Gay and Lesbian Rights (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The goal of full legal and social equality for gay men and lesbians sought by the gay movement in the United States and other Western countries.
The term gay originally derived from slang, but it has gained wide acceptance in recent years, and many people who are sexually attracted to others of the same sex prefer it to the older and more clinical term homosexual. The drive for legal and social equality represents one aspect of a broader gay and lesbian movement that, since the late 1960s, has worked to change attitudes toward homosexuality, develop gay community institutions, and improve the self-image of gay men and lesbians.
Although homosexuality has been recorded in every historical period and culture, the gay and lesbian rights movement developed only with the emergence of a self-conscious, gayidentified subculture that was willing to openly assert its demands for equality. Until the 1960s, virtually all lesbians and gay men were secretive about their sexual orientation and frequently shared the attitude of the general society that homosexuality was sick, sinful, or both. The phrase "in the closet" refers to gay men and lesbians who hide their sexual orientation.
The first national gay organizations in the United States were the Mattachine Society (1951) and the Daughters of Bilitis (1956). The emergence of the CIVIL RIGHTS...
(The entire section is 6361 words.)
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