One, Inc. v. Olsen – 1958

In January 13, 1958, for the first time in American history, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of free speech for homosexuals in the case of One, Inc. v. Olsen, in an era of anti-homosexual sentiment. “ONE: The Homosexual Magazine,” was developed out of the Mattachine Society in order to make the gay rights movement more mainstream through the publication. One, Inc. began publishing the ONE Magazine in January 1953, making it the first pro-gay publication in the United States. The magazine began selling openly in the streets of Los Angeles, but there was resistance from two important institutions, the U.S. Post Office Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The U.S. Postal Office and the FBI felt that the material included in the publication was obscene; there it could not be mailed. The magazine sued and the case went quickly to court. The first two victories went to the post office, as the trial court and Court of Appeals sided with the institution. In a surprising turn of events, the Supreme Court picked up the case and cited Roth v. United States (a case in which the Court held that obscenity was not “within the area of constitutionally protected speech or press,”) to reverse the decision made by the appellate court without having to hear the oral arguments. It was a victory for free speech and gay rights across the nation. The anti-gay sentiment was strong in the 1950s. The victory for ONE magazine meant that the movement could mobilize and spread their message through any form of media, allowing the gay rights movement to expand to all parts of the country. This is only one of the major Supreme Court victories for the gay rights movement.


Highleyman, L. (2007, March 22). | The Bay Area Reporter Online. Retrieved April 22, 2014, from

Supreme Court of the United States (1958). One, Incorporated v. Olesen: 355 U.S. 371 (1958). Retrieved from


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