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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Rights movement in Wisconsin


The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Rights movement in Wisconsin began in 1969, after the Stonewall riots in New York City brought gay, lesbian and transgender protest to the national news and spawned local gay rights groups across the US.

The first organizations for homosexual rights formed in Wisconsin were student organizations at the Madison and Milwaukee campuses of the University of Wisconsin. During the 1970s, political and social service organizations that reached out to gay and lesbian communities were established not only in these cities, but also in college towns across Wisconsin. The 1980s saw a wealth of new social, political, campus and religious groups formed across the state. In 1982, under the leadership of Rep. David Clarenbach, Wisconsin passed the first statewide anti-discrimination law in the nation. Shortly afterwards the first AIDS cases hit Wisconsin, and political activism was directed towards the fight against the epidemic, which struck the gay community especially hard.

In the 1990s, the movement diversified further, explicitly including transgender people and offering support to high school students, as well as reaching out to elderly LGBT people. A network of political and support organizations evolved that covered large parts of the state, reaching from Door County and Green Bay to southern Wisconsin. This trend continued in the new century, when the most visible issue for the movement became the struggle for gay marriage.

After opponents succeeded in passing a constitutional amendment that banned gay marriage and civil unions in 2006, LGBT activists secured a 2009 state law creating a state Domestic Partner Registry.

See also the articles linked under "gay history in Wisconsin." View more information at the Timeline of Wisconsin LBGTQ History by Dr. Richard Wagner  and Wisconsin GLBT History Project

[Source: Timeline of Wisconsin LBGTQ History by Dr. Richard Wagner and Wisconsin GLBT History Project ]
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