From 1999 to 2009: A Decade of Progress

We compiled a list (probably incomplete) of gains and losses in LGBT legal rights in the last decade. While we have a way to go and have experienced setbacks, over all, our community is advancing forward toward equality at a rate never before seen in the history of the gay rights movement. After you read through the list, visit Rainbow Law to sign the marriage equality petition.

 


1999:

Tom Vilsack, governor of Iowa, issues an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Nevada bans sexual orientation discrimination in the private sector.

Bob Taft, governor of Ohio, rescinds a 1984 executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in the public sector.

San Jose, California, prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in the private sector.

Gray Davis, then governor of California, signed three gay rights bills into law. The first outlawed harassment of homosexual students and teachers in the state's public schools. The second created a new state-wide domestic partnership registry. The third outlawed job and housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Nancy Katz becomes the first openly-lesbian judge in the U.S. state of Illinois.
Aaron McKinney found guilty of murdering Matthew Shepard. He is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison.

Orange County, California, school board votes unanimously to reject the formation of a gay-straight alliance at El Modena High School.

Vermont Supreme Court orders the state legislature to devise a law that would give same-sex couples identical rights as married couples.

2000:

Voters in Maine reject a proposal to reinstate the ban on sexual orientation discrimination in the private sector, with 50.5 per cent against and 49.5 per cent for.

California voters approve Proposition 22, a preemptive measure stating that California will not recognize same-sex marriages, even if the marriages took place in states that permitted them.
Millennium March on Washington in the United States.

In the U.S. state of Vermont, civil union law goes into effect, granting most state-level marriage rights to registered same-sex couples.

Mississippi becomes the third U.S. state to ban adoption by same-sex couples.
Marc Racicot, governor of the U.S. state of Montana, issues an executive order banning sexual orientation discrimination in the public sector.

The state of Connecticut's Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities rules that gender identity discrimination is included in the existing ban on sex discrimination in the private sector.
Tom Vilsack, governor of Iowa, rescinds an executive order he issued in 1999 banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the public sector.

Thomas Carper, governor of state of Delaware, issues an executive order banning sexual orientation discrimination in the public sector.

2001:

Rhode Island bans gender identity discrimination in the private sector.

Maryland bans sexual orientation discrimination in the private sector.

Frank O'Bannon, governor of Indiana, issues an executive order banning sexual orientation discrimination in the public sector.

The city council of Fort Wayne, Indiana, passes an ordinance which adds "sexual orientation" status to its municipal anti-discrimination law.

2002:

New York bans sexual orientation discrimination in the private sector.

Tony Knowles, governor of Alaska, issues an executive order banning sexual orientation discrimination in the public sector.

2003:

California bans gender identity discrimination in the private sector.

New Mexico bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the private sector.

The Census Bureau releases figures showing that 34.3 percent of households headed by lesbian couples, and 22.3 percent of those headed by gay male couples are raising children. The report also shows that 99.3 percent of counties in the U.S. have households headed by same-sex couples.

Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico, signs the New Mexico Hate Crimes Act, establishing enhanced penalties for hate crimes, including anti-gay hate crimes.

Marilyn Musgrave, congresswoman from Colorado, introduces the Federal Marriage Amendment in the House of Representatives with 108 co-sponsors.

Carrie and Elisia Ross-Stone, aka the Rainbow Grannies, ride their bicycles, coast-to-coast, from St Augustine Florida to San Diego California to advocate for marriage equality.

Rick Perry, governor of the U.S. state of Texas, signs the Texas Defense of Marriage Act. The act allows Texas to deny recognition of same-sex marriages and other forms of same-sex partnerships performed in other states.

Paul Patton, governor of Kentucky, signs an executive order banning public-sector discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Department of Justice reverses an earlier decision banning the annual employee gay pride event.

Janet Napolitano, governor of Arizona, issues an executive order banning sexual orientation discrimination in the public sector.

The Supreme Court strikes down all remaining U.S. state sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas.
Wal-Mart adds "sexual orientation" to its corporate non-discrimination policy.

Ed Rendell, governor of Pennsylvania, issues an executive order banning gender identity discrimination in the public sector.

George W. Bush, president of the United States, says he supports "codifying marriage in the United States as being between one man and one woman."

Statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation show that 16.7 percent of hate crimes committed in the country in 2002 were due to bias against the victim's perceived sexual orientation, the highest rate in the 12 years federal records have been kept.

A Human Rights Campaign study shows 60 percent of American adoption agencies accept applications from gay and lesbian couples and 40 percent claim to have placed children in homes headed by same-sex couples.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules it violates the state constitution to bar same-sex marriage.

The United States Congress passes a resolution condemning all violations of internationally-recognized human rights norms based on the real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of an individual.

In the United States Senate, the Federal Marriage Amendment is introduced by Wayne Allard of Colorado, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Jim Bunning of Kentucky, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, and Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

Houston, Texas, city councilmember Annise Parker defeats fellow councilmember Bruce Tatro as Houston's first lesbian city controller.

Jennifer Granholm, governor of the U.S. state of Michigan, signs an executive order banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

2004:

The New Jersey legislature passes a bill creating a domestic partnership status for same-sex couples, with many of the same legal rights as marriage.

The Rainbow Grannies, take a 2nd cross-country bicycle ride from San Francisco to New York City. A documentary film called Lesbian Grandmothers from Mars was made about this ride.

Bob Taft, governor of Ohio, signs the state's Defense of Marriage Act which denies recognition of same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partner agreements performed in other states. It also outlaws same-sex marriage within the state and forbids state benefits from being extended to gay and lesbian couples.

According to a poll by the Washington Times, the majority of people in the U.S. (2 to 1 margin) respond that they do not want laws in their states that would legalize same-sex marriages. The poll is taken after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling.

In January, city officials in San Francisco start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in violation of state law, staging what they view as an act of civil disobedience, by marrying Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon in the first known civil marriage of a same-sex couple in the country. Over 80 couples are whisked through quick ceremonies.

Victoria Dunlap, county clerk of rural Sandoval County, New Mexico, starts issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, citing lack of legal grounds for denial.

The mayor of New Paltz, a village in New York, announces that the town will start performing civil marriages for same-sex couples. It will not attempt to issue marriage certificates, but married couples in New York state will have six months from the date of their wedding to seek a certificate.

Multnomah County, Oregon, which includes the city of Portland, becomes the second county in the United States where same-sex marriages are legally performed after four county commissioners decide the current state law banning marriage from same-sex couples is against the Oregon constitution.

The Wisconsin State Assembly approves state constitution amendment (voted 68-27) to ban same-sex marriage or civil unions, to counter efforts elsewhere to legalize such partnerships.

Indianapolis, Indiana mayor Bart Peterson issues an executive order that prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in city and county employment as well as city contractors and vendors.

In March, the California Supreme Court orders San Francisco officials to stop performing same-sex marriages. San Francisco officials comply with this order and, for the first time since February 12, refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Oregon's attorney general issues his opinion on same-sex marriage within Oregon. He concludes that current state law prohibits issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but that the Oregon Supreme Court is likely to conclude those statutes violate the state's constitution.

The Wisconsin State Senate approves state constitution amendment (voted 20-13) to ban same-sex marriages or civil unions, to counter efforts elsewhere to legalize such partnerships.

Commissioners of Multnomah County, Oregon dismiss state attorney general Hardy Myers' non-binding opinion that same-sex marriages are illegal and vow to continue issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Rhea County, Tennessee commissioners vote 8-0 to ask that state law be changed to allow county officials to effectively ban homosexuals from the county by being able to charge them with "crimes against nature." After a community uproar, the resolution is withdrawn two days later.

Massachusetts becomes the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Maine Governor John Baldacci, a Democrat, issues an executive order requiring businesses contracting with the state not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

Appointed by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Rudy Serra was sworn in as a judge in the state's District 36, serving Detroit, becoming the first openly gay judge in the state.

In a 5-2 vote, the California Supreme Court voids the almost 4,000 same-sex marriages performed in San Francisco between February 12 and March 11 after another, unanimous decision that the city's officials overstepped their legal rights in ignoring state laws in issuing marriages licenses to same-sex couples.

New Jersey governor James McGreevey, a Democrat, becomes the first openly-gay chief executive of a U.S. state.

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs "SB 1234," a bill that defines the legal term "hate crime" (which includes LGBT-motivated violence) for all state and local agencies, encourages the creation of local law enforcement hate-crime protocols and increased hate crime awareness training for law enforcement officers.

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs "AB 2900," a bill to unify all state anti-discrimination codes to match the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs "SB 1193," a bill to provide a $10,000 death benefit to the surviving spouse or designated beneficiary of a member of on of the state military reserves (California National Guard, State Military Reserve, or Naval militia). The bill, retroactive to March 1, 2003 allows LGBT partners of military personnel be listed as "designated beneficiary."

The proposed Federal Marriage Amendment fails to pass the United States House of Representatives, with a vote of 227–186 on House Joint Resolution 106.

In the November presidential elections, voters in 11 states pass amendments to their state constitutions banning same-sex marriage, and in most of those states, civil unions and domestic partnership as well.

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, issues an executive order banning sexual orientation discrimination in the public sector.

2005:

California law AB 205, which extends many rights and responsibilities of marriage to registered domestic partners, goes into effect. The new law expands domestic partnership statutes to include most marriage rights available under state law. California domestic partnerships are also available to opposite-sex couples age 62 and older who meet certain Social Security qualifications, and to all same-sex couples age 18 and older without further qualification.

In the U.S. state of New York, state Supreme Court judge Doris Ling-Cohan rules in favor of a lawsuit by five same-sex couples, stating that a ban on same-sex marriage violates the state's constitution.

San Francisco County Superior Court judge Richard Kramer rules that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

In Maine, the state's Human Rights Act is amended to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation (which is defined to include gender identity) in the private sector.
In Kansas, voters approve an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriages and civil unions.

In Connecticut, the state legislature approves a law to allow same-sex civil unions effective October 1.

The American Psychiatric Association votes at its annual convention to support government-recognized marriages between same-sex partners.

In September, the California Legislature passes a bill (by 21 to 15 in the Senate, 41 to 35 in the Assembly) to legalize same-sex marriage, becoming the first state legislature in the U.S. to do so without judicial prompting.

Later that same month, Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, vetoes the bill passed on September 6 legalizing same-sex marriage.

In a referendum, Maine voters reject a measure to repeal a bill enacted in March banning discrimination based on sexual orientation (including gender identity) in the private sector.

Mark Warner, governor of Virginia, issues an executive order banning sexual orientation discrimination in the public sector.

2006:

In the state of Illinois, a new state law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation went into effect.

In the state of Washington, legislators passed a bill banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (which is legally defined to include gender identity).

The city council of Washington, D.C., banned gender identity discrimination in the private sector.

Ernie Fletcher, governor of Kentucky, rescinds a 2003 executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the public sector.

President George W. Bush renews his call for passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment.
The Federal Marriage Amendment fails to pass the U.S. Senate. Of the 60 votes required to invoke the cloture motion, 49 senators voted to put the amendment to a vote and 48 voted against.

Anti-discrimination law in the state of Washington enters into effect, after a ballot initiative to reverse it fails to collect enough signatures.

The Arkansas Supreme Court confirms a lower state court judgment, ruling that it is unconstitutional to ban lesbians and gays from being foster parents.

New Jersey Supreme Court rules in a 4–3 decision that the state constitution guarantees same-sex couples all the legal benefits of a marriage, but does not explicitly legalize same-sex marriage in the state.

In November, eight states vote on amendments to ban same-sex marriage: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. All of the bans pass except for in Arizona, which defeats the measure.

In December, the New Jersey Legislature enacts a bill to establish civil unions and the governor signed it into law the same month. New Jersey also banned gender identity discrimination in the private sector.

2007:

The legislature of the state of Washington passes S5336, giving final approval to domestic partnership legislation, which would give same-sex couples many state rights of marriage.
The legislature of the state of New Hampshire passes legislation for civil unions, which give same-sex couples many state rights of marriage.

Oregon bans discrimination based on sexual orientation (which is legally defined to include gender identity) in the private sector.

Ted Strickland, governor of Ohio, issues an executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the public sector.

Vermont bans gender identity discrimination in the private sector.

Colorado bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the private sector.

Iowa bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the private sector.

Kathleen Sebelius, governor of Kansas, issues an executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the public sector.

Jennifer Granholm, governor of Michigan, issues an executive order prohibiting employment discrimination based on gender identity or expression in the public sector.

2008:

Civil unions begin in New Hampshire.

Domestic partnerships begin in U.S. state of Oregon, after a court decides the it does not conflict with the state constitution, which forbids same-sex marriage.

The state of Washington expands its domestic partner legislation to give over 150 additional rights of marriage to same-sex couples.

The California State Supreme Court strikes down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, with marriages to be available in June.

In June, same-sex marriage begins in California.

Connecticut overturns a state ban on same-sex marriage and becomes the third U.S. state to legalize marriage for same-sex couples, following Massachusetts and California.

In the November 4 election, California voters ban same-sex marriage with Proposition 8, becoming the first U.S. state to do so after marriages had been legalized for same-sex couples. The amendment to California's constitution passed by a margin of 52% to 47% and overturned the state supreme court's ruling in May in favor of same-sex marriage.

Arkansas voters pass Act 1, which effectively bans adoption by same-sex couples, by a margin of 54% to 41%.

Arizona and Florida voters pass constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage.

2009:


Domestic Partnership Registry opens in Phoenix, Arizona.

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Republican, says he supports civil unions.

Hawaii civil unions bill passes the state house on a 33-17 vote.

The North Dakota Senate votes 27 to 19 to amend the state Human Rights Act to include gays, lesbians and transgenders.

The Colorado House approves a domestic partner benefits bill that would make it easier for unmarried couples, including gays and lesbians, to make medical decision for incapacitated partners and leave property to their partners.

The Vermont Senate passes a bill 26 to 4 legalizing same sex marriage.

Iowa legalize same sex marriage (effective starting April 27, 2009).

Vermont legalize same sex marriage (effective starting September 1, 2009).

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter (D) signed a domestic partner benefits bill (effective starting July 1, 2009).

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire signed the third stage or the "everything but marriage" domestic partnership bill (effective starting June 1, 2009).

New Hampshire passes the same-sex marriage bill by a Senate vote of 13-11 and a House vote of 186-179; now the bill is awaiting a signature from the Gov. John Lynch’s - Gov. Lynch has supported the civil marriage bill and will sign it into law - if it contains very strong religious freedoms or it will be vetoed.

Maine Gov. John Baldacci (D) signed the End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom Act 2009 into law which legalizes same-sex marriage (effective from 14 September 2009). The law was overturned in November by a people's veto.

New York marriage bill passed the Assembly vote by 89-52, now the bill moves to the New York Senate were there might be a more challenging prospect.

In May, New Jersey introduces a marriage bill.

Nevada legislator passes the Domestic Partnership Responsibilities Act 2009, but Governor Jim Gibbon (R) vetoed the bill a week later.

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) signs a bill that provides health insurance and a few more entitlements for state workers that includes unmarried couples (opposite and same sex partnerships)

May 26 - California Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8 by a 6-1 vote, however the marriages performed prior to 5 November and the May 2008 legalization are also upheld.

Nevada legally provides a domestic partnership from 1 October, 2009.

June 3 - New Hampshire legalizes civil marriage for same-sex couples (eff. from 1/1/2010).

June 3 - The U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary has first hearing ever on The Uniting American Families Act.

June 30: - Wisconsin Governor signs the Budget Considerations And Limited Domestic Partnership Act 2009 into law.

July 1 - Colorado domestic partnership becomes effective.

July 3 - Delaware prohibits sexual orientation discrimination under the Delaware Code, but not gender identity - the law becomes effective once signed.

July 6 - District of Columbia recognizes same-sex marriage, however can not be performed (just like New York).

August 3 - Wisconsin domestic partnership becomes effective.

September 1 - Vermont same-sex marriage laws becomes effective.

October 1 - Nevada domestic partnership becomes effective.

November 3 - Both Washington (the "all-but-marriage-law" under the Omnibus Domestic Partnership Obligations Act 2009) and Maine (called marriage equality under the Civil Marriage And Religious Freedoms Act 2009) held ballot measures. Maine's same-sex marriage law was repealed by voters by a slim margin of 53%. Washington voters approved to keep same-sex relationship rights as Domestic Partnerships.

December 12 - Annise Parker made history by becoming Houston's first openly gay mayor, seizing 53.6 percent of the vote in the city's hotly contested election.
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