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History of Gay Rights
Transcript of History of Gay Rights
Roots of the Revolution
December 10, 1924
The first recognized gay-rights organization is founded in the United States by Henry Gerber. The
Society for Human Rights
publishes the first American homosexual newsletter, but disbands soon after due to political pressure.
November 11, 1950
, the first national gay rights organization, is founded by Harry Hay in Los Angeles. Although its political activism was limited, the group served as a social symbol for homosexuals and aimed to assimilate them into mainstream society.
April 27, 1953
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10450, banning homosexuals from government jobs. This follows the
, during which more than 4,000 gay men and women lost their government jobs.
January 1, 1962
becomes the first state to
eliminate its sodomy law.
The state agreed with the American Law Institute's opinion that victimless crime laws should be abolished.
Most states continued to classify consensual gay sex as a felony punishable by imprisonment
After a riot at a San Francisco diner involving the manhandling of a transgender customer, activists establish the
National Transsexual Counseling Unit
. This is the world's first peer-run support and advocacy organization.
Stonewall: Beginning of an Era
June 28, 1969
Riots at Stonewall Inn; NYC's Greenwich Village
Personal Experiences at Stonewall
For many homosexuals in New York City, Stonewall Inn was the only place where gay men and women were not discriminated against and could socialize with one another. The voices and memories of those influenced by the riots reflect how Stonewall was truly the beginning of the modern gay rights movement.
I read about Stonewall in the newspaper, and I was very, very curious. Before I entered the convent at age 26, I'd had two lovers and knew I was a lesbian, but I tried to play by the rules.
I thought I'd have to live my life with this deep dark secret.
Here I'd thought I was the only one and that I'd just 'spoiled' two other women, and when the newspaper identified what sounded like a public group of people
it was as if suddenly a brick wall opened up.
It was very exciting.
- Virginia Apuzzo
[I] never ever gave it a thought of [Stonewall] being a turning point. All I know is
enough was enough
. You had to fight for your rights.
, I could never see gay people coming together and organizing or marching down the street for any kind of protest.
I just saw it as an act of rebellion and an
expression of anger
on my part... against the police department for its discrimination and the horrors of
what it was doing to people like me.
[Stonewall] [changed] my life. Before the riots I wanted to go around and convince the straight world we were okay. And
after Stonewall we told the straight world that we didn't give a damn what they thought.
We were going to do what we were going to do and we weren't going to ask their permission.
- Martha Shelley
[Stonewall was] a perfect event in my life because
it let me live the kinds of dreams I had of seeing an equitable society.
I was able to live in my life, which I would have anyway, but without Stonewall I would have had more opposition.
June 28, 1970
First Gay Pride Parades
are held in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles, commemorating the one-year anniversary of Stonewall.
January 1, 1975
Elaine Noble becomes the
first openly gay American elected to public office.
She serves in the Massachusetts state house of representatives from 1975 to 1979.
January 1, 1974
from the American Psychiatric Association's
list of mental illnesses.
Advances and Resistance
July 3, 1981
The first cases of what will become known as AIDS are reported as a form of rare pneumonia and skin cancer found in 41 gay men. The CDC initially categorizes this as GRID, Gay Related Immune Deficiency Disorder. The name is changed when symptoms are found outside the gay community.
The rising AIDS epidemic prompts a wave of homophobia in the U.S. and cancels out any advances towards greater acceptance the gay rights movement has made in the past century.
March 2, 1982
Wisconsin becomes the first state to
on the basis of sexual orientation.
December 21, 1993
The Department of Defense prohibits the U.S. Military from barring applicants from service based on their sexual orientation. The policy permits homosexuals to serve in the military, but activists are disappointed that they must keep their sexual status private. This becomes known as
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell"."
September 21, 1996
President Clinton signs the
Defense of Marriage Act
into law. The Act defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman, and that
no state is required to recognize a same-sex marriage.
This is a blow to the gay rights movement, for which legalization of marriage is a major goal.
November 8, 1977
Harvey Milk wins a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the sixth openly gay American elected to public office. Milk introduces a
gay rights ordinance protecting homosexuals
from being fired from their jobs, and also campaigns against an initiative forbidding homosexual teachers.
January 1, 1980
Democratic National Convention endorses a gay rights platform.
It is the first party to do so with the statement, "All groups must be protected from discrimination based on... sexual orientation."
Century of Progress
April 26, 2000
Vermont becomes the first state to
legalize civil unions
and registered partnerships for same-sex couples.
June 26, 2003
The U.S. Supreme Court rules
sodomy laws unconstitutional.
Sodomy laws had previously banned unconventional sexual practices like those between homosexuals.
May 18, 2004
Massachusetts becomes the first state to
legalize gay marriage.
The MA Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the prohibition of gay marriage violated the state constitution by denying equality and dignity of all citizens.
In the six years to follow, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa, and Washington D.C. do the same.
November 4, 2008
The Obama Administration
December 18, 2010
: The U.S. Senate repeals the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.
February 23, 2011
: Obama announces his administration will no longer support the Defense of Marriage Act.
May 9, 2012
: President Obama publicly endorses gay marriage on ABC News, becoming the first president to do so.
California voters approve
making same-sex marriage illegal. Legal battles in the courtrooms follow.
"Biography: Stonewall Participants." PBS American Experience. WGBH Educational Foundation, 2013. Web. 19 May 2014.
Hickey, Walter. "A History of the Gay Rights Movement, One of the Most Successful Political Enterprises in History." Business Insider. Business Insider, 29 Mar. 2013. Web. 19 May 2014.
"Pride and Prejudice: An Interactive Timeline of the Fight for Gay Rights." TIME. TIME, 21 Oct. 2013. Web. 19 May 2014.
"Timeline: Milestones in the American Gay Rights Movement." PBS American Experience. WGBH Educational Foundation, 2013. Web. 19 May 2014.