May 15 in LGBTQ History

1981: In the midst of Lesbian/Gay Awareness Week, at the University of Florida, a fraternity-circulated petition asserting, “Homosexuals need bullets-not acceptance” draws the signatures of almost fifty people. “We don’t have anything else to do,” says one of the petition’s organizers. “We’re just out here having a good time. I don’t believe in queers.”

1988: Having tied up, tortured, and robbed one gay man the night before, two Hartford, Connecticut, teenagers — Sean Burke and Marcos Perez — go out drinking and looking for someone else gay “to beat up.”  They find their victim when they meet thirty-three-year-old Richard Reihl at a downtown gay bar.  After talking with Reihl for a few minutes, they all agree to go back to his apartment where the two teenagers knock Reihl in the head with a fireplace log, bind him up with duct tape, and then, despite his begging and pleading, bludgeon him to death with blows to the head and chest.  Despite attempts by the defense to portray the two teenaged assailants as star athletes and “All-American boys” who deserve leniency and compassion, a judge sentences them to forty and thirty-five years in prison, respectively, for the killing.

2008: The California Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. By November 3rd, 2008 more than 18,000 same-sex couples have married. On November 4, California voters approve a ban on same-sex marriage called Proposition 8.

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