Timeline of gay activism

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(Author's note: This timeline is a work in progress and represents the research of just one individual over a limited time-frame; it will be updated to represent current events concerning LGBTQ people and to fill in past gaps as time goes on.)
1923 - The FBI labels Emma Goldman "the most dangerous woman in America" for her open endorsement of LGBT rights: "I regard it as a tragedy that people of differing sexual orientation find themselves proscribed in a world that has so little understanding of homosexuals...."
Leigh Rutledge, The Gay Book of Lists. New York: Alyson Books, 1992, p. 169.
1924 - Henry Gerber, a Bavarian expatriate living in the United States, forms a chapter of the Society for Human Rights in Chicago. It is thought to be the first homosexual emancipation organization in the United States. The group's charter does not make any overt reference to homosexuality; instead, it states that the purpose of the organization is "to promote and to protect the interests of people who by reasons of mental and physical abnormalities are abused and hindered in the legal pursuit of happiness which is guaranteed them by the Declaration of Independence, and to combat the public prejudices against them by dissemination of facts according to modern science among intellectuals of mature age". Support for the group is minimal; many of the gay men that Gerber tries to interest in the group either refuse to join so as to protect their privacy or are more interested in discreet sexual encounters than in politics, and the doctors he consults to confer legitimacy to homosexuality do not wish to endanger their practice. Gerber and two SHR officers are arrested on obscenity charges; the police confiscate all copies of the SHR newsletter, Friendship and Freedom. Gerber disbands the society after the charges against him are dropped.
Vern L. Bullough. Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press, 2002, pp. 24-28.
1937 - The Nazi party begins to use pink triangles to denote prisoners in concentration camps guilty of violating the German Reich's sodomy laws, which forbade any homosexual contact between adult males.
George E. Haggerty, ed. Gay Histories and Cultures: An Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 2005, p. 691.
1947 - A 26-year-old movie studio secretary in Hollywood creates the first issue of Vice Versa, what is likely the first lesbian newsletter/magazine in the United States, under the pseudonym Lisa Ben (an anagram of "lesbian"). She creates and distributes the magazine clandestinely at her desk between assignments. Ben ceases production of the magazine after losing her secretarial job, but maintains a modicum of popularity as a performer at LA's Flamingo nightclub on Sunday afternoons and evenings. She later contributes to the Daughter of Bilitis newsletter, The Ladder.
Bullough, Before Stonewall, pp.63-65.
1950 - Harry Hay, a teacher, labor activist, and Communist organizer, founds the Mattachine Society in Los Angeles, the earliest thriving "homophile" organization in the United States. The name of the group comes from an old Italian tradition of masquerade that doubled as political critique - the masks hide the faces of the protestors, effectively rendering them anonymous. The group employs a secret society structure as a preventive measure against the police harassment faced by lesbians and gays in the 1950s.
Clendinen, Dudley. "Harry Hay, Early Proponent of Gay Rights, Dies at 90". The New York Times, October 25, 2002, p. A33.
1951 - Edward Sagarin, a member of the Mattachine Society writing under the pseudonym Donald Webster Cory, publishes The Homosexual in America, one of the first texts to
January 1953 - The first issue of ONE, the Mattachine Society's monthly newsletter, is published and distributed nationally. The newsletters are routinely seized by the U.S. Post Office on the grounds of obscenity. The founders of One, Inc. sue the Postmaster of the City of Los Angeles, Otto K. Olesen. The court rules initially with the USPS, as does the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In 1958, however, an appeal by ONE to the Supreme Court is accepted. ONE Inc. v. Olesen marks the first time in US legal history that the Supreme Court explicitly ruled on homosexuality.
Bullough, Before Stonewall, p. 108.
October 19, 1955 - Frustrated by the largely male makeup of the Mattachine Society, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon form the Daughters of Bilitis in Los Angeles, the first exclusively lesbian organization in the United States.
Marcia M. Gallo. Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement. Emeryville, CA: Seal Press, 2007. p. 5.
December 1955 - Mattachine Society of New York is founded by Tony Segura and Sam Marford.
David Eisenbach, Gay Power: an American Revolution. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2006. p. 26.
October 1956 - The first issue of the Daughter of Bilitis' newsletter, The Ladder, is produced. Phyllis Lyon edits the magazine as "Ann Ferguson" for the first few months before using her own name to discourage secrecy; however, many of the magazine's contributors use pseudonyms or initials.
Gallo, Different Daughters, pp. 21-22.
1957 - Prescott Townsend forms the Boston chapter of the Mattachine Society. Throughout the '50s, Townsend also convened meetings at his residence/bookstore at 75 Phillips St., Boston.
Bullough, Before Stonewall, pp. 41-47.
1960 - The New York City Police begin a systematic crackdown on gay bars, pending an investigation into corruption in the State Liquor Authority (SLA). Prior to 1959, "more than forty" gay bars operated openly in the city; as a result of the NYPD crackdown, all but one - the bar in the Cherry Lane Theater - loses its liquor license. The widespread state-sanctioned closure of gay bars causes a number of Mafia-owned establishments to open in their wake. One such bar, Julius' (which is still in operation today), enforces a policy whereby customers have to sit and face the bar while drinking and refuses to serve anyone who openly declares their homosexuality.
David Carter, Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked a Revolution. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2005. pp. 47-49.
1961 - Jose Sarria, a regular at the Black Cat gay bar in San Francisco known for his campy renditions of arias from Bizet's Carmen, campaigns for a spot on the city's Board of Supervisors. Running on the platform that "gay is good", Sarria manages to garner an impressive 5600 votes. It is the first time that an out gay individual runs for public office.
Nan Alamilla Boyd, Wide-Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. pp. 20-24.
January 1, 1965 - The largest confrontation yet between gay and lesbian people and the police occurs at a fund-raising ball in San Francisco, hosted by the Council on Religion and the Homosexual (CRH). Two hundred gay and lesbian partygoers at California Hall on Polk Street are met by vice squad officers stalking the premises and photographing partygoers in what the Mattachine Review called "one of the most lavish displays of police harassment known in recent times". Unbeknownst to police at the time, the event becomes a galvanizing force for gay activists in the Bay Area and establishes San Francisco as a locus for gay rights organization and as a haven for LGBT people.
Bullough, Before Stonewall, p. 75
John d'Emilio. Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States, 1940-1970. 2nd ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1983. pp. 193-194.
April 17, 1965 - The East Coast Homophile Organization launches the first of a series of protests in 1965 at the White House. They revisit the White House two more times, in addition to stops at the United Nations and Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
1966 - The North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO, pronounced nay-ko), an umbrella organization consisting of homophile groups from around the country, including the Mattachine Society, Daughters of Bilitis and ECHO, forms.
January 21, 1966 - Time Magazine publishes an anonymous two-page screed entitled "The Homosexual in America". The article attacks homosexuality as "a pathetic little second-rate substitute for reality, a pitiable flight from life. As such it deserves fairness, compassion, understanding and, when possible, treatment. But it deserves no encouragement, no glamorization, no rationalization, no fake status as minority martyrdom, no sophistry about simple differences in taste—and, above all, no pretense that it is anything but a pernicious sickness."
April 21, 1966 - The Mattachine Society stages a "sip-in" at Julius' (cf. 1960 on the timeline). Members of the Society send telegrams to the press declaring their intention to walk into the Ukrainian-American Village Restaurant on the Lower East Side to demand service as a protest against bars refusing to cater to gay patrons. The restaurant's manager gets wind of the event and closes preemptively to avoid spectacle; after trying a number of other bars where they do receive service - to their chagrin - the Mattachine members settle on Julius'. While the management is amenable to serving them on account of already-existent troubles with their liquor license, Dick Leitsch convinces the bar to play along in exchange for Mattachine-New York's legal services. The members file suit with the State Liquor Authority the following day. While the SLA denies any responsibility in the matter and maintains that homosexuals are allowed to be served in bars (provided they are not acting "disorderly"), the "sip-in" is a key step in the Society's fight to prevent police from using entrapment to arrest gay people and deprive bars of their liquor licenses.
Carter, Stonewall, p. 49-51.
August 1966 - A riot breaks out at Compton's Cafeteria in San Francisco's Tenderloin District. The bar, a favorite of transgendered people who were otherwise outcasts in the gay and lesbian community, had recently come under new management that attempted to discourage transgendered patronage of the 24-hour restaurant and bar. As such, police harassment of customers was fairly common. The night of the riot, a transvestite responds to a policeman's forcible attempt to remove her from the premises by throwing a cup full of hot coffee in his face. The other customers in the cafe begin to throw cups, plates and silverware at the police officers. Angry rioters break every window in the cafeteria. A picket line forms outside of Compton's the following night, comprising "drag-queens, hair fairies, conservative Gays and hustlers"; the newly replaced windows are broken a second time.
David Carter, Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked a Gay Revolution. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2004, pp. 109-110.
January 1, 1967 - Plainclothes police officers infiltrate the Black Cat Tavern in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles on New Year's Day after many patrons embrace and kiss to celebrate the new year. Fourteen patrons and bartenders are beaten and arrested. Two of the men are convicted under California state law for kissing and are registered as sex offenders. The following month, hundreds of Los Angeles denizens protested the state's unfair treatment of homosexuals outside of the Black Cat. The raid and its protest spawned the creation of a newsletter, the Los Angeles Advocate (today known simply as The Advocate, a monthly magazine).
Baldwin, Belinda. "LA 1/1/67: The Black Cat Riots". Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, v. 13 no. 2 (March/April 2006), p. 28-30.
1967 - The National Institute of Mental Health invites Dr. Evelyn Hooker to head the Task Force on Homosexuality. A year later, she publishes a report urging that sexual behavior between consenting adults be decriminalized and that discrimination against gays in public employment be decriminalized. In the '50s, Hooker had attracted some controversy in the scientific community for suggesting that there are no psychological differences between homosexual and heterosexual men and, thus, that homosexuality was not a mental illness.
Edward Shneidman, "Evelyn Hooker (1907-1996)". American Psychologist, v. 53 no. 4 (April 1998), p. 480-1.
1968 - After the Pentecostal church expels him for being gay, the Reverend Troy Perry convenes a meeting of a dozen worshippers to pray at his home in Huntington Park, California. It is the first meeting of the Metropolitan Community Church, the nation's oldest gay and lesbian church group. Today, the Universal Fellowship of the MCC has parishes on all six continents; in the United States, all but five states currently have active MCC congregations.
Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon, eds., Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History, 2nd ed. New York: Routledge Books, 2002. pp. 325-6.
August 11-18, 1968 - The annual NACHO Convention is held in Chicago at the Trip, several weeks after the disastrous Democratic National Convention. Over the course of the week, a five-point "Homosexual Bill of Rights" is drafted and adopted, as well as Frank Kameny's slogan "Gay Is Good", modeled after the Black Panthers' "Black Is Beautiful" motto.
August 1968 - The Patch, a gay and lesbian nightclub in the Wilmington suburb of Los Angeles, is raided by Vice Squad officers and half a dozen policemen who interrogate and arrest some of the patrons. The club's owner, comedian Lee Glaze, tells the crowd that it is "not against the law to be homosexual, and it's not a crime to be in a gay bar!" Glaze retaliates against the police by purchasing hundreds of flowers and staging a flower-power protest in front of the police station while waiting for those arrested to be released. This style of campy retaliation against police persecution suggests a precursor to the theatrical stylings of later organized GLBT protest movements such as ACT UP and Queer Nation.
Lillian Faderman and Scott Timmons. Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics and Lipstick Lesbians. New York: Basic Books, 2006. pp. 262-3.
1969 - Author, critic, and activist Paul Goodman publishes the essay "The Politics of Being Queer" in his collection Nature Heals. It is the first known instance of the modern reclamation of the word "queer", previously used exclusively as a slur against LGBT people, as a descriptor used by the LGBT community to refer to themselves. "Queer" as Goodman uses it suggests fluidity and a flouting of rigid sexual structures; Goodman himself identified as bisexual.
Amy Lind and Stephanie Brzuzy. Battleground: Women, Gender and Sexuality. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2008. p. 451.
May 18, 1969 - The first student-led gay and lesbian college organization, Queer Student Cultural Center, is formed at the University of Minnesota. The group takes shape from an organization called Fight Repression of Erotic Expression (FREE) and is founded by Koreen Phelps and Stephen Ihrig.
Queer Student Cultural Center. http://qscc.org
June 28, 1969 - A police officer attempting to conduct a routine raid on the Stonewall Inn at 53 Christopher Street is greeted with a bottle, thrown (as legend has it) by drag queen Sylvia Rivera. What follows is three days of rioting, during which police officers barricade themselves inside the bar while patrons resist their intrusion with cries of "Go to hell!" and "Leave us alone!" Several arrests are made over those three days and a dozen civilians and police officers are injured. Though it was hardly the first police raid on a gay bar, and not the first time a group of gay bar patrons fought back against the police, the event is largely commemorated today as the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement.
July 1969 - In the nearly immediate wake of Stonewall, a number of newly radicalized gays and lesbians begin to organize, the earliest and most prominent of which is the Gay Liberation Front in NYC. A Los Angeles chapter of the GLF, headed by Morris Kight, is founded in November.
June 28, 1970 - The first march in commemoration of Stonewall takes place in NYC, the Christopher Street Liberation Day, organized by the Gay Liberation Front. The march ends with a "gay-in" in Central Park.
Warren J. Blumenfeld and Diane Christine Raymond. Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life. Boston: Beacon Press, 2001. p. 305.
April 20, 1971 - The Gay Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. is founded by former GLF members who had grown disillusioned with that group's more radical tactics. The aim of the group is to secure the "full rights and privileges" of citizenship for the gay community through "peaceful participation in the political process". One of the first actions of the group is to offer the candidacy of the openly gay Frank Kameny as D.C.'s delegate to the House of Representatives. In 1986, the organization changes its name to the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA). It is currently the longest-running continually active gay organization in the United States.
Blumenfeld and Raymond. Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life. pp. 302-303.
January 26, 1973 - The first gay temple, Beth Chayim Chadashim (House of New Life), opens in Los Angeles. They are initially housed within the Metropolitan Community Church and later relocate to 10345 West Pico Boulevard.
Faderman and Timmons. Gay L.A. pp. 262-3.
December 1973 - The American Psychological Association (APA) removes homosexuality from Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II) at the behest of gay activists. Earlier that year, a conference entitled "Should Homosexuality Be in the APA Nomenclature?" was held at the annual APA meeting in Honolulu, HI. Homosexuality reappears in the DSM-III (1980) in the guise of "ego-dystonic homosexuality", the condition of acute unhappiness with one's homosexuality coupled with an inability to respond to heterosexual desire. It would not be until 1987 that all mention of homosexuality would be completely erased from the DSM.
Edward Shorter: A Historical Dictionary of Psychiatry. p. 131.
January 1974 - Kathy Kozachenko becomes the first openly gay person to hold elected office. She is elected onto the Ann Arbor, Michigan city council on the ticket of the Human Rights Party. Kozachenko's predecessor, Nancy Wechsler, came out as a lesbian while in office. Later that year, Elaine Noble, an out lesbian, is elected into the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
May-June, 1974 - A rash of articles in Newsweek, Time and Cosmopolitan magazines from this period each devote coverage to "bisexual chic". In many of these articles, bisexuality is portrayed - mostly positively, but with occasional reservations - as a healthy byproduct of sexual liberation that involves the "best of both worlds".
May 13, 1975 - Mayor George Moscone and Assemblyman Willie Brown usher the Consenting Adult Sex Bill into the California state legislature. The bill decrees that gay sex between consenting adults is legal. Governor Jerry Brown signs the bill into law, repealing the state's prior sodomy law.
LA Times, May 14, 1975. "Gov. Brown Signs Bill Legalizing All Sex Acts".
November 8, 1977 - Harvey Milk is elected to the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco. Milk, who had founded the Castro Valley Association to give voice to the gay voters of San Francisco and was popularly known as the "Mayor of Castro Street", becomes the first gay elected official of a major American city. Milk had previously coordinated his political activities from a camera shop on 575 Castro Street, which is today an official San Francisco landmark.
November 7, 1978 - Voters in California overwhelmingly reject the Briggs Initiative on Election Day by a vote of 58 to 42 percent. The initiative, sponsored by John Briggs, a conservative state legislator from Orange County, would have not only barred known homosexuals from employment as school teachers, administrators or counselors, but also would have terminated the careers of those currently employed. Though gay activists declared victory in California, similar measures pass in other states, such as Minnesota, Kansas and Oregon.
Amber L. Hollibaugh, My Dangerous Desires: A Queer Girl Dreaming Her Way Home. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000. p. 44.
November 27, 1978 - Dan White, recently let go from the position on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, enters the office of Mayor George Moscone on the morning that Moscone is set to announce the appointment of Don Horanzy as White's replacement. After pleading with Moscone for several minutes to be reinstated, White pulls a revolver from out of his pocket and fires four shots into Moscone as the mayor lights a cigarette and proceeds to pour two drinks. White then dashes to the other end of City Hall, intercepting Milk along the way. White asks Milk for a word, and the two men step into Milk's old supervisor's office, where White aims his revolver at Milk. White fires five bullets into Milk's arm, wrist, chest and head, killing the newly-elected City Supervisor. Within the hour, White turns himself into the police. That evening, 40,000 people attend a candlelight vigil in Milk and Moscone's honor that begins in the Castro and ends at the steps of City Hall.
Randy Shilts, The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1982, pp. 263-281.
July 26, 1979 - Gay protestors in NYC storm a location shooting of William Friedkin's film Cruising, starring Al Pacino. The film depicts Pacino as a rookie undercover cop who is sent to investigate a series of murders in gay S&M bars and cruising areas in downtown Manhattan and, in the process, becomes drawn to the violent, sexual practices that he finds there. Philip Shehadi, who helped organize the protest, claimed that "the film falsely and viciously misrepresents our sexuality to an American public largely ignorant of gay life. That it showed violence and murder to be the natural outcome of cruising for gay sex. That it would encourage physical assaults - even killings - of gay men. That it would cast a shadow of fear over sexual encounters." Friedkin nevertheless finishes the film, 60% over budget thanks to the delays in shooting caused by the protests. The film receives mostly negative reviews from critics on its release in autumn of 1980.
June 5, 1981 - The first medical report about a mysterious illness that appears to be affecting young gay and bisexual men in urban areas is published in the Center for Disease Control's newsletter, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Two of the symptoms of this illness are Kaposi's Sarcoma (KS), a rare form of cancer that had previously been seen mostly in elderly people, and Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), both of which tended to only occur in people with weakened immune systems. By the end of the year, 150 adults - mostly gay men - and nine children die of this illness, which does not yet have a name.
September 1982 - Several names for the illness that seems to be spreading rapidly amongst gay men are adopted by doctors and laypeople - GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency), KSOI (Kaposi's Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections) and even "gay plague" - before the scientific community settles on Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS. This name derives from scientific research that indicates that the illness is not airborne, but acquired through sexual contact or sharing needles. Furthermore, it is learned that the disease does not strike based on the carrier's sexual preference - by September 1982, groups of people who had never had any kind of homosexual intercourse, such as hemophiliacs, drug users, and Haitians, had all been diagnosed with AIDS as well.
Douglas A. Feldman and Julia Wang Miller. The AIDS Crisis: A Documentary History. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1998. p. 16.
June 1983 - The Boston Bisexual Women's Network (BBWN) is formed. The BBWN newsletter, Bi Women, has been in print since the group's inception and is today the oldest continuously published bisexual women's newsletter in the world.
Paula C. Rodriguez Rust, Bisexuality in the United States: A Social Science Reader. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. p. 542.
March 1987 - The first AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP) demonstration takes place in NYC. The grassroots activist group's aims are to demand increased funding to test drugs that help combat AIDS, to speed the approval process of drugs already available, and to increase distribution of the medication to those who need it.
Roger S. Powers, William B. Vogele, Christopher Kruegler, and Ronald M. McCarthy, eds. Protest, Power and Change: An Encyclopedia of Non-Violent Action from ACT-UP to Women's Suffrage. 1997. pp. 9-10.
October 11, 1987 - The Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights draws around 500,000 participants. Among the highlights of the Second March are the unveiling of Cleve Jones' NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, a communal craft project and tribute to those who had died of AIDS, and the first community wedding. It is also the basis for the first National Coming Out Day, which is observed annually in many countries on October 11th.
March 1990 - Queer Nation, a splinter group of ACT UP, is founded at the LGBT Community Services Center in New York City. The group, whose focus was the escalation of anti-gay and lesbian bias in the media, becomes known for their confrontational approach to activism, including chanting slogans, hosting "Queer Nights Out" in predominantly heterosexual public spaces, and, most controversially, outing closeted public figures. "Miss Jane" Sheehan, a member of Queer Nation San Francisco, is credited with coining the now oft-quoted saying, "We're here, we're queer, get used to it!"
Stephen M. Engel, The unfinished revolution, p. 140.
1992 - The Lesbian Avengers forms in New York City. Its six founders - Anne-Christine D'Adesky, Marie Honan, Anne Maguire, Sarah Schulman, Ana Maria Simo and Maxine Wolfe - were all longtime lesbian activists who had grown disenchanted with other LGBT activist groups who did not address issues germane to lesbians. The group's icon is a bomb, signifying an "urban guerrilla" approach to activist politics. The enduring legacy of the Lesbian Avengers is the Dyke March, which has taken place in New York City and San Francisco every year since 1993, typically on the Friday or Saturday before LGBT Pride parades. Dyke Marches have also taken place in Santa Cruz, Washington, D.C., Salt Lake City, Portland, Boston, Toronto, and in other cities around the United States and Canada.
Sally Munt, Queer Attachments: The Cultural Politics of Shame. pp. 67-8.
July 1993 - President Bill Clinton reaches a compromise between members of Congress who want to lift the ban on gays serving in the military and those who favor a nondiscriminatory policy in the form of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue". The policy states that commanding officers will not inquire into the sexual lives of servicemen unless there is solid evidence to indicate homosexuality, and that soldiers will not speak of or commit homosexual acts while serving in the military (including no open public declarations of homosexuality). Gay rights organizations such as LAMBDA have referred to the policy as a "witch hunt". A 1997 report by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network cites a marked increase in anti-gay harassment and questioning after the policy was implemented.
June 1994 - The 25th anniversary of Stonewall is commemorated in New York City with Gay Games IV, a week-long athletic and cultural event; the International Lesbian and Gay Association's 16th World Conference, an assembly of 300 groups from 26 countries; and a march whose route stretches from the United Nations building to Central Park. A concurrent AIDS protest march, which did not receive an official permit by the city and was sponsored by ACT UP, the Stonewall Veterans' Association, and the Imperial Queens and Kings of New York, among other groups, begins at Sheridan Square. The two groups converge at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street and terminated at the Great Lawn, where a moment of silence is held for people who have died of AIDS, followed by a "moment of rage", a minute-long primal scream. A rally is held and numerous speeches are given throughout the remainder of the day. No arrests are reported.
Miriam Horn, "New York's Week to Be Gay". U.S. News & World Report, v. 116 (June 27, 1994), p. 18.
September 21, 1996: President Bill Clinton signs into law the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which states that "No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory possession or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship". The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) and Rep. Don Nickles (R-Okla.).
October 7, 1998 - The body of Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, is found tied to a fence in Laramie, Wyoming. He is taken to a hospital, where he dies four days later. It is revealed that the primary suspects in the case, Russell Arthur Henderson and Aaron James McKinney, beat and tortured Shepard because they believed he was flirting with them. The case sparks a nationwide dialogue on the subject of hate crimes, or crimes motivated by a personal bias against the victim on the grounds of gender, race or sexuality. Fred Phelps and his parish at the Westboro Baptist Church picket Shepard's funeral with signs displaying slogans such as "AIDS Kills Fags Dead" and "Matthew Shepard Rots in Hell". A counterprotest is formed by Romaine Patterson, a close friend of Shepard's. Known informally as the "Angels of Peace", the group dons white robes and giant wings and forms a circle around Phelps and his church. Shepard's parents, Judy and Dennis, found the Matthew Shepard Foundation later that month, seeking to "replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance". Both McKinney and Henderson are currently serving two consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole.
Angie Cannon, "In the name of the son", U.S. News & World Report, v. 127 no. 19 (November 15 1999), p. 36.

Romaine Patterson and Patrick Hinds, The Whole World Was Watching: Living in the Light of Matthew Shepard. New York: Alyson Books, 1999.
April 28-30, 2000 - The Millennium March on Washington, D.C. takes place. The event attracts controversy from within the LGBT community for what many perceive as its lack of focus on minority issues, grassroots activism and the AIDS virus. Others attack it for its "crass commercialism" - the March received sponsorship from corporate giants such as United Airlines and Showtime and prominently featured many big-name entertainers as either performers or speakers. President Clinton and Vice President Gore do not attend but appear in the form of pre-taped video presentations. Over the course of the weekend, the Reverend Elder Troy Perry conducts a mass wedding of same-sex couples, a concert featuring Melissa Etheridge, k.d. lang, Garth Brooks, Queen Latifah and the Pet Shop Boys takes place (the proceeds from which go to the Human Rights Campaign), and six hours of speeches are delivered by both community leaders and more well-known celebrities.
Marc Sandalow, "Millennium March: Gay Rally Bares Deep Divisions", San Francisco Chronicle, April 29, 2000.
October 24, 2002: Harry Hay passes away, aged 90.
February 20, 2004: President George W. Bush announces that he supports a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. To this end, the 2004 Federal Marriage Amendment (updated from a proposal submitted the previous year) states that "Marriage in the United States shall consist solely of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman".
June 16, 2008 - Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, the founders of the Daughters of Bilitis, are the first same-sex couple to be married in San Francisco, mere minutes after the 2004 Supreme Court decision to bar the issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples is overturned. It is technically their second marriage - their first, which took place in February 2004, was voided by the 2004 decision. Martin passes away six weeks after their second trip down the aisle, aged 87.
Marisa Lagos, et al. "Same-sex weddings start with union of elderly gay couple". San Francisco Chronicle, June 17, 2008. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/06/16/MNPQ11A3VF.DTL
November 4, 2008: California voters turn out to vote on Proposition 8, the hot-ticket issue on the California ballot that would rewrite the California Constitution to add a clause prohibiting marriage between same-sex couples and defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Volunteers for and against Proposition 8 both campaign furiously. "Yes on 8" earns the support of Presidential nominee Senator John McCain, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, while President-elect Barack Obama, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the California Council of Churches and the League of Women Voters all come out against Proposition 8 (to name but a few prominent groups on both sides of the equation). Opinion polls leading up to Election Day, for the most part, showed a general, though hardly runaway, inclination to vote no on the proposed amendment. The night of November 4, Proposition 8 nevertheless passes, 52% supporting to 47% opposed. The state of California stops issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples the next day but continues to recognize all same-sex marriages performed between June 16 and November 4. Meanwhile, similar Constitutional amendments pass in Arizona (Proposition 102) and Florida (Florida Amendment 2).
California Secretary of State Debbie Bowen, Statement of Vote: November 4, 2008 General Election. p. 62.
November 15, 2008: Protests against the outcome of Proposition 8 break out across the country in hundreds of cities. The protests are coordinated by Join the Impact, a group created by Amy Baillett and Willow Witte in light of the passage of Proposition 8. In December, Join the Impact organizes Day Without a Gay, in which supporters of same-sex marriage were advised to "call in 'gay' to work" and take the day off to perform volunteer work in their community.
"Same-sex marriage rallies stretch across the nation". CNN.com, November 16, 2008. http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/11/15/same.sex.marriage/?iref=mpstoryview
June 12, 2009 - The Department of Justice issues a brief defending the constitutionality of DOMA, despite President Barack Obama's campaign promise to fully repeal the Act. The brief is drafted in light of Smelt v. United States of America, which sought to reverse DOMA and Proposition 8 on the grounds of unconstitutionality.
Bob Egelko, "Obama angers gays with marriage law defense". San Francisco Chronicle, June 13, 2009. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/06/12/MND5186EV8.DTL&tsp=1

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