Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013: A Year of Celebration

I have returned! Sorry I disappeared there for a couple weeks, with the holidays and all, things just became sort of a blur. OK, that also may have been the brandy egg nog…

Anyway, being that this is my last rant of the year here, I thought we’d look back at some of major victories we’ve had in the Movement in 2013.

Wedding Bells Are Ringing
Yes, the biggest news of the year has been on the front of marriage equality! In June 2013, the Supreme Court issued two decisions that turned the tide in our favor. First, they struck down Section III of the Defense of Marriage Act, finally granting Federal recognition to the marriages performed in those states which have equality. The Court didn’t strike down the whole Act, but they kicked open the floodgates a bit.

The second decision of the Court was to remand the decision of the Prop 8 case to the district court, allowing that court’s judgment to stand. The fight over marriage equality in California has been one of the longest yet and after five years, the battle is over with a victory for our side.

On the state level, things have been picking up steam as well; eight more states now have marriage equality. Utah’s has been the most surprising, coming from the state court decision Kitchen v. Herbert. In that case, the judge struck down Utah’s state constitutional amendment barring gay marriage as unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. As of now, the judge’s ruling stands. If it stands, there is no reason for other state’s constitutional amendments to hold up under judicial scrutiny.

ENDA Advances
Another long time battle has been with the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. ENDA has been introduced in every Congress since 1994. In November, it passed the Senate for the first time, advancing it to the House.

Being that the House is more conservative leaning than the Senate, the bill may stall there. But after nearly twenty years, it’s nice to finally make some serious advancement for employee protection.

California’s AB1266
California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB1266 into law earlier this year, making it the first bill in the nation to offer Trans* students protection in the state’s public school system. The bill protects students’ gender identity from discrimination in school facilities, classes, or extracurricular activities.

The opposition has tried to derail the bill, using their tried and true scare tactics, but as of this writing, their efforts have failed and the bill goes into effect in January.

New Jersey Bans “Pray Away the Gay”
Following California’s lead last year, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law banning conversion therapy (“Pray Away the Gay”) for minors. Most of us in the Community have either experienced such “therapy” ourselves or have at least read the stories of our brothers and sisters who went through it. The “therapy” is pure junk science with no basis in reality or even success rates. Now Gov. Christie has offered our young brothers and sisters’ protection from this form of psychological brutality.

Hopefully more states will follow soon.

It has been an incredible year for us in the area of equality, we have scored several major victories and the opposition is on the run (NOM, the National Organization for Marriage, reported major deficits in fundraising this year).

Let’s take the momentum and keep running. Maybe in 2014, we will reach that final mountaintop and finally be equal citizens.

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