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Header: Jess Anderson in Madison Wisconsin
Successes in 1997

On his excellent guide to gay and lesbian politics on the web, Turn Out, well worth checking out in its own right, Mike Silverman of Lawrence, Kansas maintains a lot information pertinent to lesbian, gay, and bisexual political developments in a broad selection of areas. Recently he compiled a list of progressive achievements for the year 1997, in a month-by-month listing.

This is the same information, but presented under topical headings, as an alternative way of presenting accomplishments that should be encouraging to everyone concerned with social equality for all Amercians.


  • March: New York court expands gay parents' adoption rights
  • April: Several studies confirm lesbians make good mothers
  • April: Illinois court strengthens lesbian adoption/custody in state
  • June: Ohio court rules sexual orientation should not affect adoptions
  • July: Virginia court OKs lesbian adoption
  • August: Florida court OKs lesbian adoption
  • September: Nebraska court rules in favor of lesbian in custody case
  • September: Massachusetts court makes gay parents' adoptions easier
  • October: New Jersey rules in favor of allowing gay couple to adopt
  • October: Massachusetts court rules for gay male couple in adoption case
  • November: North Carolina court rules in favor of gay father in custody case for 2nd time
  • December: New Jersey first state to allow joint adoption by gay couples


  • January: Over 200 polities now have laws banning anti-gay discrimination covering 1/3 of the US Population
  • January: Lacey, Washington enacts anti-discrimination ordinances protecting gays
  • January: Tumwater, Washington enacts anti-discrimination ordinances protecting gays
  • January: Massachusetts jury awards man $1.2 million for anti-gay discrimination
  • January: Cobb County, Georgia rescinds anti-gay resolution
  • April: Arizona enacts hate crimes bill protecting gays
  • April: Court strengthens Chicago's anti-discrimination law
  • April: Michigan man awarded 10 million in gay bashing suit
  • April: Court upholds New Jersey gay civil rights law
  • May: Maine enacts statewide anti-discrimination law protecting gays (pending referendum scheduled for February 1998)
  • May: Wisconsin court upholds Madison anti-discrimination ordinance
  • June: New Hampshire enacts state-wide anti-discrimination bill protecting gays
  • July: Evanston, Illinois expands anti-discrimination ordinance
  • July: Delaware enacts hate crimes law including sexual orientation
  • July: Federal court strikes down ban on gays in US military (it is under appeal)
  • July: Montana court strikes down state's sodomy law
  • July: Connecticut bans anti-gay discrimination in school system
  • November: Gays and lesbians big part of White House hate crimes summit.
  • December: US Military forced to allow gay clubs in civilian schools on overseas military bases
  • December: Salt Lake City bans discrimination against gay city employees
  • December: Ypsilanti, Michigan passes gay civil rights law
  • December: Athens, Ohio passes gay civil rights law

Domestic Partnership

  • March: Alaska court grants DP benefits for University of Alaska
  • March: First US Senator grants DP benefits for staffers
  • March: Bank of America announces DP benefits
  • March: St. Louis enacts DP registry
  • April: San Francisco 49ers become first pro sports team with DP benefits
  • May: Santa Barbara, California gains DP registry
  • May: The Democratic National Committee announces DP benefits
  • May: University of Washington adds DP benefits
  • May: St. Petersburg Times adds DP benefits
  • May: City of Chicago adds DP benefits
  • May: Chevron Oil adds DP benefits
  • May: Northern California's major utility company adds DP benefits
  • June: Los Angeles unified school district adds DP plan
  • June: City of New Orleans adds DP benefits
  • June: Blue-Cross, HealthNet and PacificCare add DP coverage to insurance plans
  • June: Historic San Francisco Domestic Partner benefits law goes into effect
  • July: Wells-Fargo adds DP benefits
  • July: Union Bank adds DP benefits
  • July: Hawaii statewide DP registry/benefits take effect
  • September: MediaOne adds DP benefits
  • September: Recent report shows 1-3 companies add DP policies every week
  • September: Michigan State adds DP benefits
  • September: Judge in Chicago upholds DP benefits law
  • September: Upjohn Corporation adds DP benefits
  • September: Pharmacia Corporations adds DP benefits
  • September: Knight-Ridder adds DP benefits
  • September: Oak Park, Illinois enacts domestic partnership registry
  • October: EDS (Ross Perot's company) Offers DP Benefits
  • October: Philadelphia Public Schools add DP benefits
  • October: Lexinton Herald-Leader offers DP Benefits
  • November: U. of California system (USA's largest state university system) approves domestic partnership plan.
  • November: Georgia Supreme Court affirms Atlanta domestic partnership plan
  • December: Duke University gives benefits to same-sex partners of grad students
  • December: Newton, Massachusetts passes domestic partnership law
  • December: Pacific Exchange becomes first US Stock exchange to offer DP benefits
  • December: Madison, Wisconsin public school district grants DP benefits.


  • January: Fremont, California schools ban anti-gay harassment
  • February: California court rules student newspaper may run ad for gay youth group
  • March: Number of gay-straight clubs at high schools up over 10 times from 5 years ago
  • May: Alabama ban on gay school clubs struck down

Entertainment, Media

  • April: "Ellen" becomes first gay prime-time lead, wins time slot
  • July: Ellen receives five Emmy nominations
  • August: "For Better of for Worse" with gay subplot runs in 1000+ papers
  • August: More gay characters on TV than ever, GLAAD reports
  • September: Birmingham ABC station gives in and run Ellen's coming out episode.
  • September: "In The Life" has 5th Anniversary
  • October: Gay press fastest growing ad market for 3rd consecutive year
  • October: "In and Out" is mainstream smash hit
  • November: GLAAD forces re-write of controversial scene in "The Jackal"


  • January: Openly gay congressman Kolbe (R-AZ) chairs appropriations subcommittee
  • March: West Hollywood, California elects gay majority to city council
  • March: Gay/Lesbian liason to President gets status boost to "Special Assistant"
  • April: Gay candidates win municipal elections in San Mateo and Redwood City California, as well as Oak Park and Erie Illinois.
  • June: Clinton issues pride proclaimation, first ever from US President
  • July: Clinton has high-level meeting with gay activists
  • September: Clinton first sitting President to attend major gay-rights banquet
  • October: First openly gay ambassador nominated by President
  • November: A US President addresses gay rights group dinner, first time ever.
  • November: Gay candidates win 83% (12 of 15) elections on Election Day 1997.
  • December: Gay candidates win runoff elections in Houston and Atlanta.
  • December: Washington DC elects gay Republican council member


  • February: US AIDS deaths drop 27% in past 6 months
  • August: American Psychological Association condemns anti-gay "therapy"

Law Enforcement

  • January: Travis County, Texas swears in nations first out lesbian sheriff
  • February: Los Angeles police department forced to pay for anti-gay harassment
  • August: Los Angeles police department forced to pay for anti-gay harassment


  • February: Washington marriage ban vetoed
  • April: RI, WA, CA, LA anti-marriage bills all fail
  • May: Anti-marriage bills die in conservative Texas and Nebraska
  • June: Florida court upholds lesbian "pre-nuptial" agreement
  • June: Colorado anti-marriage bill vetoed for 2nd time
  • July: Gay and lesbian weddings OKed at Harvard chapel
  • November: Emory University opens up its chapel to gay weddings (Harvard did this earlier in the year)

Radical Right

  • February: Christian Coalition denounces bombing of lesbian bar
  • August: Focus on Family co-founder apologizes to gays
  • November: Anti-gay Disney Boycott abject failure, profits up record levels during boycott.


  • February: MCC admitted to Ecumenical Council
  • April: Catholic Church calls homophobia a sin, says celibate gays are "holy"
  • July: Episcopalians apologizes for mistreating gays
  • November: Founder of largest gay Christian denomination honored at White House.
  • November: Reform Judaism (US largest branch) passes resolution in support of same-sex religious and civil marriage.


  • February: Baseball great Al Kaline apologizes for anti-gay slur
  • June: Pride month ends, over 50 US celebrations with several million participants make it largest ever
  • July: Gay and lesbian youth conference in SF largest ever
  • August: Chicago to spend 2 million on gay neighborhood
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