Homosexual Legal Rights

March 8, 1974

Report Outline
Activism on Legal and Social Issues
Public Attitudes Toward Homosexuals
Court Challenges to Discrimination
Special Focus

Activism on Legal and Social Issues

Fast Emergence of Gay Liberation Movement

The prevailing attitude toward homosexuals in the United States traditionally has been one of revulsion and hostility. This attitude is reflected in the nation's legal codes. In 42 states private homosexual acts entered into by consenting adults are punishable by long prison sentences. The person who appears homosexual or who acknowledges his—or her—homosexuality has trouble finding a job or a place to live. He is barred by the federal government from the Civil Service and Foreign Service, and from private employment requiring a security clearance. The homosexual encounters some form of discrimination almost daily, whether with or without a legal basis.

In recent years, however, many of these laws, rules and practices have been challenged in the courts and state legislatures. Leading the battle for full legal equality is a group of militant homosexuals rallying under the banner of the “Gay Liberation Movement.” The emergence of “Gay Lib” as a full-fledged social-protest movement is traced to June 27, 1969, when New York City policemen raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar in Greenwich Village catering to homosexuals. The bar patrons resisted arrest and brawled with the police for several hours that night, to the apparent surprise of both groups.

This turn of events—homosexuals openly fighting for their claim to civil rights—imparted a new sense of boldness to many other homosexuals. Within a month, the first Gay Liberation Front group was organized in New York City. By the second anniversary of the “Stonewall Rebellion” other militant homosexual organizations, including the Gay Activists Alliance, had sprung up all across the country. Gay Pride Week, commemorating the Stonewall incident, has become an annual event and homosexual-sponsored protest demonstrations are much a part of the American scene in 1974.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Individuals
Mar. 15, 2013  Gay Marriage
Mar. 01, 2011  Gay Rights
Sep. 18, 2009  Gays in the Military Updated
Sep. 26, 2008  Gay Marriage Showdowns Updated
May 05, 2006  Transgender Issues
Oct. 01, 2004  Gays on Campus
Sep. 05, 2003  Gay Marriage
Apr. 14, 2000  Gay-Rights Update
Mar. 05, 1993  Gay Rights
Sep. 04, 1992  Domestic Partners
Jun. 29, 1984  Gay Politics
Mar. 08, 1974  Homosexual Legal Rights
Jul. 10, 1963  Homosexuality: Morals and Security
Civil Rights: Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered