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Gay Rights: Key Dates in the Fight for Equality

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on 11 November 2014

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Transcript of Gay Rights: Key Dates in the Fight for Equality

June 27-28, 1970
Gay Rights: A History of Oppression in the Fight for Equality
Alfred Kinsey publishes Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, revealing to the public that homosexuality is far more widespread than was commonly believed.
First gay pride parades
On the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the nation's first gay pride parades are held in four cities – New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The parades serve as a celebration of united strength; the joining of voices for the advancement of human rights. Pride events now are held worldwide every year.

people participated in the National March on Washington for
Lesbian and Gay Rights in Washington, D.C., in October. The march
served to nationalize the gay movement, which had previously been focused on local struggles. It was the largest political gathering in support of LGBT rights to date
. The following is the closing paragraph of the welcome program of the march, written by Allen Young.

At the 1980 Democratic National Convention held at New York City's Madison
Square Garden,
Democrats took a stance supporting gay rights
, adding the following to their plank: "All groups must be protected from discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, language, age, sex or
sexual orientation

Don't ask, don't tell
President Bill Clinton enacts "don't ask, don't tell," a policy preventing gays from openly serving in the military. Under it, an estimated 13,000 people were expelled from the U.S. Armed Forces.
The AIDS crisis
Gay advocacy groups form to deal with the crisis gripping the community amid a slow government response to AIDS and the linking of the disease with gay men. Over the years, the AIDS Quilt will form.

"The Society for Human Rights"
Located in Chicago becomes the country's earliest known gay rights organization.
June 28, 1969
Start of the gay rights movement
The Stonewall Riots begin after police raid a popular unlicensed gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, in New York City's Greenwich Village. The riots, which lasted for days, were triggered by police harassment of gays, according to media reports. It was the birth of the organizational and collaborative strength of the Gay community.
Through much protest and demonstration, The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its official list of mental disorders.

Activists in Miami, Florida pass a civil rights ordinance making sexual orientation
discrimination illegal in Dade County. Save Our Children, a campaign by a Christian fundamentalist group and headed by singer Anita Bryant, is launched in response to the ordinance. In the largest special election of any in Dade County history, 70% vote to overturn the ordinance. It is a crushing defeat for gay activists, but their resiliency will soon be evident.


Milk became the first openly gay man elected to office in a major
U.S. city when he won a seat on San Francisco's Board of Supervisors in early 1978. An outspoken advocate for gay rights, he urged gays to come out and fight for their rights. Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by former supervisor Dan White. But Milk's legacy has lived on and California has designated May 22 as a day of “special significance” in his honor.

Nov. 27, 1978
Assassination of Harvey Milk

Congressman comes out...Rep. Barney Frank

•Founder Henry Gerber was inspired by German Doctor Magnus Hirschfeld and his work with the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee.
• First gay rights organization in the United States and received a charter from the state of Illinois
• Produced the first American publication for homosexuals – “Friendship and Freedom.”
• The group ceased to exist in the wake of the arrest of several of the Society's members just a few months after it was founded.
• The Society is thought to be the inspiration for the modern gay liberation movement

Rep. Barney Frank becomes the first openly gay member of Congress. Twenty-five years later, in July 2012, he married his longtime partner, Jim Ready.
Frank advocated for the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act, which passed in 2008
, and became one of the highlights of his career. Frank also
re-introduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity
. The bill did not pass. This year an ENDA bill was introduced yet again by different lawmakers, in both the House and Senate. Frank retired in January 2013 after serving for 16 terms as a Democratic representative from Massachusetts.
May 30th, 1987

Congress bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage (
Congress passes the Defense of Marriage Act. which
bars recognition of same-sex marriage
, affecting more than 1,100 provisions of federal laws. It denies gay couples the right to file joint taxes and the protections of the Family Medical and Leave Act, and it blocks surviving spouses from accessing veterans’ benefits, among other things.

In Romer v. Evans
, the Supreme Court strikes down Colorado's Amendment 2, which denied gays and lesbians protections against discrimination, calling them “special rights.” According to Justice Anthony Kennedy, “We find nothing special in the protections Amendment 2 withholds. These protections . . . constitute ordinary civil life in a free society.”

Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson rob and beat Shepard, a 21-year-old college student, and tie him to a split-rail fence outside of Laramie, Wyo. He
dies on Oct. 12, less than a week after the attack
. The murder, for which the pair are each serving two consecutive life sentences, inspired "The Laramie Project," a play and later film about Laramie in the year after the murder, and
federal hate crimes legislation approved in 2009 that bears Shepard's name
Matthew Shepard's beating death
Oct. 12, 1998
Boy scouts ban scouts who are gay
The Supreme Court rules that the Boy Scouts of America can bar gay Scouts and leaders from membership, saying that as a private youth organization it has the right to do so.


Massachusetts becomes the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage after the state Supreme Court ruled the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Since then 13 more states, including California, Maine, and New York, have legalized gay marriage.

May 17, 2004
Massachusetts legalizes gay marriage!
January 4, printed in the

"Dr. Kinsey points out that homosexual experience is much more common than previously thought. He indicates, however, that this is an extremely difficult problem to analyze "as very few individuals are all black or all white," and that one homosexual experience does not classify the individual as a homosexual. He decries the use of the noun, and finds that there is often a mixture of both homo and heterosexual experience".

State same-sex marriage ban - A dozen states pass constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. The amendments become a popular method to attempt to block legislative acts and judicial decisions on the issue.
California’s Supreme Court rules that gays and lesbians should be allowed to wed. For a short time that year, some 18,000 same-sex couples tie the knot in the Golden State. But in November, voters approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage (Proposition 8) after a hard-fought, multimillion-dollar campaign – one of the most expensive on this issue.

California's Prop. 8 nixes gay marriage

President Barack Obama signs into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act
, named for two victims of hate crimes. Shepard was 21 years old when he was tortured and killed in Laramie, Wyo., because he was gay. Byrd, a 49-year-old black man, was chained to the back of a truck and dragged to death in Jasper, Texas. The hate crimes prevention law requires the FBI to track hate crimes based on gender and gender identity, and
gives the Department of Justice the power to prosecute crimes that were motivated by the victim’s race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

October 28, 2009
Hate Crimes Prevention Act
Illinois became the first state to decriminalize sodomy and behavior by “consenting adults in private.” By comparison, California did not repeal its anti-sodomy laws until 1976, and New York did not follow suit until its state Supreme Court rendered its sodomy laws unconstitutional in 1980.

the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California rules 2–1 that Proposition 8 is ruled unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. In the ruling, the court says, the law "operates with no apparent purpose but to impose on gays and lesbians, through the public law, a majority's private disapproval of them and their relationships."

February 7
Washington becomes the seventh state to legalize gay marriage.
February 13
Maryland passes legislation to legalize gay marriage, becoming the eighth state to do so
March 1
In a first, gay marriage wins at the ballot box - Voters in Maine approve same-sex marriage in the first vote brought by supporters
Nov. 4
a seven-term Democratic congresswoman from Wisconsin, prevails over former governor Tommy Thompson in the race for U.S. Senate and becomes the first openly gay politician elected to the Senate.
Nov. 6
Tammy Baldwin
May 23:

Members of the Boy Scouts of America's council vote to remove the ban against gay scouts. The Boy Scouts' ban on gay adult leaders remains in place.
June 26:
In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. DOMA defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Gay couples legally married in their states will now be granted federal benefits such as family leave and Social Security survivor benefits
On the same day, SCOTUS rules on Proposition 8, a hotly contested ban on gay marriage in California. The justices found supporters of the ban did not have the legal standing to appeal a lower court’s decision against it.
Two days later, a federal appeals court lifted its stay on same-sex marriages in the state.

"In one fell swoop, 15 million gay people were cured!"' And in 1972 the National Institute of the Mental Health Task Force recommended de-criminalization of homosexual behavior, finding no evidence of any underlying pathology as basis for punishment, or deterrent effect of criminal prosecution on homosexual conduct. The Task Force Report stated that "statutes covering sexual acts should be recast in such a way as to remove legal penalties against [homosexual] acts in private among consenting adults."
The American Law Institute, in its Model Penal Code, recommended against "criminal penalties for consensual sexual relations conducted in private."
It justified its decision on three grounds:
(1) The prohibitions undermined respect for the law by penalizing conduct many people engaged in
(2) the statutes regulated private conduct not harmful to others
(3) the laws were arbitrarily enforced and thus invited the danger of blackmail.''
The Mattachine Society, Inc. of New York (MSNY) was founded in New York City in 1955 (incorporated in 1961) as a non-profit organization for educating the public in all aspects of homosexuality, for assisting the gay individual in coping with problems related to his homosexuality, for effecting changes in social attitudes towards gay individuals, and for securing the repeal of laws discriminating against gays in housing, employment and assembly. It was one of several affiliates of the Mattachine Society founded in Los Angeles in 1951. The name was derived from the Italian "mattachino" meaning a court jester who dared to tell the truth to the king. During the 1950’s other Mattachine societies were established in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, and the District of Columbia. The parent organization subsequently shifted its headquarters to San Francisco and by 1961 had ceased existence as a national organization, its affiliates becoming fully independent.
May 9,
Barack Obama becomes the first sitting U.S. president to back marriage for gay and lesbian couples.
Minnesota, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Illinois, and Delaware
Brewer, P. R. (2003). The shifting foundations of public opinion about gay rights. Journal of Politics, 65(4), 1208-1220.

Gay rights timeline: Key dates in the fight for equality

International Gay Information Center, Inc.

Median Income 1999

Mezey, S. G. (2007). Queers in court: Gay rights law and public policy. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Reinheimer, J. (2008). What Lawrence Should Have Said: Reconstructing an Equality Approach. California Law Review, 505-551.
The American Gay Rights Movement: A Timeline

The States that legalize same sex marriage this year

The following poster was a collaboration between Ryan and Clinton. As you saw from the previous poster overview, we chose to focus on the oppression, discrimination, power, and privilege of the Gay community. We sifted through a plethora of information and attempted to highlight the history of the Gay community and major milestones, as well as setbacks in the fight for equal rights.
Thank you and enjoy.
Greetings peers and Karen!

"Today in the capital of America, we are all here, the almost liberated and the slightly repressed; the butch, the femme and everything in-between; the androgynous; the monogamous and the promiscuous; the masturbators and the fellators and the tribadists; men in dresses and women in neckties; those who bite and those who cuddle; celebates[sic] and pederasts; diesel dykes and nelly queens; amazons and size queens, Yellow, Black, Brown, White, and Red; the shorthaired and the long, the fat and the thin; the nude and the prude; the beauties and the beasts; the studs and the duds; the communes, the couples, and the singles; pubescents and the octogenarians. Yes, we are all here! We are everywhere! Welcome to the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights!"
Full transcript