Gay rights law … 50 years ago

by on February 5, 2009  •  In Uncategorized

Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin has re-published a fascinating report on a homophile rights conference held in Los Angeles in 1959. The report originally appeared in The Ladder, the publication of the Daughters of Bilitis. What follows is the  portion describing the group's discussion of a recent legal victory in stopping police from closing gay bars, which provides a taste of how important that issue was in the Eisenhower era.

Del Martin, president of the Daughters of Bilitis, San Francisco, gave a resume of the purpose of The Ladder and its contents during the last year.  One of the most recent examples of progress for the homophile was evidenced in the successful legal battle to keep gay bars from being closed down, or any bars, simply because some or most of their clientele happened to be homosexuals. Miss Martin was particularly pleased, not only because the civil rights of homosexuals had been upheld but because the homophiles themselves, by their constructive activities as reported in The Ladder, had been of some help in the case.

Morris Lowenthal, San Francisco attorney, had contacted Miss Martin for copies of The Ladder in work on the Amicus Curiae brief for the “Mary’s First And Last Chance (Bar)” case. The appealing brief gave a history of the homophile movement in the United States and in particular, gave excerpts from the September and October 1958 Ladder issues. It also included the two issues in question as exhibits in the case.


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