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The Council on Religion and the Homosexual was a San Francisco-based organization founded in 1964 for the purpose of joining homosexual activists and religious leaders.



The CRH was formed in 1964 by Glide Memorial Methodist Church, as well as Daughters of Bilitis founders Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin. It included representatives of Methodist, Episcopal, Lutheran, and United Church of Christ denominations.[1]


1964 Fundraiser

On December 31, 1964, CRH held a costume party to raise money for the new organization. When the ministers informed the San Francisco Police Department of their intentions, the SFPD attempted to force the rented hall's owners to cancel the event.[2] After a further meeting between the ministers and police, which resulted in an agreement not to interfere with the dance, guests arrived to find police snapping pictures of each of them as they entered and left, in a blatant attempt to intimidate.[2] When police demanded entry into the hall, three CRH-employed lawyers explained to them that under California law, the event was a private party and they could not enter unless they bought tickets. The lawyers were then arrested, as was a ticket-taker, on charges of obstructing an officer.[3]

Seven of the ministers who were in attendance that night held a press conference the following morning, where they described the pre-event negotiations with police and accused them of "intimidation, broken promises and obvious hostility."[2][3] One minister compared the SFPD to the Gestapo.[3]

When the arrested lawyers came to trial, they were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, which saw the lawyers' arrest as an attempt to "intimidate attorneys who represent unpopular groups."[2] Charges were dropped before the Defense had presented its case.[2]

Candidate's Night

In 1965, CRH held an event where local politicians could be questioned about issues concerning gay and lesbian people, including police intimidation. The event marks the first known instance of "the gay vote" being sought, which led lesbian activist Barbara Gittings to say "It was remarkable. That was something that [gay] people in San Francisco were way ahead of the rest of the country in doing."[1]


  1. ^ a b Licata, Salvatore J.; Robert P. Peterson (1982). Historical Perspectives on Homosexuality. Routledge. p. 175. ISBN 0917724275. 
  2. ^ a b c d e D'Emilio, John (1998). Sexual politics, sexual communities: the making of a homosexual minority in the United States, 1940-1970. University of Chicago Press. pp. 193–195. ISBN 0226142671. 
  3. ^ a b c Shilts, Randy (1982). The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk. St. Martin's Press. pp. 53–60. ISBN 0312560850. 

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