Gay Rights & Gay Marriage: How have the Advancements in Gay Rights paved a way for Gay Marriage? Oscar Rhodes
Professor Meghan Tarby
PSS211: Sociology of Family
The Gays Rights Movement has existed for over 89 years in counting since the development of the Society for Human Rights in Chicago. During the early years of the Gay Rights movement (1924-1973) it was very difficult to identify as a member of the same sex loving community because during this time it was illegal in the United States. Society didn’t accept the concept due to it being against traditional customs and norms. “The period since the late 1960s has been a time of gay liberation, more accurately, the movement of gay men and lesbian woman to overcame discrimination and gain rights in society.” (Collins & Coltrane, 2001) During the early years the LBGT community was a private and out of sight lifestyle. The history of the movement reports homosexuality was previously identified as a mental disorder of American Psychiatric Association until 1973 when it was removed. (“The American gay,” 2000-2013) According to World of Sociology (2001), “Conflict theory emphasizes the role of coercion and power in producing social order.” (pg.118) (“Conflict theory,” 2001) “This perspective is derived from the works of Karl Marx, who saw society as fragmented into groups that compete for social and economic resources. Social order is maintained by domination, with power in the hands of those with the greatest political, economic, and social resources. When consensus exists, it is attributable to people being united around common interests, often in opposition to other groups. According to conflict theory, inequality exists because those in control of a disproportionate share of society’s resources actively defend their advantages. The masses are not bound to society by their shared values, but by coercion at the hands of those in power.” (Crossman, A., 2013) “There is also an expansion Marx's idea that the key conflict in society was strictly economic. Today, conflict theorists find social conflict between any groups in which the potential for inequality exists: racial, gender, religious, political, economic, and so on. Conflict theorists note that unequal groups usually have conflicting values and agendas, causing them to compete against one another. The conflict theory ultimately attributes humanitarian efforts, altruism, democracy, civil rights, and other positive aspects of society to capitalistic designs to control the masses, not to inherent interests in preserving society and social order. This perspective emphasizes social control, not consensus and conformity. Groups and individuals advance their own interests, struggling over control of societal resources.” (Crossman, A., 2013) After 1973 it appears that homosexuality became identified as LGBT. Nationwide legal system and religions organization felt the need to challenges and felt these acts was a constitutional violation. Sometime around the 1974, gays and lesbians were becoming present in “positions of power” like Harvey Milk who was City Commissioner of San Francisco. They were also seeking and granted domestic-partnership benefits by 1984 in California. These obstacles for the LGBT community were met with rejections and oppressions by American governments and its supporters. In 1993, many men and women were discharged from the armed forces due to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” By 1996 the issue of homosexuality and lesbianism had reached the Supreme Court with some achievements but mostly “knock downs”. ABA Journal published an article “The Stonewall legacy: ABA Commission creates an award commemorating a key moment for LBGT rights “on February 2013. The article explains how in the late hours of June 27, 1969 in Greenwich Village, New York at the Stonewall Inn a number of patrons fought law enforcement after numerous experiences with polices raids and other forms of harassments by authority. The articles explained how the Stonewall Inn was a “well-known” gathering spot for gays in the low-profile area of New York. The patrons throw beer cans, bricks and other objects at arresting officers as they interrupted their only opportunity to socialize with other gay individuals. After experiencing countless riots, arrest and beating the patrons developed a protest known as the Stonewall Riots (movement). The individuals involved in the riot were not only gay males but lesbian (same loving females), bisexual (both sex loving) and transgender (opposite sex identifying) individuals. After about one years of the establishment of the movement gay prides were started in Chicago, Los Angles, New York and San Francisco. The progress in the movement encouraged the LBGT (lesbian, bi, gay and transgender) individuals to begin to assert their civil rights. James J.S. Holmes, chair of the Commission of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identify/ABA reports, “The riots were a very visible and public display where the LGBT community finally made it clear it wasn’t going to accept any more repression and poor treatment.” (Filisko, 2013) As the gay bar was for many whites a refuge from homophobia, so family and church were refuges from racism for lesbians and gays of color, including racism in the white lesbian and gay community. Rather than "smashing the church" and turning their back on family, lesbians and gays of color needed to find ways to negotiate or confront homophobia in those places while at the same time negotiating racism within the gay community.” Many couples like Jack Baker and Michael McConnell or Phyllis Marshall and Grace Thornton fought so hard to fight the “coercion and power” and “the hands of those with the greatest political, economic, and social resources” specifically the church and other opposing LGBT groups who felt that their movement was either too soon or out of mainstream (outside of box). (Chenier, 2013) The current issues being address now by society and LGBT individuals seeking matrimony rights. (“The American gay,” 2000-2013) Most recently on June 26, 2013 the Supreme Court ruled that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. In a 5 to 4 vote, the court rules that DOMA violates the rights of gays and lesbians. The court also rules that the law interferes with the states' rights to define marriage. It is the first case ever on the issue of gay marriage for the Supreme Court. (Johnson, 2013) Johnson reports that “the DOMA decision was a huge psychological and legal boost for the gay and lesbian community, but it left same-sex couples in 37 states with half a loaf...only thirteen states and the District of Columbia allow such marriage.” (Johnson, 2013) In 2000, Vermont becomes the first state in the country to legally recognize civil unions between gay or lesbian couples. It was stated that “couples would be entitled to the same benefits, privileges, and responsibilities as spouses.” The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide published an essay by author Elise Chenier that reported, “for the past ten years, same-sex marriage has dominated the American political landscape, but this is not the first time in history this issue has made front-page news. In 1971, The San Francisco Chronicle declared that a "gay marriage boom" was under way. In the first few years of that decade, The New York Times, Life magazine, Jet, and other periodicals ran feature articles about a handful of couples who launched America's first battles for legal recognition of same-sex marriage.” Chenier states …liberationists' critique of marriage and family did not make sense for people of color, who relied on family and church for their everyday survival, even as they battled homophobia within them. Gay marriage is a topic that I have had to experience in my personal life when my two childhood friends of twenty years decided to have a marriage ceremony/party in Washington, DC. This party was held about three year ago and they have been dating for two years. After college both of my friends attended Morris Brown College in Georgia. They sent out invites and made announcements for the gathering of friends and love one. My family and I were not aware that they were a same sex couple let alone seeking marriage equality. When we all arrived in Georgia we thought it was a celebration party because they both are successful defense attorneys in Georgia. I was very surprise to see an altar, ceremony minister, flowers and a detailed tuxedo for me. They pulled me and my wife to the side and asked if I was willing to participate in their special day. We were really good friends in high school so against my strict Christian upbringing I participated in the ceremony. Unfortunately, before the grooms could exchange vows and commit themselves to one another the media busted into the location and started taking pictures and causing issues. I felt this was a private and interment ceremony for my friends and it would not end well. A crowd of protestors and media gathered outside. Law enforcement was contacted and some protestors and ceremony members including one of my friends were arrested. My couple plans to get married in the 2014 after ruling of unconstitutional of DOMA and I plan to be front and center. I was enraged at the disrespect these two successful guys had experience at the hands of inequality. After speaking with my friends about the aftermath, experiencing the inequality first-hand and completing this assignment. It is definitely obvious that the progress the Gay Rights Advocates has made toward demanding equal and I feel obligated to promote equality for all people.
Chenier, E. (2013). Gay marriage, 1970s style. The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, 20(2), 19+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA321900004&v=2.1&u=lom_kentdl&it=r&p=GRGM&sw=w Cohen, L. (2013). The federal role in the family. Commentary, 136(2), 7+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA341125184&v=2.1&u=lom_kentdl&it=r&p=GPS&sw=w&asid=30b2787a87635f60db13fe9df042a70a Coltrane, S., & Collins, R. (2001). Sociology of marriage & the family, gender, love, and property. (5th ed). Canada: Wadsworth Pub Co. Crossman, A. (2013). Conflict Theory: Overview. About.com online. Retrieved from http://sociology.about.com/od/Sociological-Theory/a/Conflict-Theory.htm. Filisko, G. M. (2013, February). The Stonewall legacy: ABA Commission creates an award commemorating a key moment for LGBT rights. ABA Journal, 99(2), 57+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA318106223&v=2.1&u=lom_kentdl&it=r&p=GRGM&sw=w Johnson, F. (2013). DOMA Didn't Go Away--It Just Went Local. National Journal. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA344159967&v=2.1&u=lom_kentdl&it=r&p=GPS&sw=w&asid=7d18e04c20680c7230095f8f3e1baab5
Palmisano, J. (Eds.). (2001). World of sociology, (vol. 2). Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group. The American Gay Rights Movement: A Timeline. (n.d.). Infoplease.com online. Retrieved from http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0761909.html.