Gay and Lesbian Rights: A Reference Handbook

Gay and Lesbian Rights: A Reference Handbook

Gay and Lesbian Rights: A Reference Handbook

Gay and Lesbian Rights: A Reference Handbook

Synopsis

This thoroughly updated edition provides readers with the background and resources needed to understand one of the greatest civil rights issues of our time.

Excerpt

Over its more than 230-year history, the United States has seen one group of citizens after another fighting for basic civil liberties, rights that they have felt were due them under the Constitution. In the 1920s, for example, women marched for, and eventually won, the right to vote. Four decades later, blacks and whites marched together for laws prohibiting discrimination based on race. At the same time, legal challenges were made against miscegenation laws that banned marriage between people of different races. In the 1980s, the Americans with Disabilities Act extended antidiscrimination laws to people with a variety of disabilities.

For more than half a century, another group of citizens has been working to gain civil rights legislation for gay men and lesbians. That effort was modest and timid until the 1980s, when gays began to be more aggressive and active in arguing for laws that would grant them the civil rights to which they thought they were entitled. Today, a multifaceted campaign is focused on eliminating discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation, on obtaining for same-sex couples many of the social, political, and economic benefits available to married heterosexual couples, and otherwise erasing the limitations on a person’s civil rights that result from his or her sexual orientation. Over the last decade, the gay and lesbian rights movement has also expanded to include bisexuals and transgendered persons.

Given the general disapproval that many Americans have for homosexual behavior, this effort has had some remarkable successes. Today, 20 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 140 cities and counties have laws prohibiting discrimination (usually in housing, employment, and public . . .

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