NACHO 1968 and the Homosexual Bill of Rights

By the end of 1967, NACHO had outlined a basic statement of purpose and defined itself as a central force in the future of the gay rights movement. Its 1968 meeting would continue this work with the passage of a Homosexual Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, its major success would be overshadowed by radically changing political circumstances as the 1960s came to an end.

The 1968 NACHO meeting was held in Chicago between August 12 and 17, two weeks before the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Conference members met at The Trip, a three-story gay bar near the Chicago River. One decision at the conference was to adopt “Gay is good” as NACHO’s official motto. Modeled on the phrase “Black is beautiful,” the NACHO phrase aimed to “replace a wishy-washy negativism toward homosexuality with a no-nonsense positivism.”

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A map showing the locations of popular spots for gay men in Chicago, including The Trip.

The most important decision made by the delegates in Chicago was the passage of a Homosexual Bill of Rights. The idea, and draft language, for the document was proposed by delegates from the Society of Individual Rights of San Francisco. After a few minor amendments, the conference passed the text as follows:

  1. Private, consensual sex acts between person over the age of consent shall not be offenses.
  2. Solicitation for any sex act shall not be an offense except upon the filing of a complaint by an aggrieved party, not a police officer or agent.
  3. A person’s sexual orientation or practice shall not be a factor in the granting or renewing of federal security clearances, visas, or the granting of citizenship.
  4. Service in and discharge from the armed forces and eligibility for veterans’ benefits shall be without reference to homosexuality.
  5. A person’s sexual orientation or practice shall not affect his eligibility for employment with federal, state, or local governments or with private employers.


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Four members of Chicago's Mattachine Midwest at the 1968 NACHO conference. On the left side of the photograph are Tom Erwin (standing) and Bill Kelley (seated). On the rights side are Jim Bradford (standing) and Roland Keith (seated).

Along with the five points, the Bill of Rights also listed Areas for Immediate Reform. These areas called for concrete societal or legal changes that would ensure the enumerated rights, such as the ending of police entrapment of gay men or halting the practice of classifying homosexuality as an illness. The Homosexual Bill of Rights, and its accompanying Areas for Reform, built on the initial Statement of Purpose passed in principle at the first NACHO meeting in 1966. Now, these calls for rights were NACHO’s official positions. Furthermore, by introducing the Areas for Immediate Reform, NACHO outlined concrete steps to achieve its goals that were not present in the 1966 document.  

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The text of the Bill of Rights passed at the 1968 NACHO conference. 

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Co-founder of the Daughters of Bilitis Del Martin speaks from the podium at the 1968 NACHO conference.