1958 January 13

Supreme Court Ends Post Office Ban on Homosexual Materials


The Supreme Court, in One, Inc. v. Olesen, ended the Post Office ban on homosexual materials. The Court issued a per curiam decision on this day, citing its landmark Roth v. United States decision on obscenity (decided on June 24, 1957). The court did not comment on the legal status of homosexuality, but the decision marked the first occasion in which the Court ruled on the free press rights of material related to homosexuality.

The idea for One, Inc. arose at a meeting of the Mattachine Society (founded on November 11, 1950 as the first national gay men’s rights group) in Los Angeles in October 1952, and the first issue was published in January 1953. The Post Office declared the magazine obscene and barred it from the mails in 1954. One, Inc. sued and succeeded in achieving the verdict on this day.

Learn more: Deb Price and Joyce Murdock, Courting Justice: Lesbians and Gay Men v. The Supreme Court (2001)

Read about the history of the GLBT revolution: Lillian Faderman, The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle (2015)

Visit the LGBT History Museum in San Francisco: http://www.glbthistory.org/museum/

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