Margaret Hogan

In 1965, Hogan opened Chez-Elle (French for “her house”), a ground-breaking lesbian nightclub at the corner of Summerfield and Cookman avenues. At the time, the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Commission frequently raided gay and lesbian bars, harassing patrons and threatening to revoke a bar’s liquor license for serving a gay clientele. Serving homosexuals was automatically labeled “offensive to common decency and public morals.” In 1967, Hogan joined in, and helped finance, a lawsuit brought by Manny’s Den in New Brunswick and Val’s in Atlantic City, after the Alcoholic Beverage Commission threatened to revoke the licenses of all three bars for serving gay patrons. The case eventually made its way to the New Jersey Supreme Court. In a landmark Nov. 6, 1967 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the ABC was not justified in suspending or revoking liquor licenses because “apparent homosexuals” were allowed to patronize a bar. The lawsuit – and court decision – changed the course of gay history in New Jersey.