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GAY AND LESBIAN RIGHTS TIMELINEAND IMPORTANT TOPICSBy Nora Chapin-EppertUnited States HistoryMay 2013
1960S (BERNSTEIN) Gay Americans underwent and started speaking out about theirstruggles during the sexual revolution and antiwar movement ofthe 1960s, which gave them enough publicity to help thememerge as a new political movement, gay liberation. Back then, police routinely raided gay bars and targeted gaymale cruising places in order to arrest lesbians and gay men forsolicitation and loitering with the intent to commit the illegal act ofsodomy. The predominant lesbian and gay organizations, the MattachineSociety and the Daughters of Bilitis, focused primarily on self-help issues. Homosexuals wanted to convince the public, especiallypsychological and religious authorities, that homosexuality wasnta sickness nor a sin, and they hoped that anyone would supportthem and advocate tolerance for them. The gay liberation movement worked to end governmentemployment discrimination based on sexual orientation throughprotest and litigation tactics.
LATE 1960S – 1970S (BERNSTEIN) The radical and antiwar movements of the 1960s inspired youngactivists to join gay liberationists and create neworganizations, one of them ended up being the Gay ActivistsAlliance. Activists protested for an end to entrapment, policeharassment, and employment discrimination, sometimes throughviolent tactics such as police abuse. The Stonewall Riots of 1969, which were a response to a policeraid on a gay after-hours club in New York City, is only oneexample of a series of uprisings caused by lesbians and gay menin protest. Later in 1973, the gay and lesbian liberation groups andpsychiatrists challenged the American Psychiatric Associations(APA) view that homosexuality was a mental disorder. All of theirprotests, pressure, and empirical data led the APA to removehomosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Eventually Gay Liberation morphed into the Gay and LesbianRights Movement.
1980S (BERNSTEIN) In Bowers v. Hardwick in 1986, the Unites States Supreme Courtruled that there was no right to privacy for homosexual sodomy inthe US. National gay and lesbian organizations planned a March on Washingtonthat took place in 1987 in response to the courts ruling, which revivedgrassroots activism. Overall activists sought to repeal sodomy laws, passantidiscrimination and hate crimes legislation, fight anti-lesbian/gay rights initiatives, end the militarys ban on lesbian andgay personnel, and obtain the right to marry. Another reaction to the Hardwick ruling was the formation of ACTUP by New York City Activists in 1987 The Activists of ACT UP werent happy with the governments inactivityand service organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control andPrevention (CDC) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) surroundingthe AIDS epidemic. AIDS communities came together to help people attain access todrugs, money for research and treatment, and protection them from"discrimination based on the involuntary disclosure of HIV status,"(Bernstein).
1990S (BERNSTEIN) In 1990, another gay and lesbian rights organization formed calledQueer Nation and they adopted and shared ACT UPs ideals Queer nationals redefined the term “queer” to include lesbians, gaymen, bisexuals, transgendered people, and anyone else who challenged thedominant sex/gender system. Queer activists also sought alliances with people ofcolor, bisexuals, transgendered people, and many other minority groups. "Queer" didnt only apply to sexual orientation anymore, it was also astatement against conformity and normal society In the late 1980s and 1990s, people who believed in the ReligiousRight tried to pass laws prohibiting gay and lesbian people toorganize politically and basically legalize any anti-lesbian/gaydiscrimination laws. In response, the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund(Lambda Legal), the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force(NGLTF), and other groups refocused on litigation.
1990S (BERNSTEIN) [CONTINUED] In 1990, gay and lesbian allies and activists helped pass the HateCrimes Statistics Act, which the first time that Congress ever passeda positive legislation having to do with sexual orientation. The actauthorized the collection and publication of data on bias-relatedviolence based on religion, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. In 1992, Religious Right group members helped pass an anti-gayand lesbian law in Colorado, Amendment 2. Lambda Legal and local Colorado lawyers immediately challengedthe amendment, and it overturned by the Supreme Court in 1996. Gay and lesbian activists also started demanding domesticpartnership benefits from corporations, unions, and cities. In the 1990, the right to marriage became one of the most importantand controversial issues in the Gay and Lesbian Rights Movementwhen it looked like the state of Hawaii would legalize same sexmarriage. Although Hawaii hasnt legalized gay marriage yet, the talk of ithelped make the issue of Legalizing gay marriage as big as it istoday.
DON’T ASK, DON’T TELLDuring his election campaign before he was elected in1992, Bill Clinton promised to end the United States militarys banon lesbian and gay personnel, (Bernstein). Gays and lesbians in themilitary quickly became the headlining issue for activists. Bill Clintonthen approved the "Dont Ask, Dont Tell" Policy in 1993, (Brown).The policy makes it so that gays and lesbians are allowed to be inthe military, but they arent allowed to tell anyone about it or engagein homosexual acts because then they could be expelled from themilitary. This wasnt exactly what gays and lesbians wanted andmost of them became pretty upset about the policy because theydidnt believe that they should be excluded or kicked out justbecause of their sexual orientation, (Bernstein). Throughout the1990s and 2000s, gays and lesbians have tried to remove and signpetitions to get rid of the "Dont Ask, Dont Tell" policy. Finally, afterCongress voted on it again, the "Dont Ask, Dont Tell" policy wasrepealed on September 20th, 2010 after seventeen years. Therepeal of "Dont Ask, Dont Tell" was a great triumph for all gay andlesbian people, activists, and allies.
PROPOSITION 8 IN CALIFORNIA In February 2004, gay and lesbian activists and allies in SanFrancisco, California successfully challenged Proposition 22, andgay marriage became legal in California. Around 4,000 same sexcouples in California got married up until March when theCalifornia Supreme Court ordered San Francisco to stop andvoid all of the marriage licenses and certificates that were madeover those two months, (Linsey and Uradnik). A year later inMarch 2005, the San Francisco Superior Court held that the banon same sex marriage violated the state’s constitution, but inOctober 2006 the California Court of Appeals ruled that the banwould stand, (Linsey and Uradnik). Then the California SupremeCourt decided to review the decision and permitted same-sexmarriage again on May 15, 2008, (Linsey and Uradnik). While theState Supreme Court was deciding though, opponents of samesex marriage signed a petition to place a constitutional ban onthe next ballot, Proposition 8. About 18,000 same-sex couplesgot legally married in California during the five months betweenJune and November, but then Proposition 8 passed and bannedsame sex marriage, (Linsey and Uradnik).
PROPOSITION 8 (CONTINUED) Although Proposition 8 was passed, the court legalityrecognized the same-sex marriages performed in Californiabetween June and November of 2008 as domesticpartnerships to help ease the pain, but activists were still veryangry and several lawsuits were filed challenging Proposition8, (Linsey and Uradnik). Eventually, Proposition 8 went tofederal court when US Federal District Judge Vaughn Walkerclaimed in Perry v. Brown that the Californias ban on same-sex marriage violated the US Constitution, (Linsey andUradnik). When that case what shut down, activists appealedto have the case, now Hollingsworth v. Perry, heard by theSupreme Court, (Linsey and Uradnik). The Supreme Courtagreed to hear the case on December 7th 2012, along with afederal same sex marriage law. The Supreme Court arguedand discussed the laws March 26, 2013 and the United Statesexpects a ruling in June 2013, Oral arguments werescheduled for March 26, 2013, (Linsey and Uradnik).
GAY MARRIAGE Many other states in the United States and even someother countries have passed a Same-Sex Marriage Law. The most recent state in the US to pass the law wasDelaware. Delaware passed the Same Sex Marriage Law onTuesday May 7th 2013, becoming the 11th state in theUnited States to pass the bill, (Fischer and Liptak). The other states that have passed the same sexmarriage law are: Rhode Island, Iowa, NewYork, Vermont, NewHampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Washington and the District of Columbia, (Fischerand Liptak).
IMAGE CITATIONS Gay Pride Flag. Digital image. Rant and Reason. American HumanistAssociation, 9 Aug. 2007. Web. 19 May 2013.<http://blog.thehumanist.org/2007/08/should-you-be-forced-to-attend-a-gay-pride-parade/>.