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Gay


The Gay Movement's Watershed Event

The Stonewall Rebellion of 1969 in New York City was a watershed event that qualitatively expanded the political activism that had been growing in the gay community since the late 1950s. This event constituted a spontaneous and militant act of resistance to a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village. Gay Pride Day is celebrated in June in cities throughout the country to commemorate the Stonewall Rebellion.

Subsequently, gay rights were codified through the passage of civil rights ordinances in Portland, Oregon and St. Paul Minnesota in 1974, in San Francisco in 1978, in Los Angeles and Detroit in 1979, and in New York City in 1986. Wisconsin passed a statewide gay rights law in 1981.

In response, singer Anita Bryant and TV evangelist Jerry Falwell led extensive homophobic campaigns which contributed to the repeal of gay rights measures in Miami in 1977 and later in St. Paul and Wichita. Gays have formed various national organizations including the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the Names Project (which commiserates those who have died of AIDS).

Victories for the Gay Community

Victories won by the gay movement include the growing number of institutions and companies that provide same-sex partner health insurance and other benefits. At the political level, many gays and lesbians work in coalition with one another. Studies of voting patterns have found that 3.2 percent of voters nationwide identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. In urban areas, this figure climbs to 8 percent.

Many gays also desire to have their committed relationships legally recognized as same-sex marriages. Presently, gays do not, for the most part, have the legal right to make medical, legal, and financial decisions on behalf of their partner should the need arise. Furthermore, they may not have access to their partner's employee health insurance or retirement benefits.

The onset of the AIDS epidemic has prompted many gays — often in coalition with lesbians and progressive heterosexuals — to agitate for HIV prevention programs and improved health care and treatment options for people living with AIDS, and to oppose discrimination against HIV infected individuals. The gay community played a leading role in pushing for changes in federal funding for HIV/AIDS research and services, and in accelerating access to new therapies of HIV/AIDS.

Copyright 2002 Sinclair Intimacy Institute


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