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Research reveals how magazine censorship in the 50s and 60s laid the foundation for future LGBTQ rights law

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Expert available to speak on how First Amendment law was both a weapon and a shield for the LGBTQ community

The Stonewall Riots often are cited as the beginning of the LGBTQ movement. However, recent research from Jason Shepard, chair and professor of communications at Cal State Fullerton, highlights how First Amendment law was both a weapon and shield in the expansion of LGBTQ rights.

Shepard can provide an in-depth perspective and researched-based context to LGBTQ rights discussions. His research examines the legal history of three 1950s and early 1960s cases in which the Supreme Court overturned the censorship of magazines by and for sexual minorities, and how that allowed LGBTQ Americans develop identity and community, laid the foundation for the future of LGBTQ rights law. Shepard summarizes his research in this one-minute video.  

ONE magazine, published from 1953 to 1967, was the first widely distributed LGBT magazine in the U.S. It was banned from the mail in 1954. 

“The cases I examined are another reminder of how powerful the U.S. Supreme Court is and has been in the history of our democracy. In 1958, the Supreme Court decided that America’s first gay-rights magazine couldn’t be banned from the U.S. mail. The decision allowed ONE magazine to connect gays and lesbians to a broader subculture that later launched the gay liberation movement.” 

Read Shepard’s research in “The First Amendment and the Roots of LGBTQ Rights Law: Censorship in the Early Homophile Era, 1958-1962″ published in the William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender and Social Justice

Jason Shepard, chair and professor of communications, teaches courses in the communications law and journalism. He has authored several books, including: “Privileging the Press: Confidential Sources, Journalism Ethics and the First Amendment,” “Major Principles of Media Law,” and “Ethical Issues in Communication Professions: New Agendas in Communications.” He writes “Online Legalities,” a regular column in California Publisher. Shepard also has published research in Yale Journal of Law and TechnologyCommunication Law and PolicyJournal of Media Law & EthicsNexus Journal of Law and Policy, and Drake Law Review. Shepard’s research has been cited widely, including by a federal appellate court and in the New York Times