1951 - 1990

Criminal Justice: 1955

California Supreme Court rules in People v. Cahan that illegally obtained evidence is inadmissible in California courts.

LGBT Rights: 1955

Phyllis Lyon, Del Martin and other lesbians form the Daughters of Bilitis as a social group for San Francisco lesbians. The group grows into a national lesbian organization.

State legislature passes a law requiring the revocation of a liquor license if a bar is a "resort for sexual perverts."

Dissent: 1956

Frank Wilkinson refuses to testify before HUAC in Los Angeles. HUAC votes to recommend that the House cite him in contempt, but the larger body does not do so.

Immigrants' Rights: 1956

Voters approve Proposition 13, repealing the “Alien Land Law” 43 years after it was initially passed.

LGBT Rights: 1956

First issue of The LadderFirst issue of The LadderDaughters of Bilitis begins publishing “The Ladder,” a magazine by and for lesbians that eventually is circulated internationally.

San Mateo County sheriff raids Hazel’s Inn, a Pacifica bar, and arrests 87 men for being “lewd and dissolute.”

Immigrants' Rights: 1957

Immigration and Naturalization Service institutes a “confession” program providing amnesty from prosecution for Chinese immigrants who confess to entering the U.S. under false identities. The program is in effect until 1965.

Censorship: 1957

Lawrence FerlinghettiLawrence FerlinghettiSan Francisco police officers arrest City Lights bookstore owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti and bookseller Shigeyoshi Murao on obscenity charges for selling copies of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and other Poems. The ACLU of Northern California defends them, and rallies the literary community in support. Judge Clayton Horn finds Ferlinghetti not guilty.


Hear Allen Ginsberg read part of “Howl:"


Censorship, LGBT Rights: 1958

In ONE Inc. v. Olsen, the first case before the U.S. Supreme Court dealing with homosexuality, the high court rules that homosexual content does not automatically make a publication “obscene.”

Dissent: 1958

Frank Wilkinson refuses to testify before HUAC after being subpoenaed to an Atlanta hearing. The House of Representatives cites him in contempt of Congress. In 1961, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds his conviction, and he is sent to federal prison.

U.S. Supreme Court, in Speiser v. Randall and the companion case First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. County of Los Angeles, reverses the California Supreme Court and invalidates California’s mandatory oaths for veterans and churches to qualify for property tax exemptions.

Labor: 1959

State legislature passes a Fair Employment Practices Act, prohibiting racial, religious, and national origin discrimination in employment.
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