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African American Gay Rights Essay

I cannot begin to argue about African American/Hispanic LGBT, living in New York City and their civil rights without remembering the public outcry against black civil rights. Although the focus of this paper is on African American/Hispanic LGBT living in New York City and Their Rights to Marriage I have decided to start my paper of by discussing the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. The civil rights movement of the 1960’s and the continuing struggle against race-based discrimination were rooted in the struggle against slavery.

As early as the eighteen hundreds the United States legislative had laws known as segregation laws that limited certain freedom to them. They had to live in separate neighborhood, attend separate schools, drive in the back of public buses verses in the front where Whites were; African American would not dare go against these laws back then because if and when they did, they were unjustly imprisoned, beaten lynched and more for just trying to exercise human rights. In the 1960s African Americans led a fight to remove the legally codified vestiges of slavery from our constitution and from state and local laws.

Most repulsive among these, were Jim Crow laws that required racial segregation; African Americans had to endure all these things until The Civil Rights Movement. The modern concept of civil rights was pioneered by African Americans in their long struggle to become full citizens of the United States. From the Civil Rights Movement to the Stonewall Riots of 1969 to May 17, 2004, the LGBTQ movement has made some tremendous gains into mainstream society, a reality that has not been afforded to African Americans. The African American Civil Rights Movement gave birth to many other civil rights movements in the 1960s.

African Americans not only made new law, their success gave new hope. Among the many efforts sparked by the African American Civil Rights Movements were the efforts to end discrimination against women, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans, people with disabilities and lesbians and gays. Some African American still has one more river to cross because now African American LGBT are fighting a new civil war, the fight for same sex marriage; the right to be legally married. Currently, marriage has two distinct components: civil marriage and the religious ritual of marriage.

Mixed-gender couples can have a civil marriage without the religious ceremony/ritual. Couples can have a religious ceremony/ritual, without a civil marriage. Some couples can choose both. However, to receive the legal protections of marriage, a couple must have a civil marriage, which is the only marriage that can be addressed by courts or legislatures. The LBGT believe that the rights and legal protections of civil marriage that are given to mixed-gender couples and families should also be extended to couples and families who are headed by same-gender couples.

These include the rights of survivorship, inheritance, insurance, joint income tax filing, and a myriad of rights that many mixed-gender couples take for granted. For African American LGBT, state regulation has been particularly harsh. State sodomy law has had a way of preventing LGBT from acquiring some of the rights they are entitle to. Today, fewer than half the state has sodomy laws. LGBT recognizes New York City for being the birth place for many modern gay movements; however, New York has not yet passed any law giving LGBT legal protection and political support, (right to marriage being on of them).

New York State gay rights bill, first introduced in 1971, still has not become law. While other states, like Vermont has established civil unions for LGBT, New York has not. Andy Humm writes that the biggest gay-related debate throughout the country right now is over government sanction of same-sex elationships. Vermont has gone the furthest, establishing “civil unions” for gay couples that confer almost all of the rights to which a married man and woman are entitled, though stopping short of full legal marriage.

New Yorkers may travel to Vermont for the civil ceremony as of July 1, but there is some question as to what legal weight it will carry back home. The federal government enacted the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) in 1996 when it looked as if Hawaii might give same-sex couples marriage licenses. It barred federal recognition of legal same-sex marriages performed in any state and gave the other states the right not to honor such a contract.

Thirty-two states have passed laws barring recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states, even though no state or nation allows gay couples to obtain a marriage license. (Holland will likely be the first in 2001. ) A New York version of the Defense of Marriage Act is pending in Albany, but has not had a vote in either chamber. Bibliography Diane Silver et al. , The New Civil War: The Lesbian and Gay Struggle For Civil Rights (New York; New York:1997), 25-26 Andy Humm, “The State of gay rights in New York,” Available http://www. gothamgazette. com/iotw/gayrights/ (Accessed May 16, 2005).


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