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Timeline: Key events in the history of US gay rights

Reuters , Monday 27 Apr 2015
Supreme Court Gay Marriage
A flag is held over a stack of sixty boxes containing copies of an appeal filed with the Supreme Court, during a Restrain the Judges news conference in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, April 27, 2015. (Photo:AP)
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The U.S. Supreme Court case that will decide whether states can ban gay marriage marks another milestone in the history of the American gay rights movement.

Here is a look at some key events.

1950

- The Mattachine Society, considered the first national U.S. gay rights organization, is founded in Los Angeles.

1958

The U.S. Supreme Court, in the case One, Inc. v. Olesen, backs the free-speech rights of a gay magazine after U.S. postal officials and the FBI labeled it obscene and prohibited its mail distribution. It is seen as the first gay rights case before the Supreme Court.

 

1961

Illinois becomes the first state to decriminalize sodomy.

1969

Police raids at the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in New York City's Greenwich Village, trigger violent protests in a seminal moment in the gay rights movement.

1977

Singer and Christian conservative Anita Bryant spearheads a campaign in Florida's Dade County leading to the repeal of a local ordinance barring anti-gay discrimination.

1978

Gay rights champion Harvey Milk of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors is shot dead along with Mayor George Moscone by a former city supervisor who is later cleared of murder charges, being convicted instead on lesser charges.

1982

Wisconsin becomes the first state to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

1986

The U.S. Supreme Court, in the case Bowers v. Hardwick, upholds a Georgia sodomy law, ruling consenting adults have no constitutional right to engage in homosexual acts even in private.

1987

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators march in Washington, faulting President Ronald Reagan's response to the AIDS epidemic and demanding more federal money for AIDS research and treatment. The U.S. AIDS epidemic in the 1980s disproportionately involved gay men.

1996

The U.S. Supreme Court, in the case Romer v. Evans, throws out a Colorado measure approved by voters that denied gays protections against discrimination.

1997

In a pivotal popular culture moment, the main character in Ellen DeGeneres' sitcom comes out as gay, just as the comedian herself had done.

2000

The U.S. Supreme Court, in the case Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, decides the Boy Scouts can bar gays as troop leaders.

2003

The U.S. Supreme Court, in the case Lawrence v. Texas, overturns its Bowers v. Hardwick ruling, throwing out a Texas sodomy law prohibiting two people of the same sex from certain sex acts.

2004

Massachusetts becomes the first state to legalize same-sex marriages after a state court finds banning them violates the state constitution.

2010

President Barack Obama signs a law repealing the 1993 "don't ask, don't tell" policy that had banned gays from serving openly in the U.S. military.

2012

Obama becomes the first president to support gay marriage.

2013

The U.S. Supreme Court, in the case United States v. Windsor, rules unconstitutional a 1996 law that declared for the purposes of federal benefits marriage was defined as between one man and one woman. Afterward, an increasing number of states allow gay marriage.

2014

The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to decide whether states can ban gay marriage and sets arguments for April 28, with a decision due by the end of June.

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