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1997 Gay And Lesbian Accomplishments Listing

Note: Many thanks to Mike Silverman of Turn Left for compiling this list and allowing us to share it.

1997 was a good year in the social, political and legal struggle for equal rights. It seems that every day another company added domestic partner benefits, another cultural milestone was passed, or another court ruled in our favor. Considering that gays and lesbians are opposed by America's most powerful special interest group, the radical right, it is heartening that we are making such significant progress. Celebrate a great year and look forward to an even better 1998! Justice is prevailing.


  • Lacey, WA enacts anti-discrimination ordinances protecting gays
  • Tumwater, WA enacts anti-discrimination ordinances protecting gays
  • Over 200 polities now have laws banning anti-gay discrimination covering 1/3 of the US Population
  • Cobb County GA rescinds anti-gay resolution
  • Openly gay congressman Kolbe (R-AZ) chairs appropriations subcommittee
  • Fremont, CA schools ban anti-gay harassment
  • MA jury awards man $1.2 million for anti-gay discrimination
  • Travis County Texas swears in nations first out lesbian sheriff


  • Christian Coalition denounces bombing of lesbian bar
  • US AIDS deaths drop 27% in past 6 months
  • CA court rules student newspaper may run ad for gay youth group
  • MCC admitted to Ecumenical Council
  • Washington marriage ban vetoed
  • LAPD forced to pay $$ for anti-gay harassment
  • Baseball great Al Kaline apologizes for anti-gay slur


  • Alaska court grants DP benefits for University of Alaska
  • First US Senator grants DP benefits for staffers
  • Bank of America announces DP benefits
  • St. Louis enacts DP registry
  • NY court expands gay parents' adoption rights
  • West Hollywood, CA elects gay majority to city council
  • Number of gay-straight clubs at high schools up over 10 times from 5 years ago
  • Gay/Lesbian liason to President gets status boost to "Special Assistant"


  • "Ellen" becomes first gay prime time lead, wins time slot
  • Arizona enacts hate crimes bill protecting gays
  • RI, WA, CA, LA anti-marriage bills all fail
  • Catholic Church calls homophobia a sin, says celibate gays are "holy"
  • Michigan man awarded 10 million in gay bashing suit
  • Gay candidates win municipal elections in San Mateo and Redwood City CA, as well as Oak Park and Erie Illinois.
  • SF 49ers become first pro sports team with DP benefits
  • Several studies confirm lesbians make good mothers
  • IL court strengthens lesbian adoption/custody in state
  • Court strengthens Chicago's anti-discrimination law
  • Court upholds New Jersey gay civil rights law


  • Anti-marriage bills die in conservative Texas and Nebraska
  • Santa Barbara, CA gains DP registry
  • Maine enacts statewide anti-discrimination law protecting gays (pending referendum scheduled for February 1998)
  • DNC announces DP benefits
  • University of Washington adds DP benefits
  • St. Petersburg Times adds DP benefits
  • City of Chicago adds DP benefits
  • Wisconsin court upholds Madison anti-discrimination ordinance
  • Chevron Oil adds DP benefits
  • Northern CA's major utility company adds DP benefits
  • Alabama ban on gay school clubs struck down


  • Pride month ends, over 50 US celebrations with several million participants make it largest ever
  • Clinton issues pride proclaimation, first ever from US President
  • Ohio court rules sexual orientation should not affect adoptions
  • Florida court upholds lesbian "pre-nuptial" agreement
  • New Hampshire enacts state-wide anti-discrimination bill protecting gays
  • Colorado anti-marriage bill vetoed for 2nd time
  • Los Angeles unified school district adds DP plan
  • City of New Orleans adds DP benefits
  • Blue-Cross, HealthNet and PacificCare add DP coverage to insurance plans
  • Historic San Francisco Domestic Partner benefits law goes into effect


  • Virginia court OKs lesbian adoption
  • Evanston IL expands anti-discrimination ordinance
  • Episcopalians apologizes for mistreating gays
  • Wells-Fargo adds DP benefits
  • Union Bank adds DP benefits
  • Ellen receives 5 Emmy nominations
  • Clinton has high-level meeting with gay activists
  • Delaware enacts hate crimes law including sexual orientation
  • Gay and lesbian weddings OKed at Harvard chapel
  • Gay and lesbian youth conference in SF largest ever
  • Federal court strikes down ban on gays in US military (it is under appeal)
  • Montana court strikes down state's sodomy law
  • Connecticut bans anti-gay discrimination in school system
  • Hawaii statewide DP registry/benefits take effect


  • LAPD forced to pay for anti-gay harassment
  • For Better of for Worse with gay subplot runs in 1000+ papers
  • Chicago to spend 2 million on gay neighborhood
  • Focus on Family co-founder apologizes to gays
  • More gay characters on TV than ever, GLAAD reports
  • American Psychological Association condemns anti-gay "therapy"
  • Florida court OKs lesbian adoption


  • Nebraska court rules in favor of lesbian in custody case
  • MediaOne adds DP benefits
  • Recent report shows 1-3 companies add DP policies every week
  • MA court makes gay parents' adoptions easier
  • Michigan State adds DP benefits
  • Judge in Chicago upholds DP benefits law
  • Upjohn Corporation adds DP benefits
  • Pharmacia Corporations adds DP benefits
  • Clinton first sitting President to attend major gay-rights banquet
  • Knight-Ridder adds DP benefits
  • Oak Park IL enacts domestic partnership registry
  • Birmingham ABC station gives in and run Ellen's coming out episode.
  • "In The Life" has 5th Anniversary


  • EDS (Ross Perot's company) Offers DP Benefits
  • New Jersey rules in favor of allowing gay couple to adopt
  • Philadelphia Public Schools add DP benefits
  • First openly gay ambassador nominated by President
  • Lexinton Herald-Leader offers DP Benefits
  • Gay press fastest growing ad market for 3rd consecutive year Mass. court rules for gay male couple in adoption case
  • "In and Out" is mainstream smash hit


  • U. of California system (USA's largest state university system) approves domestic partnership plan.
  • Emory University opens up its chapel to gay weddings (Harvard did this earlier in the year)
  • GLAAD forces re-write of controversial scene in "The Jackal"
  • Anti-gay Disney Boycott abject failure, profits up record levels during boycott.
  • North Carolina court rules in favor of gay father in custody case for 2nd time
  • Georgia Supreme Court affirms Atlanta domestic partnership plan
  • Founder of largest gay Christian denomination honored at White House.
  • Gays and lesbians big part of White House hate crimes summit.
  • A US President addresses gay rights group dinner, first time ever.
  • Gay candidates win 83% (12 of 15) elections on Election Day 1997.
  • Reform Judaism (US largest branch) passes resolution in support of same-sex religious and civil marriage.


  • US Military forced to allow gay clubs in civilian schools on overseas military bases
  • NJ first state to allow joint adoption by gay couples
  • Duke University gives benefits to same-sex partners of grad students
  • Salt Lake City bans discrimination against gay city employees
  • Ypsilanti, MI passes gay civil rights law
  • Newton, MA passes domestic partnership law
  • Pacific Exchange becomes first US Stock exchange to offer DP benefits
  • Gay candidates win runoff elections in Houston and Atlanta.
  • Madison, WI public school district grants DP benefits.
  • Washington DC elects gay Republican council member
  • Athens, OH passes gay civil rights law

This list was compiled from various sources, including wire service reports, the PlanetOut news service, and various newspapers. Special thanks to Fenceberry for their invaluable service to the community



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