Homosexuality and Same-Sex Marriage TimelineCLR Staff
- The medical profession introduces the word "homosexual" into the English language.
- Illinois repeals its sodomy laws making it the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize homosexuality between two consenting adults in private. The law takes effect in 1962.
- Connecticut follows by repealing its sodomy laws. Law takes effect in 1971.
- A rush of states decriminalize homosexuality.
- Oregon repeals sodomy laws.
- California repeals castration as punishment for repeat sex offenders.
- Homosexuality is decriminalized in Idaho.
- Ohio’s sodomy law is repealed.
- Hawaii decriminalizes consensual homosexual sex acts between adults.
- New York City Mayor John Lindsay issues an anti-bias order protecting city employees from discrimination based on homosexuality.
- San Francisco supervisors ban discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation for both the city and those doing business with the city.
- American Psychological Association removes homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
- Ohio decriminalizes private consensual homosexual acts.
- North Dakota repeals sodomy laws.
- Seattle passes ordinance prohibiting employment discrimination against gays.
- Berkeley, CA, City Council prohibits companies doing business with the city from discrimination against gays.
- The American Baptist Association, American Lutheran Association, United Presbyterians, United Methodists, and the Society of Friends (Quakers) launch the National Task Force on Gay People in the Church.
- US Civil Service Commission announces it will no longer exclude homosexuals from government employment.
- California decriminalizes all consensual sexual acts between adults.
- Washington state"s sodomy laws are repealed.
- The Democratic Party adds gay rights to its political platform.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention replaces the acronym GRIDS (Gay Related Immune Deficiency Syndrome) with AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
- Wisconsin becomes the first state in the U.S. to pass a gay civil rights law.
- Massachusetts, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Rhode Island follow, with Massachusetts passing a law forbidding the placement of children for adoption or foster care with gay people.
- Researchers discover the virus (Human Innumodeficiency Virus or HIV) that causes AIDS.
- Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn signs an executive order protecting gays in the city and in city employment.
- Berkley, CA, City Council passes a domestic partnership bill granting equal benefits to long-term gay and unmarried heterosexual couples.
- The first test to detect HIV is licensed in the United States. Nearly 9,000 people are diagnosed with the disease, half of them already dead. By the end of the year, 6,000 die of AIDS, and 12,000 cases are reported.
- AIDS media coverage drops substantially, by about two-thirds compared to 1987. Reason is that editors believe there is nothing new, no cure, and itâ€™s too depressing.
- Gay political issues become issues of national political significance. Among them: gays in the military, gay marriage, adoption of children by gays, extension of employment discrimination protection to gays and lesbians and extension of hate crimes to include crimes against gays and lesbians.
- Policies restricting the immigration of lesbians and gays to the United States are rescinded. Immigration restrictions on people with HIV and AIDS, however, remain in place.
- Three same-sex couples apply to the Hawaii’s state Department of Health for marriage licenses and are denied. They sue the state the next year, contending that Hawaii’s marriage law is unconstitutional because it bars same-sex couples from obtaining the same marriage rights afforded heterosexuals and denies them equal rights.
- Wisconsin Planned Parenthood hosts a one-day workshop called, "Gay and Lesbian Youth Issues," geared for professionals working with adolescents. The workshop covers the development of sexual orientation and techniques for working with gay and lesbian youth.
- Colorado passes the anti-gay Amendment 2, which seeks to throw out gay-rights legislation in various CO cities, thus allowing discrimination in housing and employment, and to ban such legislation in the future.
- Gay rights legislation is passed in seven states - California, New Jersey, Vermont, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin.
- The Hawaii state high court finds that the marriage law prohibits the couples from getting a license because of their sex; the justices say this may deny the couples their equal protection rights under the Hawaii Constitution. The case is sent back to circuit court to resolve the issue.
- The Hawaii state legislature reacts to the Hawaii Supreme Court decision by amending the marriage law to specify that marriage is between a man and a woman. Other states soon follow with laws defining marriage.
- President Bill Clinton signs an executive order forbidding the denial of security clearances on the basis of sexual orientation. Being closeted and vulnerable to blackmail, however, is still a possible grounds for a clearance denial.
- Starting in 1995, bills to create "Defense of Marriage Acts"(DOMA) were written. Their intent were to outlaw same-sex marriages and to refuse to recognize such marriages recognized in other states. Many are passed and signed into law.
- Utah passes laws using DOMA.
- President Clinton signs the Defense of Marriage Act, denying federal benefits to same-sex spouses should gay marriage ever become legal, and creating an exception to the US Constitution allowing states to disregard same-sex marriages performed in other states.
- Fifteen states pass DOMA related laws: Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee. In Alabama and Mississippi, state governors adopt an executive order declaring same-sex marriages void.
- Gallup poll finds 68% of American adults oppose gay marriage; 27% are in favor.
- The U.S. Supreme Court in Roemer v. Evans overturns Colorado’s Amendment 2, which prohibited state and local gay rights ordinances. In ruling that "a state cannot so deem a class of person a stranger to its laws," the court held that gay-rights laws were not creating "special rights" for homosexuals, as conservatives argued, but guaranteed gay men and lesbians the same rights enjoyed by all Americans, rights to which they are equally entitled. Constitutional scholars believe it provides a way to argue for expansion of other gay rights.
- The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is defeated in the U.S. Senate. The primary purpose of this bill is to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, defined as "homosexuality, bisexuality, or heterosexuality, whether such orientation is real or perceived."
- Six states pass DOMA related laws: Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Virginia.
- American Psychological Association passes a resolution at the APA Convention which asserts there is no scientific evidence on the efficacy of reparative therapy, which seeks to cure homosexuals.
- Governor Kirk Fordice signs a law banning homosexual marriages, making Mississippi the 17th state in a year to ban same-sex marriages.
- A proposal to ban same-sex marriages from Concerned Maine Families signed by more than 60,000 individuals is allowed to be approved by the state legislature without the signature of the Governor. A challenge ensues.
- Maine becomes the 10th state with gay civil rights law. Governor King signs measure adding sexual orientation to existing laws banning discrimination in employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations.
- Baker v. Bermont case is filed. Three same-sex couples sue the state of Vermont to obtain marriage licenses and have their marriages recognized legally by the state.
- Provincetown, MA school board votes to begin educating preschoolers about homosexual lifestyles.
- New Jersey becomes the first state to allow homosexual partners to jointly adopt a child just as a married couple.
- Of the 90% reported districts, 52% (or 257,318) voters favor the repeal of Maine’s gay-rights law, which makes Maine the first state to repeal gay rights.
- Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, and Washington pass DOMA-related laws.
- Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, is elected to the House of Representatives, the first open lesbian, non-incumbent candidate to do so.
- The October 6th death of Matthew Shepard, murdered because he is gay, prompts nationwide vigils and demonstrations. Some religious conservatives picket Shepard’s funeral carrying anti-gay placards. Shephard’s death sparks a Washington, DC march and a renewed push for gay hate crime legislation.
- In June, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) calls homosexuality a sin.
- Two-thirds of Hawaii voters pass a measure to amend the state constitution to define marriage as a compact between a man and woman. A similar measure passes that year in Alaska.
- The Vermont Supreme Court rules that the state must grant gay and lesbian couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.
- Louisiana passes DOMA related laws.
- In December, Vermont’s Supreme Court rules that gay couples deserve the same rights as heterosexual married couples, but it stops short of legalizing gay marriage and leaves the issue to the lawmakers.
- Vermont’s civil union law goes into effect making it the first state in the U.S. to provide same-sex couples with rights, benefits, and responsibilities similar to those of heterosexual couples, including medical decision-making, tax breaks, and inheritance. However, the unions arenâ€™t to be recognized in other states.
- California Proposition 22 to restrict marriage to heterosexuals is passed by the voters.
- Hawaii allows adults who cannot legally marry to register as domestic partners.
- The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America proposes Synod resolutions which would have terminated the ban on the ordination of sexually active gays and lesbians. A resolution is brought forth to create "a rite of blessing for same-gender committed relationships of lifelong fidelity," which would not be defined as a marriage. To avoid a serious division within the denomination the church body instead starts a church-wide study of homosexuality, based on biblical, theological, scientific, and practical considerations. An interim report is due in 2003 with a final report to be given at the 2005 Assembly.
- Cases are argued in Massachusetts and New Jersey to allow same-sex marriages.
- New York becomes the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to apply the word "marriage" to gay and lesbian unions. New York, votes to approve a bill that gives formal recognition to "members of a marriage that was not recognized by the state of New York, domestic partnership, or civil union, lawfully entered into in another jurisdiction." This law entitles them to all rights and benefits available to domestic partners.
- Massachusetts’ highest court ruled that same-sex couples are legally entitled to wed under the state constitution, but stopped short of allowing marriage licenses to be issued to the couples who challenged the law. The Supreme Judicial Court’s 4-3 ruling ordered the Legislature to come up with a solution within 180 days.
- The Supreme Court strikes down Texas state law banning private consensual sex between adults of the same sex in a decision gay rights groups hail as historic.
- Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court orders legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry by May 17, 2004.
- California state law, passed by public referendum, bans same-sex marriage. (In defiance of that law, San Francisco issues more than 3,200 marriage licenses to same-sex couples.)
- On July 22, the U.S. House passes a measure to prevent federal courts from ruling on challenges to state gay-marriage bans under the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by a 233-194 vote.
- In August 2004, King County Superior Court Judge William L. Downing rules in favor of a challenge to Washington state’s Defense of Marriage Act. The state Supreme Court must review the case [Heather Andersen, et al., v. Ron Sims, et al] before same-sex marriage licenses can be issued.
- In August, 2004, Missouri voters overwhelmingly approve their state’s constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage by a 72 percent margin.
- The amendment to protect traditional marriage in Louisiana is overwhelmingly passes in September 2004 by a 78 percent margin.
- On September 20, a three-judge appellate panel in Franklin County, Ohio, thwarts an attempt to have petitions thrown out to place a proposed state constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage on the November 2 ballot.
- Adding to victories in Ohio and Louisiana, Oklahoma puts the brakes on an ACLU attempt to stop a vote on the proposed state constitutional amendment recognizing traditional marriage. The vote comes on the ballot on November 2.
- On November 2, eleven states with traditional marriage amendments on their ballots approve a state ban on same-sex marriage [Kentucky (by a 75 percent margin), Georgia (by 77 percent), Ohio (by 62 percent), Arkansas (by 75 percent), Oklahoma (by 76 percent), Mississippi (by 86 percent), Michigan (by 59 percent), Montana (by 66 percent), North Dakota (by 73 percent), Utah (by 66 percent) and Oregon (by 56 percent)].
- On November 29, the U.S. Supreme Court declines, without comment, to hear a challenge to Massachusetts’ same-sex marriage law.
- On January 19, the Louisiana Supreme Court unanimously overturns the decision of a state district court judge who threw out Louisiana’s Defense of Marriage Amendment Oct. 5, 2004. In the high court’s opinion and one concurrence written by the chief justice, the justices reject the lower court’s reasoning that the amendment had two purposes and was therefore unconstitutional.
- The Indiana Court of Appeals rules unanimously on January 20 that "the Indiana Constitution does not require the governmental recognition of same-sex marriage."
- On February 2, the Kansas House approves an amendment to the Kansas Constitution to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions. The measure goes on the April 5 ballot for public vote. On the same day, the South Dakota House Affairs Committee approves a same-sex marriage ban, sending it to the House floor where it is expected to pass. Again on February 2, a proposed constitutional change banning same-sex marriage fails in the Idaho Senate, stopping public vote of the proposed measure.
- New York state court Judge Doris Ling-Cohan issues a decision declaring New York’s marriage laws unconstitutional on February 4. Judge Cohan’s decision comes after three state court judges in New York previously uphold New York’s marriage laws as constitutional.
- On February 22, Britain’s "Civil Partnerships Bill," passed through parliament the previous year, allows same-sex civil unions starting December 5. Included is access to spousal-like benefits such as pensions, next-of-kin status, and an exemption on paying inheritance tax.
- On February 23, a New York State judge rules against a group of same-sex couples seeking the right to wed, saying it was a job for lawmakers, not the courts, to extend marriage rights. The 25 couples learned that State Supreme Court Judge Robert C. Mulvey had rejected their arguments, upholding the state’s position.
- Judge Richard Kramer of San Francisco County’s Superior Court rules on March 14 that California’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. He compares the ban to racial segregation in schools and says "no rational purpose" exists for denial of such marriages. The ruling, if upheld on appeal, sets the stage for California to follow the state of Massachusetts in allowing same-sex couples to wed.
- Kansans vote overwhelmingly on April 5 to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions. More than 550,000 people approve the measure by more than a 2-1 ratio, making Kansas the 18th state to ban gay marriage in its constitution.
- The Oregon Supreme Court on April 13 invalidates the marriages of 2,000 same-sex couples and refuses to decide whether gays and lesbians should have the same rights and benefits as married couples.
- Connecticut becomes the second state in the U.S. to offer civil unions to same-sex couples, beginning October 1.
- On June 14, a state appeals court in New Jersey upholds a lower court decision that said it does not violate the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
- A federal district court in Orange County, Calif., rules on June 17 the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is constitutional.
- Canada makes history on June 28 when the House of Commons passes legislation to legalize same-sex marriage by July 31 as long as the Senate also passes the bill, which it is expected to do.
- On June 30, Spain becomes the third country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, allowing the adoption of children and giving full inheritance rights.
- In July 2005, Canada becomes the 4th country in the world to pass legislation to legalize same-sex marriage.
- Texas voters overwhelmingly okay Proposition 2 on November 8, the measure amending its state constitution to protect marriage. The victory came on a 76 percent vote. Texas joins 18 other states enshrining the traditional definition of marriage in their constitutions.
- In separate rulings on July 6, New York’s highest court rejected homosexual couples’ bid to allow marriage rights, and Georgia’s high court reinstated that state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
- On July 10, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously that a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution banning homosexual marriage can be placed on the ballot if it is approved by the legislature.
- On July 14, the 8th Circuit Court ruled that Nebraska can reinstate its voter-approved same-sex marriage ban. On the same day, the Tennessee state Supreme Court ruled that voters in Tennessee will be able to decide in November on a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
- An October 25 ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court mandates that the state legislature find a way to grant the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples. The 4-3 ruling makes New Jersey the second state in the nation to legalize "same-sex marriage."
- On November 7, eight states (Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin) approve bans on same-sex marriage in state referendums. Arizona becomes the first state to reject such a ban. Colorado also defeats a measure to create domestic partnerships.
- On January 2, lawmakers in Massachusetts, without debate, vote to advance a proposed constitutional amendment seeking to ban same-sex marriage, meeting the needed threshold of 50 votes in favor. It must be approved again in the next legislative session for it to wind up on the 2008 ballot.
- In February, the Michigan appeals court rules the state ban on same-sex marriage prohibits state and local governments and public universities from offering health benefits to same-sex partners.
- On February 19, New Jersey begins accepting civil union applications.
- On May 9, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski signs legislation creating "domestic partnerships" for gays and lesbians in the state starting Jan. 1, 2008. He also signs bill that outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation, effective the same date. The domestic partnership law enables same-sex couples to enter into contractual relationships that carry many of the benefits offered to married couples. The other law bans discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people in employment, housing and access to public accommodations.
- On May 31, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch signs law establishing civil unions for same-sex couples in the state. New Hampshire is the fourth U.S. state to offer civil unions.
- A proposed constitutional amendment to restore the definition of traditional marriage as one man and one woman is defeated June 14 by a joint session of the Massachusetts Legislature, eliminating any chances of its appearance on the ballot in November 2008.
- The Maryland Supreme Court overturns a lower court ruling on September 18, declaring same-sex couples do not have a constitutional right to marry.
- The California Supreme Court hears oral arguments on March 4 in case to determine the constitutionality of Proposition 22’s denial of same-sex couples’ right to marry.
- On March 4, the Washington state Legislature approves a bill to expand rights under the state’s 2007 domestic partnership law.
- On May 15, the California Supreme Court rules in narrow 4-3 decision to declare a right for same-sex marriage under the state Constitution.
- Norway legalizes same-sex marriage on June 11, becoming the fourth European country – after the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain – and the sixth country worldwide to legalize same-sex marriages.
- On July 1, Maryland’s domestic partnership law – signed into law on May 22 – goes into effect.
- The Connecticut Supreme Court on October 10 legalizes same-sex marriage.
- Measures pass on November 4 amending the state constitutions of Arizona, California and Florida to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
- On November 12, the Connecticut high court ruling to legalize same-sex marriage in the state becomes effective.
- Norway’s law to legalize same-sex marriage goes into effect on January 1.
- The California Supreme Court hears oral arguments on March 5 challenging the legality of Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban passed by voters in November 2008.
- Sweden’s parliament votes to allow same-sex marriage. The law goes into effect May 1.
- On April 3, Iowa’s Supreme Court justices uphold a lower-court ruling that rejects a state law restricting marriage to a union between a man and woman. Iowa now joins Massachusetts and Connecticut in permitting same-sex marriage.
- On April 7, Vermont becomes the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage, after lawmakers override a veto by Gov. James Douglas.
- On May 6, Maine becomes the fifth state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage.
- In a referendum presented November 4, voters in Maine repeal a law passed by the state legislature in May, allowing same-sex couples to marry. The referendum passes by a margin of 53% to 47%.
- New Jersey Senate in January defeats same-sex marriage law.
- Maryland's Attorney General announces in Feb. Maryland would recognize valid same-sex marriages performed in other states.
- After the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to intervene in the Washington, D.C. marriage battle, same-sex couples can get married in the District of Columbia beginning March 3, 2010.
- On May 17, President Aníbal Cavaco Silva ratifies its law to legalize same-sex marriage. The law becomes effective June 5.
- Beginning June 27, Iceland legalizes same-sex marriage.
- On Aug. 4, a federal district judge rules the same-sex marriage ban in California'as Proposition 8 violates the equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution.
- Delaware becomes 8th state to allow civil unions for same-sex couples on May 11.
- New York becomes 6th state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage, effective July 25.
- On February 7, California's 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rules the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The ruling paves the way for a U.S. Supreme Court showdown.
- Washington becomes the 7th U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. Washington also becomes the first state to strike down state law that specifically defined marriage the union of one man and one woman. Gov. Christine Gregoire signed the bill into law on Feb. 13. The law takes effect in December 2012.
- Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signs bill to legalize same-sex marriage into law on March 1, and it takes effect in January 2013. Opponents must collect nearly 56,000 valid voter signatures to place the measure on the November 2012 ballot. The referendum is expected to end up on the ballot.
- On June 5, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refuses to reconsider a ruling that struck down California's ban on same-sex unions. The justices find the federal Defense of Marriage Act discriminates against same-sex couples by denying benefits to them that couples of traditional marriage receive.
- On November 6, voters in Maine approve same-sex marriage, becoming the first state to approve marriage for same-sex couples through a majority vote on a ballot measure. Maryland voters also uphold a new law allowing same-sex couples to marry in the state. A similar ballot measure passes in Washington to allow same-sex marriage in their state. Minnesota voters also reject a state constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
- Washington state's voter-approved law legalizing same-sex marriage takes effect Dec. 6. Because the state has a three-day waiting period, the earliest that weddings can take place are Dec. 9.
- On December 7, the U.S. Supreme Court agree to review the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8 marriage amendment. Oral arguments are expected to be held in March 2013 with a ruling expected by late June 2013.
- Civil unions are signed into law on March 21 in the state of Colorado. The new law takes effect May 1.
- Uruguay becomes the second South American country to legalize same-sex marriage, after the Lower House approves the change in the nation's definition of marriage on April 10, 2013.
- On April 17, New Zealand becomes the 13th country in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize same-sex marriage.
- On May 2, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee signs a bill legalizing same-sex marriage after the state legislature approves the measure becoming the 10th state in the U.S. to allow the same-sex couples to wed. The law takes effect August 1.
- The state of Delaware becomes the 11th state to allow same-sex marriage. Gov. Jack Markell signs the law on May 7. The law takes effect July 1.
- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signs measure into law to permit same-sex marriage in the state on May 14. The law takes effect August 1.
- France becomes the 14th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage when French President Francois Hollande signs the measure, which lawmakers adopted in late April 2013, into law on May 17.
- On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that a part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, invalidating a provision of DOMA that failed to allow married same-sex couples to receive the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples. The high court did not directly rule on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.
- In a separate 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court on June 26 left in place a trial court's ruling that California's Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. The Court justices ruled in Hollingsworth v. Perry (Proposition 8) that Prop 8 defendants had no standing to argue before the case, remanding the case back to Federal District Court. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority option. The ruling clears the way for same-sex marriage in California.
- Same-sex marriage becomes law on July 17 in England and Wales after Queen Elizabeth gives her royal assent.
- The New Jersey Supreme Court on Oct. 18, 2013 denies the state's request to temporarily prevent same-sex marriages, clearing the way for same-sex couples to marry in the state starting Oct. 21, 2013.
- On November 13, Hawaii becomes the 16th state to legalize same-sex marriage. The Aloha State will permit residents and tourists of the Aloha State to marry beginning Dec. 2.
- The New Mexico Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage making the state the 17th to legalize such unions. In a unanimous decision on Dec. 19, the justices rule it is unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
- On Dec. 20, a federal judge decides to strike down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage.
- The Supreme Court on Jan. 6 puts same-sex marriages in Utah on hold pending a federal appeals court review.
- A federal court judge rules Jan. 16 that the ban on gay marriage in the state of Oklahoma is unconstitutional.
- Updated January 16, 2014
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