What a year it’s been for the civil rights for the LGBTQ community! From marriage to access to fighting discrimination to the end of DADT, 2011 has been a big year for the fight for equality for all people. Let’s take a look at the year’s biggest stories:
Marriage Equality: This was a big year in the ongoing fight for equal rights to marry for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. With the question of California’s Prop 8, which bans gays and lesbians from marrying under the California Constitution, being tossed between courts like a hot potato, we’ve had some surprising legal wins. But in November, a key victory happened: The California Supreme Court said that Prop 8 petitioners have the right to defend their initiative, which was a question the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals asked back in January. Why is this good news? If Prop 8 backers can defend their petition, that means opponents can fight it.
Meanwhile, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was dealt a death-blow in February when the Department of Justice issued a memo saying that DOMA was unconstitutional. The Obama Administration’s response? They were not going to defend it. And there it went. With nary a Congressional election-year propaganda push, DOMA died!
In the heat of summer, New York made same-sex marriage legal! Other states with marriage rights are Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington, DC.
And in partnership-related news: The Obama Administration announced it would handle immigration deportation issues differently with same-sex couples.
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: In September, the Pentagon officially ended Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), a Clinton-era hold-over that was beyond insulting to all the LGBT service members who risk their lives (or have given their lives) for this country.
ENDA: Here in Nevada we had an important win for equality during our legislative session. Gov. Brian Sandoval signed into law an expansion of the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA), which will now include “gender identity and expression” as protected classes. This makes us the 14th state to protect transgender individuals in this way. And a bill to protect against discrimination in public accommodations passed, too!
More stuff: California Gov. Jerry Brown signs into law a bill that mandates teaching LGBT history, the first of its kind in the nation! But sadly, Congress’ senior-most, openly gay member, Rep. Barney Frank, announced his retirement this year. And just as the year is drawing to an end, the Obama Administration announces that aid to foreign countries will be dependent upon their track record on LGBT rights. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives an awe-inspiring speech at the United Nation’s Human Rights Council passionately encouraging world leaders to recognize LGBT rights as basic human rights.