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America's History in the Making

Global America

Theme 2

Cultural diversity and egalitarianism continue to shape American society through globalization, immigration, and an emphasis on individual rights and non-discrimination.

While political conservatism surged, an emphasis on individual rights and non-discrimination continued to shape American society. In 1990, federal legislation extended rights to Americans with disabilities, but other groups made progress during this period as well. Homosexuals received more rights in the form of company-provided healthcare benefits for partners. Vermont recognized same-sex relationships through civil unions, and Massachusetts legalized gay marriage.

After the passage of the Immigration Act of 1965, new immigrants from Asia and Latin America came to the United States and further diversified American culture. With a larger population, Latinos pushed for greater equality. The cultural influence of Latinos was evident through the increasing use of the Spanish language, the growth of Latino-owned businesses, and politics. In 1981, Henry Cisneros became the first Mexican American mayor of a major U.S. city—San Antonio.

On the census form of 2000, the emphasis on individual rights and non-discrimination intersected with immigration through a reevaluation of the notions of race and culture. In 1990, the U.S. Census form listed more than 1 mutually exclusive racial categories; in 2000, however, the census form allowed citizens to identify themselves by more than one racial classification.

Primary Sources

Artifacts

Gay Marriage in the States

Winslow Townson/Associated Press, JULIE GOODRIDGE AND HER SPOUSE HILLARY GOODRIDGE CROSS THE STREET AFTER BEING MARRIED (2004). Courtesy of AP/Wideworld.

The Bones of The Kennewick Man

Kevin P. Casey/Associated Press, DR. DOUGLAS W. OWSLEY EXPLAINS THE EXACT MODEL OF THE SKULL AND HIP FROM THE KENNEWICK MAN (2000). Courtesy of AP/Wideworld.

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