In 1974 the Philadelphia City Council held hearings on Bill 1275. If passed, the bill would have added sexual orientation to the city’s Fair Practices Ordinance, outlawing anti-gay discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. The bill was debated for more than a year and by late 1975, it had become clear that it would die in committee. While the Gay Activist Alliance planned to mourn the “death” of the bill with a silent vigil at City Hall, the newly formed Dyketactics, a group of young feminist lesbians, organized a protest of their own.
On December 4, Dyketactics entered City Hall armed with banners, signs, and a megaphone. They raised their fists during the opening prayer and after the meeting began, some chanted, “Free 1275!” Within moments, the Civil Disobedience Squad–a unit of plain-clothes police officers formed in 1964 to handle protesters–brutally beat and dragged the women from the Council Chamber. Six of the battered protesters later filed a fed¬er¬al law¬suit against the city of Philadelphia and the po¬lice de¬part¬ment, citing ex¬cess¬ive use of force. Although the defendants were found not guilty, Dyketactics et al. v. Fencl et al. marked a milestone in the struggle for gay rights.