The Society for Human Rights
is founded by Henry Gerber in Chicago. It is the first documented gay rights organization.
April 1952 -
The American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual lists homosexuality as a sociopathic personality disturbance
April 27, 1953 -
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs an executive order
that bans homosexuals from working for the federal government, saying they are a security risk.
September 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.
July 1961 -
Illinois becomes the first state to decriminalize homosexuality
by repealing their sodomy laws.
September 11, 1961 -
The first US-televised documentary about homosexuality
airs on a local station in California.
June 28, 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.
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).
June 28, 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 - 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.
January 1, 1973 - Maryland
becomes the first state to statutorily ban same-sex marriage
March 26, 1973 -
First meeting of "Parents and Friends of Gays,"
which goes national as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in 1982.
December 15, 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 - Elaine Noble is the first openly gay candidate elected
to a state office when she is elected to the Massachusetts State legislature.
January 14, 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.
March 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.
After undergoing gender reassignment surgery in 1975, ophthalmologist and professional tennis player Renee Richards is banned from competing in the women's US Open
because of a "women-born-women" rule. Richards challenges the decision and in 1977, the New York Supreme Court rules in her favor. Richards competes in the 1977 US Open but is defeated in the first round by Virginia Wade.
1977-1981 - Billy Crystal
plays one of the first openly gay characters in a recurring role on a prime time television show in "Soap."
January 9, 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.
Inspired by Milk to develop a symbol of pride and hope for the LGBT community, Gilbert Baker designs and stitches together the first rainbow flag.
October 14, 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.
March 2, 1982 - Wisconsin becomes the first state to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.
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.
November 30, 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."
November 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."
September 21, 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."
December 3, 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.
April 1997 -
Comedian Ellen DeGeneres
comes out as a lesbian on the cover of Time magazine, stating, "Yep, I'm Gay."