's book. These books reinforced the notion of homosexuality as a mental illness and gave scientific backing to moral conclusions about the worth of homosexuals.
After World War II, homosexuality got caught up in political and cultural movements. In addition to Communists, Senator Joseph McCarthy also targeted homosexuals as a national security threat. At the same time, the fifties brought a rigid adherence to traditional gender roles. The Cold War and the fear it engendered necessitated a vision of manly men ready to defend the U.S. against Communism. Marriage was seen as "normal" and "mature." Deviation from traditional gender roles and marriage was seen as irresponsible, weak, and a threat to national security. In this framework there was no room for homosexuality.
The terms of the Immigration and Nationality Act reflected these Cold War politics and psychiatric views. Section212(a)(4) excluded people with "psychopathic personalities" from admission into the United States. The Public Health Service's report to the House Judiciary Committee included homosexuals in the "psychopathic personality" category, and the Court accepted this "diagnosis." The Public Health Service, charged with the task of determining who had "psychopathic personalities," admitted that it was often difficult to diagnose homosexuality and that attempts to do so during World War II often failed. Nonetheless, these efforts laid the groundwork for the view of homosexuality as a mental illness, a view which flourished in the atmosphere created by the Cold War.
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