Marie Equi

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Marie Equi

Marie Diana Equi (born April 7, 1872 in New Bedford , Massachusetts , † July 13, 1952 in Portland , Oregon ) was an American doctor, suffragette, opponent of the war and trade unionist. She was a lesbian , one of her life companions and the like. a. birth control advocate Margaret Sanger and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn , a popular organizer and speaker for Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). As an opponent of the war, a radical socialist and a practicing abortion advocate, she was persecuted by government agencies and served several prison terms.


The daughter of Italian-Irish parents moved to The Dalles in Oregon in 1893 to Bess Holcomb, with whom she had a lifelong friendship and with whom she led a so-called Boston Marriage , which was understood as a (socially recognized) residential partnership between two women. In the same year, at the age of 21, Equi made headlines in the press as "Miss Aqua" because she beat up her friend's employer with a riding whip on the street because she was underpaid - to the delight of a sympathetic crowd.

In 1903 Equi was one of the first women to complete her medical degree and from then on worked as a doctor. During this time she met the young Harriet Speckart, her then medical assistant, and began a relationship with her that lasted 20 years. Despite great attempts at intimidation on the part of the industrial family Harriets - the use of private detectives against them and threats of disinheritance - the two women stuck to each other. In 1915 the couple adopted a child, a girl, who - grown up emancipated - later flew over the Northwest Pacific as a young woman and as the youngest female pilot.

Equi was one of the few doctors in Portland who performed abortions. This commitment later led to the Ruth Barrett Abortion Clinic, which did not close again until 1950, in the McCarthy era. Equi, together with her befriended doctors and medical assistants, took special care of the problems of working women.

In 1913 she was arrested for the first time on a women's strike by the Oregon Packing Co. and experienced such brutality by the police that from then on she openly campaigned for anarchist ideas and the destruction of capital . Soon she joined the Industrial Workers of the World .

During her political work, her private life was repeatedly spied on by the US Department of Justice, a forerunner of the FBI . Today there are documents about her affairs with various women. In 1916 she was arrested again and met, loved and loved the birth control advocate Margaret Sanger in prison. In 1918 she was charged with incitement as one of many opponents of the war and sentenced to 3 years in prison.

In 1928, a year after Harriet Speckart's death, she met Elizabeth Gurley Flynn on her tour for the campaign to save the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, who were threatened with execution . Equi treated the sick Flynn and became her lover.

Marie Equi died in Portland's Fairlawn Hospital in 1952 at the age of 80.

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