1969 Stonewall Riots - Origins, Timeline and Leaders

1969 Stonewall Riots - Origins, Timeline and Leaders


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The Stonewall Riots, also called the Stonewall Uprising, began in the early hours of June 28, 1969 when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents as police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar, leading to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street, in neighboring streets and in nearby Christopher Park. The Stonewall Riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.

Explore the history of the LGBTQ movement in America here.

Constant Raids at Gay Bars

The 1960s and preceding decades were not welcoming times for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. For instance, solicitation of same-sex relations was illegal in New York City.

For such reasons, LGBT individuals flocked to gay bars and clubs, places of refuge where they could express themselves openly and socialize without worry. However, the New York State Liquor Authority penalized and shut down establishments that served alcohol to known or suspected LGBT individuals, arguing that the mere gathering of homosexuals was “disorderly.”

Thanks to activists’ efforts, these regulations were overturned in 1966, and LGBT patrons could now be served alcohol. But engaging in gay behavior in public (holding hands, kissing or dancing with someone of the same sex) was still illegal, so police harassment of gay bars continued and many bars still operated without liquor licenses—in part because they were owned by the Mafia.

READ MORE: How the Mob Helped Establish NYC’s Gay Bar Scene

Gay Rights Before Stonewall

The first documented U.S. gay rights organization, The Society for Human Rights (SHR), was founded in 1924 by Henry Gerber, a German immigrant. Police raids forced them to disband in 1925, but not before they had published several issues of their newsletter, “Friendship and Freedom,” the country’s first gay-interest newsletter. America’s first lesbian rights organization, The Daughters of Bilitis, was formed in San Francisco on September 21, 1955.

In 1966, three years before Stonewall, members of The Mattachine Society, an organization dedicated to gay rights, staged a “sip-in” where they openly declared their sexuality at taverns, daring staff to turn them away and suing establishments who did. When The Commission on Human Rights ruled that gay individuals had the right to be served in bars, police raids were temporarily reduced.

READ MORE: What Happened at the Stonewall Riots? A Timeline of the 1969 Uprising















Stonewall Inn

The crime syndicate saw profit in catering to shunned gay clientele, and by the mid-1960s, the Genovese crime family controlled most Greenwich Village gay bars. In 1966, they purchased Stonewall Inn (a “straight” bar and restaurant), cheaply renovated it, and reopened it the next year as a gay bar.

Stonewall Inn was registered as a type of private “bottle bar,” which did not require a liquor license because patrons were supposed to bring their own liquor. Club attendees had to sign their names in a book upon entry to maintain the club’s false exclusivity. The Genovese family bribed New York’s Sixth Police Precinct to ignore the activities occurring within the club.

Without police interference, the crime family could cut costs how they saw fit: The club lacked a fire exit, running water behind the bar to wash glasses, clean toilets that didn’t routinely overflow and palatable drinks that weren’t watered down beyond recognition. What’s more, the Mafia reportedly blackmailed the club’s wealthier patrons who wanted to keep their sexuality a secret.

Nonetheless, Stonewall Inn quickly became an important Greenwich Village institution. It was large and relatively cheap to enter. It welcomed drag queens, who received a bitter reception at other gay bars and clubs. It was a nightly home for many runaways and homeless gay youths, who panhandled or shoplifted to afford the entry fee. And it was one of the few—if not the only—gay bar left that allowed dancing.

Raids were still a fact of life, but usually corrupt cops would tip off Mafia-run bars before they occurred, allowing owners to stash the alcohol (sold without a liquor license) and hide other illegal activities. In fact, the NYPD had stormed Stonewall Inn just a few days before the riot-inducing raid.

The Stonewall Riots Begin

When police raided Stonewall Inn on the morning of June 28, it came as a surprise—the bar wasn’t tipped off this time.

Armed with a warrant, police officers entered the club, roughed up patrons, and, finding bootlegged alcohol, arrested 13 people, including employees and people violating the state’s gender-appropriate clothing statute (female officers would take suspected cross-dressing patrons into the bathroom to check their sex).

Fed up with constant police harassment and social discrimination, angry patrons and neighborhood residents hung around outside of the bar rather than disperse, becoming increasingly agitated as the events unfolded and people were aggressively manhandled. At one point, an officer hit a lesbian over the head as he forced her into the police van— she shouted to onlookers to act, inciting the crowd to begin throw pennies, bottles, cobble stones and other objects at the police.

Within minutes, a full-blown riot involving hundreds of people began. The police, a few prisoners and a Village Voice writer barricaded themselves in the bar, which the mob attempted to set on fire after breaching the barricade repeatedly.

The fire department and a riot squad were eventually able to douse the flames, rescue those inside Stonewall, and disperse the crowd. But the protests, sometimes involving thousands of people, continued in the area for five more days, flaring up at one point after the Village Voice published its account of the riots.

READ MORE: 7 Surprising Facts About the Stonewall Riots and the Fight for LGBT Rights

Stonewall's Legacy

Though the Stonewall uprising didn’t start the gay rights movement, it was a galvanizing force for LGBT political activism, leading to numerous gay rights organizations, including the Gay Liberation Front, Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD (formerly Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), and PFLAG (formerly Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).

On the one-year anniversary of the riots on June 28, 1970, thousands of people marched in the streets of Manhattan from the Stonewall Inn to Central Park in what was then called “Christopher Street Liberation Day,” America’s first gay pride parade. The parade’s official chant was: “Say it loud, gay is proud.”

In 2016, then-President Barack Obama designated the site of the riots—Stonewall Inn, Christopher Park, and the surrounding streets and sidewalks—a national monument in recognition of the area’s contribution to gay rights.

READ MORE: How Activists Plotted the First Gay Pride Parades

Sources

A History of Gay Rights in America. CBS.
LGBTQ Activism: The Henry Gerber House, Chicago, IL. NPS.gov.


The Stonewall uprising: 50 years of LGBT history

The Stonewall uprising took place in the context of broader civil rights movements. The Revolutionary People's Constitutional Convention in 1970 was a key moment in which activists from Black Power, feminist and gay liberation movements came together, saw common cause and learned from each other.

The Gay Liberation Front was the main organisation that formed out of the uprising and these wider movements. The GLF first formed in the US and were part of the original discussions to create the first Pride, which took place on June 28 1970 in New York City, a year after the Stonewall riots - then called the Christopher Street Day Parade.

Some UK activists were involved in some of these key moments in the US movement, and they came back to Britain to form a British chapter of the Gay Liberation Front, meeting for the first time at the LSE library in October 1970, with the first UK Gay Pride Rally taking place a few years later on 1 July 1972, in London.

In the UK, sexual acts between men had been partially decriminalised in 1967, but there was a huge amount of persecution of gay and bi men afterwards. Campaigning at the time was mainly led by the Homosexual Law Reform Society.

The 1970s were characterised by radical grassroots and community-based activism and support. There were many splinter groups from the Gay Liberation Front: the Campaign for Homosexual Equality was a key driving force, and the focus of activism was often explicitly focused on directly challenging heteronormative, conservative norms of family and gender roles other community-led initiatives coming out of the 1970s included Gay News(set up in 1972), Switchboard (1974), and Gay’s the Word bookshop (1979).

The AIDS crisis dominated the 1980s for the LGBT community, first coming to public attention in 1981 when the first person died of an AIDS-related illness. A year later, a man named Terry Higgins was among the first people known to die of an AIDS-related illness in the UK: the Terrence Higgins Trust was set up in his name.

The prevalence of AIDS was greater in the USA than the UK, but in both countries there was a real lack of political and service support for people living with HIV/AIDS, leading to a huge emphasis on community activism and support. Lesbians and bi women provided critical support to gay and bi men during this time, and Act Up was the key campaigning group focused on challenging the lack of political and health support for people living with HIV / AIDS.

The LGBT community was politically and socially stigmatised throughout the 1980s, creating the hostile political context that allowed Section 28 to be passed as law. This piece of legislation effectively prevented teachers from talking about same-sex relationships in schools, forcing teachers back into the closet, or out of their job, and scarring a generation of LGBT people.

Stonewall was created to fight this discrimination in the UK, 20 years after the uprising.

On 11 September 1988, at a meeting held in Sir Ian McKellen’s house in Limehouse, the basic aims were drawn up in a document dubbed the Second Limehouse Declaration. The first Limehouse Declaration, announcing the launch of the Social Democrat Party, had been signed in the house next door.

On 24 May 1989, the new group sent a press release to the LGBT press announcing the founding of the Stonewall Group.

Over the past 30 years we’ve made a big difference to the lives of LGBT people here and around the world. In the UK, the LGBT movement has won employment rights. Parenting rights. Partnership rights. An equal age of consent.

Fifty years after the uprising, there's lots for us to celebrate – but there’s also a lot more work that needs to be done. We won’t stop, until everyone can be accepted for who they are - without exception.


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The years before Stonewall

The 1950s were a low point for the US when it came to protecting the rights of its citizens, be they Black or Queer. For example, it was at this time that the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual listed homosexuality as a sociopathic personality disturbance, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an executive order that would ban homosexuals from working for the federal government, saying they were a security risk, and the police arrested and molested them with impunity. Gays and lesbians were effectively outlaws, living in secrecy and fear.


Support Each Other. Love Each Other.

If my kids decide that they are anywhere along the LGBTQ+ spectrum, I&aposve told them I didn&apost care, provided that they were decent people and got their homework done. My youngest wants to be a drag queen, and like most queens I&aposve had the pleasure of seeing, I&aposm sure she&aposll be fabulous at it. If my daughters want to tell me they&aposve fallen in love with someone in the LGBTQ+ community, fine—I just want them to be happy and healthy.

RuPaul calls upon people watching her show to say "love" from time to time, and I think that&aposs what we as a community need to focus on. To do otherwise only promotes further division, and there&aposs enough of that going on. Support each other. Love each other.

All those allies and LGBTQ+ individuals who fought for rights and continue to do so deserve no less than having our love and support.


May Day Queen

I was queen of the festivities and, like so many things in the colored world in which I was raised it was celebrated with great pomp and circumstance. As a kindergartener, I did not racially mark this moment because whiteness was immaterial to me, but this would not be so for long as more history was to be made.

I was queen of the festivities and, like so many things in the colored world in which I was raised it was celebrated with great pomp and circumstance. As a kindergartener, I did not racially mark this moment because whiteness was immaterial to me, but this would not be so for long as more history was to be made.

1. The bunny hop is a popular novelty dance of the 1950s and 1960s, with a song.

2. May Day: Spring festival recognized as a public holiday celebrated on May 1st commonly celebrated at Negro schools. See May Day: America’s traditional radical, and complicated holiday, Part I. National Museum of American History.

3. Can can is a creolin and tulle slip worn to create bellowing skirt, most often worn under fancy dresses for girls.

4. Afro-American Life-Insurance Company founded in 1901 by Abraham Lincoln Lewis and his associates. A.L. Lewis, b. 1865 – 1947, would be Florida’s first black millionaire. In 1935, he purchased 200 -acre tract along the Atlantic Ocean, which he named American Beach, It was a thriving vacation spot for African Americans, from the 1930s to the 1950s. American Beach including homes, beach rentals, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses.

5. Ariel is a character in Danish fairy tale, The Little Mermaid, by Hans Christian Andersen first published in 1837. The character was popularized in the 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid. In the original tale, to walk and to dance on her new legs caused excruciating pain, as if daggers.


Femmes Fatales

  • Transgender: (adj.) denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender.
  • Transvestite: (n.) a person, typically a man, who derives pleasure from dressing in clothes traditionally worn by the opposite sex.
  • Drag Queen: (n.) a man who dresses up in women’s clothes, typically for the purposes of entertainment.
  • Note: at the time of the Stonewall riots, the gay community did not have the same extensive vocabulary to describe sexuality as we do today. Marsha and Sylvia were transgender women, but primarily referred to themselves as drag queens or transvestites, which have separate meanings today. Transvestite is now considered a derogatory term.

For much of history, trans people and people of color have been excluded from both the gay rights and women’s rights movements, in spite of the fact that they are often the most negatively impacted by gender and sexuality-based discrimination. Two trans women of color, however, refused to be left out of the fight for equality from the very beginning. Activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were on the front lines of the fight for trans rights from as early as the 1960s when the movement was just beginning to gain traction.

Born in 1945 in New Jersey, Marsha P. Johnson was an outspoken African American trans rights/gay rights/AIDS activist, sex worker, and drag queen during the late 20th century. Famous for her uniqueness, individuality, passion for equality, and compassion for others, Marsha was truly a one-of-a-kind woman. Whenever she was asked what the “P” in her name stood for, she famously replied “Pay it No Mind.” Like the queen that she was, Marsha used the same reply when people pried about her gender or sexuality.

Sylvia Rivera was born in New York City in 1951 she was of Venezuelan and Puerto Rican descent, and worked as a trans rights/gay rights activist and drag queen around the same time. Rivera was orphaned at an early age, and after she began to wear makeup in the 4th grade, Sylvia was thrown out of her house by her grandmother at the young age of 11. At this point, Rivera began living on the street and working as a prostitute before she was adopted by the local drag queen community. These tremendous hardships could not crush Sylvia’s incredible spirit and passion for the fight for equality, however. As the saying by Gina Carey goes: “A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink.”

Rivera and Johnson’s paths crossed at the famous Stonewall riots in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City which catalyzed the modern gay rights movement. At this point in 1969, the Stonewall Inn was one of the few places in the city that the gay community was able to commune without suffering harassment from the police and public shaming. Furthermore, the regular patrons of Stonewall were not the mainstream members of the gay community (white males), but rather the most marginalized members. The most common patrons at Stonewall were drag queens, transgender people, butch lesbians, male sex workers, and homeless youth. Most of these patrons also happened to be living in poverty by virtue of the fact that they were outcasts even in their own subculture many were also people of color, as, at the time, much of the gay community tended to sideline members who were not white.

Marsha P. Johnson was celebrating her 25th birthday at Stonewall during the early morning hours of June 28 th , 1969 when the police began a raid of Stonewall under the guise of busting the establishment for selling liquor without a license. When the police began arresting and harassing gay patrons at the club that night, however, the gay community had had enough. Too many times, establishments across the city where gay patrons congregated had been raided and too many times, gay patrons had suffered persecution by the police.

At the time it was standard procedure for police officers to lead women in the club to the bathroom to verify their sex, and promptly arrest any crossdressers among the crowd. According to eyewitness reports, the police also began sexually harassing lesbian patrons at the bar that night while they frisked them. At this point a crowd of sympathizers had begun to gather outside the inn, and they watched in horror as employees and drag queens alike were dragged outside and violently handled by the police before being shoved into police cars. Finally, when a police officer clubbed a butch lesbian named Stormé DeLarverie over the head for saying that her handcuffs were too tight, a violent riot broke out and the crowd exploded. They could no longer stand silently and watch members of their community be assaulted and unjustly imprisoned for their sexuality.

Marsha P. Johnson was among the first of the patrons to resist the police that night, and Sylvia Rivera among the first in the crowd of onlookers to take action by throwing a bottle at her police oppressors. The riots they helped catalyze spread to surrounding neighborhoods until all of New York was in an uproar, and continued on to last several nights. Their bravery, along with the others at the bar that night, led to the gay liberation movement: one year after the riots the first gay pride parades were held, and two years after there were gay rights groups in every major American city.

After Stonewall, Marsha and Sylvia co-founded the organization STAR, or Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, a group dedicated to helping homeless young drag queens and trans women of color. They dedicated their lives to the fight for equality.

Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera serve as inspirational reminders that, even when the world seems to be pitted against us, we still must find the strength and courage to stand for what is right. And if others would try to stand in our way? Pay It No Mind.


The American Gay Rights Movement: A Timeline

This timeline provides information about the gay rights movement in the United States from 1924 to the present: including the Stonewall riots the contributions of Harvey Milk the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy the first civil unions the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and more.

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, revealing to the public that homosexuality is far more widespread than was commonly believed. 1951 The Mattachine Society, the first national gay rights organization, is formed by Harry Hay, considered by many to be the founder of the gay rights movement. 1955 The first lesbian-rights organization in the United States, the Daughters of Bilitis, was established in San Francisco in 1955. 1956 The Daughters of Bilitis, a pioneering national lesbian organization, is founded. 1958 Joe Cino, an Italian-American theater producer, opens Caffe Cino. Caffe Cino is credited with starting the Off-Off-Broadway theater movement. Six years after Caffe Cino opens, it hosts the first gay plays, The Madness of Lady Bright, by Lanford Wilson, and The Haunted Host, by Robert Patrick. 1962 Illinois becomes the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults in private. 1969 The Stonewall riots transform the gay rights movement from one limited to a small number of activists into a widespread protest for equal rights and acceptance. Patrons of a gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn, fight back during a police raid on June 27, sparking three days of riots. 1973 The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its official list of mental disorders. Harvey Milk runs for city supervisor in San Francisco. He runs on a socially liberal platform and opposes government involvement in personal sexual matters. Milk comes in 10th out of 32 candidates, earning 16,900 votes, winning the Castro District and other liberal neighborhoods. He receives a lot of media attention for his passionate speeches, brave political stance, and media skills. 1976 San Francisco Mayor George Moscone appoints Harvey Milk to the Board of Permit Appeals, making Milk the first openly gay city commissioner in the United States. Milk decides to run for the California State Assembly and Moscone is forced to fire him from the Board of Permit Appeals after just five weeks. Milk loses the State Assembly race by fewer than 4,000 votes. Believing the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club will never support him politically, Milk co-founds the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club after his election loss. 1977 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. 1978 On January 8, Harvey Milk makes national news when he is sworn in as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Running against 16 other candidates, he wins the election by 30 percent. Milk begins his term by sponsoring a civil rights bill that outlaws sexual orientation discrimination. Only one supervisor votes against it and Mayor Moscone signs it into law. John Briggs drops out of the California governor's race, but receives support for Proposition 6, also known as the Briggs Initiative, a proposal to fire any teacher or school employee who publicly supports gay rights. Harvey Milk campaigns against the bill and attends every event hosted by Briggs. In the summer, attendance greatly increases at Gay Pride marches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, partly in response to Briggs. President Jimmy Carter, former Governor Ronald Reagan, and Governor Jerry Brown speak out against the proposition. On November 7, voters reject the proposition by more than a million votes. On November 27, Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone are assassinated by Dan White, another San Francisco city supervisor, who had recently resigned and wanted his job back, but was being passed over because he wasn't the best fit for the liberal leaning Board of Supervisors and the ethnic diversity in White's district. San Francisco pays tribute to Harvey Milk by naming several locations after him, included Harvey Milk Plaza at the intersection of Market and Castro streets. The San Francisco Gay Democratic Club changes its name to the Harvey Milk Memorial Gay Democratic Club. 1979 About 75,000 people participated in the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Washington, D.C., in October. It was the largest political gathering in support of LGBT rights to date. 1980 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." 1982 Wisconsin becomes the first state to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. 1984 The city of Berkeley, California, becomes the first city to offer its employees domestic-partnership benefits. 1993 The ?Don't Ask, Don't Tell? policy is instituted for the U.S. military, permitting gay mento serve in the military but banning homosexual activity. President Clinton's original intention to revoke the prohibition against gay menin the military was met with stiff opposition this compromise, which has led to the discharge of thousands of men and women in the armed forces, was the result. On April 25, an estimated 800,000 to one million people participate in the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation. Several events such as art and history exhibits, public service outings and workshops are held throughout Washington, DC leading up the event. Jesse Jackson, RuPaul, Martina Navratilova, and Eartha Kitt are among the speakers and performers at a rally after the march. The march is a response to ?Don't Ask Don't Tell?, Amendment 2 in Colorado, as well as rising hate crimes and ongoing discrimination against the LGBT community. 1996 In Romer v. Evans, the Supreme Court strikes down Colorado's Amendment 2, which denied gayand lesbian peopleprotections 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.? 2000 Vermont becomes the first state in the country to legally recognize civil unions between gay or lesbian couples. The law states that these ?couples would be entitled to the same benefits, privileges, and responsibilities as spouses.? It stops short of referring to same-sex unions as marriage, which the state defines as heterosexual. 2003 The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Lawrence v. Texas that sodomy laws in the U.S. are unconstitutional. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, ?Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct.? In November, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that barring gayand lesbian peoplefrom marrying violates the state constitution. The Massachusetts Chief Justice concluded that to ?deny the protections, benefits, and obligations conferred by civil marriage? to gay couples was unconstitutional because it denied ?the dignity and equality of all individuals? and made them ?second-class citizens.? Strong opposition followed the ruling. 2004 On May 17, same-sex marriages become legal in Massachusetts. 2005 Civil unions become legal in Connecticut in October. 2006 Civil unions become legal in New Jersey in December. 2007 In November, the House of Representatives approves a bill ensuring equal rights in the workplace for gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals. 2008 In February, a New York State appeals court unanimously votes that valid same-sex marriages performed in other states must be recognized by employers in New York, granting same-sex couples the same rights as other couples. In February, the state of Oregon passes a law that allows same-sex couples to register as domestic partners allowing them some spousal rights of married couples. On May 15, the California Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. By November 3rd, more than 18,000 same-sex couples have married. On November 4, California voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage called Proposition 8. The attorney general of California, Jerry Brown, asked the state's Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of Proposition 8. The ban throws into question the validity of the more than 18,000 marriages already performed, but Attorney General Brown reiterated in a news release that he believed the same-sex marriages performed in California before November 4 should remain valid, and the California Supreme Court, which upheld the ban in May 2009, agreed, allowing those couples married under the old law to remain that way. November 4, voters in California, Arizona, and Florida approved the passage of measures that ban same-sex marriage. Arkansas passed a measure intended to bar gay men and lesbians from adopting children. On October 10, the Supreme Court of Connecticut rules that same-sex couples have the right to marry. This makes Connecticut the second state, after Massachusetts, to legalize civil marriage for same-sex couples. The court rules that the state cannot deny gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry under Connecticut's constitution, and that the state's civil union law does not provide same-sex couples with the same rights as heterosexual couples. On November 12, same-sex marriages begin to be officially performed in Connecticut. 2009 On April 3, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously rejects the state law banning same-sex marriage. Twenty-one days later, county recorders are required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On April 7, the Vermont Legislature votes to override Gov. Jim Douglas's veto of a bill allowing gayand lesbian peopleto marry, legalizing same-sex marriage. It is the first state to legalize gay marriage through the legislature the courts of the other states in which the marriage is legal?Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa?gave approval. On May 6, the governor of Maine legalized same-sex marriage in that state in Maine however, citizens voted to overturn that law when they went to the polls in November, and Maine became the 31st state to ban the practice. On June 3, New Hampshire governor John Lynch signs legislation allowing same-sex marriage. The law stipulates that religious organizations and their employees will not be required to participate in the ceremonies. New Hampshire is the sixth state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage. On June 17, President Obama signs a referendum allowing the same-sex partners of federal employees to receive benefits. They will not be allowed full health coverage, however. This is Obama's first major initiative in his campaign promise to improve gay rights. On August 12, President Obama posthumously awards Harvey Milk the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 2010 March 3, Congress approves a law signed in December 2009 that legalizes same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia. August 4, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker rules that Proposition 8, the 2008 referendum that banned same-sex marriage in California, violates the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. "Proposition 8 singles out gays and lesbians and legitimates their unequal treatment," Vaughn writes. "Proposition 8 perpetuates the stereotype that gays and lesbians are incapable of forming long-term loving relationships and that gays and lesbians are not good parents." December 18, the U.S. Senate votes 65 to 31 in favor of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the Clinton-era military policy that forbids openly gay men and women from serving in the military. Eight Republicans side with the Democrats to strike down the ban. The ban will not be lifted officially until President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agree that the military is ready to enact the change and that it won't affect military readiness. On Dec. 18, President Obama officially repeals the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military policy. 2011 June 24, New York passes a law to allow same-sex marriage. New York is now the largest state that allows gay and lesbian couples to marry. The vote comes on the eve of the city's annual Gay Pride Parade and gives new momentum to the national gay-rights movement. The marriage bill is approved with a 33 to 29 vote. Cheering supporters greet Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he arrives on the Senate floor to sign the measure at 11:55pm, just moments after the vote. After making same-sex marriage one of his top priorities, Cuomo emerges as a true champion of gay rights. 2012 February 7, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California rules 2?1 that Proposition 8, the 2008 referendum that banned same-sex marriage in state, is 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." 1966 The world's first the transgender organization, the National Transsexual Counseling Unit, was established in San Francisco. February 13, Washington becomes the seventh state to legalize gay marriage. March 1, Maryland passes legislation to legalize gay marriage, becoming the eighth state to do so. May 9, President Barack Obama endorses same-sex marriage. "It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married," he said. He makes the statement days after Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan both came out in support of gay marriage. Nov. 6, Tammy Baldwin, 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. Also on Election Day, gay marriage is approved in a popular vote for the first time. Maine and Maryland vote in favor of allowing same-sex marriage. In addition, voters in Minnesota reject a measure to ban same-sex marriage. 2013 Feb. 27, in a policy shift for party members, several Republicans back a legal brief asking the Supreme Court to rule that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. More than 100 Republicans are listed on the brief, including former New Hampshire Congressman Charles Bass and Beth Myers. Myers was a key adviser to Mitt Romney during his 2012 presidential campaign. The brief is filed as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to consider overturning Proposition 8, the California initiative banning same-sex marriage, as well as overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law passed during Bill Clinton's presidency, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. March 26, the Supreme Court begins two days of historical debate over gay marriage. During the debate, the Supreme Court consider overturning Proposition 8, the California initiative banning same-sex marriage, and the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law passed during Bill Clinton's presidency, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The Supreme Court's decision will be announced in June 2013. April 29, Jason Collins of the NBA's Washington Wizards announces in an essay in Sports Illustrated that he is gay. "I'm a 34-year-old N.B.A. center. I'm black and I'm gay," he writes. "I've reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful." Collins is the first active athlete in the NBA, NFL, NHL, or MLB to make the announcement. May 2, after same-sex marriage legislation passes in both houses of Rhode Island's legislature, Governor Lincoln Chafee signs it into law. The new law, legalizing same-sex marriage, goes into effect on August 1, 2013. May 7, Governor Jack Markell signs the Civil Marriage Equality and Religious Freedom act, legalizing same-sex marriage for the state of Delaware. The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2013. May 13, in Minnesota, the State Senate votes 37 to 30 in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. The vote comes a week after it passes in the House. Governor Mark Dayton, a supporter of same-sex marriage, says he will sign the bill the following afternoon. Gay couples will be able to marry in Minnesota in August 2013. June 26, the Supreme Court rules that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. In a 5 to 4 vote, the court rules that DOMA violates the rights of gayand lesbian people. The court also rules that the law interferes with the states' rights to define marriage. It is the first case ever on the issue of gay marriage for the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. votes against striking it down as does Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas. However, conservative-leaning Justice Anthony M. Kennedy votes with his liberal colleagues to overturn DOMA. July 17, Queen Elizabeth II approves a same-sex marriage bill for England and Wales. Her approval comes a day after it passes in Parliament. While the queen's approval is simply a formality, her quick response clears the way for the first gay marriages to happen as soon as 2014 in England and Wales. The bill allows same-sex couples to marry in both religious and civil ceremonies. It also allows couples currently in a civil partnership to convert it into a marriage. Scotland is currently considering its own new legislation on same-sex marriage. Aug. 1, Minnesota and Rhode Island begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples this month. Oct. 21, in an unanimous vote, the New Jersey Supreme Court rejects Gov. Chris Christie's request to delay the implementation date of same-sex weddings. Same-sex couples in New Jersey begin to marry. Just hours later, Christie drops his appeal to legalize same-sex marriages. Therefore, New Jersey becomes the 14th state to recognize same-sex marriages. To see a current list of all the states that have legalized same-sex marriage, go here. Nov. 5, Illinois becomes the 15th state to recognize same-sex marriages when the House of Representatives approves the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which passed the state Senate in February 2013. Governor Pat Quinn, a strong supporter of same-sex marriage, will sign it into law. The new law will be implemented on June 1, 2014. Nov. 12, Hawaii becomes the 16th state to recognize same-sex marriages when the Senate passes a gay marriage bill, which had already passed in the House. Governor Neil Abercrombie, a vocal supporter of gay marriage, says he will sign the bill. Beginning December 2, gay couples who are residents of Hawaii as well as tourists can marry in the state. Hawaii is already a very popular state for destination weddings. State Senator J. Kalani English says, "This is nothing more than the expansion of aloha in Hawaii." To see a current list of all the states that have legalized same-sex marriage, go here. 2014 Jan. 6, The United States Supreme Court blocks any further same-sex marriages in Utah while state officials appeal the decision made by Judge Shelby in late December 2013. The block creates legal limbo for the 1,300 same-sex couples who have received marriage licenses since Judge Shelby's ruling. Jan. 10, The Obama administration announces that the federal government will recognize the marriages of the 1,300 same-sex couples in Utah even though the state government has currently decided not to do so. In a video announcement on the Justice Department website, Attorney General Eric Holder says, "I am confirming today that, for purposes of federal law, these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages. These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds." With federal approval, same-sex couples will be able to receive spousal benefits, like health insurance for federal employees and filing joint federal income tax returns. May 19, Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Oregon when a U.S. federal district judge rules that the state's 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage violates the Equal Protection clause in the U.S. Constitution. May 20, A judge strikes down the same-sex marriage ban in Pennsylvania, making the state the 18th to legalize gay marriage. The judge rules that Pennsylvania's 1996 ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The state is the last in the Northeast to legalize same-sex marriage. Before now, the state did not even recognize domestic partnerships or civil unions. Oct. 6, The U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear appeals of rulings in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin that allowed same-sex marriage. The move paves the way for same-sex marriages in the five states. In fact, Virginia announced that unions would begin that day. Nov. 12, The U.S. Supreme Court denies a request to block same-sex marriage in Kansas. Nov. 19, A federal judge strikes down Montana's ban that same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Nov. 20, The U.S. Supreme Court denies a request to block same-sex marriage in South Carolina. The ruling means South Carolina becomes the 35th U.S. state where same-sex marriage is legal. 2015 June 26, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 5?4, in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry and that states cannot say that marriage is reserved for heterosexual couples. "Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. July 27, The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) ended its ban on gay adult leaders. The new policy was approved by the BSA National Executive Board by a 45-12 vote. The new policy did still allow church-sponsored Scout groups to ban gay adults for religious reasons. 2016 In the year since the June 26, 2015 landmark Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges that extended the right for same-sex couples to marry nationwide, the LGBT community has been fighting against discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. On May 13, 2016, President Obama weighed in on the "toilet wars"?legislation being hashed out in some states about which bathrooms transgender people have the right to use?with the guidelines: students may use bathrooms according to their self-identified gender.

Go to International Policies on Same-Sex Marriage for an updated list on which countries have legalized gay marriage.


Archives III & IV

This video is a series of brief clips from the Stonewall documentary produced in 2010. It accurately and concisely describes the events that happened the night police officers raided the Stonewall Inn.

“What was so good about the Stonewall was you could dance slow there you couldn’t show any affection out on the street” – this quote in particular stuck out to me from the video. It relates to many classroom discussions we’ve held about how norms affect our view of what is acceptable in public locations vs. what should be kept in private.

This webpage is the official website of the Stonewall Inn which includes a brief history of the Stonewall police raids. I liked this webpage because, until I found it, I did not realize that the Stonewall Inn is still in existence. One thing I wanted to question were the terms of the arrests. The article states that many were arrested for dressing in drag. Also, women could be arrested if they were not wearing at least 3 articles of “feminine” clothing. This was less than 50 years ago! How is it possible for them to make arrests based off of clothing types?! What even classifies an article of clothing as “feminine”?!


Educate yourself

Learn more about the Stonewall riots and the inspirational life but suspicious death of Marsha P. Johnson in the Netflix documentary The Death And Life Of Marsha P. Johnson .

If you want to get educated, check out our article on How To Educate Yourself About Racism And White Privilege . You can also donate to different organizations. We sum up a few for you:

– The NAACP Legal Defence Fund : this is an organization fighting for racial equality

– Black Visions Collective : this is a black-, trans-, and queer-led organization in affiliation with the Black Lives Matter Global Network

– Black Lives Matter : this is an organization that has the mission statement to bring justice, freedom, and healing to black people across the globe.

If you want to do even more, check out this Google Document with organizations to donate to, petitions to sign, and how to better educate yourself.


Watch the video: Chapter 1. Stonewall Uprising. American Experience. PBS


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