Congress may have averted the fiscal cliff but I doubt they can curb the fall of anti-LGBT legislation. In 2012 we saw monumental achievements in equality. The momentum is still growing and I do not expect it to slow in 2013. Instead, we may see a Supreme Court rule DOMA unconstitutional. Such a decision would have countless and far-reaching positive consequences; I call this potential roll out of rights the LGBT Equality Cliff.

The progress in 2012 was seen across the board, not just legislatively. Television shows had unprecedented growth in LGBT characters, actors and athletes came out as LGBT and allies, and musicians and Fortune 500 companies came out in support of marriage equality. There are positive shifts everywhere. The way that Americans think about the LGBT community is changing. Here are some of the many, many, achievements of 2012.

State Marriage

  • Maine, Maryland and Washington legalize gay-marriage
  • Rhode Island begins recognizing marriages from other states
  • Minnesota rejects a constitutional amendment denying marriage equality
  • New Hampshire blocks repeal of same-sex marriage
  • 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rules California’s Prop 8 is unconstitutional

DOMA

  • Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York rules DOMA unconstitutional
  • 1st Circuit Court of Appeals rules DOMA unconstitutional
  • Supreme Court agrees to hear two cases challenging constitutionality of DOMA

Elected Officials

  • Tammy Baldwin is elected as first openly lesbian or gay US Senator
  • Kyrsten Sinema is elected to House of Representatives and becomes the first openly bisexual member of Congress
  • Number of state legislatures with no openly LGBT members drops from 17 to 10
  • Michael Fitzgerald becomes 4th openly gay federal judge, the 1st outside of New York
  • Mark Takano becomes first openly gay person of color in US Congress

Military

  • Tammy Smith becomes first openly gay active duty general in American history
  • Sgt. Erwynn Umali and his partner Will Behrens become the first gay couple to marry on a military base
  • Pentagon hosts first-ever LGBT Pride event

Transgender Rights

  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services announces that US will recognize valid marriages for immigration purposes regardless of a spouse’s subsequent gender transition
  • U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rules unanimously that employment bias based on transgender status is tantamount to discrimination based on sex, which violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Massachusetts passes transgender anti-discrimination bill
  • American Psychiatric Association removes “gender identity disorder” from the DSM-5[i]

Media

  • Nordstrom’s, JC Penny, Microsoft, Amazon, General Mills, Macy’s, Starbucks, Viacom, Boeing, and Google announce support for marriage equality
  • NAACP announces support for marriage equality
  • President Obama and Vice President Biden announce support for marriage equality; so do Jay Z, Brad Pitt, Jason Mraz, Morgan Freeman, and Bruce Springstein
  • Anderson Cooper, Wade Davis, Orlando Cruz, Frank Ocean, and Sally Ride come out
  • San Francisco 49ers become the first NFL team to join the “It Gets Better” campaign
  • Keelin Godsey becomes the first openly transgender Olympic contender

Other

  • First PTA specifically for LGBT students is created in Long Island NY
  • Department of Justice publishes final regulations creating national standards directly addressing LGBT needs in an attempt to eliminate sexual abuse in America’s prisons, jails and local detention facilitates

As great as this list is, there are still 2012 achievements not listed.  I can only imagine what 2013 will bring. We’ve already had one victory this year when the American Civil Liberties Union secured severance pay for those discharged from the military under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  

What to Watch For in 2013

  • January vote on gay marriage bill expected in Illinois
  • February vote on gay marriage bill expected in Rhode Island
  • Supreme Court will review two DOMA cases in March

Happy New Year everyone!

[i] Gender Dysphoria remains in the DSM.

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