Gay Rights Minority Report; Democratic National Convention; Foster


Gay Rights Minority Report; Democratic National Convention; Foster


Madeline Davis

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“In 1972, [Madeline Davis] was the first out lesbian delegate elected to the Democratic National Convention (DNC), held that year in Miami, Florida, in support of presidential candidate George McGovern. Davis, along with Jim Foster of San Francisco, an openly gay man, was the first lesbian to address the DNC in a speech urging the party to include gay rights as part of the 1972 Democratic Platform. One year earlier, in 1971, Foster, along with lesbian activists Del Martin, Phyllis Lyon, and Beth Elliott, co-founded the Alice B. Toklas Memorial Democratic Club in San Francisco, the first organization for gay Democrats in the country.

Though the pair was given a total of twenty minutes to speak, Foster, who went first, did not take the stage until 5 AM on the morning of July 12th. When Davis spoke, at approximately 5:10 AM, she informed the audience that gays and lesbians “suffer the gamut of repression, from being totally ignored to having our heads smashed and our blood spilled in the streets.” She went on to affirm her belief that all Americans deserve basic civil rights — including gays and lesbians. Though gay rights were not formally included in the Democratic Platform that year, that Davis and Foster were allowed to address the DNC at all was a milestone in the consolidation of gay political power.” –excerpt from Madeline Davis: Lesbian Delegate, 06/14/2018,


The Madeline Davis LGBTQ Archive of Western New York

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Archives & Special Collections Department, E. H. Butler Library

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Gay Rights Minority Report; Democratic National Convention; Foster