LGBT rights in the United States
|LGBT rights in the United States|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal nationwide since 2003
(Lawrence v. Texas)
|Gender identity/expression||Laws vary by state|
Yes (for lesbian, gay, and bisexual members); "Don't ask, don't tell" policy repealed in September 2011Transgender/transsexual and intersex persons not allowed to enlist
|Discrimination protections||federal civilian workforce, along with the government employment in the District of Columbia, and the United States Postal Service, since 1998 (see Executive Order 13087).|
|Same-sex unions recognized federally, varies by state|
|Defense of Marriage Act (1996) at federal level - Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act invalidated June 26, 2013 (United States v. Windsor), other restrictions vary by state|
|Adoption||Varies by state|
Sexual activity between consenting adults and adolescents of a close age of the same sex has been legal nationwide since 2003, pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas. Age of consent in each state varies from age 16 to 18; some states maintain different ages of consent for males/females or for same-sex/opposite-sex relations.
LGBT rights related laws including family, marriage, and anti-discrimination laws vary by state. Thirty-five states plus Washington, D.C. offer marriage to same-sex couples; these marriages are recognized by the federal government and Missouri, but not by the fourteen other states. Additionally, some states offer civil unions or other types of recognition which offer some of the legal benefits and protections of marriage.
Twenty-one states plus Washington, D.C and Puerto Rico outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, and eighteen states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico outlaw discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity are also punishable by federal law under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. In 2011 and 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that job discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals classified as a form of sex discrimination and thus violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Civil rights for LGBT people in the United States are advocated by a variety of organizations at all levels and concentrations of political and legal life, including the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
- 1 LGBT rights and federal and state law
- 1.1 Judicial history
- 1.2 Legislative history
- 1.2.1 Legislative history of same-sex marriage
- 1.2.2 Legislative history of civil unions and domestic partnerships
- 126.96.36.199 District of Columbia
- 188.8.131.52 Hawaii
- 184.108.40.206 California
- 220.127.116.11 Vermont
- 18.104.22.168 Rhode Island
- 22.214.171.124 New Jersey
- 126.96.36.199 Maine
- 188.8.131.52 Utah
- 184.108.40.206 Connecticut
- 220.127.116.11 Washington
- 18.104.22.168 New Hampshire
- 22.214.171.124 Oregon
- 126.96.36.199 New Mexico
- 188.8.131.52 Maryland
- 184.108.40.206 Colorado
- 220.127.116.11 Wisconsin
- 18.104.22.168 Nevada
- 22.214.171.124 Minnesota
- 126.96.36.199 Illinois
- 1.3 Initiative and referendum history
- 1.4 Restrictions
- 1.5 Blood and tissue donation
- 1.6 State adoption laws
- 1.7 Anti-discrimination laws
- 1.8 Conjugal visits
- 1.9 Military service
- 1.10 Laws regarding same-sex sexual activity
- 2 Reparations
- 3 Public opinion
- 4 U.S. political parties
- 4.1 US presidents
- 4.1.1 George Washington
- 4.1.2 John Adams
- 4.1.3 Thomas Jefferson
- 4.1.4 Andrew Jackson
- 4.1.5 Benjamin Harrison
- 4.1.6 William McKinley
- 4.1.7 Woodrow Wilson
- 4.1.8 Franklin Roosevelt
- 4.1.9 Harry Truman
- 4.1.10 Dwight Eisenhower
- 4.1.11 Lyndon B. Johnson
- 4.1.12 Richard Nixon
- 4.1.13 Gerald Ford
- 4.1.14 Jimmy Carter
- 4.1.15 Ronald Reagan
- 4.1.16 George H. W. Bush
- 4.1.17 Bill Clinton
- 4.1.18 George W. Bush
- 4.1.19 Barack Obama
- 4.2 Democratic Party
- 4.3 Republican Party
- 4.4 Libertarian Party
- 4.5 Constitution Party
- 4.6 Other political parties
- 4.1 US presidents
- 5 Summary table of LGBT rights goals in the United States
- 6 See also
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 References
- 9 External links
LGBT rights and federal and state law
State Supreme Court Decisions
In 1972, the Supreme Court of Minnesota in Baker v. Nelson ruled that a state's denial of a civil marriage license to a same-sex couple did not violate the U.S. Constitution. In 1993, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution's ban on sex discrimination entitled a same-sex couple to a civil marriage license unless the state could prove it had a "compelling state interest" for denying such a license. A lower court in Hawaii then found that the state had failed to show such a compelling interest, and same-sex marriage was legal in Hawaii for a day, before the judge stayed his ruling. Hawaii amended its constitution in 1998 to allow the legislature to restrict marriage to different-sex couples.
Five state Supreme Court decisions have legalized same sex marriage in five US states:
- On November 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that gay and lesbian couples could not be denied the right to marry because of the Equal Protection Clause of the state constitution. Same sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts on May 17, 2004.
- On May 15, 2008 the California Supreme Court ruled in In re Marriage Cases overturned Proposition 22, declared the statute banning same sex marriage was unconstitutional and gay and lesbian couples could not be denied the right to marry because of the Equal Protection Clause of the state constitution. Same sex marriage became legal in California on June 16, 2008 . On November 5, 2008 Proposition 8, a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, overturned the Supreme Court decision legalizing same sex marriage but this was itself overturned by Judge Vaughn Walker in Perry v. Brown and ruled unconstitutional because of the state's Equal Protection Clause on August 4, 2010. This was upheld on February 7, 2012 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and was heard by the United States Supreme Court in June 2013 with the same results.
- On October 10, 2008 the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health that gay and lesbian couples could not be denied the right to marry because of the Equal Protection Clause of the state constitution. Same sex marriage became legal in Connecticut on November 14, 2008.
- On April 3, 2009 the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in Varnum v. Brien that gay and lesbian couples could not be denied the right to marry because of the Equal Protection Clause of the state constitution. Same sex marriage became legal on April 26, 2009 in Iowa.
- On December 19, 2013 the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in Griego v. Oliver that marriage licenses must be issued to couples regardless of gender. Same-sex marriage became legal on December 19, 2013.
Two state Supreme Court decisions have legalized civil unions in two US states:
- On December 20, 1999 the Supreme Court of Vermont ruled in Baker v. Vermont that same-sex marriage or something similar must be implemented in 100 days. The Vermont state legislators choose civil unions. Civil unions became legal in Vermont on July 1, 2000.
- On October 25, 2006 the Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled in Lewis v. Harris same-sex marriage or something similar must be implemented in 100 days. The New Jersey state legislators choose civil unions. Civil unions became legal in New Jersey on February 19, 2007.
Two state Supreme Court decisions have allowed same sex couples to adopt:
- On September 22, 2010 the Supreme Court of Florida ruled in In re: Gill that the 1977 ban on homosexuals adopting children in Florida was unconstitutional allowing same sex couples to adopt children in Florida.
- On April 7, 2011 the Supreme Court of Arkansas ruled in Arkansas Department of Human Services v. Cole that the Arkansas Proposed Initiative Act No. 1 that banned non-married couples from adopting children was unconstitutional allowing same sex couples to adopt children in Arkansas.
Many states recognize through their judicial systems cohabitation agreements and common law partner agreements concluded between two partners in a relationship. These are de facto domestic partnerships that protect both parties and allow for shared property and court recognition of their relationships.
United States Supreme Court decisions
In March 1956, a Federal District Court ruled that ONE: The Homosexual Magazine, was obscene under the Federal Comstock laws and thus could not be sent through the United States Postal Service. This ruling was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, but in 1958, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a landmark ruling in One, Inc. v. Olesen, 355 U.S. 371, which overturned the previous rulings under a new legal precedent that had been established by the landmark case, Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 (1957). As a result, gay newspapers, magazines and other publications could be lawfully distributed through the public mail service. On May 22, 1967, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which among other things banned homosexuals, as constitutional. This ban remained in effect until 1991.
In 1972, a Tacoma, Washington teacher of twelve years with a perfect record was terminated after a former student outed him to the vice-principal. The Washington Supreme Court found that homosexuality was immoral and impaired his efficiency as a teacher. The court supported its conclusion in various ways, including the definition of homosexuality in the New Catholic Encyclopedia, the criminal nature of homosexual conduct, and finding that an "immoral" person could not be trusted to instruct students as his presence would be inherently disruptive. On October 3, 1977, the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari, although Justices Brennan and Marshall would have granted cert. This was the first homosexual discrimination decision to be aired on national network news. In fact, it was simultaneously aired on all three national network evening news shows, reaching approximately 60 million viewers.
In 1985, the Supreme Court heard Board of Education v. National Gay Task Force, which concerned First and Fourteenth Amendment challenges against a law that allowed schools to fire teachers for public homosexual conduct. The Court affirmed, by an equally divided vote, the Tenth Circuit's ruling that partially struck down the law.
Also in 1985, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of Gay Student Services v. Texas A&M University, letting stand an appellate ruling ordering the university to provide official recognition of a student organization for homosexual students. The case set a national precedent by removing legal restrictions against gay rights groups on college campuses.
On May 20, 1996, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Romer v. Evans against an amendment to the Colorado state constitution that would have prevented any city, town or county in the state from taking any legislative, executive, or judicial action to protect homosexual or bisexual citizens from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.
On March 4, 1998, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services that federal laws banning on-the-job sexual harassment also applied when both parties are the same sex. The lower courts, however, have reached differing conclusions about whether this ruling applies to harassment motivated by anti-gay animus.
On June 28, 2000, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Boy Scouts of America had a First Amendment right to exclude people from its organization on the basis of sexual orientation, irrespective of any applicable civil rights laws.
On June 26, 2003, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that intimate consensual sexual conduct is part of the liberty protected by substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. The majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, explicitly overruled Bowers v. Hardwick. Despite this ruling, some states have not repealed their sodomy laws and local law enforcement officers have used these statutes to harass or arrest gay people.
Ten years after the Lawrence v. Texas decision, the Supreme Court ruled on June 26, 2013 that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional "as a deprivation of the equal liberty of the person ... protected by the Fifth Amendment". United States v. Windsor, the title of the landmark case, was decided by a 5 to 4 vote. The federal government is required to recognize marriages performed in states where same-sex marriage has been legalized, and provide federal rights, privileges and benefits.
United States Court of Appeals Decision
On June 25, 2014, the Federal Tenth Circuit Court upheld the Utah Federal District Court ruling that struck down as unconstitutional the Utah state-constitutional ban of same sex marriage, and the legislative acts to deny any benefits to such married couples.
We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws...A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.
For the reasons stated in this opinion, we affirm.
Since the DOMA decision, on June 26, 2013, all federal judges, who have handed down decisions on the constitutionality of gay marriage bans, and unanimously declared them unconstitutional. This decision is the first to break that unanimity. One of the three Federal Court judges on the appeals panel, sided with the defendants, and declared the Utah ban of gay marriage to be constitutional.
Judge Paul Joseph Kelly, Jr. wrote in dissent
I disagree with this court’s conclusions that (1) Baker v. Nelson, 409 U.S. 810 (1972), need not be followed and that (2) the liberty guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment includes a fundamental right which requires Utah to extend marriage to same-gender couples and recognize same-gender marriages from other states. Because I conclude that there is no such fundamental right, it is unnecessary to consider whether Utah’s justifications for retaining its repeatedly-enacted concept of marriage pass heightened scrutiny. In my view, the provisions should be analyzed under traditional equal protection analysis and upheld as rationally related to (1) responsible procreation, (2) effective parenting, and (3) the desire to proceed cautiously in this evolving area.
All of the other federal judges, who have issued decisions on this issue, have rejected all of his legal conclusions.
United States District Court Decisions
By July 1, 2014, ten separate Federal District Court cases had been decided, after the Supreme Court's DOMA decision. All of these decisions are unanimous in finding that bans of gay marriage violate due process and equal protection and were therefore unconstitutional. Decisions were rendered in Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin These decisions were also unanimous in deciding that the Supreme Court decision in Baker v. Nelson (see above) no longer applies. U.S. District Judge John E. Jones, III ruled, in the Pennsylvania decision, that:13
"we, and our sister district courts that have examined precisely this same issue, no longer consider Baker v. Nelson controlling due to the significant doctrinal developments in the four decades that have elapsed since it was announced by the Supreme Court. determination, which has been resoundingly echoed by our sister district courts which have considered, and rejected, Baker’s precedential value in light of doctrinal developments in the areas of constitutional due process and equal protection."
Candy Wagahoff Dale, Chief United States Magistrate Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Idaho ruled,:12
"The Supreme Court’s marriage cases recognize an individual’s fundamental right to marry. The right transcends one’s race, confinement to prison, or ability to support children. Lawrence unequivocally cements marriage as among the constitutionally protected liberties shared by homosexual and heterosexual persons alike. The teaching of these cases is that the fundamental right to marry cannot be narrowed..."
Judge Jones' decision also said,:39
"The issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of 'separate but equal.' ... In the sixty years since Brown was decided, 'separate' has thankfully faded into history, and only 'equal' remains. Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage.
We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.
The June 6, 2014, opinion and order, of Judge Crabb said,:4
this case is about liberty and equality, the two cornerstones of the rights protected by the United States Constitution.
...the parties in this case...agree about...the central role that marriage plays in American society. It is a defining rite of passage...the most important for some. ...by refusing to extend marriage to the plaintiffs..., defendants are...denying equal citizenship to plaintiffs.
Since the turn of the century there was a strong push to enact specific legislation, or state constitutional amendments, either legalizing gay marriage, or banning it in nearly every state. As of June 1, 2014, the situation is fluid. In several states petitions are being circulated to place the issue on the November 2014 ballot. In every state with a ban there is a federal court case challenging the constitutionality of the ban.
Legislative history of same-sex marriage
Nine states and the District of Columbia legislators have passed same-sex marriage bills in their states, of which four were vetoed by the governors, four were signed by state governors and the mayor of Washington D.C., and one was overridden by the state legislature:
- In September 2003 the California state legislators passed a same-sex marriage bill which was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This was the first time a state legislature passed a same-sex marriage bill. In September 2007 the California state legislators again passed a same-sex marriage law, but it was once again vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. On October 12, 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill, passed by the California state legislature, that recognized same-sex marriages performed outside of the state of California before November 5, 2008. Same-sex marriages performed after November 5, 2013 are recognized in California with all of the legal rights of marriage but without the use of the word marriage.
- On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States in Hollingsworth v. Perry decided that the proponents of California Proposition 8 did not have legal standing to defend the provision of the California Constitution that stopped same-sex marriages in the state. Then, on June 28, 2013, a stay of effect, resulting from Proposition 8, was removed from the federal district court and thus, marriages by couples of the same-sex were allowed to be conducted again.
- On March 25, 2009, Governor Jim Douglas vetoed the same sex marriage bill passed by the Vermont state legislators. On April 7, 2009, the Vermont state legislators overrode the Governor's veto. Same-sex marriage in Vermont became legal on September 1, 2009.
- On May 6, 2009, Governor John Baldacci signed the same sex marriage bill passed by the Maine state legislators. On November 3, 2009, a voter referendum vetoed the state law that would have legalized same-sex marriage in Maine. In another voter initiative held on November 6, 2012, same-sex marriage was approved and became legal on December 29, 2012.
- On June 3, 2009, Governor Lynch signed the same-sex marriage bill passed by the New Hampshire state legislators. Same-sex marriage in New Hampshire became legal on January 1, 2010.
District of Columbia
- On December 18, 2009, Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the same-sex marriage bill passed by the Council of the District of Columbia. Same-sex marriages in the District of Columbia became legal on March 9, 2010.
- In June 2007 and December 2009 the New York state legislators attempted to pass a same sex marriage bill but it failed to pass. On May 29, 2008, Governor David Paterson directed all New York State agencies to begin to revise their policies and regulations to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. Governor Paterson's directive cited the Appellate Division decision in the Martinez case, as well as several lower court rulings. As a result of the governor's directive, New York became the first state that did not allow same-sex marriages, but whose state agencies recognized same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. On June 24, 2011, Governor Cuomo signed the same-sex marriage bill passed by the New York state legislature. Same-sex marriage became legal in New York on July 24, 2011. Prior to which, same-sex couples could be married in a neighboring state, such as Massachusetts, or Connecticut, and enjoy full state-level recognition of their marriage.
- On February 13, 2012, Governor Christine Gregoire signed same-sex marriage legislation, which was then approved in a voter referendum on November 6, and took effect on December 6.
- On February 16, 2012, the New Jersey state legislators passed a same-sex marriage bill. On February 17, 2012, Governor Chris Christie vetoed the same-sex marriage bill.
On September 27, 2013, a justice of the New Jersey Superior Court ruled in Garden State Equality v. Dow that civil unions are unequal to marriage, and thus the state must recognize and perform same-sex marriages. The governor initially requested a stay from the Supreme Court of New Jersey, but the request was unanimously denied. On October 18, 2013, the same day that county clerks started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Christie withdrew his appeal, effectively permanently legalizing same-sex marriage in New Jersey.
- On February 24, 2010, Maryland's Attorney General, Doug Gansler, issued an opinion after analyzing Maryland's comity laws that the state could recognize same-sex marriages performed in other U.S. states which permit same-sex marriage. According to Attorney General Gansler, the opinion is binding on state agencies effective immediately. On March 1, 2012, Governor Martin O'Malley signed the same-sex marriage bill passed by Maryland state legislators. Same sex marriage became legal in Maryland on January 1, 2013 after 52.4% of state voters approved the law in a referendum on November 6, 2012.
- On May 14, 2012, Governor Lincoln Chafee signed an executive order recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages.
- On May 2, 2013, he signed legislation authorizing same-sex marriage, effective August 1.
- On February 15, 2013, the Illinois Senate passed a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage. The bill passed in the House of Representatives on November 5, 2013. Governor Pat Quinn signed the bill into law two weeks later.
- On February 21, 2014, a federal judge authorized Cook County to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples without waiting for the Illinois statute legalizing same-sex marriage to take effect on June 1, and the county clerk began issuing licenses immediately. Other Illinois County Clerks began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as a result of that ruling.
- On May 11, 2011, Governor Jack Markell signed a civil union bill passed by the Delaware state legislators. Civil unions became legal in Delaware on January 1, 2012. Civil unions in Delaware grant almost exactly the same rights as married couples.
- On May 7, 2013, Governor Jack Markell signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Delaware, making it the 11th state to legalize same-sex marriage.
- On May 13, 2013, a same-sex marriage bill passed in the Senate, after being passed through the House on May 9.
- On May 14, 2013, Governor Mark Dayton signed the legislation into law, making Minnesota the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage, effective August 1, 2013.
Legislative history of civil unions and domestic partnerships
Fifteen U.S. states have civil unions or domestic partnerships:
District of Columbia
- On June 11, 1992, Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly signed into law a domestic partnership passed by the City Council. It came into effect on June 11, 1992 but was delayed from being implemented in the District of Columbia until 2002, due to a Republican rider added to delay its implementation. Domestic partnerships in the District of Columbia have been expanded over the years, the largest expansion was on May 6, 2008 when the City Council passed a domestic partnership expansion granting domestic partnerships almost exactly the same rights as married couples. On May 20, 2009, the City Council passed and signed into law allowing DC recognition of other states domestic partnerships and amending DC laws on parentage entitlements and rights to children from adult domestic partnerships. The proposed law became effective from July 20, 2009.
- The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that the state had no compelling interest to deny same-sex couples a marriage license. In response, Hawaii state legislators submitted a constitutional amendment to the public to reserve marriage regulation solely to the discretion of the state legislature. The amendment passed and prohibited implementation of the Supreme Court's ruling. In March 1996, Hawaii state legislators attempted and failed to pass a law to legalize domestic partnerships. In June 1997, Governor Ben Cayetano signed the Reciprocal Beneficiary Act into law, providing limited rights for a "legal relationship created when two consenting adults who are prohibited from marriage." In 2010, Governor Linda Lingle vetoed a civil union bill passed by the Hawaii state legislators. The same civil unions bill was signed into law by Governor Neil Abercrombie on February 23, 2011. Civil unions in Hawaii went into effect January 1, 2012. Civil unions in Hawaii grant most of the rights afforded to married couples.
- California state legislators attempted to pass four domestic partnerships bills in 1994, 1998, and twice in 1999, of which those in 1994 and 1998 were vetoed by Governor Pete Wilson both times. In 1999 Governor Davis vetoed a domestic partnership bill in order to sign another less broad bill into law. On September 22, 1999, Governor Gray Davis signed the domestic partnership bill passed by the California state legislators. Domestic partnerships became legal in California on January 3, 2000, becoming the first US state to legalize domestic partnerships. Domestic partnerships in California have been expanded over the years, the largest expansion was on September 4, 2003 when the California state legislators passed a domestic partnership expansion granting domestic partnerships almost exactly the same rights as married couples, along with recognizing civil unions and domestic partnerships performed out of state. This came into effect on January 1, 2005.
- Due to a state Supreme Court decision, on April 26, 2000, Governor Howard Dean signed a civil union bill passed by the Vermont state legislators. Civil unions became legal in Vermont on July 1, 2000, making it the first US state to recognize civil unions and the first to grant exactly the same rights as married couples.
- Since 2002, Rhode Island has allowed for domestic partnerships that provide some of the rights and benefits of marriage. On July 2, 2011, Governor Lincoln Chafee signed civil union bill passed by Rhode Island state legislators. Civil unions became legal in Rhode Island on July 1, 2011. Civil unions in Rhode Island grant almost exactly the same rights as married couples.
- On January 12, 2004, Governor Jim McGreevey signed a domestic partnership bill passed by the New Jersey state legislators. Domestic partnerships became legal in New Jersey on July 10, 2004.
- Due to a state Supreme Court decision, on December 21, 2006, Governor Jon Corzine signed a domestic partnership bill passed by the New Jersey state legislators. Civil unions became legal in New Jersey on February 19, 2007. Civil unions in New Jersey grant almost exactly the same rights as married couples.
- On April 28, 2004, Governor John Baldacci signed a domestic partnership bill passed by the Maine state legislators. Domestic partnerships became legal in Maine on July 30, 2004. Domestic partnerships in Maine offer limited recognition of same-sex relationships, but not all of the legal protections of marriage.
- In February 2005 Utah state legislators attempted to pass a reciprocal beneficiary relationship bill, but it failed to pass.
- On October 1, 2005, Governor Jodi Rell signed a civil unions bill passed by the Connecticut state legislators, and civil unions went into effect in Connecticut on the same day. On October 1, 2010, all existing civil unions were automatically transformed into marriages.
- On April 21, 2007, Governor Christine Gregoire signed a domestic partnership bill passed by the Washington state legislators. Domestic partnerships became legal in Washington on July 22, 2007. Domestic partnerships in Washington have been expanded over the years, the largest expansion was on November 6, 2009 when the voters of Washington passed Washington Referendum 71 was passed a domestic partnership expansion granting domestic partnerships almost exactly the same rights as married couples. This came into effect on December 3, 2009.
- In April 2007, the New Hampshire state legislators attempted to pass a civil union bill but it failed to pass. On May 31, 2007, Governor John Lynch signed a civil union bill passed by the New Hampshire state legislators. Civil unions became legal in Washington on January 1, 2008. On January 1, 2010, all existing civil unions were automatically transformed into marriages.
- In 2005 the Oregon state legislators attempted to pass a civil union bill but it failed to pass. On May 9, 2007, Governor Kulongoski signed a domestic partnership bill passed by the Oregon state legislators. Domestic partnerships became legal in Oregon on February 4, 2008. Domestic partnerships in Oregon grant almost exactly the same rights as married couples.
- In February 2008 and 2009, New Mexico state legislators attempted to pass a domestic partnership bill but each attempt failed.
- In May 2005 the Maryland state legislators attempted to pass a domestic partnership bill in Maryland but it was vetoed by Governor Bob Ehrlich. On May 22, 2008, Governor Martin O'Malley signed a domestic partnership bill passed by the Maryland state legislators. Domestic partnerships became legal in Maryland on July 1, 2008 and offered limited benefits to unmarried same-sex couples, but not all of the legal protections of marriage. Because voters in the state approved a law to legalize same-sex marriage on November 6, 2012, the state plans to end domestic partnership benefits on January 1, 2014.
- In 2014 Governor Martin O'Malley signed a law making it illegal to discriminate against transgender people on matters related to housing, credit, employment, and public restrooms. The law faced harsh opposition from Republicans who called it the "bathroom bill". There was an attempt by a conservative group to overturn the law by forcing referendum, but they came up about 1,000 signatures short of the required 18,500 signatures that are required to put the bill to referendum.
- On April 9, 2009, Governor Bill Ritter signed a domestic partnership bill passed by the Colorado state legislators. Domestic partnerships became legal in Colorado on July 1, 2009. Domestic partnerships in Colorado offer limited recognition of same-sex relationships, but not all of the legal protections of marriage. In March 2011 and May 2012 Colorado state legislators attempted to pass a civil unions bill, but it was killed both times by the Republicans. In March 2013, the Colorado Senate and House passed a bill legalizing civil unions, which Governor John Hickenlooper signed on March 21, 2013. Civil unions began in Colorado on May 1, 2013.
- On June 29, 2009, Governor Jim Doyle signed a domestic partnership bill passed by the Wisconsin state legislators. Domestic partnerships became legal in Wisconsin on August 3, 2009. Domestic partnerships in Wisconsin offer limited recognition of same-sex relationships, but not all of the legal protections of marriage.
- On May 26, 2009, Governor Jim Gibbons vetoed a domestic partnership bill passed by the Nevada state legislators. This veto was overridden by the Senate on May 30, 2009. Domestic partnerships became legal in Nevada on October 1, 2009. Domestic partnerships in Nevada grant almost exactly the same rights as married couples.
- In May 2010 Minnesota state legislators attempted to pass a domestic partnership bill, but it was vetoed by the governor.
- On May 13, 2013, a bill that passed through the House in attempt to legalize same-sex marriages in the state passed the Senate. Minnesota was the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage.
- On January 12, 2011, Governor Pat Quinn signed a civil union bill passed by the Illinois state legislators. Civil unions became legal in Illinois on June 1, 2011. Civil unions in Illinois provide almost the same rights as marriages.
Initiative and referendum history
Fifteen states had initiatives to vote on same sex marriage and all but one time same sex marriage was defeated. In the 2012 November elections, Washington, Maryland, and Maine all had referendums to vote on same sex marriage. In this same election, Minnesota had an initiative to add a constitutional ban on same sex marriage. Following the results of this election, Maryland, Maine, and Washington became the first states to allow same-sex marriage through popular vote. while in turn Minnesota voters rejected the proposed ban.
- On November 7, 1978, California voted 41.6% in favor and 58.4% against Proposition 6, also known as Briggs Initiative, which if passed would have banned gays and lesbians, and possibly anyone who supported gay rights, from working in California's public schools. California became the first US state to vote in favor of gay rights. The Briggs Initiative was the first ballot measure to try and restrict gay rights.
- On November 3, 1992, Colorado voted 53.41% in favor and 46.59% against Initiative 2 which was a constitutional amendment which prohibited local laws from giving protected status for sexual orientation. Initiative 2 was later ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1996.
- On November 3, 1992, Oregon voted 43.5% in favor and 56.5% against Oregon Ballot Measure 9 (1992) was an amendment that if passed would have banned the government in Oregon to use their monies or properties to "promote, encourage or facilitate" homosexuality.
- On March 7, 2000, California voted 61.40% in favor and 38.60% against Proposition 22 which banned same sex marriage in the California stature. Proposition 22 was found unconstitutional and overturned by the California Supreme Court in 2008.
- November 7, 2000, Nebraska voted 67.5% in favor and 28.8% against Nebraska Initiative Measure 416 (2000) which bans same sex marriage and civil unions in the constitution.
- On November 7, 2000, Nevada voted 69.62% in favor and 30.38% against Nevada Question 2 (2000). On November 7, 2002, Nevada voted 67.20% in favor and 32.80% against Nevada Question 2 (2002) again, which after the second approval, banned same sex marriage in the constitution.
- On November 2, 2004, Arkansas voted 75% in favor and 25% against Arkansas Constitutional Amendment 3 (2004), which bans same sex marriage and civil unions in the constitution.
- On November 2, 2004, Montana voted 66.6% in favor and 33.4% against Montana Initiative 96 (2004), which bans same sex marriage in the constitution.
- On November 2, 2004, North Dakota voted 73.23% in favor and 26.77% against North Dakota Constitutional Measure 1 (2004), which bans same sex marriage and civil unions in the constitution.
- On November 2, 2004, Ohio voted 61.71% in favor and 38.29% against Ohio State Issue 1 (2004), which bans same sex marriage and civil unions in the constitution.
- On November 2, 2004, Oregon voted 56.63% in favor and 43.37% against Oregon Ballot Measure 36 (2004), which bans same sex marriage in the constitution.
- On November 2, 2004, Michigan voted 58.6% in favor and 41.4% against Michigan State Proposal – 04-2 (2004), which bans same sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships in the constitution.
- On November 7, 2006, Colorado voted 47.65% in favor and 52.35% against Colorado Referendum I (2006), which would have passed would have legalized domestic partnerships in Colorado. Also on the same day Colorado voted 55.02% in favor and 44.98% against Amendment 43 which banned same sex marriage in the constitution.
- On November 7, 2006, Arizona voted 48.2% in favor and 51.8% against Proposition 107, which would have banned same sex marriage and civil unions in the Arizona state constitution.
- On April 3, 2007, Alaska voted 52.8% in favor and 47.2% against Alaska Advisory Vote on Same-Sex Public Employment Benefits, which would have prohibit the state, or a municipality or other subdivision of the state, from providing employment benefits to same-sex partners of public employees and to same-sex partners of public employee retirees. Although the referendum passed a bill to place such a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November 2008 stalled in the state legislature.
- On November 4, 2008, Florida voted 61.92% in favor and 38.08% against Florida Amendment 2, which bans both same sex marriage and civil unions in the constitution.
- On November 4, 2008, Arkansas voted 57.07% in favor and 42.93% against Arkansas Proposed Initiative Act No. 1, which was a constitutional amendment that banned all unmarried couples from adopting children.
- On November 4, 2008, California voted 52.24% in favor and 47.76% against Proposition 8, which overturned the In re Marriage Cases decision legalizing same sex marriage by banning same sex marriage in the constitution. Proposition 8 has since been declared unconstitutional.
- On November 6, 2009, Maine voted 52.75% in favor and 47.25% against Maine Question 1 which vetoed the same sex marriage law from coming into effect.
- On November 6, 2009, Washington voted 53.15% in favor and 46.85% against Referendum 71 to allow the "everything but marriage" domestic partnership expansion to go into effect on December 3, 2009. This made Washington the first state to vote to expand rights of same sex couples.
- On May 8, 2012, North Carolina voted 61.04% in favor and 38.96% against North Carolina Amendment 1, which bans same sex marriage and civil unions in the constitution.
- On November 6, 2012, Maryland voted 52.4% in favor and 47.6% against Question 6 which allowed same-sex couples to receive civil marriage licenses starting January 1, 2013. Maryland became one of the first states to approve same-sex marriage through a popular vote.
- On November 6, 2012, Maine voted 53% in favor and 47% against Maine Question 1 which overturned the 2009 voter-approved ballot measure to ban a previous law allowing same sex marriage. Maine also became one of the first states to pass same sex marriage through popular vote.
- On November 6, 2012, Washington voted 54% in favor and 46% against Referendum 74 which allowed same sex marriage to be legalized in the state. Washington state also became one of the first states to pass same sex marriage through popular vote.
- On November 6, 2012, Minnesota voted 47.66% in favor and 52.34% against Minnesota Amendment 1, a proposed amendment to the Minnesota state constitution which would have restricted marriage to opposite-sex couples.
Defense of Marriage Act
The events of the Hawaii Supreme Court prompted the United States Congress to enact the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, which forbade the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions and relieved states of the requirement that they recognize same-sex unions performed in other jurisdictions.
On June 26, 2013, Section 3 of DOMA was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor.
State constitutional amendments
There was a backlash after Massachusetts legalized same sex marriage during the 2004 election cycle where fourteen states amended their constitution to ban recognition of same-sex marriages and often civil unions as well. Mississippi voters amended their constitution, 86% to 14% – the largest margin in any state – to ban same-sex marriage and to prohibit the state from recognizing same-sex marriages that are legal elsewhere. Laws in Virginia, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina and Ohio, the most far-reaching, forbid recognition of any benefits similar to those of marriage between people of the same sex.
Twenty-eight states have passed state constitutional amendments that ban same-sex marriage: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
California Proposition 8 was found unconstitutional in 2010 by a United States District Court. The case was appealed to the Ninth Circuit and later the Supreme Court, but since the government of California declined to defend the ballot measure, the Supreme Court ruled on June 26, 2013 to dismiss both appeals. On June 28, 2013, the Ninth Circuit lifted its stay of the district court's ruling, enabling same-sex marriages to resume.
After the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 many state legislators enacted state statutes, nicknamed mini-DOMA's, that ban same sex marriage. Twenty-seven states have state statutes that ban same-sex marriage: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Nebraska, Nevada, and Oregon all have constitutional amendments banning same sex marriage, but no state statutes banning same sex marriage. California's Statute has not been repealed but is no longer in effect as a result of both In Re Marriage Cases and Hollingsworth.
California, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Delaware, Maine, Washington, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia used to have statutes banning same sex marriage, until they were overturned by courts or repealed by the state legislature. Proposition 22, the initiative which reinforce the 1977 statute ban on same-sex marriage in California, was declared unconstitutional by the California Supreme Court in 2008 but was subsequently reinstated by Proposition 8 until it was struck down in Hollingsworth.
Blood and tissue donation
In the US, the current guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is to permanently defer any male donor who has had sex with another man, in the period from 1977 to the present day. Furthermore, FDA regulations prevent the donation of tissues not considered lifesaving from men who have had sex with other men or have an unknown sexual history.
State adoption laws
A single individual gay person may adopt in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia, although there are fewer states where they may adopt children jointly with their partners.
Full joint adoption and stepparent adoption by same-sex couples is legal in the following states or jurisdictions:
- District of Columbia,
- New Hampshire,
- New Jersey,
- New York,
- Rhode Island,
Full joint adoption, but not stepparent adoption, is legal in the following states:
Stepparent adoption, but not full joint adoption, is legal in the following states:
On April 14, 2010, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order to the Department of Health and Human Services to draft new rules for all hospitals accepting Medicare or Medicaid funds. They would require facilities to grant visitation and medical decision-making rights to gay and lesbian partners, as well as designees of others such as widows and widowers. Such rights are not protected by law in many states. Obama said he was inspired by the case of a Florida family, where one of the mothers died while her partner and four children were denied visitation by the hospital.
The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) is an agency within the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. FHEO is responsible for administering and enforcing federal fair housing laws and establishing policies that make sure all Americans have equal access to the housing of their choice. Housing discrimination refers to discrimination against potential or current tenants by landlords. In the United States, there is no federal law against such discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, but at least twenty-one states and many major cities have enacted laws prohibiting it. See, for example, Washington House Bill 2661.
In 2012, The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity issued a regulation to prohibit LGBT discrimination in federally-assisted housing programs. The new regulations ensure that the Department's core housing programs are open to all eligible persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity is responsible for enforcing a variety of fair housing laws, which prohibit discrimination in both privately owned and publicly assisted housing including:
- The Fair Housing Act
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- Section 109 of Title 1 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974
- Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
- Architectural Barriers Act of 1968
- Age Discrimination Act of 1975
- Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972
There is no federal statute addressing employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Protections at the national level are limited. Some regulations protect government employees but do not extend their protections to the private sector. Twenty-one states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and over 140 cities and counties have enacted bans on discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or sexual identity. Employment discrimination refers to discriminatory employment practices such as bias in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, and compensation, and various types of harassment. In the United States there is "very little statutory, common law, and case law establishing employment discrimination based upon sexual orientation as a legal wrong."
Presidents have established certain protections for some employees of the federal government by executive order. In 1995, President Bill Clinton's Executive Order 12968 establishing criteria for the issuance of security clearances included sexual orientation for the first time in its non-discrimination language: "The United States Government does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation in granting access to classified information." It also said that "no inference" about suitability for access to classified information "may be raised solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the employee." Clinton's Executive Order 13087 in 1998 prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in the competitive service of the federal civilian workforce. It applied to the large majority of federal employees, but not to the excepted services such as the military.
At the start of 2010, the Obama administration included gender identity among the classes protected against discrimination under the authority of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). On July 1, 2011, the EEOC ruled that job discrimination against lesbians, gays and bisexuals constituted a form of sex-stereotyping and thus violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On April 20, 2012, the EEOC went further and ruled that gender identity was also a protected class under the ban on sex discrimination found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
On July 21, 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13672, adding "gender identity" to the categories protected against discrimination in hiring in the federal civilian workforce and both "sexual orientation" and gender identity" to the categories protected against discrimination in hiring and employment on the part of federal government contractors and sub-contractors.
Hate crime laws
Hate crime laws (also known as bias crimes laws) protect against crimes motivated by feelings of enmity against a protected class. Until 2009, a 1969 federal law defined hate crimes committed on the basis of a person's race, color, religion, or nation origin when engaging in a federally protected activity. In October 2009, Congress passed the Matthew Shepard Act, which expanded the definition of hate crimes to include gender, sexual orientation, gender-identity, and disability. It removed the requirement that the victim of a hate crime be engaged in a federally protected activity. President Obama signed the legislation on October 28, 2009.
Two statutes, the Hate Crime Statistics Act (1990) and the Campus Hate Crimes Right to Know Act (1997), require the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as college/university campus security authorities, to collect and publish hate crime statistics.
Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have statutes criminalizing various types of bias-motivated violence or intimidation (the exceptions are AR, GA, IN, SC, and WY). Each of these statutes covers bias on the basis of race, religion, and ethnicity; 32 cover disability; 32 of them cover sexual orientation; 28 cover gender; 13 cover age; 18 cover transgender/gender-identity; 5 cover political affiliation. 31 states and the District of Columbia have statutes creating a civil cause of action, in addition to the criminal penalty, for similar acts. 27 states and the District of Columbia have statutes requiring the state to collect hate crime statistics; 16 of these cover sexual orientation.
In Wisconsin v. Mitchell (1993) the Supreme Court unanimously held that state penalty-enhancement laws for hate crimes were constitutional and did not violate First Amendment rights to freedom of thought and expression.
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In the United States, six states permit conjugal visits to prisoners: California, Connecticut, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York and Washington. All except Mississippi have legalized same-sex marriage. In June 2007, California, following the enactment in 2005 of a state law requiring state agencies to provide the same rights to domestic partners as to married couples, became the first US state to allow same-sex conjugal visits. The new rules allowed for visits only by registered same-sex married couples or domestic partners, provided that the same-sex marriage or domestic partnership was established before the prisoner was incarcerated. In April 2011, New York adopted rules to allow conjugal visits for same-sex partners who are married or in civil unions.
Prior to 1993, lesbian and gay people were not permitted to serve in the US military. Under the "Don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy enacted that year, they were permitted to do so only if they did not disclose their sexual orientation. The Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 permitted homosexual men and women to serve openly in the armed forces following once designated government officials certified that the military was prepared for the repeal. Since September 20, 2011, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals have been able to serve openly. Transgender and intersex service-members however are still banned from serving openly, due to Department of Defense medical policies which consider gender identity disorder to be a medically disqualifying condition.
Laws regarding same-sex sexual activity
Prior to the 2003 Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, same-sex sexual activity was illegal in fourteen US states, Puerto Rico, and the US military.
By that time, twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and five territories had repealed their state's sodomy laws by legislative action. After the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," the US Congress repealed sodomy laws in the US military. Twelve states have had state Supreme Court or state Appeals courts rule that their state's sodomy laws were unconstitutional. Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Virginia have all had their state sodomy laws struck down by the courts, but the legislatures have not repealed those laws. On April 18, 2013, the governor of Montana signed a bill repealing that state's sodomy law; it had previously been nullified by a state court decision.
Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah have yet to repeal or strike down their state's sodomy laws, although these are unenforceable since the US Supreme Court ruling.
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In 2003 Robert DeKoven, a professor at California Western School of Law in San Diego, was the first proponent to argue that gays and lesbians in the United States should be redressed for what they have suffered through years and decades of suppression and attacks. DeKoven cited the examples of the European Court of Human Rights as a model. New York University Professor Jacob Appel also argued that cause in 2009 in the Free Press.
A March 2014 public opinion poll by Washington Post/ABC News showed support for same-sex marriage at 59% among Americans, and a February 2014 New York Times/CBS News opinion poll showed 56% support for same-sex marriage. A November 2012 Gallup poll indicated 61% support for gays and lesbians being allowed to adopt children.
Older polls showed that the nation could be divided into roughly equal thirds: one third supports same-sex marriage completely, another supports only civil unions, and the last is against any form of union entirely. However, in terms of attitudes to homosexuality, the United States can hardly be called one country. It is common for polls to show a clear majority support for same-sex marriage in Northeastern states, and Pacific Coast states. States that have consistently shown a majority support for same-sex marriage for at least the past few years include Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. While some of these states do not have same-sex marriage, Iowa, which does have same-sex marriage, does not have majority support; in fact, polls place support in the high forties (slightly lower than the national average). In New York, where there was majority support reported since 2005, marriage became legal on July 24, 2011. Iowa falls into a second category of states, where new generations of voters overwhelmingly support same-sex marriage (those under thirty have support placed above 60%).
The main supporters of gay rights in the U.S. have generally been political liberals and libertarians. Regionally, support for the gay rights movement has been strongest in the areas of the North and West coasts, and in other states with large urban populations. Although the national Republican Party official platform opposes gay rights in the early 21st century, groups advocating for LGBT issues inside the party include the Log Cabin Republicans, GOProud, Young Conservatives For The Freedom To Marry, and College Republicans of the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. A poll in March 2014 found that 40% of Republicans support same-sex marriage. In 2013, 52% of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents between the age of 18–49 years old supported same-sex marriage in a joint Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The main opponents of gay rights in the U.S. have generally been political and religious conservatives. Conservatives cite various Bible passages from the Old and New Testaments as their justification for opposing gay rights. Regionally, opposition to the gay rights movement has been strongest in the South and in other states with a large rural and conservative population.
As the movement for same-sex marriage has developed, many national and/or international organizations have opposed that movement. Those organizations include the American Family Association, the Christian Coalition, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, Save Our Children, NARTH, the national Republican Party, the Roman Catholic Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the Southern Baptist Convention, Alliance for Marriage, Alliance Defense Fund, Liberty Counsel, and the National Organization for Marriage. A number of these groups have been named as anti-gay hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
U.S. political parties
- Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army
To train the new American Army in the latest military drills and tactics, General George Washington brought in Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (1730–94), who had been an officer on the German General staff. Von Steuben escaped Germany where he was threatened with prosecution for homosexuality. He joined Washington's army at Valley Forge in February 1778 accompanied by two young aides. Steuben became an American general, and a senior advisor to Washington. Despite rumors about sexual behavior at his parties, there never was an investigation of Steuben, and he received a Congressional pension after the war.
The first evidence of antipathy to homosexuals serving in the United States military dates from March 11, 1778, when Lieutenant Frederick Gotthold Enslin was brought to trial before a court-martial. According to General Washington's report: "...Lieutt. Enslin of Colo. Malcolm's Regiment tried for attempting to commit sodomy ..." Washington's secretary described the results of the trial: "His Excellency the Commander in Chief approves the sentence and with Abhorrence & Detestation of such Infamous Crimes orders Lieut. Enslin to be drummed out of Camp tomorrow morning...."
In 1801, Congress enacted the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801 that continued all criminal laws of Maryland and Virginia in the now formally structured District, with those of Maryland applying to that portion of the District ceded from Maryland, and those of Virginia applying to that portion ceded from Virginia. At the time, Maryland had a sodomy law applicable only to free males with a punishment of "labour for any time, in their discretion, not exceeding seven years for the same crime, on the public roads of the said county, or in making, repairing or cleaning the streets or bason [sic] of Baltimore-town;" it imposed the death penalty for slaves committing sodomy. Similarly, Virginia had a penalty of 1–10 years for free persons committing sodomy, but imposed the death penalty for slaves committing sodomy. The law went into effect on February 27, 1801.
- Governorship of Virginia
In 1779, Thomas Jefferson wrote a law in Virginia which contained a punishment of castration for men who engage in sodomy. However, what was intended by Jefferson as a liberalization of the sodomy laws in Virginia at that time was rejected by the Virginia Legislature, which continued to prescribe death as the maximum penalty for the crime of sodomy in that state.
In 1831, Congress established penalties in the District of Columbia for a number of crimes, but not for sodomy. It specified that "every other felony, misdemeanor, or offence not provided for by this act, may and shall be punished as heretofore[.]" At the time, Maryland and Virginia had a penalty of 1–10 years for committing sodomy. It went into effect in March 2, 1831.
In 1892, Congress passed a law for the District of Columbia that states that "for the preservation of the public peace and the protection of property within the District of Columbia." Labeled in the law as vagrants were "all public prostitutes, and all such persons who lead a notoriously lewd or lascivious course of life[.]" All offenders had to post bond of up to $200 for good behavior for a period of six months. The law went into effect on July 29, 1892.
In 1898, Congress deleted the word "notoriously" from the provision concerning a lewd or lascivious course of life, thereby allowing prosecution of persons without the condition of notoriety. The bond for good behavior was raised to $500, and the law was made gender-neutral. The law went into effect on July 8, 1898.
In 1901, Congress adopted a new code for the District of Columbia that expressly recognized common-law crimes, with a penalty for them of up to five years and/or a $1,000 fine. The law went into effect on March 3, 1901.
On December 14, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson vetoed the Immigration Act of 1917, excluded individuals from entering the United States who were found "mentally defective" or who had a "constitutional psychopathic inferiority." A similar Public Health Service definition of homosexuals was used simultaneously by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to reinforce the language of the Immigration Act of 1917 and effectively ban all homosexual immigrants who disclosed their sexual minority status. On February 5, 1917, the Congress overrode Wilson's veto, implementing the Immigration Act of 1917 into law.
On March 1, 1917, the Articles of War of 1916 are implemented. This included a revision of the Articles of War of 1806, the new regulations detail statutes governing U.S. military discipline and justice. Under the category Miscellaneous Crimes and Offences, Article 93 states that any person subject to military law who commits "assault with intent to commit sodomy" shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
On June 4, 1920, Congress modified Article 93 of the Articles of War of 1916. It was changed to make the act of sodomy itself a crime, separate from the offense of assault with intent to commit sodomy. It went into effect on February 4, 1921.
- Assistant Secretary of the Navy
In 1919, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt requests an investigation into "vice and depravity" in the sea services, which launches a sting operation in which undercover operatives attempt to seduce sailors suspected of being homosexual. At least 17 sailors are jailed and court-martialed before public outcry prompts the Senate to condemn the operation.
In 1935, Congress passed a law for the District of Columbia that made it a crime for "any person to invite, entice, persuade, or to address for the purpose of inviting, enticing, or persuading any person or persons...to accompany, to go with, to follow him or her to his or her residence, or to any other house or building, inclosure, or other place, for the purpose of prostitution, or any other immoral or lewd purpose." It imposed a fine of up to $100, up to 90 days in jail, and courts were permitted to "impose conditions" on anyone convicted under this law, including "medical and mental examination, diagnosis and treatment by proper public health and welfare authorities, and such other terms and conditions as the court may deem best for the protection of the community and the punishment, control, and rehabilitation of the defendant." The law went into effect on August 14, 1935.
In 1941, Congress enacted a new solicitation law for the District of Columbia that labeled a "vagrant" any person who "engages in or commits acts of fornication or perversion for hire." The law went into effect on December 17, 1941.
In 1948, Congress enacted the first sodomy law in the District of Columbia, which established a penalty of up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $1,000 for sodomy. Also included with this sodomy law was a psychopathic offender law and a law "to provide for the treatment of sexual psychopaths in the District of Columbia, and for other purposes." The law went into effect on June 9, 1948.
On May 5, 1950, the Uniform Code of Military Justice was passed by Congress and was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman, and became effective on May 31, 1951. Article 125 forbids sodomy among all military personnel, defining it as "any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the offence."
On June 25, 1952, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 was vetoed by President Truman because he regarded the bill as "un-American" and discriminatory. The bill prohibits "aliens afflicted with a psychopathic personality, epilepsy, or a mental defect" from entry into the United States. Congress would later override his veto and implemented the act into law.
On April 27, 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10450 which prohibits Federal employees from being members of a group or organization considered subversive. The order lists "sexual perversion" as a security risk constituting grounds for termination or denial of employment. The order went into effect on May 27, 1953.
Without explicitly referring to homosexuality, the executive order responded to several years of charges that the presence of homosexual employees in the State Department posed blackmail risks. Attorney General Herbert Brownell, Jr. explained that the new order was designed to encompass both loyalty and security risks and he differentiated between the two: "Employees could be a security risk and still not be disloyal or have any traitorous thoughts, but it may be that their personal habits are such that they might be subject to blackmail by people who seek to destroy the safety of our country."
The press recognized the revolutionary nature of the new executive order. The Washington Post said that it established not a loyalty test but a "suitability test." Some in government referred to their new "integrity-security" program. Some of those the press expected to be excluded from federal employment included "a person who drinks too much," "an incorrigible gossip," "homosexuals," and "neurotics."
In 1953, Congress changed the solicitation law in the District of Columbia so that the jail term of up to 90 days was retained, but the maximum fine was raised to $250, and the reference to the power of judges to "impose conditions" on the defendant was removed. The law went into effect on June 29, 1953.
Lyndon B. Johnson
- Senator of Texas
On October 19, 1964, Walter Jenkins, a longtime top aide to President Johnson, had been arrested by District of Columbia Police in a YMCA restroom. He and another man were booked on a disorderly conduct charge.
In October 1964, Johnson released a statement of sympathy for Jenkins who "has worked with me faithfully for 25 years, with dedication, devotion and tireless labor" He also fed conspiracy theories that Jenkins had been framed. He claimed that before his arrest Jenkins had attended a cocktail party where the waiters came from the Republican National Committee, though the party was hosted by Newsweek to celebrate the opening of its new offices. Johnson told Fortas that Jenkins needed to resign. On October 14, 1964, Jenkins resigned. Johnson immediately ordered a poll to determine the public's reaction to the affair and learned the next day that its effect on the voters was negligible.
Johnson's Republican opponent in the 1964 presidential election, Barry Goldwater, knew Jenkins from the Senate and from serving as commanding officer of his Air Force Reserve unit, but initially denied knowing him. He did not comment on the incident while campaigning, though it fit well with the charges he had been making of a lack of morality in Johnson's administration, though he was referring to Bobby Baker and Billie Sol Estes. Instead, since FBI agents had just questioned him about Jenkins, he publicly asked Hoover to explain why Jenkins had not undergone a rigorous security check before joining the White House staff.
Goldwater's campaign offices distributed bumper stickers and buttons bearing slogans such as, "LBJ - LIGHT BULB JENKINS: NO WONDER HE TURNED THE LIGHTS OUT" and "ALL THE WAY WITH LBJ, BUT DON'T GO NEAR THE YMCA". During the remainder of the campaign Goldwater occasionally alluded to the scandal. In speeches he referred to Johnson's "curious crew who would run the country" to the knowing amusement of his audience. At the time, observers noted the difference between the way Goldwater alluded to the scandal and the way the Republican National Committee and Goldwater's running mate, William E. Miller, used it to exploit "popular fears." Goldwater later said he chose not to make the incident a campaign issue. "It was a sad time for Jenkins' wife and children, and I was not about to add to their private sorrow," he wrote in his autobiography. "Winning isn't everything. Some things, like loyalty to friends or lasting principle, are more important."
Campaigning in San Diego on October 28, 1964, Johnson told reporters that "President Eisenhower had the same type of problem with his appointments secretary. The only difference is, we Democrats felt sorry for him and thought it was a case of sickness and disease, and we didn't try to capitalize on a man's misfortune. We never mentioned it."
After the election, the American Mental Health Foundation wrote a letter to President Johnson protesting the "hysteria" surrounding the case:
- The private life and inclinations of a citizen, Government employee or not, does not necessarily have any bearing on his capacities, usefulness, and sense of responsibility in his occupation. The fact that an individual is homosexual, as has been strongly implied in the case of Mr. Jenkins, does not per se make him more unstable and more a security risk than any heterosexual person.
On October 3, 1965, Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which added "sexual deviation" as a medical ground for denying prospective immigrants entry into the United States. The bill went into effect on June 30, 1968.
In 1966, Johnson still insisted vehemently in private that the Jenkins arrest resulted from a GOP frame-up and "someday we will prove it."
"Archie's Guys." Archie is sitting here with his hippie son-in-law, married to the screwball daughter. The son-in-law apparently goes both ways. This guy. He's obviously queer--wears an ascot--but not offensively so. Very clever. Uses nice language. Shows pictures of his parents. And so Arch goes down to the bar. Sees his best friend, who used to play professional football. Virile, strong, this and that. Then the fairy comes into the bar. I don't mind the homosexuality. I understand it. Nevertheless, goddamn, I don't think you glorify it on public television, homosexuality, even more than you glorify whores. We all know we have weaknesses. But, goddammit, what do you think that does to kids? You know what happened to the Greeks! Homosexuality destroyed them. Sure, Aristotle was a homo. We all know that. So was Socrates.
You know what happened to the Romans? The last six Roman emperors were fags. Neither in a public way. You know what happened to the popes? They were layin' the nuns; that's been goin' on for years, centuries. But the Catholic Church went to hell three or four centuries ago. It was homosexual, and it had to be cleaned out. That's what's happened to Britain. It happened earlier to France. Let's look at the strong societies. The Russians. Goddamn, they root 'em out. They don't let 'em around at all. I don't know what they do with them. Look at this country. You think the Russians allow dope? Homosexuality, dope, immorality, are the enemies of strong societies. That's why the Communists and left-wingers are clinging to one another. They're trying to destroy us. I know Moynihan will disagree with this, [Attorney General John] Mitchell will, and Garment will. But, goddamn, we have to stand up to this.
But it's not just the ratty part of town. The upper class in San Francisco is that way. The Bohemian Grove, which I attend from time to time--it is the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine, with that San Francisco crowd. I can't shake hands with anybody from San Francisco. Decorators. They got to do something. But we don't have to glorify it. You know one of the reasons fashions have made women look so terrible is because the goddamned designers hate women. Designers taking it out on the women. Now they're trying to get some more sexy things coming on again.
In 1972, San Francisco's Gay Activists Alliance disbanded and formed the Gay Voter's League, a group that campaigned for the reelection of President Richard Nixon. In October 1972, representative of the Committee to Re-elect the President addressed gay voters on behalf of Richard M. Nixon's campaign in San Francisco. The event was organized by the Gay Voters League of San Francisco.
- House Minority Leader and Representative of Michigan's 5th congressional district
On March 5, 1976, when asked about the issue of gay rights, with respect to hiring, employment, and housing, Gerald Ford said "I recognize that this is a very new and serious problem in our society. I have always tried to be an understanding person as far as people are concerned who are different than myself. That doesn't mean that I agree with or would concur in what is done by them or their position in society. I think this is a problem we have to face up to, and I can't give you a pat answer tonight. I just would be dishonest to say that there is a pat answer under these very difficult circumstances"
In 1976, during that year's presidential campaign, President Gerald Ford was "zapped" by activists in Ann Arbor, Michigan over federal immigration rules. The protests forced President Ford to admit that he was not aware that homosexuality was used as a basis for exclusion in immigration rulings.
- Post presidency
Gerald Ford, as former president, formally opposed the Briggs Initiative in 1977, which sought to ban homosexuals from teaching in public school. In October 2001, he broke with conservative members of the Republican party by stating that gay and lesbian couples "ought to be treated equally. Period." He became the highest ranking Republican to embrace full equality for gays and lesbians, stating his belief that there should be a federal amendment outlawing anti-gay job discrimination and expressing his hope that the Republican Party would reach out to gay and lesbian voters. He also was a member of the Republican Unity Coalition, which The New York Times described as "a group of prominent Republicans, including former President Gerald R. Ford, dedicated to making sexual orientation a non-issue in the Republican Party".
- Post governorship of Georgia
In February 1976, Carter said he opposed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but in June 1976 he withdrew his support of a gay rights plank in the Democratic Party platform.
In 1977, under the guidance of Jimmy Carter, a policy was removed which barred employment of gays from employment in the foreign service and Internal Revenue Service ended its policy that forced LGBT education and charity groups to publicly state that homosexuality is a "sickness, disturbance, or diseased pathology." That same year, fourteen gay and lesbian activists were invited to the White House for the first official visit ever. Jimmy Carter publicly opposed the Briggs Initiative. However, in March 1980, Carter issued a formal statement indicating he would not issue an executive order banning anti-gay discrimination in the US federal government and that he would not support including a gay rights plank in the Democratic Party platform.
- Post presidency
In 2004, Carter came out for civil unions and stated that he "opposes all forms of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and believes there should be equal protection under the law for people who differ in sexual orientation". In 2007, he called for ending the ban on gays in the military. In March 2012, Jimmy Carter came out in favor of same sex marriage.
- Post governorship of California
The first chapter of what would become the national Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) formed in 1978 to fight California's Briggs Initiative, a ballot initiative that would have banned homosexuals from teaching in public schools. The chapter worked diligently and successfully convinced Governor Reagan to publicly oppose the measure. Reagan penned an op-ed against the Briggs Initiative in which he wrote, "Whatever else it is, homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles. Prevailing scientific opinion is that an individual's sexuality is determined at a very early age and that a child's teachers do not really influence this."
On the 1980 campaign trail, he spoke of the gay civil rights movement:
My criticism is that [the gay movement] isn’t just asking for civil rights; it’s asking for recognition and acceptance of an alternative lifestyle which I do not believe society can condone, nor can I.
No civil rights legislation for LGBT individuals passed during Reagan's tenure. Additionally, Reagan has been criticized by some LGBT groups for allegedly ignoring (by failing to adequately address or fund) the growing AIDS epidemic, even as it took thousands of lives in the 1980s. Reagan's Surgeon General from 1982-1989, Dr. C. Everett Koop, claims that his attempts to address the issue were shut out by the Reagan Administration. According to Koop, the prevailing view of the Reagan Administration was that "transmission of AIDS was understood to be primarily in the homosexual population and in those who abused intravenous drugs" and therefore that people dying from AIDS were "only getting what they justly deserve."
In 1981, during Nancy Reagan's 60th birthday party, White House interior decorator, Ted Graber, spent a night in the Reagans' private White House quarters with his male lover, Archie Case.
George H. W. Bush
- Vice presidency
As President, George H. W. Bush signed legislation that extended gay rights. On April 23, 1990, George H. W. Bush signed the Hate Crime Statistics Act, which requires the Attorney General to collect data on crimes committed because of the victim's race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. It was the first federal statute to "recognize and name gay, lesbian and bisexual people." On July 26, 1990, George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. On November 29, 1990, Bush signed the Immigration Act of 1990, which withdrew the phrase "sexual deviation" from the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) so that it could no longer be used as a basis for barring entry of immigration to the U.S. for homosexuals.
In a television interview, Bush said if he found out his grandchild was gay, he would "love his child", but tell him homosexuality wasn't normal and discourage him from working for gay rights. In February 1992, the chairman of the Bush-Quayle campaign met with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. In May 1992, he appointed Anne-Imelda Radice to serve as the Acting Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Losing ground in the 1992 Republican president primary to President Bush's far-right challenger, Pat Buchanan, the Bush campaign turned to the right, and President Bush publicly denounced same-sex marriage. The 1992 Log Cabin Republican convention was held in Spring, Texas, a Houston exurb. The main issue discussed was whether or not LCR would endorse the re-election of President George H. W. Bush. The group voted to deny that endorsement because Bush did not denounce anti-gay rhetoric at the 1992 Republican National Convention. Many in the gay community believed President Bush hadn't had done enough on the issue of AIDS. Urvashi Vaid argues that Bush's anti-gay rhetoric "motivated conservative gay Democrats and loyal gay Republicans, who had helped defeat Dukakis in 1988, to throw their support behind Clinton."
In 1992, the City Council passed the "The Health Benefits Expansion Act", which was signed into law by the Mayor of Washington, D.C. The bill, which established domestic partnerships in the District of Columbia, became law on June 11, 1992. Every year from 1992 to 2000, the Republican leadership of the U.S. Congress added a rider to the District of Columbia appropriations bill that prohibited the use of federal or local funds to implement the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act. On October 5, 1992, Bush signed the H.R. 6056 into law, which included the Republican rider to the appropriations bill.
- Post presidency
In 2013, former President George H. W. Bush served as a witness at a same-sex wedding of Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen, who own a general store together in Maine.
- Governorship of Arkansas
In 1992, Governor Bill Clinton, as a candidate for President, issued a public statement of support for repeal of Arkansas's sodomy law. Also in 1992, the Human Rights Campaign, American's largest LGBT rights organization, issued its first presidential endorsement in 1992 to Bill Clinton.
Bill Clinton's legacy on gay rights is a matter of controversy. LGBT rights activist Richard Socarides credits Clinton as the first President to publicly champion gay rights, but Clinton's signing of DOMA and DADT have led critics like Andrew Sullivan to argue Clinton was a detriment to rather than an ally for the LGBT rights movement.
In December 1993, Clinton implemented a Department of Defense directive known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", which allowed gay men and women to serve in the armed services provided they kept their sexuality a secret, and forbade the military from inquiring about an individual's sexual orientation. The policy was developed as a compromise after Clinton's proposal to allow gays to serve openly in the military met with staunch opposition from prominent Congressional Republicans and Democrats, including Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Sam Nunn (D-GA). According to David Mixner, Clinton's support for the compromise led to a heated dispute with Vice President Al Gore, who felt that "the President should lift the ban ... even though [his executive order] was sure to be overriden by the Congress". Some gay-rights advocates criticized Clinton for not going far enough and accused him of making his campaign promise to get votes and contributions. Their position was that Clinton should have integrated the military by executive order, noting that President Harry Truman used executive order to racially desegregate the armed forces. Clinton's defenders argue that an executive order might have prompted the Senate to write the exclusion of gays into law, potentially making it harder to integrate the military in the future. Later in his presidency, in 1999, Clinton criticized the way the policy was implemented, saying he did not think any serious person could say it was not "out of whack".
On September 21, 1996, Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for federal purposes as the legal union of one man and one woman, allowing individual states to refuse to recognize gay marriages performed in other states. Paul Yandura, speaking for the White House gay and lesbian liaison office, said that Clinton's signing of DOMA "was a political decision that they made at the time of a re-election." In defense of his actions, Clinton has said that DOMA was an attempt to "head off an attempt to send a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to the states", a possibility he described as highly likely in the context of a "very reactionary Congress." Administration spokesman Richard Socarides said, "... the alternatives we knew were going to be far worse, and it was time to move on and get the president re-elected." Others were more critical. The veteran gay rights and gay marriage activist Evan Wolfson has called these claims "historic revisionism". In a July 2, 2011 editorial The New York Times opined, "The Defense of Marriage Act was enacted in 1996 as an election-year wedge issue, signed by President Bill Clinton in one of his worst policy moments."
Despite DOMA, Clinton, who was the first President to select openly gay persons for Administration positions, is generally credited as the first President to publicly champion gay rights. During his Presidency, Clinton controversially issued two substantial executive orders on behalf of gay rights, the first was in 1995 that lifted the ban on security clearances for LGBT federal employees and the second was in 1998 that outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation in the federal civilian workforce. Under President Clinton's leadership, federal funding for HIV/AIDS research, prevention and treatment more than doubled. And Clinton also pushed for passing hate crimes laws for gays and for the private sector Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which, buoyed by his lobbying, failed to pass the Senate by a single vote in 1996. Advocacy for these issues, paired with the politically unpopular nature of the gay rights movement at the time, led to enthusiastic support for Clinton's reelection in 1996 by the Human Rights Campaign.
Clinton was the first President to select openly gay persons for Administration positions, appointing over 150 LGBT appointees. The first openly gay US ambassador, James Hormel, received a recess appointment from the President after the Senate failed to confirm the nomination.
- Post presidency
In 2008, Clinton publicly opposed the passage of California's Proposition 8 and recorded robocalls urging Californians to vote against it. In July 2009, he came out in favor of same-sex marriage. On March 7, 2013, Clinton called for the overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act by the US Supreme Court.
George W. Bush
In 1994, Bush pledged to veto any effort to repeal Texas's sodomy law, calling it “a symbolic gesture of traditional values.”
- Governorship of Texas
In 1997, Governor Bush signed into law a bill adding "A license may not be issued for the marriage of persons of the same sex" into the Texas Family Code.
In a 1998 Texas Gubernatorial election political awareness test, he answered no to the questions of whether Texas government should include sexual orientation in Texas' anti-discrimination laws and whether he supports Texas recognizing same-sex marriage.
In 1999, the Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act, which would have increased punishment for criminals motivated by hatred of a victim’s gender, religion, ethnic background or sexual orientation, was killed in committee by Texas Senate Republicans. Governor Bush was criticized for letting the hate crimes bill die in a Texas Senate committee. Bush spokesman Sullivan said the governor never took a position on the bill. According to Louvon Harris, sister of James Byrd, said that Bush’s opposition to the bill reportedly revolved around the fact that it would cover gays and lesbians. The governor’s office “contacted the family and asked if we would consider taking sexual orientation out of the bill, and our answer was no, because the bill is for everybody. Everybody should be protected by the law.” said Harris. In a 2000 presidential debate, Al Gore would attack Bush for allowing the bill to die in committee, with Bush responding Texas already had a hate crimes statute, and nothing more was needed. George W. Bush also stated his opposition New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that said the Boy Scouts of America must accept gays in their organization. “I believe the Boy Scouts is a private organization and they should be able to set the standards that they choose to set,” Bush said. Bush would also express his support bans gay foster parenting and adoption.
During the 2000 campaign he did not endorse a single piece of gay rights legislation. In a 2000 Republican presidential debate, George W. Bush, said he opposes same-sex marriage, but supports state's rights when it came to the issue of same-sex marriage. During the campaign he had refused to comment on Vermont’s civil unions law. On April 13, 2000, Governor Bush became first presumptive GOP presidential nominee ever to meet publicly with gay Republicans in Austin, Texas. On August 4, 2000, Bush received the endorsement of the Log Cabin Republicans, the GOP's largest gay group, for president. He also received the endorsement of the newly formed Republican Unity Coalition. In a 2000 presidential debate with Al Gore, Bush stated he supported the Defense of Marriage Act and the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. However, he stated that he opposed sodomy laws, a reversal of his position as governor of Texas.
George W. Bush was either neutral towards or opposed gay rights as president. In his eight years of office, Bush's views on gay rights were often difficult to ascertain, but many experts feel that the Bush White House wanted to avoid bad publicity without alienating evangelical conservative Christian voters. Thus, he did not repeal President Clinton's Executive Order banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the federal civilian government, but Bush's critics felt as if he failed to enforce the executive order. He retained Clinton’s Office of National AIDS Policy and was the first Republican president to appoint an openly gay man to serve in his administration, Scott Evertz as director of the Office of National AIDS Policy. Bush also became the second President, after President Clinton, to select openly gay appointees to his administration. Bush's nominee as ambassador to Romania, Michael E. Guest, became the second openly gay man U.S. Ambassador and the first to be confirmed by the Senate. He did not repeal any of the spousal benefits that Clinton had introduced for same-sex federal employees. He did not attempt to repeal Don't ask, don't tell, nor make an effort to change it.
In April 2002, White House officials held an unannounced briefing in April for the Log Cabin Republicans. On June 27, 2002, President Bush has signed a bill allowing death benefits to be paid to domestic partners of firefighters and police officers who die in the line of duty, permanently extending a federal death benefit to same-sex couples for the first time.
In 2003, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that sodomy laws against consenting adults was unconstitutional. President Bush's press secretary Ari Fleischer refused to comment on the decision, noting only that the administration had not filed a brief in the case. In 2004, Bush said “What they do in the privacy of their house, consenting adults should be able to do,”
Previously Bush said he state's rights when it came to marriage, however, after Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, on February 24, 2004, Bush announced his support for an amendment to the US Constitution banning same-sex marriage. Due to his support of the Federal Marriage Amendment, the Log Cabin Republicans declined to endorse the reelection of George W. Bush in 2004. Bush's defense of the FMA led the group to vote 22 to 2 against an endorsement of his reelection. The Palm Beach County chapter in Florida did endorse him, resulting in the revocation of their charter. On September 22, 2004, the Abe Lincoln Black Republican Caucus (ALBRC), a group of young urban Black gay Republicans, voted in a special call meeting in Dallas, Texas, to endorse President Bush for re-election. In an October president debate, Bush said he didn't know whether homosexuality is a choice or not.
In 2007, Bush threatened to veto the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007, which would have included sexual orientation in hate crimes, and Employment Nondiscrimination Act of 2007.
In December 2008, the Bush administration refused to support the U.N. declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity at the United Nations that condemns the use of violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization, and prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Post presidency
- Illinois state senator
Obama supported legalizing same-sex marriage when he first ran for the Illinois State Senate in 1996. When he ran for re-election to the Illinois Senate in 1998, was undecided about legalizing same-sex marriage and supported including sexual orientation to the states non-discrimination laws. During his time as a state senator he cosponsored of a bill amending the Illinois Human Rights Act to include protections for LGBT people which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace, housing, and all public places and supported Illinois gender violence act.
- US Senator from Illinois
Obama supported civil unions, but opposed same-sex marriage when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004 and for U.S. President in 2008. He supports civil unions that would carry equal legal standing to that of marriage for same-sex couples, but believes that decisions about the title of marriage should be left to the states.
During his time as senator, Obama co-sponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, Tax Equity for Domestic Partner and Health Plan Beneficiaries Act, and Early Treatment for HIV Act.
In 2007, Senator Obama said he opposed the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and the Don't ask, don't tell policy when it passed and supported repealing it. He also said that homosexuality is not a choice, support adoption rights for same-sex couples, and would work as president to extend the 1,000 federal rights granted to marriage couples to couples in civil unions. He also voted for Kennedy Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 that would expand federal jurisdiction to reach serious, violent hate crimes perpetrated because of the victim’s sexual orientation and gender identity and the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act.
In the 2008 presidential election, he expressed his opposition to state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage in California, and Florida on the November ballot, but stated in a 2008 interview that he personally believes that marriage is "between a man and a woman" and that he is "not in favor of gay marriage." In the 110th United States Congress, Obama received a score of 94% by the Human Rights Campaign. In the 2008 election, Obama received the endorsement of the following gay rights organizations: Houston GLBT Political Caucus, Human Rights Campaign, and the National Stonewall Democrats.
President Barack Obama has taken a definitive pro-LGBT rights stance. In 2009, his administration reversed Bush administration policy and signed the U.N. declaration that calls for the decriminalization of homosexuality. In June 2009, Obama became the first president to declare the month of June to be LGBT pride month; President Clinton had declared June Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. Obama did so again in June 2010, June 2011, June 2012, June 2013, and June 2014.
On October 28, 2009, Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which added gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability to the federal hate crimes law.
In October 2009, he nominated Sharon Lubinski to become the first openly gay U.S. marshal to serve the Minnesota district. On January 4, 2010, he appointed Amanda Simpson the Senior Technical Advisor to the Department of Commerce, making her the first openly transgender person appointed to a government post by a U.S. President. He has appointed the most U.S. gay and lesbian officials of any U.S. president.
At the start of 2010, the Obama administration included gender identity among the classes protected against discrimination under the authority of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). On April 15, 2010, Obama issued an executive order to the Department of Health and Human Services that required medical facilities to grant visitation and medical decision-making rights to same-sex couples. In June 2010, he expanded the Family Medical Leave Act to cover employees taking unpaid leave to care for the children of same-sex partners. On December 22, 2010, Obama signed the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 into law.
On February 23, 2011, President Obama instructed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
In March 2011, the U.S. issued a nonbinding declaration in favor of gay rights that gained the support of more than 80 countries at the U.N. In June 2011, the U.N. endorsed the rights of gay, lesbian, and transgender people for the first time, by passing a resolution that was backed by the U.S., among other countries.
On May 9, 2012, Obama publicly supported same-sex marriage, the first sitting U.S. President to do so. Obama told an interviewer that:
over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.
In the 2012 election, Obama received the endorsement of the following gay rights organizations: Equal Rights Washington, Fair Wisconsin, Gay-Straight Alliance, Human Rights Campaign, and the National Stonewall Democrats. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) gave Obama a score of 100% on the issue of gays and lesbians in the US military and a score of 75% on the issue of freedom to marry for gay people.
Obama also called for full equality during his second inaugural address on January 21, 2013: "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law—for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well." It was the first mention of rights for gays and lesbians or use of the word gay in an inaugural address.
On March 1, 2013, Obama, speaking about Hollingsworth v. Perry, the U.S. Supreme Court case about Proposition 8, said "When the Supreme Court asks do you think that the California law, which doesn't provide any rationale for discriminating against same-sex couples other than just the notion that, well, they're same-sex couples—if the Supreme Court asks me or my attorney general or solicitor general, 'Do we think that meets constitutional muster?' I felt it was important for us to answer that question honestly. And the answer is no." The administration took the position that the Supreme Court should apply "heightened scrutiny" to California's ban—a standard under which legal experts say no state ban could survive.
On August 8, 2013, Obama criticized Russia's anti-gay law.
On December 26, 2013, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 into law, which repealed the ban on consensual sodomy in the UCMJ. On February 16, 2014, Obama criticized Uganda's anti-gay law.
Obama included openly gay athletes in the February 2014 Olympic delegation, namely Brian Boitano and Billie Jean King (who was replaced by Caitlin Cahow, who was also openly gay.)  This was done in criticism of Russia's anti-gay law.
Obama was criticized for failing to sign an executive order banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity on the part of federal contractors. On July 21, 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13672, adding "gender identity" to the categories protected against discrimination in hiring in the federal civilian workforce and both "sexual orientation" and gender identity" to the categories protected against discrimination in hiring and employment on the part of federal government contractors and sub-contractors.
The Democratic Party's 2012 national platform opposes the Defense of Marriage Act and supports "equal responsibility, benefits, and protections" for same-sex couples, and explicitly supports same-sex marriage.
National Stonewall Democrats
The Republican Party’s 2012 platform opposes any legal recognition of same sex couples, supports a ban on same-sex marriage through a federal constitutional amendment, along with state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act. However, Fred Karger's unsuccessful run for the 2012 Republican nomination for President made him America’s first openly gay Republican presidential candidate. 
Log Cabin Republicans
Created in 1977 in California, in response to the anti-gay Briggs Initiative, which attempted to ban homosexuals from teaching in public schools. Log Cabin Republicans support full equal rights for LGBT people, including Employment Nondiscrimination Act and same-sex marriage.
GOProud is a gay conservative organization founded in 2009. GOProud supports repealing DOMA, supports same-sex marriage, and believes marriage should be left to the states. GOProud also has no official position on Employment Nondiscrimination Act or hate-crime legislation.
The Libertarian Party has endorsed libertarian perspectives on LGBT rights and has promoted marriage equality since it was created in 1971. The Libertarian Party also wishes to lift the bans on same-sex marriage, but with the ultimate goal of marriage privatization.
The Constitution Party (United States) is strongly opposed to all forms of gay rights including legal bans on homosexual consent. The party is very conservative and has ties to Christian Reconstructionism, a political movement within Conservative Christian Churches.
Other political parties
While many American socialist and communist political parties initially preferred to ignore the issue, most now support gay rights causes. Socialist groups generally integrate a stronger approach to gender identity issues than mainstream parties.
While many American socialist and communist political parties initially preferred to ignore the issue, most now support gay rights causes. The Socialist Party USA was the first party to nominate an openly gay man, David McReynolds, as its Presidential candidate in 1980. Socialist groups generally integrate a stronger approach to gender identity issues than mainstream parties.
Summary table of LGBT rights goals in the United States
|Federal hate-crime law includes crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity||(since 2009) |
|Gays, lesbians, and bisexuals allowed to serve openly in the military||(since 2011) |
|Homosexuality declassified as an illness||(since 1973) |
|Same-sex marriage legal||/|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal||(since 2003 nationwide) |
|Sexual orientation allowed as grounds for asylum||(since 1994 )|
|Transgender declassified as an illness||(since 2012) |
|Transgender people allowed to serve openly in the military|
|Access to IVF for lesbians||/|
|Both joint and step adoption by same-sex couples legal||/|
|Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples legal||/|
|Conjugal visits allowed for same-sex couples||/|
|Conversion therapy for minors banned by law||/|
|Gay panic and trans panic defenses banned by law||/|
|Gender identity allowed as grounds for asylum||/|
|LGBT anti-bullying law in public schools and public colleges||/|
|LGBT anti-discrimination law in adoption, custody, and visitation rights||/|
|LGBT anti-discrimination law in employment||/|
|LGBT anti-discrimination law in health insurance||/|
|LGBT anti-discrimination law in homeless shelters||/|
|LGBT anti-discrimination law in housing||/|
|LGBT anti-discrimination law in prisons, juvenile halls, and immigration detention centers, including but not limited to transgender people required to be housed according to their gender identity||/|
|LGBT anti-discrimination law in provision of goods and services||/|
|LGBT anti-discrimination law in public accommodations, public facilities, and public transportation||/|
|LGBT anti-discrimination law in public hospitals||/|
|LGBT anti-discrimination law in public schools and public colleges||/|
|LGBT-inclusive sex education required to be taught in public schools||/|
|Right to change legal gender||/|
|Same age of consent for same-sex couples as for heterosexual couples||/|
|Sex reassignment surgery and hormone therapy for transgender people required to be covered under health insurance||/|
|Men who have sex with men allowed to donate blood and tissues not considered lifesaving|
- Same-sex marriage in the United States
- LGBT rights in the Americas
- LGBT rights by country or territory
- Legal aspects of transsexualism in the United States
- LGBT movements in the United States
- LGBT history in the United States
- LGBT history#United States of America
- Bisexual American history
- Gay men in American history
- History of bisexuality
- History of lesbianism
- Lesbian American history
- Transgender American history
- Sodomy laws in the United States
- History of violence against LGBT people in the United States
- List of proposed anti-gay book bans in the United States
- Homosexuality and Citizenship in Florida — anti-gay pamphlet published by the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee in 1964
- Save Our Children - 1977-78 anti-gay campaign in Florida led by Anita Bryant
- Federal Marriage Amendment
- Employment Non-Discrimination Act
- Empowering Spirits Foundation
- Gay Blue Jeans Day
- Gay pride
- Human Rights Campaign
- Human rights in the United States
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- Bullough, Vern L. (ed.) Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context. Harrington Park Press, 2002.
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- Bishop v. U.S. ex rel. Holder, 962. F. Supp. 2d 1252, 1274-77 (N.D. Okla. 2014)
- Geiger v. Kitzhaber, 13-1834, 2014 U.S. Dist LEXIS 68171 (D. Oregon May 19, 2014)
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- Kitchen v. Herbert, 961 F. Supp. 2d 1181, 1194-95 (D. Utah 2013)
- Bostic v. Rainey, 970 F. Supp. 2d 456, 469-70 (E.D. Va. 2014)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to LGBT rights in the United States.|
- WhiteHouse.gov: Civil Rights — includes section on LGBT rights
- A Look at the State of the Gay Rights Movement – video report by Democracy Now!
- Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
- Human Rights Campaign – official website