LGBTQ+ Rights

  • 1924

    1924
    The Society for Human Rights is founded by Henry Gerber in Chicago. It is the first documented gay rights organization.
  • 1950

    1950
    The Mattachine Society is formed by activist Harry Hay and is one of the first sustained gay rights groups in the United States. The Society focuses on social acceptance and other support for homosexuals.
  • 1953

    1953
    President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs an executive order that bans homosexuals from working for the federal government, saying they are a security risk.
  • 1955

    1955
    The first known lesbian rights organization in the United States forms in San Francisco. Daughters of Bilitis (DOB). They host private social functions, fearing police raids, threats of violence and discrimination in bars and clubs.
  • 1961

    1961
    Illinois becomes the first state to decriminalize homosexuality by repealing their sodomy laws.
  • 1961

    1961
    The first US-televised documentary about homosexuality airs on a local station in California.
  • 1969

    1969
    The "Los Angeles Advocate," founded in 1967, is renamed "The Advocate." It is considered the oldest continuing LGBT publication that began as a newsletter published by the activist group Personal Rights in Defense and Education (PRIDE).
  • 1969

    1969
    Police raid the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Protests and demonstrations begin, and it later becomes known as the impetus for the gay civil rights movement in the United States.
  • 1970

    1970
    Community members in New York City march through the local streets to recognize the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. This event is named Christopher Street Liberation Day, and is now considered the first gay pride parade.
  • 1973

    1973
    Lambda Legal becomes the first legal organization established to fight for the equal rights of gays and lesbians. Lambda also becomes their own first client after being denied non-profit status; the New York Supreme Court eventually rules that Lambda Legal can exist as a non-profit.
  • 1973

    1973
    Maryland becomes the first state to statutorily ban same-sex marriage.
  • 1973

    1973
    First meeting of "Parents and Friends of Gays," which goes national as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in 1982.
  • 1973

    1973
    By a vote of 5,854 to 3,810, the American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in the DSM-II Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
  • 1974

    1974
    Elaine Noble is the first openly gay candidate elected to a state office when she is elected to the Massachusetts State legislature.
  • 1974

    1974
    Kathy Kozachenko becomes the first openly LGBT American elected to any public office when she wins a seat on the Ann Arbor, Michigan City Council.
  • 1975

    1975
    Technical Sergeant Leonard P. Matlovich reveals his sexual orientation to his commanding officer and is forcibly discharged from the Air Force six months later. Matlovich is a Vietnam War veteran and was awarded both the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. In 1980, the Court of Appeals rules that the dismissal was improper. Matlovich is awarded his back pay and a retroactive promotion.
  • 1975

    1975
    The first federal gay rights bill is introduced to address discrimination based on sexual orientation. The bill later goes to the Judiciary Committee but is never brought for consideration.
  • Period: to

    1977-1981

    Billy Crystal plays one of the first openly gay characters in a recurring role on a prime time television show in "Soap."
  • 1978

    1978
    nspired by Milk to develop a symbol of pride and hope for the LGBT community, Gilbert Baker designs and stitches together the first rainbow flag.
  • 1978

    1978
    Harvey Milk is inaugurated as San Francisco city supervisor, and is the first openly gay man to be elected to a political office in California. In November, Milk and Mayor George Moscone are murdered by Dan White, who had recently resigned from his San Francisco board position and wanted Moscone to reappoint him. White later serves just over five years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.
  • 1979

    1979
    The first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights takes place. It draws an estimated 75,000 to 125,000 individuals marching for LGBT rights.
  • 1982

    1982
    Wisconsin becomes the first state to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.
  • 1983

    1983
    Lambda Legal wins People v. West 12 Tenants Corp., the first HIV/AIDS discrimination lawsuit. Neighbors attempted to evict Dr. Joseph Sonnabend from the building because he was treating HIV-positive patients.
  • 1993

    1993
    President Bill Clinton signs a military policy directive that prohibits openly gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the military, but also prohibits the harassment of "closeted" homosexuals. The policy is known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
  • 1995

    1995
    The Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act goes into effect as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The law allows a judge to impose harsher sentences if there is evidence showing that a victim was selected because of the "actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person."
  • 1996

    1996
    President Clinton signs the Defense of Marriage Act, banning federal recognition of same-sex marriage and defining marriage as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife."
  • 1996

    1996
    Hawaii's Judge Chang rules that the state does not have a legal right to deprive same-sex couples of the right to marry, making Hawaii the first state to recognize that gay and lesbian couples are entitled to the same privileges as heterosexual married couples.
  • 1998

    1998
    Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow, Coretta Scott King, asks the civil rights community to help in the effort to extinguish homophobia.
  • Period: to

    1998

    Matthew Shepard is tied to a fence and beaten near Laramie, Wyoming. He is eventually found by a cyclist, who initially mistakes him for a scarecrow. He later dies due to his injuries sustained in the beating.
  • 1998

    1998
    Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney from Laramie, Wyoming, make their first court appearance after being arrested for the attempted murder of Shepard. Eventually, they each receive two life sentences for killing Shepard.
  • 2000

    2000
    Vermont becomes the first state to legalize civil-unions between same-sex couples.
  • 2003

    2003
    The US Supreme Court strikes down the "homosexual conduct" law, which decriminalizes same-sex sexual conduct, with their opinion in Lawrence v. Texas. The decision also reverses Bowers v. Hardwick, a 1986 US Supreme Court ruling that upheld Georgia's sodomy law.
  • 2004

    2004
    The first legal same-sex marriage in the United States takes place in Massachusetts.
  • 2005

    2005
    The California legislature becomes the first to pass a bill allowing marriage between same-sex couples. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoes the bill.
  • 2006

    2006
    The New Jersey Supreme Court rules that state lawmakers must provide the rights and benefits of marriage to gay and lesbian couples.
  • 2008

    2008
    The California Supreme Court rules in re: Marriage Cases that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples is unconstitutional.
  • 2008

    2008
    Voters approve Proposition 8 in California, which makes same-sex marriage illegal.
  • 2010

    2010
    Proposition 8 is found unconstitutional by a federal judge.
  • 2011

    2011
    "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is repealed, ending a ban on gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
  • 2012

    2012
    In an ABC interview, Obama becomes the first sitting US president to publicly support the freedom for LGBT couples to marry.
  • 2012

    2012
    The Democratic Party becomes the first major US political party in history to publicly support same-sex marriage on a national platform at the Democratic National Convention.
  • 2012

    2012
    Tammy Baldwin becomes the first openly gay politician and the first Wisconsin woman to be elected to the US Senate.
  • 2013

    2013
    In United States v. Windsor, the US Supreme Court strikes down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that legally married same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits. The high court also dismisses a case involving California's proposition 8.
  • 2014

    2014
    The United States Supreme Court denies review in five different marriage cases, allowing lower court rulings to stand, and therefore allowing same-sex couples to marry in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana and Wisconsin. The decision opens the door for the right to marry in Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.
  • 2015

    2015
    The US Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the question of the freedom to marry in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan. On June 26 the Supreme Court rules that states cannot ban same-sex marriage. The 5-4 ruling had Justice Anthony Kennedy writing for the majority. Each of the four conservative justices writes their own dissent.
  • 2016

    2016
    The Senate confirms Eric Fanning to be secretary of the Army, making him the first openly gay secretary of a US military branch. Fanning previously served as Defense Secretary Carter's chief of staff, and also served as undersecretary of the Air Force and deputy undersecretary of the Navy.
  • 2016

    2016
    Obama announces the designation of the first national monument to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. The Stonewall National Monument will encompass Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn and the surrounding streets and sidewalks that were the sites of the 1969 Stonewall uprising.
  • 2016

    2016
    Secretary of Defense Carter announces that the Pentagon is lifting the ban on transgender people serving openly in the US military.
  • 2016

    2016
    Kate Brown is sworn in as governor of Oregon, a day after she was officially elected to the office. Brown becomes the highest-ranking LGBT person elected to office in the United States. Brown took over the governorship in February 2016 (without an election), after Democrat John Kitzhaber resigned amidst a criminal investigation.
  • 2017

    2017
    In a memo to all federal prosecutors, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says that a 1964 federal civil rights law does not protect transgender workers from employment discrimination and the department will take this new position in all "pending and future matters." In February 2018, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals releases an opinion that "sexual orientation discrimination constitutes a form of discrimination" and that it is a form of sex discrimination.
  • 2017

    2017
    Virginia voters elect the state's first openly transgender candidate to the Virginia House of Delegates. Danica Roem unseats incumbent delegate Bob Marshall, who had been elected thirteen times over 26 years. Roem becomes the first openly transgender candidate elected to a state legislature in American history.
  • 2017

    2017
    A second federal judge rules against Trump's prohibition on transgender individuals serving in the military. The Pentagon announces it will begin processing transgender applicants to the military on January first, while the Department of Justice continues to appeal the ruling.
  • 2018

    2018
    Daniela Vega, the star of Oscar-winning foreign film "A Fantastic Woman," becomes the first openly transgender presenter in Academy Awards history when she introduces a performance by Sufjan Stevens, whose song "Mystery of Love" from the "Call Me By Your Name" soundtrack, is nominated for best original song.
  • 2018

    2018
    Trump rescinds his previous policy to allow a new policy to take effect that will likely disqualify most transgender people from serving in the US military. The White House announces that the policy will say "transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria -- individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery -- are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances."
  • 2018

    2018
    Christine Hallquist wins the Democratic primary in the Vermont governor's race, becoming the first openly transgender gubernatorial candidate for a major party.
  • 2018

    2018
    Democratic US Representative Jared Polis wins the Colorado governor's race, becoming the nation's first openly gay man to be elected governor.