Skip to main content
Arkansas State University

Government Information: LGBTQ History in Government Documents

A short tutorial on finding state and federal information.

About this page

This page was created to supplement a presentation given at the 2016 Federal Depository Library Conference by Jesse Silva and Kelly L. Smoth.  The presentation, "We’re Here, We’re Queer, and We’re in the Public Record: Federal Government Documents on the LGBT Movement," highlighted a number of primary sources documenting the U.S. federal government's stance on issues related to the LGBT movement from the 1800s to the present day. These documents illustrate that, while our society may not be fully inclusive of LGBT people, our government is much more open than it was in the past.

This page lists documents that were discussed in the presentation, including links to those that are freely available online.

24 Hour Chat

chat loading...

Search One Search

         Search for articles, ebooks, journals, books, media and more with OneSearch:
Limit Your Results

Selected LGBTQ History Sources

2016       National Park Guide - LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History

Springate, Megan E. (Ed.). LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History. Washington, D.C.: National Park Foundation, 2016.

2016       Presidential Proclamation -- Establishment of the Stonewall National Monument. (2016, June 24).

2016       Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students. (2016, May 13).

2015       Legislative Responses to Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage Address Potential Religious Implications, CRS Legal Sidebar

Congressional Research Service. CRS-2015-AML-0417, October 29, 2015.

Summarizes The First Amendment Defense Act ("to prohibit the Federal Government from taking any discriminatory action against individuals or entities based on their religious or moral objection to same-sex marriage or extramarital sexual relationships") and the Equality Act ("to amend Federal civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation")

2015       Obergefell Et Al. v. Hodges, Director, Ohio Department of Health, Et Al., 576 U. S. 2 ___ (2015)

Fundamental right to marriage for same-sex couples

Remarks by the President on the Supreme Court Decision on Marriage Equality. (2015, June 26)

2014       EEOC lawsuits on behalf of transgendered

                U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Fact Sheet: Recent EEOC Litigation Regarding Title VII & LGBT-Related Discrimination (2016, July 8)

2013       United States v. Windsor, 570 U. S. 2 ___ (2013)

                Struck down Defense of Marriage Act

2012       Tammy Baldwin First Openly Gay Senator Elected

2011       Department of Education Youth Summit

2011       U.S. presses for LGBT human rights around the world

Memorandum on International Initiatives To Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons. (December 6, 2011.). Public Papers of the Presidents: Barack Obama (Book 2 ), p. 1524.

2010       Hearings on the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

U.S. Senate. Committee on Armed Services.The Report of the Department of Defense Working Group That Conducted a Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of Section 654 of Title 10, U.S.C., "Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces". S. Hrg. 111-899. 111th Congress, 2nd Session.

2009       Fact Sheet: Presidential Memorandum on Federal Benefits and Non-Discrimination

2009       First occurrence of "bisexual and transgender" in the Public Papers of the Presidents

Proclamation 8387 - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, 2009. (June 1, 2009.) Public Papers of the Presidents: Barack Obama.

2009       National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010

Public Law 111-84 [H.R. 2647], October 28, 2009

Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act attached

2007       Rep. Larry Craig airport scandal

U.S. Senate. Select Committee on Ethics. Public Letter of Admonition. (February 13, 2008).

2003       Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U. S. 558 (2003)

                Struck down sodomy laws

2000       Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, 530 U. S. 640 (2000)

                Held that right to free association allows organization to exclude LGBT

1999       First Presidential Proclamation of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month

Proclamation 7203 – Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, 1999.  (June 11, 1999). Public Papers of the Presidents: William J. Clinton, p. 1089.

1996       Romer v. Evans, 517 U. S. 620 (1996)

                Struck down Colorado Amendment 2 and set the stage for Lawrence v. Texas and later cases

1996       Defense of Marriage Act

Public Law 104-199 [H.R. 3396], September 21, 1996

Defined marriage as between one woman/one man and allowed states to not recognize same-sex marriages from other states

1994       First use of "transgender" in Congressional Record (Jesse Helms, NEA funding)

Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 103rd Congress, Second Session. Vol. 140 pt. 12. July 25, 1994, p. 17792.

1994       Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Employment: Legislation and Issues in the 103rd Congress

First of a series of CRS reports discussing the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

1993       Department of Defense Directive 1304.26

U. S. Department of Defense. (1993, December 21). Department of Defense Directive 1304.26.

Implements Don't Ask, Don't Tell via Section E1.2.8 - Provisions Related to Homosexual Conduct

1991       First appearance of "lesbian" in Public Papers of the Presidents

Exchange with Reporters Aboard Air Force One. (June 6, 1991). Public Papers of the Presidents: George H.W. Bush (Book 1), p. 618.

1990       Immigration Act of 1990

101 P.L. 649; 104 Stat. 4978; 1990 Enacted S. 358; 101 Enacted S. 358, November 29, 1990

Removed homosexuality as grounds for exclusion from immigration to the U.S.

1990       Census includes "Unmarried Partner" option

U. S. Census Bureau. (2013, August). Frequently Asked Questions About Same -Sex Couple Households.

1990       Americans with Disabilities Act

101 P.L. 336; 104 Stat. 327; 1990 Enacted S. 933; 101 Enacted S. 933, July 26, 1990

                Specified that the term "disabled" or "disability" shall not apply to transvestites.  

1990      In the Matter of Representative Barney Frank

U.S. House. Committee on Standards of Conduct. In the Matter of Representative Barney Frank. H. rpt. 101-610. 101st Congress, Second Session.

Frank was outed during investigation into affair with a male prostitute

1989       Rep. William Dannemeyer publishes anti-gay book, Shadow in the Land: Homosexuality in America, followed by a Congressional speech on sodomy in 1990

Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 101st Congress, Second Session. Extension of Remarks. March 1, 1990, p.E482.

1988       Surgeon General's "Understanding AIDS" Letter

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control. Understanding AIDS: A Message from the Surgeon General.

1988       Robert Mapplethorpe art exhibit opened in Philadelphia -example of the NEH culture/funding wars of the 1980s-1990s

Bauerlein, M. and Granthan, E. (Eds.). National Endowment for the Arts: A History, 1965-2008. Washington, D.C.: National Endowment for the Arts, 2009.

1987       President Reagan's first public remarks on AIDS epidemic

Remarks at the American Foundation for AIDS Research Awards Dinner, May 31, 1987. Public Papers of the Presidents: Ronald Reagan (1987, Book 1).

1986       Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U. S. 186 (1986)

                Upheld constitutionality of sodomy laws

1983       Rep. Gerry Studds becomes first openly gay member of Congress

U.S. House. Committee on Standards of Conduct. In the Matter of Representative Gerry E. Studds. H. rpt. 98-295. 98th Congress, First Session.

Studds was outed during investigation into the Congressional page scandal

1981       CDC first reports on AIDS

U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2016). A Timeline of HIV/AIDS.

1980       President Carter remarks on the ERA

Equal Rights Amendment Remarks at a White House Briefing, May 15, 1980. Public Papers of the Presidents: Jimmy Carter (1980, Book 1), p. 921.

1978       President Carter opposes California Proposition 6 (Briggs Initiative)

Sacramento, CA - Remarks at a “Get Out the Vote” Rally, Nov. 3, 1978. Public Papers of the Presidents: Jimmy Carter (1978, Book 2), p. 1949.

The failed Proposition 6 would have banned gays and lesbians from working in California's public schools.

1976       President Ford is asked about NEH funding a “homosexual conference” in San Antonio, TX, foreshadowing future NEH funding issues

Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session at a Republican Party Reception in San Antonio, April 9, 1976. Public Papers of the Presidents: Gerald R. Ford (1976, Book 2), p. 1031.

1975       "Civil Rights Amendments of 1975" introduced by Rep. Bella Abzug

1975 H.R. 166; 94 H.R. 166, introduced January 14, 1975

To prohibit discrimination on the basis of affectional or sexual preference, and for other purposes

1975       First appearance of "homosexual" in Public Papers of the Presidents

Special Message to the Congress on Crime, June 19, 1975. Public Papers of the Presidents: Gerald R. Ford (1975, Book 1).

1975       Pros and Cons of Legalizing Victimless Crimes

Congressional Research Service. CRS-1975-EPW-0055, June 10,1975.

Presents pro and con arguments for legalizing or decriminalizing certain victimless crimes, including consensual adult homosexuality

1974       Equality Act of 1974
                 U.S. House. H.R. 14752. 93rd Congress, Second Session. Introduced May 14, 1974.

To prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes

1969       Norton v. Macy, 417 F.2d 1161 (D.C. Cir. 1969)

                Held that civil servant can not be fired solely on basis of homosexuality

1967       Loving v. Virginia, 388 U. S. 1 (1967)  

                Invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage

1967       First appearance of "bisexual" in SCOTUS case

Boutilier v. INS, 387 U.S. 118 (1967)

1964       First appearance of "lesbian" in a SCOTUS case

                A Quantity of Copies of Books v. Kansas, 388 U.S. 452 (1967) (per curiam)

1961       Supreme Court denies Frank Kameny's appeal of employment termination

                Petition for Writ of Certiorari - Number 676 - Kameny v. Brucker. In Records of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1772-2007.

1958       One, Incorporated v. Olesen, 355 U. S. 371 (1958) (per curiam)

                First SCOTUS case dealing with homosexuality; held for right to free speech

1954       Investigation of Communist Activities in the State of California (part 6 not available)

U.S. House. Investigation of Communist Activities in the State of California. Part 6: Hearing Before the Committee on Un-American Activities. 83rd Congress, Second Session, April 20, 1954.

1953       Executive Order 10450--Security requirements for Government employment

18 FR 2489, 3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 936

First inclusion of “sexual perversion” as basis for removal from federal employment

1952       First appearance of "homosexual" in SCOTUS case

Sweeney v. Woodall, 344 U. S. 86 (1952)

1951       Rosenberg Espionage Case Prosecution, and Sundry Atomic Energy Matters

U.S. Congress. Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. Executive Session. Secret. JCAE document number CCLXXXVIII (Unpublished hearing), February 8, 1951.

Employment termination of Oak Ridge National Laboratory personnel director due to homosexual conduct

1950       Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in Government: Interim Report Submitted to the Committee on Expenditures in the Executive
 (Hoey Report)

U.S. Senate. S.Doc. 241. 81st Congress, 2nd Session, 1950.

1950       Employment of Moral Perverts by Government Agencies (McClellan Report)

U.S. Senate. Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments. S. rpt. 1746. 81st Congress, Second Session, 1950.

1950       Report of the Investigations of the Junior Senator of Nebraska on the Infiltration of Subversives and Moral Perverts into the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government.

U.S. Senate. Committee on Appropriations for the District of Columbia. S. print 4179. 81st Congress, Second Session, 1950.

1945       First appearance of "bisexual" in the Congressional Record

Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 79th Congress, First Session. Vol. 91 pt. 10. February 20, 1945, p. A741.

1942       First appearance of "homosexual" in federal court case

Cain v. Universal Pictures Co., Inc., 47 F. Supp. 1013 (S.D. Cal. 1942)

1927      First appearance of "lesbian" in the Congressional Record

Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 69th Congress, Second Session. Vol. 68 pt. 3. February 8, 1927, p. 3267.

1927      First appearance of "homosexual" in the Congressional Record

Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 69th Congress, Second Session. Vol. 68 pt. 2. January 19, 1927, p. 1943.

1917       Immigration Act of 1917

U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Immigration. Immigration Laws (Act of February 5, 1917): Rules of May 1, 1917. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1917.

Used to exclude homosexuals from immigration to U.S. based on their status as “persons of constitutional psychopathic inferiority”

1902      Annual Report of Bureau of Ethnology, 1902: Report of Director, and paper on Zuni Indians (The Zuni Indians: Their Mythology, Esoteric Fraternities, and Ceremonies)

Discussion of We'Wha, a Zuni man who dressed and lived as a woman in her tribe.

1893       First appearance of "homosexual" in Serial Set

U.S. Department of State. Pan-American Medical Congress. Transactions of the first Pan-American Medical Congress, held in the City of Washington, D. C., U. S. A., September 5, 6, 7, and 8, A. D. 1893.  Serial Set 3162-2 S.exdoc.36.  53rd Congress, 2nd Session.  

1889       Contributions to North American ethnology, vol. 7: Dakota-English dictionary

Native American words for "sodomy"

1880       Report on the defective, dependent, and delinquent classes of the population of the United States, as returned at the tenth census

U.S. Department of the Interior. Census Office. [Census Reports] Tenth Census, v. 21 (June 1, 1880). 1988.

Prisoners for buggery, sodomy, etc by state

1877       Report of the Joint Special Committee to Investigate Chinese Immigration

Committee to Investigate Chinese Immigration, Special. Joint. Report of the Joint Special Committee to Investigate Chinese Immigration. Serial Set 1734 S.rp.689. 44th Congress, 2nd session.

Racism and sodomy

1873       Comstock Law

17 Stat. 598

Suppression of trade in and circulation of obscene material

1848       Report of the Secretary of the Navy, communicating copies of returns of punishments in the Navy, in compliance with a resolution of the Senate. Serial Set 510

S.exdoc.69. 30th Congress, first session

Sodomy conviction and punishment in the Navy

1843       Laws passed by the Legislature of Florida. Message from the President of the United States, transmitting laws passed by the Governor and Legislative Council of

U.S. House of Representatives. Serial Set 420, Session 3, H.Doc. 72. 27th Congress, Third Session. January 19, 1843.

Sodomy and buggery laws

1830       Laws for the District of Columbia

U.S. House. Committee on the District of Columbia. Laws for the District of Columbia. Serial Set 200, H.rpt.269.  21st Congress, 1st session.

Sodomy and buggery laws