The Feminist Movement and the Gay Movement: How Are They Related?, (12 October 1975) Washington, D. C


Laurie Morton was a prominent member of the Radical Women organization based in Seattle, Washington. Founded in 1967, the group claims to be the oldest socialist feminist organization in existence.1 As a social feminist group, its members were committed to “exposing, resisting, and eliminating the inequities of women’s existence.”2 In embodying this socialist philosophy, Radical Women targeted issues of class and education, playing an important role in advancing policy and organizing socialist, feminist, and gay activists during the 1960s and 1970s.

The founder of Radical Women, Gloria Martin, cited support of the bussing program integrating Black and white students as the galvanizing moment for socialist feminist activism in Seattle.3 During this time of social upheaval throughout the late 1960’s and 1970’s, LGBTQ+ rights also became a key issue in the Seattle activist community.4 However, the socialist feminist movement’s activism extended beyond LGBTQ+ issues where new feminist groups, for example, influenced the passage of the Washington Marriage Dissolution Act that was backed by the University of Washington Women’s Commission, among others.5 After these initial political efforts, the Radical Women ultimately published the Radical Women Manifesto that focused on the roots of women’s oppression.6

The Radical Women battled with other feminist and gay groups in Seattle to promote the rights of lesbian feminists.7 Laurie Morton served as the official liaison between Radical Women and other local collectives in her work with the Seattle Counseling Service for Sexual Minorities (SCS). Morton aimed to push the predominately gay male organization to expand their educational outreach to include lesbian women. The official Radical Women mission demanded that SCS community symposiums involve the “entire” gay community and not just the male members.8 Aside from community education, the Radical Women also engaged in legal advocacy for women in the Seattle area. Morton, who worked as a paralegal, assisted in a high-profile custody case sponsored by the Radical Women.9 The Radical Women legal team contended that the defendant, “Comrade Teri,” was under a personal and political attack for her feminism and radical beliefs. According to Martin, the case was successfully defended, and Comrade Teri retained custody of her children.10 By 1975, Morton had emerged as an outspoken lesbian-feminist leader.

In the fall of 1975, Morton was invited to the Bicentennial Conference on Gays and the Federal Government as a keynote speaker. Her speech utilized a socialist, class-based analysis to advocate for greater co-operation between the feminist and gay movements.11 Her speech was positively received and widely read across the gay, lesbian, and socialist communities.12 By 1977, Morton became the Chair of the organization, and with this new title, she called for coalition-building among the progressive groups.13 For Morton, total liberation required empowering women and abolishing class structures.14 In a 1977 address before the assembly at the Radical Women conference, Morton asserted the importance of bringing socialist ideas to the workplace and supporting the labor movement.15 Morton’s speech captures the political work of the Radical Women, who remain active today, collaborating with groups like the Action Childcare Coalition, the Feminist Coordinating Council, and the Coalition for Protective Legislation.16



  1. Radical Women, “Preamble,” in The Radical Women Manifesto: Socialist Feminist Theory, Program, and Organizational Structure (Seattle, WA: Red Letter Press, 2001), 17-19.
  2. Radical Women, “Preamble.” As explained in Radical Women, social feminists wanted to ensure the “survival for an entire sex” by addressing “the social and material source of sexism: the capitalist form of production and distribution of products, characterized by intrinsic class, race, sex, and caste oppression.”
  3. Gloria Martin, Socialist Feminism: The First Decade, 1966-1976 (Seattle, WA: Freedom Socialist Publications, 1986), 41.
  4. Gary Atkins, Gay Seattle: Stories of Exile and Belonging (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2013), 107–30.
  5. Martin, Socialist Feminism: The First Decade, 1966-1976, 41-43. This act allowed married couples to file for divorce if the marriage was “irretrievably broken.” Notably, the Court could deem the marriage “irretrievably broken,” even if one spouse disagreed. This extended important protections to women seeking divorce from abusive or controlling spouses.
  6. Martin, Socialist Feminism, 44.
  7. Atkins, Gay Seattle: Stories of Exile and Belonging, 145-146.
  8. Martin, Socialist Feminism, 60-61.
  9. Martin, Socialist Feminism, 76–78.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Laurie Morton,” The Feminist Movement and Gay Movement: How Are They Related?”, para. 5-8.
  12. Atkins, Gay Seattle, xxix; Martin, Socialist Feminism, 44.
  13. “FSP Conference Marks Decade of Socialist Feminism,” Freedom Socialist Newspaper, Summer 1976,
  14. Joanne Ward, “Radical Women Conference,” Freedom Socialist Newspaper, Spring 1977,
  15. Ward, “Radical Women Conference.”
  16. “Radical Women – Socialist Feminism in Action!,” Radical Women Organization, 2021,