LGBT-Specific Military Service Laws in Los Angeles County, California

Learn about LGBT rights laws & military service laws in Los Angeles County including initiatives taken place over past few decades & how few veterans have managed to obtain honorable discharge status.

LGBT-Specific Military Service Laws in Los Angeles County, California

Before European settlement and colonization in the 18th century, numerous Native American groups lived in the region. Among these, many recognize a third gender role in their societies (nowadays also called two-spirit). People with a male body who behave and act like women and perform typically feminine tasks are known as yaawa among the Atsugewi, kwit or cuit among the Luiseño, Tüdayapi among the Paiute of the North, clele among the Wailaki, 'aqi among the Chumash, wergern among the Yurok and Í-wa-musp among the Yuki. Female-to-male individuals are known as Brumaiwi among the Astugewi and Musp-íwap Náip among the Yuki.

Similarly, among the Nomlaki and Klamath and Modoc peoples, respectively, Walusa and T'winiş individuals form a third gender together with men and women. In the language of the Kings River Yokuts, it is tonoo'tcim, while it is tonocim in the Palewyami language. There were no known legal or social punishments for engaging in homosexual activities in these societies. In 1909, California passed a law that provided for the possible sterilization of moral or sexual perverts.

By 1948, 19,042 people had been sterilized under the law. In 1950, the state attorney general issued the opinion that sterilizing inmates for reasons other than therapeutic reasons was likely to be unconstitutional. At the time, California had the most cases of sterilization of all states, with more cases than all states combined. In 1951, the law was amended to eliminate perversion as a reason for sterilization.

Starting in the mid-20th century, the debate surrounding the sodomy law became increasingly widespread. In 1975, a bill was introduced to repeal the state law on sodomy. In 1972 and 1974, California voters chose to amend the Bill of Rights of the State Constitution to include inalienable rights such as life and liberty, the acquisition, possession and protection of property, and the pursuit and attainment of security, happiness and privacy. In May 1975, an adult law for residents over 18 years of age was passed, restricting existing laws on sodomy or oral copulation for same-sex or opposite-sex couples to only genuinely criminal cases, and took effect the following year.

In 1985, the city of Berkeley became the first state government entity to legally recognize same-sex couples by enacting its domestic partnership policy for city and school district employees. The term domestic partnership was coined by city employee and gay rights activist Tom Brougham, and all other domestic partnership policies enacted in the state in subsequent years are modeled after Berkeley politics. During its passage, some concern was expressed that, by repealing the prohibition of same-sex marriage, SB 1306 violated the separation of powers, as the State Assembly would repeal an initiative approved by voters. However, the consensus of the Assembly Judiciary Committee was that voters cannot pass an unconstitutional and subsequently banned law, any more than the Assembly can.

In light of In Re Marriage Cases and Hollingsworth v. Perry, who collectively prohibited the application of any law that prohibited same-sex marriage, the Assembly Judiciary Committee determined that the Assembly has the capacity to repeal prohibited laws. Marriage is a personal relationship that arises from a civil contract between two people, for which the consent of both parties capable of entering into that contract is necessary. California law clarifies protections against hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, among other categories.

State law provides for improvements in penalties for a crime motivated by a victim's perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity. Support for LGBT rights and same-sex marriage has evolved significantly over recent decades. Over time several LGBT-specific voting initiatives have taken place in California. The first was Proposition 6 - The Briggs Initiative - which would have banned gays and lesbians from working in public schools.

The initiative failed despite polls initially showing broad support. In 2000s two same-sex marriage initiatives were voted on - Proposition 22 & Proposition 8 - both were successful. The new numbers shared exclusively with CBS News provide a detailed look at decades of discrimination by US military against gay & lesbian soldiers revealing more than 29000 people expelled because of their sexuality were denied honorable leave. While it's not clear why numbers from Department of Defense's Office of Legal Policy differ from those provided by its own Freedom of Information Division it's not surprising experts told CBS News.

Academics activists & legislators have struggled for years over how to count & identify these people in face of lack of clarity & transparency on part of military itself. The numbers come after 6 month CBS News investigation documented emotional & financial toll faced by LGBTQ veterans who have been denied access to all benefits such as health care VA loan programs tuition assistance & even some jobs as result of their dismissal. Investigation also found US Department of State military has made no affirmative effort to identify & review cases in which service members were found guilty of crimes & charged with criminal records because they were involved in same-sex relationships. While some military laws directly criminalized homosexual activity other laws were used as covert charges to expel gay men & women from service meaning these numbers can only reveal fraction of real number victims.

What's undisputed is how few these veterans have managed to obtain honorable discharge status according to most recent data available only 1375 people have been granted redress in form registration improvement or correction their history. In statement to CBS News earlier this year Department of Defense said it had conducted several outreach campaigns to inform all veterans who believe they have suffered mistake or injustice to request correction their military records. David Stacy vice president government affairs for LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign called numbers instructive & urged Department Defense take steps ensure all veterans receive justice they deserve.

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