Marriage by people of like gender is an issue that has been accepted in most societies unlike in the past when it was frowned upon or just whispered about. Today people talk about it openly in various fora and other social settings like schools, churches, and government. The gay and lesbian movement has been working to promote same-sex marriage, resulting in benefits to themselves and the society. Where the couple has children, and a partner dies, the remaining partner automatically becomes the primary legal parent. Also where ownership of property exists, a legal framework to help them deal with issues resulting from death, for example, social security benefits, tax issues, nursing home care, benefits from health care, and unpaid leave when an employee is attending to a sick relative (DEmilio, 2004).
Gay liberation started in the late 60s with the recognition that official bullying was too common a feature of gay and lesbian life, and that the public could successfully resist this (DEmilio, 2004). In 1960, a movement was formed called the Gay Liberation Front, a social movement which was founded on the premise that sexual oppression was publicly practiced. The Liberationists argued that all forms of discrimination from racism to sexism have the similar origin which is white heterosexism and male-controlled capitalistic society. Nick Benton of the San Francisco Gay Sunshine is quoted as saying that: the movement spoke for human liberation, of which homosexual liberation is just one aspect. The divide between the assimilationists and the liberationists was centered on the role of sex within the movement (DEmilio, 2004).He adds that gay sexuality was considered something to be silent about or worth apologizing for.
In the 50s, the homosexual movement was still small and not unrecognized by many. Its primary duty was to provide information about the groups existence and to reach out to others with the information that this was a legitimate though a minority group. Gay people during this period were still at risk for psychiatric lockup, jail, and job loss and child custody because the courts and clinics still defined the gay union as immoral and criminal. There still existed discrimination of the gays in social places, even attempts to own an exclusive bar was met with much resistance. In 1969 for example, police tried breaking into Stonewall Inn in New Yorks Greenwich Village but were repulsed by the gay patrons at the Inn. This event signaled a turning point in the struggle for homosexual liberation (DEmilio, 2004).
The Clinton-Gore administration of the 90s succeeded in giving the gays and lesbians unmatched proximity to power, in turn strengthening the assimilationists. In an address to the Congress, Bill Clinton castigated and characterized all forms of prejudice as illegal. It is on this note that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act were enacted. The vice president; Al Gore also noted that time was right for all Americans to recognize that the issues of gays and lesbians were critical and bordered basic human and civil rights (DEmilio, 2004). The statements by the two leaders of the world superpower marked the commencement of laws that positively targeted the LGBTs. The administration is also credited with hiring the most number of gays and lesbians in important government positions, compared with previous administrations.
The move by Clinton hence saw a rejuvenation in activism by the gays and lesbians as evidenced by the increase in the formation of organizations and the fact that it was the first administration to speak before the gay and lesbian congregation in January 1999.
The period between the 1980s and 1990s is also remembered as the period when the AIDS epidemic was starting to take a toll on people, gays and lesbians included. The expansion in the activities of the gays and lesbians, therefore, saw skills, money, and recruits being channeled towards AIDS service and advocacy groups, and the broader gay rights agenda. The number of registered gays of color went up, and radical political analysis was revived. There was also an expanded strategic vision within the group and their collaboration with other formations of like minds.
Despite the efforts made by the Clinton administration, some aspects of homophobia still exist. Racial profiling confrontations and tragedies can yet be found in the United States, turning LGBT activism to intersectionality, or recognition of intersections issues of race, class, gender identity and sexism and diverting peoples attention from the real issues affecting gays and lesbians (DEmilio, 2004). Confronted by similar challenges, the LGBT has tried remaining cohesive. Their pursuit of equality, recognition, and issues such as marriage, property ownership, jobs, and inclusion in the broader society, among others are some of the problems that have made them more cohesive.
DEmilio, John. After Stonewall. Queer Cultures. Eds. Deborah Carlin and Jennifer DiGrazia. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2004. P. 3-35.
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