History of California
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The history of LGBT residents in California, while very likely spanning centuries prior to the 20th, has become increasingly visible alongside the growth in numbers of openness about LGBT identities paralleling the reduction of political or criminal repercussions against non-heterosexual interactions and identities. In spite of the strong development of early gay villages in the state, pro-LGBT activists in California campaigned against nearly 170 years of especially harsh prosecutions and punishments regarding non-vaginal, non-heterosexual relations.
 19th century
In 1850, a common-law statute was installed in the territory of California, providing for the illegalization of sodomy and setting the penalty at five years to life. An 1855 law expanded the crime of sodomy to include "assault with an intent to commit" sodomy, penalizing the crime with 1–14 years imprisonment.
A new criminal code, passed in 1872, retained the prior restrictions on sodomy without substantial change, but replaced common-law assumptions regarding "crimes against nature" with more explicit language regarding sodomy. The first victory in a sodomy case under the new code was People v. Moore (1894), when William Moore, who had been convicted of sodomy without an attorney to speak on his behalf and was sentenced to 41 years in prison, had his conviction overturned on appeal to the California Supreme Court. The Court ruled that Moore had not been notified of his legal right to cross-examine or challenge potential jurors.
Other victories for defendants accused of sodomy were People v. Hickey (1895), in which the Supreme Court struck down a sodomy conviction because the prior trial court did not inform the jury that an assault to commit sodomy could only be considered a simple assault, and People v. Boyle (1897), which ruled that fellatio did not constitute a "crime against nature" (as per a prior case in Texas).
 20th century
Between 1900 and 1902, 20 cases of sodomy were brought before the criminal courts in California, resulting in 16 convictions; 10 of these cases had taken place in the City and County of San Francisco, while 6 more had taken place in neighboring counties.
In fall of 1914, some 500 Gay men were arrested as "social vagrants", leading to the legislative passage of a unique law which prohibited "acts technically known as fellatio and cunnilingus[.]" The law, which set a maximum of 15 years in prison for either act, was the only statute law in the United States which ever mentioned the words "fellatio" and "cunnilingus".
The law against fellatio and cunnilingus would have interesting effects in the courts due to disputes regarding the exact medical definitions of both terms; the State Supreme Court rulings in In Re Application of Soady (1918) and Ex Parte Lockett (1919) would reveal the schism between the sitting justices, particularly Justices Henry A. Melvin and Curtis D. Wilbur, on those definitions.
In 1921, the penalty of sodomy was lowered to 1–10 years imprisonment. The same year, a constitutional amendment prohibiting oral sex (namely "the act of copulating the mouth of one person with the sexual organ of another") was passed, retaining the 15-year imprisonment as a penalty without regard to sexual orientation. Finally, a third act gave free rein to the government to prohibit and restrict any sexual activity, stating that "any act...which openly outrages public decency" would be punished.
As a result of these and prior laws, California became notorious for egregious invasions of privacy, with numerous cases of residential espionage by neighbors, family members, rivals or hired private investigators; the majority of these invasions (including the drilling of holes into walls) went unchallenged by defendants in court. In addition, beginning with a law in 1909 which allowed for the sterilization of convicted and imprisoned sex offenders if they showed recidivism in prison towards being a "moral or sexual pervert" (including those committed for sodomy, fellatio, or cunnilingus) the allowance for the sterilization of inmates became so extensive that by 1934, some 9,931 inmates had been sterilized.
A psychopathic offender law, the first to be enacted outside of the Midwestern United States, was passed in 1939, and would also add a further, constantly amended layer to California's laws regarding "perverts".
The 1940s and 1950s saw the initial coordinated forays into the provision of services for LGBT people in the state. In 1947, Vice Versa, the first North American LGBT publication, was first written and self-published by Lisa Ben in Los Angeles. However, the first sex offender registry law was enacted in 1947, requiring all persons convicted under California law for sexual crimes since 1944 to register as sex offenders.
In 1950, The Mattachine Society, the first sustained American homosexual group, was founded in Los Angeles (November 11). In the spring of 1952, Dale Jennings was arrested for allegedly soliciting a police officer in a bathroom in Westlake Park, now known as MacArthur Park. His trial drew national attention to the Mattachine Society, and membership increased dramatically after Jennings contested the charges, resulting in a hung jury. However, the same year, Governor Earl Warren, who would become the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court in a year and a half, signed a law which eliminated the maximum penalty for sodomy ("not less than one year"), thus allowing for potential life imprisonment.
The most famous individual to be arrested under the oral copulation and vagrancy law was civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, who received 60 days in jail in 1953 after pleading guilty in Pasadena to a lesser charge of "sex perversion" (as consensual sodomy was known in California at the time).
In 1955, the Daughters of Bilitis, the first major lesbian organization with functional parallels to the Mattachines, was founded in San Francisco, California.
The 1956 appellate court case People v. Giani stood out against the majority of judicial cases which sent numerous people to prison or involuntary psychiatric incarceration for a wide variety of sexual offenses; Justice Fred V. Wood noted for a unanimous court that based on "the absence of expert medical testimony on the subject we hesitate to equate the word 'homosexual' with the term 'sexual psychopath,'" and called for a new trial for the defendant. The 1957 case People v. Goldstein, in which Edward Goldstein had been convicted by a prior court for performing fellatio on a brick layer, a sailor and "sailors from Moffett Field", resulted in an overturn of the conviction by an appellate court due to numerous discrepancies in the initial conviction.
In 1958, psychiatrist Karl Bowman requested that the California legislature repeal all laws criminalizing homosexuality, although it would be some two decades before the legislature would act.
The first break in the regime of California sex laws took place in 1961, when the legislature replaced the vagrancy law with a "disorderly conduct" law. Also in 1961, José Sarria became the first openly gay candidate for public office in the United States when he ran for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The Rejected, the first documentary on homosexuality, is broadcast on KQED TV in San Francisco on 11 September 1961.
The first LGBT business association, the Tavern Guild, was established in 1962.
In 1964, Life magazine named San Francisco the “Gay Capital of the U.S.”
In 1965, José Sarria established the Imperial Court System, which is now one of the largest LGBT charity organizations in the world. The Compton's Cafeteria Riot occurred in August 1966 in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco; this incident was the first recorded transgender riot in United States history, preceding the more famous 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City by three years.
In 1967, a raid on the Black Cat Tavern in Los Angeles, California promoted homosexual rights activity. The purple handprint became a symbol of gay liberation in 1969, following a San Francisco newspaper dumping purple ink on members of the Gay Liberation Front protesting their offices.
On 31 December 1969, The Cockettes, a psychedelic drag queen troupe, performed for the first time at the Palace Theatre on Union and Columbus in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco.
The 1970s saw the first major entries of LGBT residents into political and cultural participation in the state.
In 1970, the first LGBT Pride Parade was held in Los Angeles, and the first "Gay-in" held in San Francisco.
1972 San Francisco, California became one of the first cities in the United States to pass a homosexual rights ordinance.
In 1974, privacy was appended to the California Constitution's Declaration of Rights for the first time, turning the tide, by extension, in favor of LGBT rights in the state.
In 1975, a consenting adults law was passed in California due to an extensive lobbying effort led by State Assemblyman from San Francisco Willie Brown. It did not repeal existing sodomy or oral copulation laws, but it did exclude private consensual activity between adults over the age of 18 from the reach of such laws. A further law in the same year reduced the maximum penalty for consensual sex with minors under the age of 18 to five years. Both laws essentially rendered the psychopathic offender laws moot, but the prohibitions on disorderly conduct and consensual relations between prisoners remained.
Maurice Weiner, then Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles, was arrested for groping an undercover police officer in a Hollywood theater in 1975. He was found guilty of "lewd conduct" in 1976, resulting in his subsequent resignation from office.
In 1977, Harvey Milk was elected city-county supervisor in San Francisco, becoming the third openly gay American elected to public office and the first in California, but both he and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by former Supervisor Dan White the next year. The controversy over the acquittal of White resulted in the 1979 White Night riots in San Francisco. The state legislator of California pass a law defining marriage between one man and one women.
In 1978, Samois the earliest known lesbian-feminist BDSM organization is founded in San Francisco. The anti-gay Briggs Initiative which would have banned gays from serving as public school teachers is defeated by California voters. Harvey Milk was instrumental in fighting the measure and opposition from Ronald Reagan helped defeat it. In 1979, Los Angeles passed its first homosexual rights bill with no fanfare from Tom Bradley but much support from arts.
1982 – Laguna Beach, CA elects the first openly gay mayor in United States history. The first Gay Games is held in San Francisco, attracting 1,600 participants.
1984 – Berkeley, California becomes the first city in the U.S. to adopt a program of domestic partnership health benefits for city employees; West Hollywood, CA is founded and becomes the first known city to elect a city council where a majority of the members are openly gay or lesbian.
The 1990s and 2000s saw the incremental expansion of civil rights for LGBT individuals, but same-sex couples' rights became an increasingly controversial topic, with referenda and judicial cases on same-sex marriage jousting for constitutional finality.
In 1999, California adopted a domestic partnership law.
In 2000, the state passed Proposition 22, which restricted state recognition of marriage to opposite-sex couples.
 21st century
In 2005, domestic partnerships in California were upgraded to where they were they had almost exactly same rights as heterosexual married couples. California state legislators became the first in the nation to pass a same sex marriage law, but it was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.
In 2004, the city of San Fransisco began issuing same sex marriage licenses after the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage in Massachusetts. Eventually all of these marriages where voided by the California Supreme Court.
In 2007, California became the first US state to allow same sex couples to visit each other in conjugal visits.
In May 2008, the California Supreme Court struck down Proposition 22 in In re Marriage Cases. On June 2, 2008 Proposition 8 qualified for the November ballot in California. On June 16, 2008 same sex marriage became legal in California. On November 4, 2008 the Supreme Court ruling was struck down by when Proposition 8 passed in California, resulting in nationwide protests and judicial cases. Proposition 8 added the void text of Proposition 22 that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California" into the California Constitution. On November 5, 2008 Proposition 8 went into effect.
In 2009, the Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8 in Strauss v. Horton but also upheld the same sex marriages that were performed between June 16 to November 5.
In 2010, however in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, resulted in a 2010 victory for same-sex couples, by declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional, but further marriages for same-sex couples remain on hold pending appeal.
In 2011, the State Legislature passed the FAIR Education Act, which makes California the first state in the Union to enforce the teaching of LGBT history and social sciences in the public school curriculum and prohibits educational discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
In February 2012 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Perry v. Schwarzenegger. And the Supreme Court subsequently decided to hear the case and is expected to reach a decision by June 2013.
- Biennial Report of the Attorney General of the State of California 1900-1902, (Sacramento:A.J. Johnston, 1902), pages 73-88. This appears to be the only volume of such reports that contains the detailed information from each county as to prosecutions. In addition to the 10 San Francisco prosecutions, there were four from neighboring Alameda County and two from neighboring Marin County. The others were Amador County (1), Riverside County (1) and San Bernardino County (2). The three attempt prosecutions were one in Fresno County and two in San Joaquin County.
- 56 Cal.Dec. 247, decided Aug. 29, 1918.
- "People v. Goldstein [146 Cal. App. 2d 268]". Justia.com. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
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