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social sciences

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Mixner, David (b. 1946)  
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Mixner, almost by a fluke, secured an appointment to the party's Delegate Selection Committee. The youngest member of a 28-person committee that included such luminaries as (later Secretary of State) Warren Christopher and Senator Adlai Stevenson III, and that was chaired by Senator George McGovern, Mixner nevertheless made his presence felt. The McGovern Commission, as it became known, was instrumental in making the Democratic Party more democratic and more representative of the broad coalition that it represents.

Later in 1968 Mixner became one of the principal organizers of the "Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam," one of the most significant national protests of the war. While organizing this major event, Mixner had occasion to meet Bill Clinton, who was then a Rhodes Scholar opposed to the war but ambivalent about how to express his opposition. The two men fashioned a casual but significant friendship that was later to be useful to both of them.

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The Moratorium was a resounding success in that it attracted millions of participants at events across the country, and culminated in a march in Washington in which Coretta Scott King movingly pled for an end to the war.

Mixner's efforts on behalf of ending the war in Vietnam did not result in peace, but they did establish Mixner's reputation as a skilled organizer and effective political strategist. In his anti-war activities, Mixner also made valuable friendships and contacts within the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, which were to serve him well when he became a political operative and fundraiser.

During this time in the anti-war movement, Mixner remained publicly closeted even as he explored the sexual underworld of America's major cities.

Gay Activism

In 1975, Mixner gradually began making friends with other closeted gay men and lesbians, including many who were politically engaged. He began to function as a gay man in a straight world, but also continued to internalize the he absorbed as a child. Finally, with the help of a therapist, he decided that he had to begin the process of coming out to his friends and colleagues.

The first of these friends with whom he shared his secret was the actress Shirley Maclaine, who immediately showered him with care and affection. She suggested that he spend some time in her house in Los Angeles where he could reassess his life.

Soon afterwards he accepted a job with a political fundraiser in San Francisco and moved to the Castro district, where he became involved in the gay liberation movement. He met Harvey Milk, with whom he would soon collaborate on political campaigns, and he became friends with Gay Games founder Tom Waddell.

In San Francisco, Mixner discovered a positive and thriving gay and lesbian world. In such an atmosphere he realized that he had to come out to his family.

When he told his sister and her husband that he was gay, they were immediately accepting. However, his mother and father were shocked and angry. Eventually, they retreated from their immediate reactions and managed a measure of acceptance, though it took his father 19 years to do so.

In 1976, Mixner, having accepted an invitation to manage Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley's reelection campaign, relocated to southern California. In Los Angeles, he soon met the man who was to become his lover and business partner, Peter Scott, a handsome politically savvy businessman.

Through Scott, Mixner became a part of a group that was soon to found the nation's first gay and lesbian political action committee, MECLA, or the Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles, which would eventually become a major player in Los Angeles politics and a model for similar political action committees elsewhere.

Even as Scott and Mixner worked out a complicated relationship, the Anita Bryant campaign in Miami in 1976 impinged on Mixner's mental health. Suffering severe depression caused by--or at least exacerbated by--the homophobic campaign in Florida, Mixner experienced a breakdown that threatened his career. When he recovered, he and Scott decided to launch a consulting firm, which they named Mixner/Scott.

The Anita Bryant campaign in Florida soon had its counterpart in California, when a state senator named John Briggs attempted to use her anti-gay crusade to launch himself into the California governorship. He sponsored an initiative to make it illegal for homosexuals to teach in the public schools or for any teacher to speak favorably of homosexuality. The first polls showed that over 75 percent of Californians supported the initiative.

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