Bio: Marie Equi

Dr. Marie Equi

Marie Equi, born on this day in 1872, was a radical medical doctor, gay rights advocate, Wobbly, and Anarchist convicted of sedition for speaking out against American involvement in World War I.

Providing care for poor and working-class patients, she also regularly provided birth control information and abortions at a time when both were illegal. As a political activist, she was a vocal opponent of World War I and advocated civic and economic reforms, including the women’s right to vote and an eight-hour workday.

After witnessing first-hand the brutality of police repression of a cannery workers’ strike, Equi aligned herself with anarchists and the radical labor movement. While participating in the strike, she was clubbed by a policeman after becoming enraged at watching a pregnant women be dragged away by police.

Equi was also a lesbian who maintained a primary relationship with Harriet Frances Speckart (1883 – 1927) for more than a decade. The two women adopted an infant and raised the child in an early U.S. example of a same-sex family. In 1918, Equi was convicted under the Sedition Act for speaking out against U.S. involvement in World War I. She was sentenced to a three-year term at San Quentin State Prison, but was released after ten months.

(Contributed by Gwyllm Llwydd)

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