“I am the most tolerant person on that of anybody in this shop,” Nixon said in newly released tapes that were secretly recorded during his administration.
Kissinger agreed but thought those kind of people should keep it a secret — especially the gays in his administration. Nixon may have actually been ahead of his time, though.
“They’re born that way. You know that. That’s all. I think they are,” Nixon said.
He said there were a number of intelligent people who were gay. The transcript was released by Vanity Fair.
The discussion must have been in relation to civil rights laws. In December 1971, Nixon issued an executive order requiring contractors to develop “an acceptable affirmative action program.” In 1972, Nixon endorsed congressional passage of the Equal Rights Amendment that would have put equal rights for woman into the constitution had it passed enough states. The Texas legislature was the first state to approve the ERA.
So the conversation seems to be in the context of what rights should be protected by national policy.
“It’s one thing for people to, you know, like some people we know, who would do it discreetly, but to make that a national policy,” Nixon said.
But Nixon was no champion of gay rights in public. In May, Nixon made this statement:
“I do not think that you glorify homosexuality on public television. You don’t glorify it anymore than you glorify whores.”
The Vanity Fair article, however, also quoted from a conversation in July 1971 where they discussed whether Kissinger should resign because of a Newsweek article discussing Kissinger’s religion. He is Jewish.