Timelines of same-sex legislation

In a recent report published by the Illinois Statehouse News, Mary Massingale hints that a vote on same-sex legislation may be coming to Illinois in November. The recent passing of Proposition 8 in California has spurned a great deal of talk about same-sex marriages, but this isn’t exactly a similar proposal.

Bill SB1716 legalizes civil unions for same-sex partners. It’s not marriage, but if the bill “should come up for consideration, it would mark the first major attempt at expanding gay rights in Illinois since lawmakers banned certain types of discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2005,” wrote Massingale.

The bill would make Illinois the latest in a string of states that are legalizing civil unions and, for some, repealing conditions of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which makes it possible for each state to determine whether or not they will acknowledge same-sex marriages from other states. DOMA defines marriage strictly as the relationship between a man and a woman; section 3 of the act states, “the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

So, it appears Illinois may be on the cusp of recognizing civil unions—but how significant is this?

There are a number of resources available on the Internet that chronicle the evolution of gay rights and recognize landmark legislature that has moved this issue forward. Some of these timelines are more extensive than others. According to the PEW forum on Religion and Public Life (available here), the Hawaii Supreme Court issued the first landmark decision regarding gay marriage, citing a 1993 decision claiming the state needed to show a compelling reason to ban same-sex marriage.  Another timeline (found at infoplease) claims Chicago created the country’s first known gay rights organization in 1924.

The National Conference of State Legislatures provides a comprehensive account of some of the more salient same-sex movements in the last decade.

As of August 2008, California became among the most same-sex friendly states in the country, but it hasn’t always been that way. Check out the legal battle over gay marriage as mapped out by NPR in December 2009.

The Los Angeles Times has a more updated version here that takes into account the Prop. 8 ruling.

Here’s a list of dates that goes all the way back to the origins of the term “homosexuality,” in the 1500’s.

The New Republic takes a look at President Obama’s stance on gay marriage, which has irked some of his supporters.

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ABC 7 coverage of equal rights rally

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