RLF Makes a National Impact: International Womens Year


Beth Marschak and Barbara Weinstock in the early 1990s.

The women in Richmond would have a national impact on organizations and on policy decisions. One major event on the women’s rights front was the International Women’s Year. President Jimmy Carter convened the National Women’s Conference of 1977 with Executive Order No. 11979, consequently, states also held individual conferences. Women of RLF were vital to the process locally and ultimately worked cooperatively with other state groups and national organizations to make sure lesbian issues were part of the process.

Beth Marschak worked with Bessida White, a atraight African American lawyer and great ally for RLF and the LGBT community, to make sure that lesbian rights were included in the Virginia International Women’s Year meeting. Marschak worked very strategically to make sure that lesbians were included in the process and ultimately lesbian resolutions were included as part of the Virginia platform.

Marschak had worked closely with Jean O’Leary of the NGTF, and a member of the Commission for the Observance of the International Women’s Year to craft 3 resolutions and a strategy to get them included on both the state and national level. The three resolutions were a general anti discrimination resolution, one focusing on child custody and one that called for the repeal of the sodomy statute. The local group agreed easily on the first two and eventually agreed with the last, despite the view that the sodomy statute was really only a gay men’s issue.

In the state meeting, Marschak was elected as a delegate from Virginia to the International Women’s Year Convention in Dallas, TX. Two other representatives of the Richmond lesbian community also attended; Barbara Weinstock attended as a board member of the NGTF and Janet Kramer was a member of RLF that also attended. The three RLF members who attended were important in making the lesbian voice heard on a national level.[1]


  1. Suzanne Shepherd, Master’s Thesis: “Dignity, Recognition and Equality: Lesbian Feminists in Richmond, VA 1974 – 1979," 2007