James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Marriage Equality

Yesterday's ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States in favor of same sex marriage provides the perfect opportunity to highlight a new collection in the Hormel Center Archives. In addition, there are two related collections in the San Francisco History Center that are worth mentioning.

Scrapbook 1 (inside front cover), June 1998,
Molly McKay and Davina Kotulski Marriage Scrapbooks (GLC 96),
San Francisco Public Library.

In October 2014, Molly McKay Williams donated the Molly McKay and Davina Kotulski Marriage Scrapbooks (GLC 96). These 22 scrapbooks document McKay's and Kotulski's joint and individual efforts to attain marriage equality in California from 1998-2012. The volumes contain clippings, correspondence and email, photographs, speeches, event programs, flyers, notes and ephemera. There is significant material on the organizations Equality California and Marriage Equality USA, and there are copies of legal documents relating to marriage equality.

Davina S. Kotulski, a clinical psychologist, and Molly B. McKay, an attorney, met in 1996. They decided to get married in September 1998 and, in June of that year, participated in the San Francisco Pride Parade, fully clad in wedding attire.

Scrapbook 1 (inside front cover), June 1998,
Molly McKay and Davina Kotulski Marriage Scrapbooks (GLC 96),
San Francisco Public Library.

A photograph of the couple appeared on the front page of the following day's San Francisco Examiner and would be featured on news outlets worldwide in the following fourteen years they spent together. Although both had been marriage equality activists since 1996, this feature marked the beginning of the pair's role as a "poster couple" for the fight for marriage equality in California in the 2000s. In February 2004, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom authorized issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. McKay and Kotulski were the seventeenth same-sex couple to be married on February 12th.

The photo below was taken in February 2004 at San Francisco's City Hall. Although we do not know who the married couple is, the shot captures their joy as well as the bustle of media and other activity in the background.

San Francisco City Hall, February 2004,
Shades of LGBTQI, Shades of San Francisco,
San Francisco Public Library

The image was collected during the Shades of LGBTQI photo day at the Harvey Milk Eureka Valley Branch. On Shades photo days, held in different San Francisco neighborhoods, community members are invited to bring in historic photographs of their families, workplaces, and neighborhoods so that these photos can be copied and added to the San Francisco History Center's Photograph Collection. The Shades of LGBTQI albums are available to view in the San Francisco History Center and in the  Harvey Milk Eureka Valley Branch.

Nearly 4,000 applications and licenses were issued to same-sex couples from February-March 2004. The California Supreme Court halted the marriages on March 11, 2004, and invalidated the licenses on August 12. On August 28, 2013, Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu transferred these licenses to the library. The San Francisco Office of the Assessor-Recorder Same-Sex Marriage Records (SFH 89) are available through the San Francisco History Center.

These three collections provide glimpses into the events of the past two decades. Together they broaden our understanding of the issues, challenges, and emotions that have affected the marriage equality movement.

The Molly McKay and Davina Kotulski Marriage Scrapbooks (GLC 96), the Shades of San Francisco photograph albums, and the San Francisco Office of the Assessor-Recorder Same-Sex Marriage Records (SFH 89) are available through the San Francisco History Center, 6th floor, Main Library.

Friday, June 12, 2015


Gay Freedom Day Parade on Montgomery Street, taken between 1972 and 1978 (GLC 35 Harvey Milk Archives-Scott Smith Collection)

In anticipation of the Pride parade at the end of the month, we're highlighting some materials from years past. We've drawn from the ephemera collections in the library's Hormel and San Francisco History centers, and we've included some photos from the Harvey Milk Archives-Scott Smith Collection.

1974 Gay Freedom Celebration (GLC Ephemera Collection: Parades)

The first thing you notice is that the event has been called by many names: Gay Freedom Day, Gay Liberation Day, San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Celebration and Parade, and SF Pride are just a few of the variations.

1975 Gay Freedom Day Parade route (GLC Ephemera Collection: Parades)

The next thing you'll see is that the parade routes and final locations have changed over the years. Many of the early parades started in the Financial District, continued to Polk Street and ended at Civic Center. The SF Pride website has a nice history of Pride events in San Francisco with a link to additional information on the grand marshals, parade line up, maps, and photos.

1975 Gay Liberation Day program cover (GLC Ephemera Collection: Parades)

The programs usually include the parade route, a notice of the events and entertainment schedule, and, increasingly, advertising. The early programs are quite slender, often a single newspaper-sized sheet folded into fourths. By 1975 there are over 35 pages, and by 2000 the programs are hundreds of pages long.

1975 Gay Liberation Day program, p.35 (GLC Ephemera Collection: Parades)

The programs provide wonderful snapshots of the time and include notices for events, businesses, political races, and organizations. I particularly like the announcement of the Gay Liberation Rally on the same page as the Jockey Short contest.

1977 Gay Freedom Day Parade business suit flyer (GLC Ephemera Collection: Parades)

Later files include flyers as well. Mind you, what you wore to the parade in 1977 was just as important as it is today. What's in fashion may have changed, but being fashionable never goes out of style.

Gay Pride Postcard to Anita Bryant (GLC Ephemera Collection: Parades, 1977)

The 1977 parade was well attended and well photographed. This was largely in response to the attack on LGBT rights that took place in Dade County, Florida. Anita Bryant led the well publicized Save Our Children campaign which sought to overturn an anti-discrimination ordinance. She proved to be a lightning rod for the LGBT community and its allies.

San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade on Market Street with signs of Fascists and Anita Bryant (GLC 35 Harvey Milk Archives-Scott Smith Collection, June 1977)

We limited the scope of this post to pre-1982 events but there is a wealth of material from 1982 to the present. Let me leave you with a photo of the crowd filling Civic Center plaza with the old Main Library behind. Wishing you all a very happy Pride!

On Parade! August 1981 (SFHC Ephemera Collection: Homosexuals. Gay Freedom Day Parade)

The San Francisco History Center Ephemera Collection and the GLC Ephemera Collection are available through the San Francisco History Center, 6th floor, Main Library. The photographs are available during the hours for the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection.