The United States territory of Puerto Rico will join the US in allowing same-sex marriage.
After the Supreme Court decision that brought same-sex marriage to all 50 states, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla has said the territory will follow suit.
He acknowledged that was opposition to the move in the largely Catholic island, but said: “I ask all of those who are people of faith like me to understand that no one is allowed to impose their religious beliefs on others.”
The Caribbean island joins Guam – another US territory – which announced it was to allow same-sex marriage in April.
The first same-sex couple married in Guam earlier this month.
Puerto Rico announced that it was to stop defending its ban on same-sex marriage back in March, with the Governor saying: “The commonwealth cannot responsibly advance before this court any interest sufficiently important or compelling to justify the differentiated treatment afforded so far to plaintiffs.”
This was only a few months after voting to uphold the ban.
Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda said that the Supreme Court judgement was “a huge step in the quest for equal rights,” according to AP.
He went on: “You cannot deny people the right to love.”
Jose Rodriguez of the group Heterosexuals in Favor of Equality said: “It’s time to truly make Puerto Rico into a more fair and equal society, and not depend on decisions from the outside to achieve this.”
The first formal step in the marriage cases before the Supreme Court is happening Friday, as the same-sex couples in four midwest states ask the justices to strike down bans that prevent them from marrying or having their marriages granted elsewhere recognized in the states.
When the court announced in January that it would be hearing the cases out of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, it set a schedule requiring the couples or, in one case, widower, to file their briefs with the court by Friday.
The first brief whose filing was announced on Friday was in a pair of cases out of Ohio, both of which deal with recognition of marriages previously granted to same-sex couples in other states. The brief’s filing was announced at 10 a.m.
Shortly thereafter, the couples in Tennessee — also seeking recognition of their marriages granted elsewhere — filed their brief, as did couples in Kentucky seeking the right to marry and the right to have marriages granted elsewhere recognized.
A bit before 11:30 a.m., the final brief came in from the Michigan couple seeking to marry in that state.
The states’ briefs defending the bans will be due in a month, by March 27.
Victories aren’t won overnight, and the road to acceptance for LGBTQ people in America has been impeded by hate, violence, brutality and ignorance over the decades. It’s been bumpy to say the least.
We owe it to those who fought for justice in our name to learn about their struggle, their pain and their successes as we carry the torch into the future.
History class is in session.
Scroll down for 17 amazing events that brought us closer to equality…
1. Julius’ sip-in, 1966
Members of the Mattachine Society, one of the nation’s earliest gay rights groups, were frustrated with the New York City ordinance banning the serving of alcohol to openly gay people. So they went over to Julius’—which had attracted the swishy set at least since the 1950s — and announced they were homosexuals.
After they were refused service, the men filed a complaint with the city’s Commission on Human Rights. This led to a 1967 state court ruling that declared the SLA (State Liquor Authority) needed “substantial evidence” of indecent behavior to close a bar and not just same-sex kissing or touching. The decision was a landmark case that reversed years of discrimination and became a key catalyst in the eventual gay rights movement.
Inspired by similar protests against segregated lunch counters, the “sip-in” was one of the first orchestrated acts of civil disobedience against anti-gay demonstration. And it made headlines, though the New York Times called the Mattachine members “sexual deviates.”
You can still stop into Julius’ in Greenwich Village to see where it all went down, and once a month, John Cameron Mitchell stops by to DJ a funky dance party, aptly named “Mattachine.”
2. Black Cat raid, 1967
It was New Year’s Eve, and undercover cops tried to arrest patrons who kissed at midnight at this Silver Lake neighborhood gay bar in Los Angeles. In response, bar-goers rioted — a tactic that’s proved popular over the years in Los Angeles — and eventually police reinforcements arrived to beat people into submission.
In the days that followed, local organizers P.R.I.D.E. (Personal Rights in Defense and Education) held a protest rally. The event served to unite the community and drove further activism — including the founding of a magazine that would become The Advocate. It’s the first use of the term “Pride” in relation to gay rights.
3. Stonewall riots, 1969
Many mark the Stonewall riots as the official “shot heard round the world” that sparked the beginning of what we know as the modern gay-rights movement. In the early morning hours of June 28, New York City police faced off against the trans and gay bar patrons in what would become a true tipping-point moment in the battle for equality.
Even today, the last Sunday in June is marked by gay Pride around the world.
4. The first LGBT Pride Parade is held in New York, 1970
There were no floats at this inaugural event — it was more of a politically-driven demonstration to commemorate the Stonewall Riots than the non-stop party it is today.
5. The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II), 1973
The Gay Liberation Front formed within days of the Stonewall Rebellion. Firmly aligned with America’s leftist movement, the GLF wanted nothing less than to strip America of its restrictive sexual policies. The GLF proved too radical for some members, who went off to form the Gay Activist Alliance.
In addition to taking on politicians, the GLF and GAA lent their voices to the campaign to change the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association’s respective stances on the gays. For example, On May 14th, 1970, GLF members raided an American Psychiatric Association conference in San Francisco and demanded the good doctors change their anti-gay stance. Three years, later, the Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
6. Minneapolis becomes the first city in the United States to pass trans-inclusive civil rights protection legislation, and AT&T becomes the first major corporation to adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation, 1975
The struggle to get transgender protections at a nation-wide level continues to this day. These moves in the public and private sectors to include LGBT protections were and continue to be vital breakthroughs in not only how people can seek restitution following wrongdoing, but also eventually shift how public opinion views the issues at hand — as elements of identity, not red flags.
7. Harvey Milk sworn in as San Francisco Supervisor, 1978
Milk became the most high profile gay person in the country when his swearing-in made national headlines. Throughout his political career, he worked tirelessly on the front line of gay liberation and visibility. One of Milk’s first acts as Supervisor was to sponsor a civil rights bill that outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation — the “most stringent and encompassing [ordinance] in the nation,” according to the New York Times.
Tragically, Milk would only serve 11 months in office before his assassination, but his legacy of a proactive gay political influence continues to echo.
8. The first national gay rights march on Washington, D.C. is held, 1979
The march was the first attempt at nationalizing the gay rights movement, which up until then had been focused primarily on local injustices. You get a sense of this camaraderie in the closing paragraph of the welcome program of the march, written by Allen Young:
“Today in the capital of America, we are all here, the almost liberated and the slightly repressed; the butch, the femme and everything in-between; the androgynous; the monogamous and the promiscuous; the masturbators and the fellators and the tribadists; men in dresses and women in neckties; those who bite and those who cuddle; celebates[sic] and pederasts; diesel dykes and nelly queens; amazons and size queens, Yellow, Black, Brown, White, and Red; the shorthaired and the long, the fat and the thin; the nude and the prude; the beauties and the beasts; the studs and the duds; the communes, the couples, and the singles; pubescents and the octogenarians. Yes, we are all here! We are everywhere! Welcome to the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights!”
9. White night riots, 1979
When Dan White, the man who assassinated the gay rights icon and San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk and SF Mayor George Moscone, was sentenced to just 1 year in prison for the murders, the queer community took to the streets to express their anger in what has now become known as the “White Night Riots.”
Though significant damage was done to City Hall in the chaos that erupted, the event bolstered gay political influence in the city. That power momentum helped get Diane Feinstein elected to a full term as mayor the following November. Keeping a campaign promise, Feinstein appointed a pro-gay Chief of Police, who eased tensions in the city in part by increasing recruitment of gay police officers.
10. West Hollywood, CA is founded, 1984
In response to rapid rent increases across Los Angeles at the time, a tight tenants coalition emerged in largely gay-populated West Hollywood which enabled the neighborhood to incorporate as the “City of West Hollywood.” As a result, the city became the first in the nation to have a city council with a majority of openly gay members.
As the AIDS epidemic continued to cause devastation and panic in Los Angeles and cities across the country, this comparatively small victory in WeHo was a sign of progress forging on.
11. ACT UP stages its first major demonstration, seventeen protesters are arrested, 1987
Outraged by the Reagan administration’s mismanagement of the AIDS crisis, activists united to form the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). The first demonstration was organized three weeks later on March 24th on Wall Street, the “fictional center of the world,” to protest pharmaceutical companies (primarily Burroughs Wellcome, manufacturer of AZT) profiting from AIDS drugs and the government’s snail pace at responding to the needs of those suffering. Seventeen people were arrested for civil disobedience.
Shortly after the protest, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it would shorten its drug approval process by two years.
12. March on Washington, 1993
Fueled by the passage of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell that barred gay people from serving openly in the military, rising occurrences of gay-related hate crimes and local/federal resistance to include “sexual orientation” in non-discrimination legislature, this third iteration of the March on Washington saw some 1,000,000 participants decent upon the National Mall. Never before had the LGBTQ community been so visible, organized and present.
13. California becomes the first state legislature to pass a domestic partnership statute, 1999
It took four years of trying, but assemblymembers Richard Katz and Kevin Murray finally got a bill to then-governor Gray Davis’ desk that allowed same-sex couples to become domestic partners. While it’s easy to look back now and see this distinction as still unfair (since the partnerships didn’t hold the same benefits as marriage), it allowed for hospital visitation rights and authorized health insurance coverage for domestic partners of public employees. This followed similar moves in the private sector, like AT&T adopting one of the first domestic partner benefits programs for LGBT employees in 1998.
The ball was rolling, and it didn’t stop.
14. Massachusetts becomes first state to legalize same-sex marriage, 2004
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that it was unconstitutional under the Massachusetts constitution to allow only opposite-sex couples to marry, setting the stage for a tidal wave of marriage equality activism across the country. Governor Mitt Romney publicly disagreed with the SJC’s decision, but said “We obviously have to follow the law as provided by the Supreme Judicial Court, even if we don’t agree with it.”
On May 16, 2004, same-sex couples began obtaining marriage licenses in the state. In the first week, 2,468 gay and lesbian couples got married.
15. Don’t ask, don’t tell repealed, 2011
September 2011 marked the end of both a specific 18-year-old policy and an shameful form of discrimination that’s as old as our nation. As the official statement from the Joint Chief of Staffs read:
“Today marks the end of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’ The law is repealed. From this day forward, gay and lesbian soldiers may serve in our Army with the dignity and respect they deserve. Our rules, regulations and politics reflect the repeal guidance issued by the Department of Defense and will apply uniformly without regard to sexual orientation, which is a personal and private matter.”
To that we said: “Duh!”
16. Barack Obama becomes first U.S. president to publicly announce support for same-sex marriage, 2012
After enumerating his progress of gay rights (DADT repeal and not defending DOMA), President Obama said he supports gay marriage in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts:
“I’ve stood on the broader side of equality for the LGBT community. I had hesitated on gay marriage, in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient, that that was something that would give people hospital visitations, elements that we take for granted. And I was sensitive to the fact that, for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that evokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs, and so forth. But I have to say, over the course of several years, as I talked to friends and family and neighbors — when I think about members of my own staff, who are in incredibly committed monogamous 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 feel constrained even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is repealed… 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 that same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
At the time of Obama’s announcement, same-sex couples could only get married in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and the District of Columbia
17. National marriage equality passed, 2015
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family,” Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, the historic case that legalized same-sex marriage across America. “[The challengers] ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
Google, American Airlines, AT&T and Pandora were just some of the hundreds of employers who signed onto a “friends of the court” brief at the U.S. Supreme Court to support the business case for marriage equality.
Coinciding with many of the country’s June Pride celebrations, the reverberations of this monumental victory were felt with strength and depth.
While the road remains long and rocky towards the ultimate goal of full equality for the LGBTQs, it was tough not to pop a bottle of champagne or two when the news spread.
A new study released today by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds that Virginia Senator Mark Warner and Vermont Governor Peter Chumlin would have both been defeated by their Republican challengers in the 2014 election if LGB people had not voted.
“LGB voters are one of the most consistently Democratic voting blocks in the nation,” said Williams Institute Public Opinion Project Director Andrew R. Flores. “When Democrats are elected by close margins, overwhelming support for their candidacies from LGB voters plays a decisive role in explaining their victories as was the case in this midterm election.”
Exit polls from the 2014 US midterm election suggest that 4% of the electorate identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB), representing the highest recorded LGB turnout in a midterm election since 1998. Among LGB voters, exit polls indicate that 75% supported Democratic congressional candidates in this election.
The report uses national congressional exit polling data in Senate and gubernatorial elections where the margin of victory for a Democratic candidate was less than the estimated percentage of LGB voters in the election.
Had LGB voters stayed home on Election Day, analyses suggest that:
• Republican Ed Gillespie would be the incoming Senator from Virginia instead of incumbent Democrat Mark Warner.
• Republican Scott Milne would be governor-elect of Vermont instead of incumbent Democrat Peter Chumlin.
• Gubernatorial races in Colorado and Connecticut would have been too close to call and may have gone to a recount.
The full report entitled, “LGB Vote 2014,” and co-authored by Williams Institute Public Opinion Project Director Andrew R. Flores and Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Williams Institute Research Director Gary J. Gates is available here.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a 2009 law that establishes a registry for same-sex couples, saying it does not violate an amendment to the state’s constitution banning gay marriage.
The registry gives registered same-sex couples the right to hospital visits, family medical leave to care for a stricken partner, health benefits under a partner’s insurance and the right to inherit assets when a partner dies.
The court said the ban on same-sex marriage did not include a ban on certain rights for same-sex couples. The gay marriage ban was approved by Wisconsin voters in 2006.
Three years later, the registry was created under Democratic Governor Jim Doyle to afford certain rights to same-sex couples. It now has more than 2,000 couples on it, according to Fair Wisconsin, a gay-rights organization based in Madison.
Wisconsin Family Action, an anti-gay rights group, argued in a 2010 lawsuit that the registry violated the amendment because it resembles marriage under state law.
Lambda Legal, an advocacy group pushing for same-sex marriage, hailed the Wisconsin court’s decision.
“Gay and lesbian couples in Wisconsin no longer have to fear that the protections they have will be taken away by unnecessary anti-gay legal action,” it said in a statement.
The Wisconsin ban on same-sex marriage took a hit on a national level when a federal judge in June ruled that it was unconstitutional.
The ruling was later put on hold with Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filing an appeal to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. (Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Bill Trott, Jim Loney and Eric Beech)
President Barack Obama on Monday signed an executive order banning workplace discrimination against millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors and the federal government.
The executive order has two parts: It makes it illegal to fire or harass employees of federal contractors based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and it explicitly bans discrimination against transgender employees of the federal government. The part targeting federal contractors affects 24,000 companies employing roughly 28 million workers, or about one-fifth of the nation’s workforce.
“America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people,” Obama said during remarks at the White House just before signing the order. “I’m going to do what I can with the authority I have to act.”
The provision affecting federal employees takes effect immediately, while employees of federal contractors will have their new protections in place by early next year, according to senior administration officials.
To the relief of the LGBT community, Obama did not include a sweeping religious exemption in the executive order — something the community feared could happen in the wake of last month’s Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case.
Instead, Obama simply added the categories of sexual orientation and gender identity to an existing executive order that protects employees of federal contractors from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. President George W. Bush amended that executive order in 2002 to allow religiously affiliated federal contractors to prioritize hiring employees of their particular religion, however, and Obama is keeping that language intact.
Obama is fulfilling a 2008 campaign promise with his action targeting federal contractors. His action affecting federal employees, meanwhile, responds to what some have described as a shortcoming in existing governmental rules. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in 2012 that the federal ban on sex discrimination covers transgender discrimination, but those affected by that rule change say the government hasn’t been enforcing it and that they continue to be discriminated against.
It is still legal in 32 states to fire or harass someone at work for being LGBT. Congress could remedy that by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which already passed the Senate. But Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has refused to bring the bill up for a vote in the House.
A federal appeals court on Friday ruled Oklahoma must allow gay couples to wed, marking the second time it has found the U.S. Constitution protects same-sex marriage.
The decision from a three-judge panel in Denver upholds rulings that struck down Oklahoma’s gay marriage ban.
The 2-1 ruling comes after the same panel ruled June 25 that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the Constitution. It was the first time an appellate court determined last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act means states cannot deny gays the ability to wed.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel put its Oklahoma and Utah rulings on hold pending an appeal. Utah’s attorney general has said he plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Gay marriage in the two states will remain on hold.
Still, the decisions give increased momentum to a legal cause that has compiled an impressive string of lower court victories. More than 20 courts have issued rulings siding with gay marriage advocates since the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling in June 2013. The rulings have come in 17 states, with Florida being the latest.
Two of the most striking of those decisions were in conservative Utah and Oklahoma, which saw their voter-approved gay marriage bans struck down in December and January, respectively. In Utah, more than 1,000 same-sex couples married before the Supreme Court issued a stay.
It’s unclear whether the two cases will be the first to reach the Supreme Court. The high court could choose from cases moving through five other federal appellate courts, and it won’t consider a case until next year at the earliest.
Attorneys representing Utah and Oklahoma argued voters have the right to define marriage in their states, and unions between a man and woman are best for children.
Gay rights lawyers countered that voters cannot define marriage in a way that deprives gay people of their fundamental rights, and say there is no proof that gay couples make inferior parents.
Ten years ago, nearly a dozen states outlawed gay marriage. Now same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia, and recent polls show a majority of Americans support it.
The Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to California’s law that bars mental counseling aimed at turning gay minors straight.
The justices on Monday let stand an appeals court ruling that said the state’s ban on so-called conversion therapy for minors doesn’t violate the free speech rights of licensed counselors and patients seeking treatment.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that California lawmakers properly showed that efforts to change sexual orientation were outside the scientific mainstream and have been rejected for good reason.
Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal aid group, had challenged the law along with other supporters of the therapy. They argue that lawmakers have no scientific proof the therapy does harm.
A preliminary ruling in a New Jersey court suggests that an organization that provides supposed ex-gay therapy may have to pay out damages to clients who were harmed by the conversion therapy.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) brought the suit a year and a half ago, accusing Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) of consumer fraud for providing ex-gay therapy. Plaintiffs outlined humiliating and degrading experiences from their treatment, including having to strip nude in front of their therapist and re-enact past trauma. Their suit demands compensation for the failed treatment, as well as for the therapy they later sought to correct the damage incurred by JONAH.
JONAH sought a summary judgment to dismiss the claims for the post-JONAH therapy, but New Jersey Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr. denied the request Friday, explaining that he thinks there’s a case to be made that the organization is liable. Assuming the truth of the plaintiffs’ experiences, Bariso wrote, “JONAH’s conversion therapy damaged the individuals it was meant ‘to cure,’” and thus “any subsequent costs of repairing Plaintiff’s mental or emotional health are the direct and proximate result of JONAH’s actions and, hence, should be borne by JONAH.” The case will now proceed considering both claims for damages.
JONAH claims to provide “psychological and spiritual counseling, peer support, and self-empowerment” in order to “heal the wounds surrounding homosexuality.” But according to David Dinielli, SPLC deputy legal director, “These young men were left with guilt, shame, and frustration” by a treatment that psychologists have rejected as ineffective and that survivors have overwhelmingly described as harmful.
Seven couples have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the ban on same-sex marriage in North Dakota, the last remaining state without a court challenge.
The clerk of the court confirmed that the lawsuit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Fargo.
It challenges both North Dakota’s constitutional ban on gay marriage and its refusal to recognize marriages of same-sex couples who legally wed in other states.
The lawsuit means cases are currently pending in all 31 states with gay marriage bans. Judges have overturned several of those bans since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year.
Minneapolis-based attorney Josh Newville, who is representing the North Dakota couples, also filed a lawsuit on behalf of South Dakota couples in May.