Legalizing The Gays
A lot of people think the end of the world is something that will happen abruptly when no one’s expecting it, like a great flood (Katrina), or massive earthquake (there’s a big one yearly—Haiti, Virginia all the way up the east coast—but who’s counting) or even an alien race intent on genocide before plunging the planet’s natural resources. But good social conservatives, and the occasional homophobe, have been seeing the warning signs for decades. Slowly but surely equal rights have been granted to homosexuals in America. Can you believe it? They want to be like everyone else. Here are a few highlights from the past that make this eschatological theory plausible.
In 1961, Illinois was the first state in the union to repeal sodomy laws. Based on an opinion from the American Law Institute that urged the abolition of victimless crime laws, like sodomy, between two consenting adults. Guess there were a lot of confirmed bachelors hanging out late night, along with extended daytime Tupperware parties, around the Prairie State. Chicago is also where House music started; tons of consenting.
1984 was a pretty big year, The Olympics were held in California, and Berkeley became the first city to enact a same-sex domestic partnership ordinance. It was the first time government employee benefits were extended to non-wedded domestic partners. It was the first time a municipal government of any sort acknowledged the home two queer people created for themselves. I think this was also the year U-Haul went public. Kidding, that was 1995.
In 1998, with a Republican controlled Congress, and the beyond absurd DOMA still fresh, President Bill Clinton signed executive order 13087. This banned the federal government from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation in employment. You think they could have come up with a cuter moniker or nickname or something. Executive Order 13087 has adult film connotations written all over it.
In 2000 under Governor Howard Dean, with that awkwardly cute WASP-with-a-heart smile—and an intense howl, Vermont was the first state in the country to adopt civil unions for same-sex partners granting them many of the same rights as married couples. It wasn’t full-blown marriage, but it was the cry heard around the nation that re-energized the push towards equality. Holler.
2004 was a weird year. Bush won his reelection bid and Massachusetts became the first state in the country to rule that civil unions, with their separate but equal comparisons to marriage did not go far enough in terms of equality for the state’s citizens. The court mandated marriage be made available for all, and the GOOD WILL HUNTING puns went on and on for a while.
Legislative change has spread throughout the country more recently, and at a quickening pace. We can expect to see more state laws like the one that took effect January 1st in California. This new provision made it mandatory to include the contributions GLBT people have made to California and the United States. Shout out to Harvey, bois and gurls. You’ve gotta give em hope.