Fall 1977: Professor Gearhart Helps Fight Initiative That Would Have Banned Gay Teachers

Thursday, October 05, 2017

BAY AREA REPORTER -- Yet few people who did not live through that era are familiar with the fight against Briggs and its lasting impacts, as evidenced at a recent talk about Proposition 6 held at San Francisco State University. Few of the 140 people in the audience, mainly students, raised their hands when asked if they knew about the Briggs initiative.

“There was tremendous oppression of gays and lesbians under this time. There were many states in the country where homosexuality was illegal and you could be arrested and lose your job,” recalled Gwenn Craig, 66, a lesbian who co-managed the San Franciscans Against Proposition 6 campaign committee.

At the talk at SF State, Craig credited Briggs' homophobic rants in the press for driving volunteers to the No on 6 efforts. The public faces of the campaign were Milk and Sally Gearhart, the first out lesbian to receive a tenure-track position at SF State in 1973, as they co-chaired the United Fund Against the Briggs Initiative and took on Briggs in several televised debates.