A timeline of gay history in America

Posted on 12 Jan 2006 at 7:54pm

Notable events from the formation of the Society of Human Rights in 1924 to the battle for gay marriage



Gays and lesbians marched in protests demanding civil rights in Washington, D.C., and in Philadelphia in 1965.

1924: The Society for Human Rights in Chicago becomes the country’s earliest known gay rights organization.

1948: Alfred Kinsey publishes “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male,” a groundbreaking study which broaches topics of homosexuality and bisexuality previously undiscussed.

1951: The Mattachine Society is formed by Harry Hay, and becomes the country’s first national gay rights organization.

1956: National lesbian group The Daughters of Bilitis is formed.

1962: Illinois becomes the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize private consensual homosexual acts between adults.

1965: The first gay rights protests occur in Washington, D.C. and in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.

1969: The Stonewall Riots begin on June 27 and last for three days, launching the previously quiet gay rights movement into a massive period of social change, with membership in organizations increasing into the thousands in a year.

1971-73: The Gay Raiders, a gay militant group, campaign to get television networks to feature and discuss gay people on the air. They disrupt various programs including the CBS Evening News.

1973: The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its official list of mental disorders.

1975: Governor Milton Shapp of Pennsylvania creates the first committee to research and report on discrimination against sexual minorities. One year later, Governor Shapp issues an executive order outlawing discrimination against sexual minorities in employment, housing and public accommodation in his state.

1981: The first cases of AIDS in gay men in New York and Los Angeles are reported.

1982: Wisconsin becomes the first state legislature to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

1982: The first Gay Games take place in San Francisco, drawing more than 1,350 athletes.

1985: A spokesperson for actor Rock Hudson acknowledges the star has AIDS, bringing the disease to the media forefront for the first time.

1993: The “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is instituted for the U.S. military, permitting gays to serve in the military but banning homosexual activity. Thousands of gay and lesbian persons are relieved of their positions.

1996: The Supreme Court strikes down Colorado’s Amendment 2, which denied gays and lesbians protections against discrimination.

1997: Ellen DeGeneres’ character, Ellen Morgan, comes out as a lesbian on the popular sit-com “Ellen,” drawing 36 million viewers. DeGeneres also comes out publicly as a lesbian.

2000: Vermont becomes the first state in the country to legally recognize civil unions between gay or lesbian couples.

2003: The Supreme Court rules in Lawrence v. Texas that laws prohibiting sodomy are unconstitutional.

2004: On May 17, same-sex marriages become legal in Massachusetts.

2005: Civil unions become legal in Connecticut in Oct. 2005.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, October 13, 2006.

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