Documents trace GLAD’s fight for marriage equality

Over 30 years’ worth of records documenting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) legal history are being donated to Yale by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).

GLAD is the New England litigation organization whose precedent-setting legal victories include bringing marriage equality to Massachusetts in 2004 and Connecticut in 2008.

Covering all the major social changes and legal developments in contemporary LGBT history — from the HIV epidemic to marriage equality, from transgender rights to the “gayby boom” — GLAD’s records include correspondence, legal documents, research materials, photographs, meeting minutes, reports, publications, press releases and financial records.

The materials reveal the “backstory” to many of GLAD’s groundbreaking lawsuits — including early litigation that secured the right of a gay Rhode Island high school student to bring his boyfriend to the prom, the Supreme Court victory holding that people with HIV are protected from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the suit that led to Vermont’s historic civil union law, and the marriage equality wins in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The materials will be available in Manuscripts and Archives in Sterling Memorial Library. The Yale Library has one of the country’s most renowned research collections in LGBT history and the history of sexuality, including the records of the advocacy group Love Makes A Family; 19th-century diaries documenting same-sex intimacy; the papers of Harvey Fierstein, Gertrude Stein, Glenway Westcott, Larry Kramer, David Mixner and numerous other lesbian and gay writers, artists and activists; and one of the largest collections in the world of homosexual periodicals published before the gay liberation era of the 1970s.

“These papers will be of immense value to historians and other scholars,” says George Chauncey, professor of history and co-director of the Yale Research Initiative on the History of Sexualities. “GLAD’s litigation has played a leading role in mitigating the widespread discrimination faced by LGBT people, and their remarkable records will give scholars and the public a much better understanding of both the extent of that discrimination and the legal and political strategies that have challenged it.”

Records designated by GLAD as open to research will be available in early 2011.

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