Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A brief history of gay movements (Part V of V)

Final part of the series. I hope you have enjoyed reading all of them.

On April 25, 1993, nearly a million people attended the third March in Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation. It was the largest demonstration in United States history to that time. The failures of the government to respond adequately to the AIDS crisis as well as the right of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals to serve in the armed forces were especially prominent themes during the march.

On 30 April 2000, The Millennium March on Washington for Equality was called and directed by the Human Rights Campaign and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. Main events included a stadium concert, a wedding ceremony involving about 1,000 same-sex couples on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and a festival of gay-friendly vendors and entertainment.

On Dec 1, 1988, The first World AIDS Day was held by the World Health Organization in Switzerland. For one day - December 1st - each year, we are encouraged to remember those who have died from AIDS related illnesses and recommit ourselves to shared communication, education, and AIDS awareness

On December 1, 1989, loss prompted artists in New York to organize the first "Day without Art." On that day, museums and art galleries were closed; drawings and arts were covered with white cloths as a sign of mourning for the numerous artists succumbed to the ravages of AIDS.

On Oct 1, 1989, the world witness a monumental victory of gay movement when Denmark, the Land of the Midnight Sun, became the first country in the world to legally recognize same-sex partnerships, essentially sanctioning gay marriages. The landmark decision were quickly adopted by the other Scandinavian countries.

On April 26, 2000, running in the forefront as a champion of human rights in spite of the conservative political climate in the country, Vermont becomes the first state in the USA to legally recognize civil unions between gay or lesbian couples. Though stopped short of referring to same-sex unions as marriage, which the state defines as heterosexual, the law states that these "couples would be entitled to the same benefits, privileges, and responsibilities as spouses".

Not contented with merely extending partnership rights to LGBT couples, on April 1, 2001, The Netherlands jumped to the forefront of human rights history when its lower house of parliament enacts the world's most comprehensive legal recognition of gay rights, making the Netherlands the first country in the whole world, to recognize full fledged gay marriage. The Dutch law allows same-sex couples to marry and gives them the same rights as heterosexuals when it comes to adopting children of Dutch origin.

Belgium legalised gay marriage 31 Jan 2003, becoming the second country in the world to recognize gay marriage. In the same year, the Canadian provinces of Ontario and British Columbia legalized same-sex marriage.

In November 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that barring gays and lesbians from marrying violates the state constitution. The Massachusetts Chief Justice concluded that to "deny the protections, benefits, and obligations conferred by civil marriage" to gay couples was unconstitutional because it denied "the dignity and equality of all individuals" and made them "second-class citizens." Following that ruling, same-sex marriages become legal in Massachusetts on May 17 2004.

On Feb. 12, 2004 in San Francisco and on Feb. 21, 2004 in New Paltz, city official began to issue marriage certificates to same sex couples. With remarkable disregard towards human rights and mocking the spirit of liberty the country stood for, the officials in both cities were soon ordered by the court to stop the issuance of marriage certificates to same sex couple. Following that, the same-sex marriages in San Francisco were declared null and void by the California Supreme Court.

In comparison with the other countries which is moving forward and progressively towards enshrining LGBT rights in their constitutions, these decisions had reduced the USA as a hypocritical nation that practices not what it preaches. The USA had, with a court ruling, lost its role as a champion of liberty and human rights.

In a sharp contrast, Spain legalised gay marriage on 30 June 2005, becoming the third country in the world to offer full fledged gay marriage, after the Netherlands and Belgium. Moving one step further, on 8 August 2005, Spain's Justice Ministry ruled that the country's gay marriage law allows marriage to a foreigner regardless of whether that person's homeland recognizes the partnership.

In speaking to the parliament on the day same-sex marriage became law, Spanish Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said, "Today, the Spanish society answers to a group of people who, during many years have, been humiliated, whose rights have been ignored, whose dignity has been offended, their identity denied, and their liberty oppressed. Today the Spanish society grants them the respect they deserve, recognizes their rights, restores their dignity, affirms their identity, and restores their liberty.

On June 28, 2005, The Canadian parliament passed a bill legalizing gay marriage throughout the country. On July 21, 2005, Marriage equality for same-sex couples became the law of the land. In his speech, Canadian Prime Minister, Paul Martin said, "The people of Canada have worked hard to build a country that opens its doors to include all, regardless of their differences; a country that respects all, regardless of their differences; a country that demands equality for all, regardless of their differences."

"We were not the first, but I am sure we will not be the last. After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality." ~ Zapatero.

And the spirit lives on ...

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