Monthly Archives: June 2016

The Evolution of LGBT Rights

Posted on June 20, 2016 in LGBT News

While the LGBT community continues to battle for equal rights today, we’ve come a very long way since June 28, 1969. That’s the date many use as the beginning of the LGBT rights movement. It’s the date of the riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. This movement started with police harassing gay individuals at the bar, but it’s resulted in so much more than just protection from harassment. Let’s take a look at how LGBT rights have evolved over the years.

The Evolution of LGBT RightsExactly a year after the Stonewall Riots, the very first pride parades were held in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. While much smaller than the weeklong festivals found in some cities today, these parades were the first time the LGBT community took a large public step forward and demanded equal treatment.

The next major milestone came in 1973, when the American Psychological Association voted to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. This showed that there truly was no connection between being gay and being mentally ill.

The first LGBT elected city official, Harvey Milk of San Francisco, was assassinated on November 27, 1978. Milk was a major fighter for LGBT rights, and his legacy has continued to live on long after his life was cut too short. Later, in 1987, Representative Barney Frank, a congressman from Massachusetts, came out publicly. He was the first member of either house to openly announce that he was gay.

Unfortunately, the mid-1990s were not a good time for LGBT rights. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” prevented LGBT members from serving openly in the U.S. armed forces. In 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act prevented the federal government from recognizing any marriages between members of the same sex, denying them a number of legal protections. It would be declared in June of 2013, however.

Of course, the largest step forward for the gay rights movement began in 2004, when Massachusetts recognized same-sex marriage. Following that move, the issue became a polarizing one, with some states following Massachusetts and others amending their constitutions to prevent same-sex couples from marrying. This battle came to a head in 2015 when the Supreme Court voted in favor of the right to marry in Obergefell v. Hodges. While most people recognize this case as the one that made same-sex marriage legal, it did much more than that. Now able to become full legal spouses, LGBT couples no longer had to fear being barred from hospital rooms or losing their home if their partner died. They now don’t have to do any extra paperwork to be equal partners in real estate or when applying for a mortgage.

However, the fight continues today, and while LGBT citizens certainly have more rights today than they did even ten years ago, there are still more areas of the law where discrimination and inequality are present. Hopefully it won’t take another 50 years to change that.

Top US Cities for Lesbians

Posted on June 15, 2016 in Buying a Home

Looking for a place to move with your girlfriend or wife? While there are many cities out there that certainly welcome lesbians, gays, and everyone else, there are some cities that seem to attract mostly lesbians. If you’re looking for a great lesbian-friendly city, here are some places to add to your list.

Top US Cities for LesbiansNorthampton, Massachusetts, tops many of the most lesbian-friendly lists out there. Located in one of the first states to provide its LGBT residents with equal rights and protections, Massachusetts has always been home to a large number of gays and lesbians. While most are drawn to the large city of Boston, nearby Northampton has a lot to offer. In addition to its many permanent residents, a number of lesbians come to Northampton to take classes at Smith College.

Oakland, California, is close enough to San Francisco that you can easily make day trips there, but yet it’s also much cheaper and is home to a very large concentration of lesbian couples. In fact, it’s been number one as far as the highest concentration of lesbian couples for a number of years. The city features many different LGBT bars, clubs, and activities. Nearby Berkeley is another great option for those who want to move to California, but don’t enjoy the crowded, hectic life found in LA or San Francisco.

Seattle, Washington, is another great place for lesbians to move to. With a number of publications such as The Seattle Lesbian and support and resource centers like the Ingersoll Gender Center and the Lesbian Resource Center, Seattle is a great place to live your life to the fullest. With roller derby, film festivals, and more, you’ll always have something to do, too.

Austin, Texas, is an oasis of LGBT friendliness in a state that otherwise isn’t known for its inclusivity. Austin, however, is home to a counterculture of liberal thinking and indie arts. It hosts the South by Southwest entertainment festival every year, has a gay rodeo association, and much more. Lesbians who love the south may love Austin.

Madison, Wisconsin, might come as a bit of a surprise, but it makes the list of top lesbian places to live by virtual of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a liberal college that brings many young LGBT people to the area. The city also has a neighborhood that has earned itself the nickname “Dyke Heights” for the large number of lesbians who live there.

There are just a few of the many cities with large lesbian populations. Those looking to move might want to check them out.

Understanding the LGBT Community’s Perks in Arizona

Posted on June 6, 2016 in Buying a Home

Thinking about moving to Arizona? You’ll find a number of gay and lesbian real estate agents who can help you find the perfect home there. But before you make this move, you should learn your potential new home and how the state treats its LGBT citizens. Arizona can be a great place to live, especially for those looking for a place to retire to, but the state’s protections are limited, and it’s important that you know how limited they are and what to expect before buying a home there.

Understanding the LGBT Community’s Perks in ArizonaAccording to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the larger cities in Arizona are very LGBT friendly. On their annual index that ranks cities according to their LGBT policies, Tucson, Tempe, and Phoenix all ranked a perfect 100. However, other cities in the state didn’t do so well. The fourth highest city on the list, Chandler, scored a 63, and it just went downhill from there. Not every city is going to see its LGBT citizens in the same way, which is something to keep in mind.

Marriage

Same-sex marriage became legal in the state on October 17, 2014, after several lawsuits ruled that the November 2008 state constitutional amendment that prevented same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. This amendment was the last in a line of legal barriers against gay and lesbian marriage. The first was passed in 1975, when an emergency bill was passed that restricted marriage to one man and one woman. In 1996, legislators again voted to ban same-sex marriage, although this was only a law and not a change in the state’s constitution itself.

Prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage, several cities, including Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, and Tucson, plus Pima County, had all created domestic partner registries. Bisbee and Tucson had created civil unions.

Rights and Protections

The state has no barriers to individual adoption or second-parent adoption, but it does require all adoption agencies to give preference to placing children with a qualified married opposite-sex couple.

The state also has fairly weak discrimination protection laws. An executive order issued in 2003 bans discrimination in public employment based on sexual orientation only, although anti-discrimination laws protecting individuals in both orientation and gender identity have been passed in Phoenix, Flagstaff, Chandler, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Tucson.

The state’s hate crime laws cover sexual orientation, but not gender identity. Also, the state will only issue a new birth certificate to those who have undergone gender reassignment surgery.