June 28, 1970 – Community members in New York City march through the local streets to recognize the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. This event is named Christopher Street Liberation Day and is now considered the first gay pride parade.
March 26, 1973 – First meeting of “Parents and Friends of Gays,” which goes national as Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in 1982.
December 15, 1973 – By a vote of 5,854 to 3,810, the American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in the DSM-II Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
1974 – Kathy Kozachenko becomes the first openly LGBT American elected to any public office when she wins a seat on the Ann Arbor, Michigan City Council.
1974 – Elaine Noble is the first openly gay candidate elected to a state office when she is elected to the Massachusetts State legislature.
January 14, 1975 – The first federal gay rights bill is introduced to address discrimination based on sexual orientation. The bill later goes to the Judiciary Committee but is never brought for consideration.
March 1975 – Technical Sergeant Leonard P. Matlovich reveals his sexual orientation to his commanding officer and is forcibly discharged from the Air Force six months later. Matlovich is a Vietnam War veteran and was awarded both the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. In 1980, the Court of Appeals rules that the dismissal was improper. Matlovich is awarded his back pay and a retroactive promotion.
January 9, 1978 – Harvey Milk is inaugurated as San Francisco city supervisor, and is the first openly gay man to be elected to a political office in California. In November, Milk and Mayor George Moscone are murdered by Dan White, who had recently resigned from his San Francisco board position and wanted Moscone to reappoint him. White later serves just over five years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.
1978 – Inspired by Milk to develop a symbol of pride and hope for the LGBT community, Gilbert Baker designs and stitches together the first rainbow flag.
October 14, 1979 – The first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights takes place. It draws an estimated 75,000 to 125,000 individuals marching for LGBT rights.
March 2, 1982 – Wisconsin becomes the first state to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.
November 30, 1993 – President Bill Clinton signs a military policy directive that prohibits openly gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the military, but also prohibits the harassment of “closeted” homosexuals. The policy is known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
November 1995 – The Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act goes into effect as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The law allows a judge to impose harsher sentences if there is evidence showing that a victim was selected because of the “actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person.”
December 3, 1996 – Hawaii’s Judge Chang rules that the state does not have a legal right to deprive same-sex couples of the right to marry making Hawaii the first state to recognize that gay and lesbian couples are entitled to the same privileges as heterosexual married couples.
April 1997 – Comedian Ellen DeGeneres comes out as a lesbian on the cover of Time magazine, stating, “Yep, I’m Gay.”
October 6-7, 1998 – Matthew Shepard is tied to a fence and beaten near Laramie, Wyoming. He is eventually found by a cyclist, who initially mistakes him for a scarecrow. He later dies due to his injuries sustained in the beating.
April 26, 2000 – Vermont becomes the first state to legalize civil-unions between same-sex couples.
June 2003 – The US Supreme Court strikes down the “homosexual conduct” law, which decriminalizes same-sex sexual conduct, with their opinion in Lawrence v. Texas. The decision also reverses Bowers v. Hardwick, a 1986 US Supreme Court ruling that upheld Georgia’s sodomy law.
May 17, 2004 – The first legal same-sex marriage in the United States takes place in Massachusetts.
September 6, 2005 – The California legislature becomes the first to pass a bill allowing marriage between same-sex couples. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoes the bill.
October 25, 2006 – The New Jersey Supreme Court rules that state lawmakers must provide the rights and benefits of marriage to gay and lesbian couples.
May 15, 2008 – The California Supreme Court rules in re: Marriage Cases that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples is unconstitutional.
November 4, 2008 – Voters approve Proposition 8 in California, which makes same-sex marriage illegal.
August 4, 2010 – Proposition 8 is found unconstitutional by a federal judge.
September 20, 2011 – “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is repealed, ending a ban on gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
May 9, 2012 – In an ABC interview, Obama becomes the first sitting US president to publicly support the freedom for LGBT couples to marry.
September 4, 2012 – The Democratic Party becomes the first major US political party in history to publicly support same-sex marriage on a national platform at the Democratic National Convention.
November 6, 2012 – Tammy Baldwin becomes the first openly gay politician and the first Wisconsin woman to be elected to the US Senate.
June 26, 2013 – In United States v. Windsor, the US Supreme Court strikes down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that legally married same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits. The high court also dismisses a case involving California’s Proposition 8.
October 6, 2014 – The United States Supreme Court denies review in five different marriage cases, allowing lower court rulings to stand, and therefore allowing same-sex couples to marry in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana and Wisconsin. The decision opens the door for the right to marry in Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
July 27, 2015 – Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates announces, “the national executive board ratified a resolution removing the national restriction on openly gay leaders and employees.”
May 17, 2016 – The Senate confirms Eric Fanning to be secretary of the Army, making him the first openly gay secretary of a US military branch. Fanning previously served as Defense Secretary Carter’s chief of staff, and also served as undersecretary of the Air Force and deputy undersecretary of the Navy.
June 24, 2016 – Obama announces the designation of the first national monument to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. The Stonewall National Monument will encompass Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn and the surrounding streets and sidewalks that were the sites of the 1969 Stonewall uprising.
June 30, 2016 – Secretary of Defense Carter announces that the Pentagon is lifting the ban on transgender people serving openly in the US military.
August 5-21, 2016 – A record number of “out” athletes compete in the summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The Human Rights Campaign estimates that there are at least 41 openly lesbian, gay and bisexual Olympians — up from 23 that participated in London 2012.
November 9, 2016 – Kate Brown is sworn in as governor of Oregon, a day after she was officially elected to the office. Brown becomes the highest-ranking LGBT person elected to office in the United States. Brown took over the governorship in February 2016 (without an election), after Democrat John Kitzhaber resigned amidst a criminal investigation.
June 27, 2017 – District of Columbia residents can now choose a gender-neutral option of their driver’s license. DC residents become the first people in the United States to be able to choose X as their gender marker instead of male or female on driver’s licenses and identification cards. Similar policies exist in Canada, India, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand, and Nepal.
November 7, 2017 – Virginia voters elect the state’s first openly transgender candidate to the Virginia House of Delegates. Danica Roem unseats incumbent delegate Bob Marshall, who had been elected thirteen times over 26 years. Roem becomes the first openly transgender candidate elected to a state legislature in American history.
February 26, 2018 – The Pentagon confirms that the first transgender person has signed a contract to join the US military.
March 4, 2018 – Daniela Vega becomes the first openly transgender presenter in Academy Awards history.
November 6, 2018 – Democratic US Representative Jared Polis wins the Colorado governor’s race, becoming the nation’s first openly gay man to be elected governor.
April 2, 2019 – Lori Lightfoot becomes the first black woman and openly gay Mayor of America’s third largest city, Chicago.
April 14, 2019 – Army Vet. and Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, becomes the first openly gay candidate to run for President of the United States.
May 17th, 2019 – The U.S. House of Representatives passes the Equality Act, a civil rights bill that provides non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in employment, housing, public spaces, education, jury services, credit, and federal funding.
LATELY IN FLORIDA…
November 22, 2016 – Carlos Guillermo Smith is sworn in as a member of the Florida House of Representatives (District 49), becoming Florida’s first openly gay Latino legislator.
March 13, 2018 – Dean Trantalis is elected as Fort Lauderdale’s first openly gay Mayor.
November 6, 2018 – Sabrina Javellana is elected to the City Commission of Hallandale Beach, serving as the city’s youngest (21) and first openly bisexual Commissioner.
November 6, 2018 – Jane Bolin is elected to the City Commission of Oakland Park, serving as the city’s first openly bisexual Commissioner.
November 13, 2018 – the city of Wilton Manors swears in the first all LGBTQ City Commission in the history of Florida, led by Mayor Justin Flippen, Vice Mayor Tom Green, Commissioner Julie Carson, Commissioner Gary Resnick, and Commissioner Paul Rolli
January 18, 2019 – Nikki Fried, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Protection, implements nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity within her agency. This marks the first time that a member of Florida’s Cabinet provides protections on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity.
March 21, 2019 – Commissioner Nikki Fried appoints Nik Harris as Florida’s first LGBTQ Consumer Advocate, working to address discrimination and fraud targeted at the LGBTQ community of Florida and to raise awareness on opportunities within the agriculture industry.
April 23, 2019 – Jane Castor becomes Tampa’s first openly gay Mayor and the first gay woman to lead a major Florida city.
Written by Zachary Durand