From a '70s Gay Liberation Front Poster (Used on the jacket cover of: Duberman, Stonewall, 1993.)
Each year in June, gay and lesbian individuals celebrate Gay Pride Month with ornate festivals and parades. Gay Pride Month commemorates the progress that the gay and lesbian rights movement has made, while acknowledging the challenges that lie ahead in gaining full acceptance of LGBT individuals in American society. Gay Pride Month traces its origin to an event that took place in 1969 in Greenwich Village, New York City, in Stonewall Inn. At the time, it was common all over the United States for police to raid gay and lesbian bars with the pretext of enforcing liquor laws. Patrons were subsequently arrested with no legitimate charges; their names were often published in newspapers, and many of them were fired from their jobs as a result. On June 27, 1969, when NYC police raided the Stonewall Inn, the patrons fought back. The wrangle quickly escalated into a riot, and the word quickly spread around the country about the gay people who fought back against the police.
The event became known as Stonewall Rebellion or Stonewall Riots. Prior to Stonewall, there was a small gay rights movement around the country; however, after 1969 the movement changed. Since then, LGBT people celebrate pride and call for basic civil rights by commemorating Stonewall.
February 14, 2007 Valentine's Day Celebration and Rally for AB43. County Government Center, Redwood City
There is currently little federal LGBT-specific civil rights legislation in the United States, and LGBT rights are often dealt with at state or local level. Thus the rights of LGBT individuals in one state may be very different from the rights of LGBT people in another state.
Other LGBT-related laws and rights:
Clerk-Assessor-Recoder & Chief Elections Officer Warren Slocum signs Valentines Day guest book of those in support of Same Sex Marriage.
AB 43, authored by Assemblymember Mark Leno, seeks to end marriage discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. AB 102, introduced by Assemblymember Fiona Ma, eases the restraints for individuals wishing to adopt their romantic partners’ last names. San Mateo County’s Chief Election Officer, Warren Slocum is an ardent supporter of the bills. Below are two letters Slocum wrote to express his support for the bill:
February 14, 2007 Valentine's Day Celebration and Rally for AB43. County Government Center, Redwood City.
6/12/07: Just wed? Cash in on this advice
By PAM BELLUCK
BOSTON, June 14 — Same-sex marriage will continue to be legal in Massachusetts, after proponents in both houses won a pitched months-long battle on Thursday to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
“In Massachusetts today, the freedom to marry is secure,” Gov. Deval Patrick said after the legislature voted 151 to 45 against the amendment, which needed 50 favorable votes to come before voters in a referendum in November 2008.
Jodi Hilton for The New York Times Leah Krieger, left, and Orly Jacobovits joined gay rights advocates celebrating outside the Massachusetts State House in Boston after legislators voted against a measure that would have put gay marriage on the ballot.
The vote means that opponents would have to start from Square 1 to sponsor a new amendment, which could not get on the ballot before 2012. Massachusetts is the only state where same-sex marriage is legal, although five states allow civil unions or the equivalent.
Thursday’s victory for same-sex marriage was not a foregone conclusion, especially after the amendment won first-round approval from the previous legislature in January, with 62 lawmakers supporting it.
As late as a couple of hours before the 1 p.m. vote on Thursday, advocates on both sides of the issue said they were not sure of the outcome. The eleventh-hour decisions of several legislators to vote against the amendment followed intensive lobbying by the leaders of the House and Senate and Governor Patrick, who, like most members of the legislature, is a Democrat.
“I think I am going to be doing a certain number of fund-raisers for districts, and I am happy to do that,” said Mr. Patrick, who said he had tried to persuade lawmakers not only that same-sex marriage should be allowed but also that a 2008 referendum would be divisive and distract from other important state issues.
About 8,500 same-sex couples have married in Massachusetts since the unions became legal in May 2004. In December 2005, opponents, led by the Massachusetts Family Institute, gathered a record 170,000 signatures for an amendment banning same-sex marriage, a measure that was supported by Mr. Patrick’s predecessor, Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican who is now running for president.
Kris Mineau, president of the institute, did not indicate on Thursday whether opponents would start a new petition drive, but said, “We’re not going away.”
“We want to find out why votes switched and see what avenues are available to challenge those votes, perhaps in court,” Mr. Mineau said.
The vote reflected changes in the legislature, the election of Mr. Patrick, and lobbying by national and local gay rights groups.
“This was the focus of our national community,” said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “Frankly, a loss today would have been very demoralizing.”
It is difficult to know how support for same-sex marriage has changed since legalization because polls taken before and after have asked different questions. The most recent Massachusetts poll, in April 2007, found that 56 percent of those surveyed would oppose the amendment.
One legislator who switched his vote was Representative Paul Kujawski, Democrat of Uxbridge, saying meetings with gay and lesbian constituents convinced him that “I couldn’t take away the happiness those people have been able to enjoy.”
Mr. Kujawski, who said he grew up in a conservative Roman Catholic neighborhood and had not understood gay relationships, said, “So many people said, ‘I didn’t ask to be gay; I was born this way.’ ”
He added, “Our job is to help people who need help, and I feel the gay side of the issue needed more help than the other side.”
Senator Gale D. Candaras, a Democrat, voted against the amendment Thursday, although she had supported it as a state representative in January. Ms. Candaras said her vote reflected constituent views in her larger, more progressive Senate district and her fear of a vicious referendum campaign.
Most moving, she said, were older constituents who had changed their views after meeting gay men and lesbians. One woman had “asked me to put it on the ballot for a vote, but since then a lovely couple moved in,” Ms. Candaras said. “She said, ‘They help me with my lawn, and if there can’t be marriage in Massachusetts, they’ll leave and they can’t help me with my lawn.”
Unlike several previous constitutional conventions on same-sex marriage with impassioned soliloquies, Thursday’s session took barely 10 minutes. Afterward, supporters of same-sex marriage, many in tears, erupted in standing ovations.
Katie Zezima contributed reporting.
By Jonathan Mandell
The Dillard family -- clockwise from left, Tanya, Sharon, Emma, Sam -- moved from Oklahoma to Massachusetts, and are moving back.
(CNN) -- To understand how much gay life in the United States has changed -- and how challenging it remains -- consider the story of the Dillards, Sharon and Tanya, who describe themselves as "a typical family with soccer, brand new puppies, church, choir and not enough time in the day."
When Sharon was born in 1962, homosexuality was treated in the country as a sin, a crime and a mental illness.
It was only in 1974 -- the year after Tanya was born -- that the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its manual of mental disorders.
In 2003, the year Sharon and Tanya became a couple, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the laws in states that singled out same-sex relations for criminal prosecution.
Is homosexuality still viewed as a sin? A recent Gallup Poll found Americans nearly evenly split between those who saw homosexual relations as "morally acceptable" (47 percent) and those who saw them as "morally wrong" (49 percent).
Some religious denominations now welcome gay parishioners and accept openly gay members of the clergy. The Episcopal Church in America has even consecrated an openly gay bishop. But some of those same denominations, including the Episcopalians, are now threatened with schism as a result.
Sharon, who grew up in Stillwater, Oklahoma, has a saying about the reaction of the religious in her home state: "In Oklahoma, I have more people praying for methan with me."
In one instance, the couple applied for membership in a Lutheran church in Oklahoma. Though they were eventually accepted, it was only after much debate and an unprecedented vote by the elders of the church.
A couple of years after they met in Ponca City, Oklahoma, Sharon and Tanya decided to make a big move to Massachusetts, which since 2004 has been the only one of 50 states to permit same-sex couples to get married legally. More than 8,500 couples have done so, including at least one couple from Oklahoma.
They did so for at least three reasons. First, both wanted to adopt the son and daughter that Sharon had adopted as a single parent.
Second, Tanya was a police officer and says she started having problems on the job because of her sexual orientation.
Third, the couple say they wanted to "validate" their relationship.
The were legally married on January 21, 2005, in a small ceremony at the courthouse in Plymouth, Massachusetts, at which time Sharon took Tanya's last name of Dillard.
Now, the Dillards have decided to move back to Oklahoma -- one of 27 states that have passed an amendment to their constitutions outlawing same-sex couples from getting married and denying recognition of such a marriage "performed in another state."
In doing so, they will be forced to navigate a shifting patchwork of state and federal laws giving them different rights in different states.
But they say they want their children to be near their grandparents, and Sharon has "a wonderful job offer in Oklahoma," where she'll be working as director of oncology services at a university medical center. "We are hopeful that views are beginning to change there."
Anthony Wilfert is hoping change will come too -- to the military. For him, though, it will come too late.
Now 22 and originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Wilfert reached the rank of sergeant while serving for three years in the Army, including a recently completed 12-month tour of Iraq. Then he was discharged for being gay.
"There are many, many gay and lesbian and bisexual members of the military who are hiding," he said.
But how many? How does one count people who are hiding? As visible as homosexuality has become, especially in politics and popular culture, there are still some basic questions about what supporters now call the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community that are only beginning to be answered.
"Sexual orientation is not a routinely asked question on surveys," explains Gary Gates, a demographer with the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. Gates has nevertheless pieced together a picture based on what little data exists, with the aid of what he calls "statistical wizardry."
Gates offers as a "reasonable estimate" some 8.8 million Americans who identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual. "We know very little about transgender," he says.
He extrapolates from U.S. census data that there are at least 770,000 same-sex couples who live together, and that such couples live in 99 percent of all counties in the United States.
"About 27 percent of same-sex couples have children in the home," Gates says. Most are natural-born offspring and the remainder are adopted, stepchildren, or relatives such as nieces and nephews.
Using the same statistical methods, Gates estimates there are some 65,000 gay and lesbian Americans on active military duty or in the reserves.
For all the furor over gays in the military and same-sex marriage there are a number of other significant issues separating the LGBT community from the rest of society.
Issues like job discrimination, anti-gay hate crimes, health issues, hospital visitation rights and the right to determine medical treatment for a partner are very important, not only to the LGBT community, but also to a society at large that needs to deal with the legal, social, economic and moral implications of these issues. Still, gay marriage and gays in the military feature prominently in public discourse and are already big issues in the 2008 presidential campaign. (See what the 2008 presidential contenders say about same-sex marriage)
There are strong emotions on both sides. It was his emotions, Wilfert said, that finally provoked him to take a stand.
"I was sick of hiding who I was; it's exhausting coming up with some lie about having a girlfriend back home, it really is," he says. "And I no longer wanted to work for an organization that was discriminating against me."
He waited until he was home from Iraq -- "I wanted to serve my country" -- and then he wrote a note to his commander, revealing his sexual orientation. He was discharged shortly afterward.
"It's a touchy subject, but America will have to come around to accepting a change in the policy," said Wilfert, now living in Nashville, Tennessee. "Each new generation has accepted more diversity. Eventually, with the new generation, it's going to change.