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Gay Rights and Gay Marriage

Chronology of Events

There are several different types of color-coded dates in this timeline of gay rights, explained at the bottom of the timeline.

Gay Rights and Gay Marriage
1533 The English common law tradition of criminalizing sodomy began with a proclamation from King Henry VIII. At the time, sodomy was defined as any non-procreative sexual activity and thus included masturbation, anal and oral sex.
1869 The term "homosexuality" appears to have been first used.
1871 Germany criminalized homosexuality with Paragraph 175 of the Reich Criminal Code. In 1929 a committee in the Reichstag had voted to repeal Paragraph 175, but the Nazi rise to power prevented any action from being taken and the law would remain on the books until 1968 in East Germany and 1969 in West Germany.
June 23, 1894 Alfred C. Kinsey is born.
1945 Allied troops liberating inmates of Nazi concentration camps do not release those imprisoned for homosexuality. Instead, they are forced to serve out the full term of their sentences under Paragraph 175 of the Germany legal code criminalizing homosexuality.
April 08, 1947 The Institute for Sex Research, popularly known as the Kinsey Institute after researcher Alfred C. Kinsey, was incorporated in Indiana.
September 14, 1953 Sexual Behavior in the Human Female was published by Alfred C. Kinsey. This book created almost as much attention and controversy as the 1948 volume dealing with male sexual behavior.
1961 According to the Vatican, anyone who is "affected by the perverse inclination" towards homosexuality is not eligible to take religious vows or be ordained within the Roman Catholic Church.
April 10, 1967 Argued: Loving v. Virginia
A Virginia law against interracial marriages would be struck down, with the Supreme Court declaring that marriage is a "fundamental civil right" and that decisions in this arena are not those with which the State can interfere unless they have good cause.
June 12, 1967 Decided: Loving v. Virginia
A Virginia law against interracial marriages was struck down, with the Supreme Court declaring that marriage is a "fundamental civil right" and that decisions in this arena are not those with which the State can interfere unless they have good cause.
May 25, 1970 William Masters and Virginia Johnson, researchers who did important work on human sex behavior, appeared on the cover of Time magazine.
1972 Reverend William Johnson becomes the first openly gay person ordained in any Christian organization: the United Church of Christ.
1972 The Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Netherlands rules that lesbians and gays could serve as pastors, becoming the first European Christian denomination to do so. Many other protestant churches would issue similar rulings in the following decades.
1973 The American Psychiatric Association votes 13-0 to remove homosexuality from its DSM-II (the official list of psychiatric disorders). The APA also passed a resolution urging an end to all private and public discrimination against gays. Conservatives would accuse the APA of giving in to "political correctness" for this decision, arguing that homosexuality should continue to be treated as a disorder.
July 04, 1983 Rev. Jerry Falwell described AIDS as a "gay plague."
March 1986 Father Charles E. Curran, a moral theologian at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., revealed that the Vatican had given him an ultimatum: retract his views on birth control, divorce, and other matters pertaining to sexuality, or lose the authority to teach Roman Catholic doctrine. Thousands protested this ultimatum and Curran refused to retract; eventually, the Vatican revoked his license to teach as a Catholic theologian and in 1987 he was suspended from Catholic University entirely.
June 30, 1986 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the case of Bowers v. Hardwick that homosexual activity between consenting adults in the privacy of the home was not protected by the Constitution.
August 1987 In New Hampshire, a United Methodist Church court suspended Rose Mary Denman, a lesbian minister, because she violated a church rule which prohibited practicing homosexuals from being in the clergy.
1988 The United Church of Canada becomes the first Canadian church to allow the ordination of gays.
1989 John Spong, a bishop in the Episcopal Church, ordains Robert Williams, a openly gay man. Williams would later lose his job after denouncing monogamy.
February 26, 1990 Refusing to consider the cases of Ben-Shalom v. Stone and Woodward v. U.S., the U.S. Supreme Court effectively upheld the right of the American military to discharge gays and lesbians of the armed forces.
November 1992 The National Council of Churches rejected a request for "observer status" by the largely gay Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, claiming that they didn't want to imply "an affirmation of homosexual practice."
July 1994 Rev. Jeanne Audrey Powers, a prominent leader in the United Methodist Church, became the highest ranking member of that denomination to announce that she was gay. According to Powers, she took that step as "an act of public resistance to false teachings that have contributed to heresy and homophobia within the church itself."
January 1996 The American Baptist Church of the West expelled four San Francisco Bay congregations for welcoming homosexuals and not teaching that homosexual activity is a sin.
April 1996 Delegates at the General Conference of the United Methodist Church voted down a proposal to eliminate language in church law that declares homosexuality to be "incompatible with Christian teaching."
June 1996 The Southern Baptist Convention announced a boycott of all Disney parks and products because of the company's decision to give insurance benefits to the partners of gay employees and for hosting "Gay Days" at Disney theme parks.
April 19, 2000 Vermont approves the creation of same-sex unions, thus entitling gay couples to rights and benefits normally available to married couples.
August 01, 2001 Angelika and Gudrun Pannier become Germany's first gay couple to legally wed in a civil marriage ceremony.
March 28, 2002 In Mississippi, the "George County Times" published a letter from George County Justice Court Judge Connie Wilkerson which read, in part, "In my opinion, gays and lesbians should be put in some type of mental institution." Because of the bias expressed in such a statement, an ethics violation complaint was filed against Wilkerson.
2003 A letter published by the Vatican's Congregation for Worship asserts: "The ordination to the priesthood of homosexual men, or men with homosexual tendencies, is absolutely inadvisable and imprudent, and from a pastoral point of view, very risky"
2003 Jeffrey John, an openly gay man living a celibate life, is appointed bishop of Reading, England. but he eventually turns down the post because of the controversy created within the Anglican Communion.
August 05, 2003 Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, was elected bishop-designate of New Hampshire by the Episcopal General Convention during its meeting in Minneapolis. This election sparked outrage by conservative Anglican Churches around the world and initiated moves towards a schism within Episcopal Church and conservative, evangelical churches tried to distances themselves from a leadership they felt had descended into heresy.
November 18, 2003 The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled 4-3 that government attorneys "failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason" to deny gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. The court gave the Massachusetts Legislature six months to rewrite the state's marriage laws in order to fix this. This ruling was hailed by many liberals but denounced by conservatives, especially religious conservatives, who began to work for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as being between "one man and one woman."
February 04, 2004 The Massachusetts high court that only full, equal marriage rights for gay couples, not civil unions, would be constitutional. "The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal," an advisory opinion from the four justices who ruled in favor of gay marriage stated. A bill creating only civil unions, not full marriage rights, would be "unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples."
February 12, 2004 City officials in San Francisco, California began issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples and performed the first known civil marriage of a homosexual couple in the U.S. by marrying the homosexual activists and lesbian couple, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. Over 80 couples were given quick ceremonies.
February 20, 2004 Victoria Dunlap, Republican county clerk of rural Sandoval County, New Mexico, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, citing lack of legal grounds for denial.
February 20, 2004 King Norodom Sihanouk, constitutional monarch of Cambodia, declared that he thought his country should legalize same-sex marriage. He said that he reached this conclusion after watching footage of same-sex couples mary in San Francisco. He also stated that transvestites should be well-treated in Cambodia.
February 24, 2004 President George W. Bush announced that he supported a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. He did not specifically endorse the wording proposed by Representative Marilyn Musgrave which has been questioned for the likelihood of also prohibiting states the ability to recognise same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships. However, he did say that the wording fo Musgrave's amendment "meets his principles" in protecting the "sanctity of marriage" between men and women.
March 02, 2004 Jason West, mayor of New Paltz, New York was charged with 19 criminal counts of solemnizing marriages without a license. West had solemnized a number of same-sex marriages in his town.
March 05, 2004 The Wisconsin State Assembly approved of an amendment to the state constitution (68-27) that would ban both same-sex marriages and civil unions.
March 11, 2004 The California Supreme Court issued a stay ordering San Francisco officials to cease issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
March 12, 2004 The Wisconsin State Senate approved of an amendment to the state constitution (20-13) that would ban both same-sex marriages and civil unions.
March 12, 2004 Oregon's attorney general issues an opinion on same-sex marriage, stating that issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples would contradict current state law. At the same time, he also concluded that the Oregon Supreme Court would probably strike down those statutes as violating the state's constitution. Partially as a result of this, the Wisconsin State Senate voted to approve an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriages or even civil unions.
March 19, 2004 In Quebec, the Court of Appeal upholds a superior court ruling that same-sex marriages are legal under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Canadian provinces of Ontario and British Columbia already permitted same-sex marriage.
March 20, 2004 A lesbian minister in Bothell, Washington, is acquitted by a Methodist church jury of violating church rules.
March 22, 2004 In Oregon, the commissioners of Benton County decided not to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This reversal of an earlier vote was due to receiving a letter from state attorney general Hardy Myers on the matter. In place of same-sex marriage licenses, the commissioners decided to stop issuing any marriage licenses to anyone at all until the Oregon Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the discriminatory provisions of Oregon's marriage laws.
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Color Key: This chart explains which sorts of topics are given which colors in the chronologies.

Color Topic
Blue Western Religion (includes Christianity, Judaism, and other religions in the Western Hemisphere)
Yellow Eastern Religion (includes Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism, and other religions in the Eastern Hemisphere)
Green Islam and the Middle East (includes events relating to the state of Israel)
Orange Philosophy and Law (includes atheism, freethought, and religious freedom)
Purple Science and Skepticism (includes evolution, creationism, and the paranormal)
Grey Miscellaneous events to provide historical context and comparison

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