Rhode Island Affiliate, American Civil Liberties Union


Court Cases Over the Years

The Rights of Gay Men and Lesbians

For years, the Rhode Island ACLU has supported the legal rights of gay men and lesbians in a variety of contexts. Below are some of the cases in which the Affiliate has been involved over the years:

1976: Toward a Gayer Bicentennial Committee v. R.I. Bicentennial Commission

Successful court suit on behalf of a group arbitrarily denied official endorsement of a gay pride parade as a bicentennial event.

1976: Toward a Gayer Bicentennial Committee v. McQueeney

Restraining order issued by federal court on behalf of a gay group originally denied a permit to hold a parade in Providence.

1980: Santos v. Brown

Representation in federal court of person convicted of violating state sodomy law prohibiting “the abominable and detestable crime against nature.” The defendant’s conviction was reversed on other grounds.

1984: Project Vote v. DiStefano

Successful federal lawsuit on behalf of R.I. Alliance for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights and other groups denied appointment as voter registrars by state Board of Elections.

1987: Field v. Field

“Friend of the court” brief filed in state Supreme Court against Family Court custody restrictions on a mother solely because of her sexual orientation; the case was settled.

1988: In re: G.R.K.

Successful appeal of a Probate Court decision denying a person’s request to change her first name from a male to female name after undergoing a sex change operation.

1990: D’Errico v. D’Errico

Appeal on behalf of a divorced gay man barred by a Family Court order from having his two children visit with him overnight or in the presence of his male partner; the appeal was voluntarily dismissed due to an incomplete trial record.

1992: Decristo v. R.I. Commission for Human Rights

Successful federal lawsuit on behalf of a person with HIV who was barred by statute from publicizing his complaint of discrimination while it was pending before the Human Rights Commission.

1993: M.V. v. Russo and Stephenson

Favorably settled discrimination complaints on behalf of a person who had been denied dental treatment because of his HIV-status.

1994: State v. Quitevis

Defense representation of person charged with “loitering for indecent purposes” after being entrapped by police.

1997: In re: C.D.

Representation before internal police review board of a person harassed by Providence police officers on the basis of his sexual orientation.

1998: Davis v. Prignano

Lawsuit, filed with GLAD, against the Providence Police Department for failing to release arrest reports of individuals charged with “loitering for indecent purposes” at a park which was the subject of anti-gay sting operations; the records were released.

2004: Tiverton School Committee v. McCullough

Successful representation of a retired school teacher who sought to have the school district add her same-sex spouse to her health insurance plan.

2006: Doe. v. Dan's Donuts

The ACLU served as co-counsel in this lawsuit claiming that the plaintiff was fired from his food-serving job after his employer found out that he was gay and HIV-positive.

2007: Chambers v. Omiston

“Friend of the court brief” supporting the right of a same-sex couple validly married in Massachusetts to have their divorce petition considered in Family Court.

See Other Highlighted Discrimination Cases:

Return to: Recent Discrimination Cases

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