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The book begins with the US history of gay and lesbian struggles and how they had to work to be accepted into society. The great depression sparked the desire for traditional families and their roles. This was due to men losing their own gender role because of losing their jobs which made them be intimidated by homosexuals. Following the great depression, people who were assumed to be homosexual were arrested and put into jail. Many other discriminatory acts happened as well such as all gay restaurants and clubs being completely shut down.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that people’s views were changing on the subject at hand. During this time, birth control was becoming more popular and heterosexual couples were beginning to live with each other before getting married. Sex was also becoming more popular and was now seen more for pleasure than to make children. Overall, views on all relationships and their aspects were beginning to see a shift.
This was in favor of gays and lesbians so they would seen be viewed as equals. Marriage became a central goal of the LGBT movement by the 1990s due to the societal discrimination, unfairness prevalent by the government, and the ability to marry being seen as a civil right.
Gays and lesbians were seen by many to have a ‘corrosive influence’ (pg. 20) in the US and were looked at as a ‘formidable and invisible conspiracy’ (pg. 19). The AIDS epidemic stereotyped gay men as being diseased and struck fear in the public through the 1980s to the 1990s.
A staggering 78% of US citizens saw homosexualtiy as wrong in the year of 1987. However, views were steadily changing more and more with each passing year. In the 1990s, there started to be gay characters in movies and people were beginning to support homosexuals more. By the year 1993, the military set in place a “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy where gay individuals would have to hide their sexual preference from the military. As long as authorities did not know, they would not be kicked out.
Chancey argued in his book that government leaders and religious groups started the initial discrimination and prejudice regarding gays and lesbians. For example, in 1924 the man who formed the first gay rights group had the police break into his house and arrested him. They were not given the right to congregate, were denied work and certain jobs, and were often arrested as well as held in jail while sometimes undergoing psychiatric evaluations. The government was extremely unfair to gays and lesbians as well as anyone who supported them. The federal government fired thousands of employees that were gay and closed restaurants that served homosexuals. The government also discriminated against gay families in reference to pensions, insurance, and child custody battles. These were only some of the reasons that led them to first for their rights and protections of marriage.
Over time, the purposes of marriage had clearly been drastically changing. It was once about financial and political reasons and had steadily changed to being about companionship and love instead. During the nineteenth century, the views on married has also changed in a sense that it was now seen as a right or freedom. Marriage was not always defined as a civil institution but is now seen as such in the US. Chancey believed that the solution to the discrimination of homosexuals was to allow marriage among them. Families were becoming less traditional with gender roles and there was no longer a need for a set in stone stereotype of a woman’s or man’s roles. Gay and lesbian couples pushed to be able to marry due to them being seen as second class citizens without the same rights as heterosexuals and they were tired of the ‘demonization” of their sexual preferences (pg. 18). Chauncey believed that the movement was met with success by the early 2000s. This was due to gay couples finally being given the right to get married in Massachusetts, California, as well as other US counties in 2004. Also, gays were much more accepted and common among society by this time period. Many gays scrambled to quickly get married; however, this did not last long thanks to President Bush. Two weeks after being given the right to marry, Bush ended all gay marriage with a constitutional amendment.
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