It’s been a helluva year for the LGBT community. Look to any media outlet across the country, and you’ll see that fervor and support for gay rights and marriage equality continues to swell. A rainbow-inspired zeitgeist.
Since last Pride, the LGBT community has seen a whirlwind of victories (with some occasional defeats mixed in… ahem, North Carolina), especially over the past six months. Here are 10 of the milestones we’ve achieved — both politically and culturally — over the past year.
Obama makes history.
In May, President Obama historically came forward in an interview with ABC News as the first sitting president to voice his support of same-sex marriage. He might have been pushed to do it a bit sooner than he liked, after his VP, Joe Biden, beat him to the punch days earlier. Still, Obama boldly stepped up in an election year, potentially putting his campaign on the line. His actions galvanized gay rights advocates and so far, he’s seen little backlash.
Marriage gains momentum.
Three more states have legalized gay marriage. New York’s state legislature passed a law legalizing same-sex nuptials around last year’s Pride celebration, and it took effect the following month, in July. Since then, earlier this year, Washington and Maryland became the seventh and eighth states, respectively, to legalize same-sex marriage (though opponents in both states have forced voter referendums on the issue in November).
DOMA faces scrutiny.
The Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman, was dealt several blows. Obama’s administration had already dropped its legal defense of the legislation in February 2011. A conservative judge declared the law unconstitutional this past February, and in May, a three-judge panel from a U.S. appeals court in Boston ruled that DOMA unfairly denies equal benefits to legally married, same-sex couples.
Proposition 8 struck down.
In February, a federal appeals court sided against California’s infamous Proposition 8, a voter-mandated law to ban same-sex marriage in the state. The judge presiding over the case said the legislation “serves no purpose, and has no effect… other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians… and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.” Earlier this month, that same appeals court went against the urgings of anti-gay activists, and said it won’t reconsider the ruling. This paves the way for the gay marriage fight to head to the Supreme Court.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repealed.
Gays and lesbians can now serve openly and proudly in the military since the repeal of the controversial Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Though Congress voted to end the Clinton-era law at the end of 2010, the repeal didn’t go into effect until last September. This June, the Pentagon hosted its first-ever gay Pride celebration.
It continues to get better.
Organized by sex columnist Dan Savage in the fall of 2010, the It Gets Better project gained even more momentum over the past year. Designed to provide LGBT youth with inspiration in the wake of a rash of suicides of bullied gay teens, the video campaign saw even more celebrities, athletes, politicians and everyday folk create videos for the cause. The Tampa Bay Rays filmed their own PSA for the project at Tropicana Field in August.
Local wave of domestic partnership registries approved.
Over the past several months, one after another, cities in the Tampa Bay area have passed laws creating local domestic partnership registries. First, Tampa passed its law in March, followed by Gulfport, St. Petersburg and Clearwater in May and June. Now the Pinellas County Commission is considering a countywide registry.
I want my LGBTV.
A Nielsen study showed that gay-friendly programming is the new norm. The study found that one in four shows features at least one, recurring LGBT character. Many teen-oriented shows, like uber-gay Glee, Degrassi, Pretty Little Liars and more, feature LGBT teens as main characters. Meanwhile, shows like Modern Family, Smash, Grey’s Anatomy and Happy Endings lead the way for more adult-oriented, LGBT-inclusive primetime shows.
Even superheroes can be gay.
LGBT comic book characters made headlines this year. The long-running Archie comics introduced a new gay character last fall. Earlier this year, an entire issue of Life with Archie was devoted to the character, military man Kevin Keller, who got married in that same release. DC Comics also reinvented one of its oldest and most popular characters, The Green Lantern, as an openly gay hero in the second issue of the Earth 2 series, released this month. And Marvel character, Northstar, who has been out since the early ’90s, celebrates his wedding in this month’s issue of The Astonishing X-Men.
St. Pete Pride observes its 10th anniversary.
And this weekend we get to celebrate!
Tiffany Razzano is editor of CLGBT, Creative Loafing’s LGBT site at cltampa.com/clgbt.