Jon Hinson

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Jon Hinson
Jon Hinson.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 4th district
In office
January 3, 1979 – April 13, 1981
Preceded by Thad Cochran
Succeeded by Wayne Dowdy
Personal details
Born Jon Clifton Hinson
(1942-03-16)March 16, 1942
Tylertown, Walthall County
Mississippi
Died July 21, 1995(1995-07-21) (aged 53)
Silver Spring, Maryland
Resting place Cremation
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Cynthia Hinson (divorced)
Children No children
Alma mater University of Mississippi
Military service
Service/branch United States Marine Corps Reserve

Jon Clifton Hinson (March 16, 1942 – July 21, 1995) was a Republican U.S. Representative for Mississippi's 4th congressional district from 1979 to 1981. Following his 1981 resignation following arrest for engaging in a homosexual act, he became an LGBT activist in metropolitan Washington D.C.

Early life[edit]

Born in Tylertown in Walthall County in southwestern Mississippi, Hinson attended public schools. In 1959, he worked as a page for Democratic U. S. Representative John Bell Williams, who subsequently became governor of Mississippi in 1968.

Hinson graduated from the University of Mississippi at Oxford in 1964, and joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve, in which he served until 1970.

Career[edit]

Hinson worked on the U.S. House staff as a doorman in 1967, and then served on the staffs of Representatives Charles H. Griffin, a Democrat, and Thad Cochran, a Republican. In 1978, Cochran ran successfully for the United States Senate, and Hinson was elected to succeed Cochran in the House. With 51.6 percent of the vote, Hinson defeated the Democrat John Hampton Stennis, the son of U.S. Senator John C. Stennis, who finished with 26.4 percent of the vote. The remaining ballots were cast for independent candidates.

Controversies[edit]

Hinson survived a fire on October 24, 1977, at the Washington, D.C. Gay Cinema Follies. Firefighters found him under a pile of bodies; he was one of only four men rescued.[1]

In 1980, Hinson admitted that in 1976, while an aide to Cochran, he had been arrested for committing an obscene act[2] after he exposed himself to an undercover policeman at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. Hinson then denied that he was homosexual and blamed his problems on alcoholism. He also said that he had reformed and refused to yield to demands that he resign. He won re-election with a plurality of 38.97 percent of the vote. The Independent Leslie B. McLemore polled 29.8 percent, and Democrat Britt Singletary received 29.4 percent.

Hinson, who was married, was arrested again on February 4, 1981, and charged with attempted sodomy[3] for performing oral sex on a male employee of the Library of Congress in a restroom of the House of Representatives. After the investigation, he was charged with sodomy.

At the time, homosexual acts, even between consenting adults, were a criminal offense. The charge was a felony that could have resulted in up to ten years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. Since both parties were consenting adults (and social attitudes were changing), the United States Attorney's office reduced the charge to a misdemeanor. Facing a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine, Hinson pleaded not guilty to a charge of attempted sodomy the following day and was released without bail pending a trial scheduled for May 4, 1981. Soon thereafter, he checked himself into a District of Columbia-area hospital for professional care.[4] Hinson later received a 30-day jail sentence, which was suspended, and a year's probation, on condition that he continue counseling and treatment.[5]

Resignation and later life[edit]

Hinson resigned on April 13, 1981, just three months into his second term in the House. He said that his resignation had been "the most painful and difficult decision of my life." He was succeeded by Democrat Wayne Dowdy, who won the special election held in the summer of 1981.

Soon afterward, Hinson acknowledged that he was homosexual and became an activist for gay rights. He later helped to organize the lobbying group "Virginians for Justice" and fought against the ban on gays in the military. He also was a founding member of the Fairfax Lesbian and Gay Citizens Association in Fairfax County, Virginia. He never returned to Mississippi but lived in the Washington area, first in Alexandria, Virginia, and then Silver Spring, Maryland.

Death[edit]

Hinson died of respiratory failure resulting from AIDS in Silver Spring, Maryland, at the age of fifty-three.[6]

Hinson's body was cremated. The ashes were buried in his native Tylertown, Mississippi, after a private service. By then divorced from his wife Cynthia, Hinson was survived by a brother, Robert Hinson of Gulfport, Mississippi.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Additional sources[edit]

  • "Hinson, Facing a Morals Charge, Shuns Clamor to Quit Congress," The New York Times, 9 March 1981, A18;
  • Associated Press, "Jon Hinson Dies at 53," July 25, 1995;
  • Art Harris, "Hinson's Memory Haunts His Mississippi District," Washington Post, 17 June 1981.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Thad Cochran
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 4th congressional district

January 3, 1979 – April 13, 1981
Succeeded by
Wayne Dowdy