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The Spark That Lit the Gay Rights Movement Essay

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As New York City was waking up on Saturday, June 28, 1969, the New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village. The raid led to riots and protests that lasted several days. Such police harassment was hardly uncommon at the time, but this particular raid proved to be the last straw. What could have been a quickly forgotten brawl instead became “the beginning of the modern struggle for gay civil rights” (Teal). The Stonewall Riots pushed the gay rights movement to the forefront of hot-button topics in the United States, where it has remained ever since (Teal).
The gay rights movement has slowly achieved success since it began gaining momentum after World War II. Despite harassment and police raids on gay bars like the Stonewall Inn, “there was [great] political activity [. . .], aimed in large measure at decriminalizing sodomy” (Levy). While gay rights organizations won some legal reforms in Europe in the mid-twentieth century, American groups still fought for rights as basic as freedom of speech. One, a national gay periodical, had to go to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1958 simply to be given the right to mail its magazine through the American postal service (Levy).
After the Stonewall Riots, the 70s and 80s saw the rapid growth of gay-rights organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign which demanded social and legal reforms. These groups encourage gay men and women to campaign for government positions, leading to the elections of prominent gay rights activists like Harvey Milk and Barney Frank (Levy). In 1993, the Supreme Court of Hawaii indicated a belief that denying marriage to same-sex couples could be sex discrimination, becoming the first state to address the issue. Although voters a...


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...tannica Inc., 29 Dec. 2013. PDF file.
Perrin, Ellen C., and Benjamin S. Siegel. "Promoting the Well-Being of Children Whose Parents Are Gay or Lesbian." Pediatrics 131.4 (2013): 1374-383. PDF file.
Sanchez, Ray, and Miguel Marquez. "Arizona Lawmakers Pass Controversial Anti-Gay Bill." CNN.com. Cable News Network, 21 Feb. 2014. Web. 7 Mar. 2014.
Teal, Gloria. "The Spark That Lit the Gay Rights Movement, Four Decades Later." PBS.org. Public Broadcasting Service, 30 June 2010. Web. 5 Mar. 2014.
United States. HR. Defense of Marriage Act. 104th Cong., 2nd Sess. H. Report 104-664. 9 July 1996. PDF file.
Washington Post. Survey of 1,002 Adults Concerning Gay Marriage. New York: 27 Feb.-2 Mar. 2014. Web. 9 Mar. 2014.
Zorn, Eric. "The Top Six Arguments against Gay Marriage (and Why They All Fail).” ChicagoTribune.com. Chicago Tribune, 20 May 2012. Web. 4 Mar. 2014.



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