Diverse social movement, largely based in the U.S., seeking equal rights and opportunities for women in their economic activities, personal lives, and politics. It is recognized as the “second wave” of the larger feminist movement. While first-wave feminism of the 19th and early 20th centuries focused on women's legal rights, such as the right to vote, the second-wave feminism of the “women's movement” peaked in the 1960s and '70s and touched on every area of women's experience—including family, sexuality, and work. A variety of U.S. women's groups, including the National Organization for Women, sought to overturn laws that enforced discrimination in matters such as contract and property rights and employment and pay. The movement also sought to broaden women's self-awareness and challenge traditional stereotypes of women as passive, dependent, or irrational. An effort in the 1970s to pass the Equal Rights Amendment failed, but its aims had been largely achieved by other means by the end of the 20th century.
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Rights or powers retained by the regional governments of a federal union under the provisions of a federal constitution. In the U.S., Switzerland, and Australia, the powers of the regional governments are those that remain after the powers of the central government have been enumerated in the constitution. The powers of both the state or regional and national levels of government are defined clearly by specific provisions of the constitutions of Canada and Germany. The concept of states' rights is closely related to that of the 18th-century European concept of state rights, which was invoked to legitimate the powers vested in sovereign national governments. In the U.S. before the mid-19th century, some Southern states claimed the right to annul an act of the federal government within their boundaries (see nullification), as well as the right to secede from the Union. The constitutional question was resolved against the South by the North's victory in the American Civil War. In the civil rights era, states' rights were invoked by opponents of federal efforts to enforce racial integration in public schools. The federal government can influence state policy even in areas that are constitutionally the purview of the states (e.g., education, local road construction) through withholding funds from states that fail to comply with its wishes. In the late 20th century the term came to be applied more broadly to a variety of efforts aimed at reducing the powers of national governments.
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U.S. policy that allowed the first settlers, or squatters, on public land to buy the land they had improved. Since improved land, coveted by speculators, was often priced too high for squatters to buy at auction, temporary preemptive laws allowed them to acquire it without bidding. The Pre-Emption Act (1841) gave squatters the right to buy 160 acres at $1.25 per acre before the land was auctioned. The Homestead Act (1862) made preemption an accepted part of U.S. land policy. Seealso Homestead Movement.
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Rights that belong to an individual as a consequence of being human. The term came into wide use after World War II, replacing the earlier phrase “natural rights,” which had been associated with the Greco-Roman concept of natural law since the end of the Middle Ages. As understood today, human rights refer to a wide variety of values and capabilities reflecting the diversity of human circumstances and history. They are conceived of as universal, applying to all human beings everywhere, and as fundamental, referring to essential or basic human needs. Human rights have been classified historically in terms of the notion of three “generations” of human rights. The first generation of civil and political rights, associated with the Enlightenment and the English, American, and French revolutions, includes the rights to life and liberty and the rights to freedom of speech and worship. The second generation of economic, social, and cultural rights, associated with revolts against the predations of unregulated capitalism from the mid-19th century, includes the right to work and the right to an education. Finally, the third generation of solidarity rights, associated with the political and economic aspirations of developing and newly decolonized countries after World War II, includes the collective rights to political self-determination and economic development. Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, many treaties and agreements for the protection of human rights have been concluded through the auspices of the United Nations, and several regional systems of human rights law have been established. In the late 20th century ad hoc international criminal tribunals were convened to prosecute serious human rights violations and other crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The International Criminal Court, which came into existence in 2002, is empowered to prosecute crimes against humanity, crimes of genocide, and war crimes.
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Civil-rights movement that advocates equal rights for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals. Supporters of gay rights seek to eliminate sodomy laws barring homosexual acts between consenting adults and call for an end to discrimination against gay men and lesbians in employment, credit, lending, housing, marriage, adoption, public accommodations, and other areas of life. The first group to campaign publicly was founded in Berlin in 1897 by Magnus Hirschfeld (1868–1935) and had 25 local chapters in Europe by 1922; suppressed by the Nazis, it did not survive World War II. The first U.S. support group, the Mattachine Society, was founded in Los Angeles circa 1950; the Daughters of Bilitis, for lesbians, was founded in San Francisco in 1955. The Dutch Association for the Integration of Homosexuality COC, founded as the COC (Cultuur en Ontspannings Centrum [“Culture and Recreation Center”]) in 1946 and headquartered in Amsterdam, is a prominent European group and the oldest existing gay rights organization. Many date the expansion of the modern gay rights movement to the Stonewall rebellion in New York City in 1969, when a raid by police on a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn provoked a riot by bar patrons. “Stonewall” came to be commemorated annually by the observance of Gay and Lesbian Pride Week in cities around the world. The International Lesbian and Gay Association (founded 1978), headquartered in Brussels, lobbies for human rights and opposes discrimination against homosexuals. Although the movement is strongest in western Europe and North America, gay rights organizations exist in many countries throughout the world. Among the major issues pressed by gay rights advocates in the 1990s and into the 21st century were the passage of hate crime laws and the establishment of legal rights for homosexuals to marry, adopt children, and serve openly in the military.
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rights, primarily against being killed and being treated cruelly, that are thought to be possessed by higher nonhuman animals (e.g., chimpanzees) and many lower ones by virtue of their sentience. Respect for the welfare of animals is a precept of some ancient Eastern religions, including Jainism, which enjoins ahimsa (“noninjury”) toward all living things, and Buddhism, which forbids the needless killing of animals, especially (in India) of cows. In the West, traditional Judaism and Christianity taught that animals were created by God for human use, including as food, and many Christian thinkers argued that humans had no moral duties of any kind to animals, even the duty not to treat them cruelly, because they lacked rationality or because they were not, like Man, made in the image of God. This view prevailed until the late 18th century, when ethical philosophers such as Jeremy Bentham applied the principles of utilitarianism to infer a moral duty not to inflict needless suffering on animals. In the latter half of the 20th century, the ethical philosopher Peter Singer and others attempted to show that a duty not to harm animals follows straightforwardly from simple and widely accepted moral principles, such as “It is wrong to cause unnecessary suffering.” They also argued that there is no “morally relevant difference” between humans and animals that would justify raising animals, but not humans, for food on “factory farms” or using them in scientific experiments or for product testing (e.g., of cosmetics). An opposing view held that humans have no moral duties to animals because animals are incapable of entering into a hypothetical “moral contract” to respect the interests of other rational beings. The modern animal-rights movement was inspired in part by Singer's work. At the end of the 20th century, it had spawned a large number of groups dedicated to a variety of related causes, including protecting endangered species, protesting against painful or brutal methods of trapping and killing animals (e.g., for furs), preventing the use of animals in laboratory research, and promoting what adherents considered the health benefits and moral virtues of vegetarianism.
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In law, the rights and privileges of a person accused of a crime. In most modern legal systems these include the presumption of innocence until proved guilty, trial by jury, representation by counsel, the right to present witnesses and evidence to establish one's innocence, and the right to cross-examine one's accusers. Also important are a prohibition against an unreasonable search and seizure, the right to a speedy trial, and guarantees of freedom from double jeopardy and of the right to appeal. In the U.S. a person accused of a crime must be notified immediately of the right to secure counsel and the right to refuse to answer questions if answering might be incriminating (see
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Proposed but unratified amendment to the U.S. Constitution designed mainly to invalidate many state and federal laws that discriminated against women. Its central tenet was that sex should not be a determining factor in establishing the legal rights of individuals. It was first introduced in Congress in 1923, shortly after women obtained the right to vote. It was finally approved by the U.S. Senate 49 years later (1972) but was subsequently ratified by only 30 of the 50 state legislatures. Critics claimed it would cause women to lose privileges and protections, such as exemption from compulsory military service and economic support by their husbands. Supporters, led by the National Organization for Women, argued that discriminatory state and federal laws left many women in a state of economic dependency.
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Comprehensive U.S. law intended to end discrimination based on race, colour, religion, or national origin. It is generally considered the most important U.S. law on civil rights since Reconstruction (1865–77). It guarantees equal voting rights (Title I); prohibits segregation or discrimination in places of public accommodation (Title II); bans discrimination, including sex-based discrimination, by trade unions, schools, or employers that are involved in interstate commerce or that do business with the federal government (Title VII); calls for the desegregation of public schools (Title IV); and assures nondiscrimination in the distribution of funds under federally assisted programs (Title VI). A 1972 amendment, the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, extended Title VII coverage to employees of state and local governments and increased the authority of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which was created in 1964 to enforce Title VII provisions. The act was proposed by Pres. John F. Kennedy in 1963 and strengthened and passed into law under Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson. Seealso civil rights movement.
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(1689) British law, one of the basic instruments of the British constitution. It incorporated the provisions of the Declaration of Rights, which William III and Mary II accepted upon taking the throne. Its main purpose was to declare illegal various practices of James II, such as the royal prerogative of dispensing with the law in certain cases. The result of a long struggle between the Stuart kings and the English people and Parliament, it made the monarchy clearly conditional on the will of Parliament and provided freedom from arbitrary government. It also dealt with the succession to the throne.
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