struggles for gays and lesbians

Essay by jw11432College, UndergraduateA-, November 2012

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Struggles for Gays and Lesbians

Of all controversial topics that spot our society today, few can rival with the sensitive nature of homosexual rights. Ever since the late 1960's, when gay and lesbian rights adopted a more activist approach for their acceptance, the advancement of gay and lesbian rights have been an arduous path that has met much resistance from the general public and government alike, yet has also gained much acceptance from different sectors of the same source.

Some of the earliest records of homosexuality in the history of the United States indicate that it was once a crime punishable by death. In 1779, Thomas Jefferson proposed a law that would mandate castration for male homosexuals, and mutilation of nose cartilage for homosexual women; the irony of this is that Thomas Jefferson was considered a liberal. Two hundred and twenty four years later, this barbarism was put to an end with the coming of the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas. This became the law that ended criminalization of same sex intercourse.

In 1951, the first national gay rights organization is founded. A small group of gay men formed the Mattachine Society. They drew their inspiration from traditional Italian street comedy, mattacini. The small group of lesbian women formed their group, the Daughters of Bilitis, which was derived from an 1874 poem, "The Song of Bilitis". Both of these groups did not and ultimately could not participate in much activism due to the constraints of social acceptance at the time.

However, in the late 1950's, the American Law Institute, an organization founded in 1923 that has long been one of the most influential legal organizations in the country, issued an opinion that stunned many people. They felt that victimless crime laws, such as the laws that criminalize homosexual...