ACLU Advocacy: Expanding LGBT Rights for Over 75 Years

Since coming to the defense of “The Children’s Hour,” a play that was banned in 1936 for depicting a lesbian relationship, the American Civil Liberties Union has been protecting the rights of LGBT Americans. What follows is a timeline of significant legal developments on LGBT rights in which the ACLU played a role. It is not meant to be exhaustive. There are many other ACLU-related legal developments in the last half-century or so worthy of inclusion but which were omitted either for space considerations or because our limited research capabilities did not turn them up. This timeline serves as a measure of how far we’ve come and where we need to go.

The ACLU’s role in the litigation described ranged from amicus (friend-of-the-court) to direct, sole representation. Legislative gains, on the other hand, always involved the ACLU working in coalition with sympathetic legislators and allied organizations. The ACLU LGBT & AIDS Project intends to update this timeline on an annual basis.


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