The New Millenium (2001-present)
2001 Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Arab Americans and others of Middle Eastern descent experience a backlash in the United States, as hate crimes, harassment and police profiling sharply increase. Based on rising fears over "border security," the stigma spreads to other immigrant groups. Some politicians call for building a wall between the United States and Mexico.
2001 General Colin Powell is appointed as Secretary of State, and Condoleezza Rice is appointed as National Security Adviser, the first African Americans to hold these posts.
2002 In Atkins v. Virginia, the U. S. Supreme Court rules 6-3 that executing the mentally retarded violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
2002 The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) became law in the U.S., requiring voting "systems" to be accessible for all those with disabilities, including special assistance for blind or otherwise visually impaired voters.
2004 Massachusetts becomes the first state to legalize gay marriage. Many states soon follow.
2004 May 17 Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site has its grand opening celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Brown decision. President George W. Bush is the featured speaker.
2006 In United States v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court decides that the protection of the Americans with Disabilities Act extends to persons held in a state prison and protects prison inmates from discrimination on the basis of disability by prison personnel.
2009 Barack Obama is sworn in as the first African American president of the United States.
2009 The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act becomes law in the U.S., expanding the definition of federal hate crime to include those violent crimes in which the victim is selected due to their actual or perceived disability; previously federal hate crimes were defined as only those violent crimes where the victim is selected due to their race, color, religion, or national origin.
2010 Congress votes to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. Military.
2011 The new Americans with Disabilities Act rules came into effect. These rules expanded accessibility requirements for recreational facilities. They also set standards for the use of wheelchairs and other mobility. The new rules also clearly defined "service animal" as "…any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability." This portion of the law also states that the services the service animal provides must be "directly related to the handler's disability" and dogs that provide only emotional support or crime deterrence cannot be defined as service animals.
2013 In United States v. Windsor, a provision in the Defense of Marriage Act is ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court for denying federal benefits to same-sex couples legally married.
2013 California's Proposition 8 is dismissed on procedural grounds in Hollingsworth v. Perry and same-sex marriages are allowed to resume in the state. The U.S. Supreme Court does not rule on the issue of same-sex marriage.
2013 The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act citing the out-of-date statistics and formulas used when determining which locations in the U.S. must be granted permission before making changes to voting laws in Shelby County v. Holder.
Did You Know?
The U.S. Supreme Court charged states to move with “all deliberate speed” to end segregation in public schools in 1955 in what is known as Brown II.--Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site