As the Supreme Court prepares to hear gay marriage cases this week, we take a look at how the evolving depictions of gay couples in pop culture reflect the growing support for same-sex marriage.
Gay characters have shifted from the villains or deviantson programs in the '60s to fan favorites on shows such as "Modern Family." That change has been as important as political activism in getting the issue before the high court, according to gay-rights activists.
"Nobody has to elect a movie," says B. Ruby Rich, a movie critic and author of "New Queer Cinema." "Culture is what changes people's perceptions, and then you can get governmental and legal change."
1977: A 'Family' Member
Norman Lear's landmark sitcom "All in the Family" introduces the character of Edith Bunker's cousin, Liz. At Liz's funeral, Archie and Edith learn that Liz and her longtime roommate were more than just friends. Archie is outraged.
1983: Tony Awards Speech
Playwright and producer John Glines ("Torch Song Trilogy") shocks viewers by thanking his male lover on the Tony Awards telecast.
1989: Bedroom Scene
In an episode of the television series "thirtysomething," two male characters, Russell and Peter, are shown in bed together. They do not touch, but the scene generated controversy, and several advertisers pulled their commercials.
Early 1990s: Commitment
Rod Jackson, a model, and Bob Paris, a former Mr. Universe, have a commitment ceremony in a Unitarian church and appear on "The Joan Rivers Show," "Oprah" and "Donahue."
1991: 'Angels in America'
Tony Kushner's two-part play "Angels in America" premieres and goes on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for best play. In 2003, it became an award-winning miniseries on HBO.
1993: Oscar for AIDS Role
Tom Hanks wins an Academy Award for his portrayal of a gay man who has AIDS in the movie "Philadelphia."
1994: Exchanging Rings
On MTV's "The Real World: San Francisco," cast member Pedro Zamora and his boyfriend exchange rings. Zamora dies of complications related to AIDS soon after.
1994: More Television Roles
Gay couples and characters become more common on TV shows. Two male characters who run a bed-and-breakfast have a wedding ceremony on "Northern Exposure," and in an episode of "Roseanne," the title character kisses a woman.
1997: Out of the Closet on TV
Ellen DeGeneres comes outshortly before her character does so on "Ellen" -- generating widespread media coverage.
1998: Lead in a Sitcom
"Will & Grace," featuring a gay lawyer and his straight best friend, premieres. The show ran for eight seasons and won 16 Emmys.
2003: Gay Parental Rights
Dr. Kerry Weaver comes out on the NBC hit drama "E.R." and raises a son with a female firefighter. After the firefighter dies, Weaver fights the child's biological grandparents for custody. On the HBO drama "The Wire," Detective Kima Greggs, who is gay, adopts a child with her partner.
2005: Can't Quit These Cowboys
"Brokeback Mountain" is released and wins Oscars for best director, best adapted screenplay and best original score.
2009: Honor and Activism
Sean Penn wins an Academy Award for his portrayal of San Francisco politician and gay-rights activist Harvey Milk in the film "Milk."
2009: Thoroughly 'Modern'
"Modern Family," featuring a committed gay couple, debuts to critical acclaim. President Obama says it is his family's favorite TV show.
2012: Rappers' Support
Jay-Z, 50 Cent and several other top hip-hop figures talk about their support for gay marriage.