YEAR IN REVIEW

The Top Ten LGBT News Stories Of 2011 Revealed!

As 2011 coasts toward the history books, Queerty is taking a moment to look back at the big new stories of the year.  Some were monumental in their own right—like the abolishing of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the introduction of marriage equality in New York State. Others made the list because they represented larger ongoing issues you can’t simply stamp a date on.

This list isn’t in order of importance and is by no means comprehensive. Tell us what you would add—or what you want to see in 2012—in the comments section!

Click through for a roundup of 2011’s top news stories.

Image via Brian Clark/The Virginian-Pilot

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal goes into effect
September 20, 2011

After a nine-month waiting period, September marked the end of both a specific 18-year-old policy and an shameful form of discrimination that’s as old as our nation. As the official statement from the Joint Chief of Staffs read:

“Today marks the end of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’ The law is repealed. From this day forward, gay and lesbian soldiers may serve in our Army with the dignity and respect they deserve. Our rules, regulations and politics reflect the repeal guidance issued by the Department of Defense and will apply uniformly without regard to sexual orientation, which is a personal and private matter.”

To that, we say: Duh!

 

Marriage equality comes to New York
July 24, 2011

Though it became law in June, LGBT lovers had to wait a month till they could go to the chapel (or temple or courthouse) and get hitched. But just after midnight, Dale Getto and Barbara Laven became New York State’s first legally wed gay couple, followed by a stream of ceremonies around the state. We bet there was a run on rice all summer long.

 Image by Jeffrey James Keyes

 

New Jersey passes nation’s toughest anti-bullying law
September 1, 2011

In part a response to the suicide of gay Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, New Jersey passed “The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights,” the strictest law of its kind in the country. It requires principals to investigate incidents within one day of their reporting, with support from anti-bullying coordinators and a designated “safety team.” Superintendents must file biannual reports with the state capital for evaluation. As one Queerty commenter said at the time, “This is a game changer.”


Zach Wahls defends marriage equality—and his two moms—to the Iowa Legislature
February 1, 2011

There have been plenty of gay-interest viral videos this year—from cadet Randy Phillip coming out to his parents on YouTube to the gay couple finding out they’re gonna be granddads. But this impassioned plea from college student Zach Wahls debunks the asinine assumption that gays don’t make good parents. He’s smart, sharp-dressed, eloquent—heck, he’s probably even straight, not that it matters.

Wahls’ plea fell on deaf ears—Iowa lawmakers approved the bill that would let voters ban gay marriage and civil unions anyway—but his speech was the most-watched political clip on YouTube this year.

We’re getting through to someone.

 

AIDS turns 30

Its an anniversary many thought they’d never see—some because they assumed we’d have a cure for the virus by now, and others because they never imagined they’d live long enough.  AIDS is still a killer, but antiviral drugs are helping many HIV+ people live longer and healthier lives. And just this year, President Obama’s Administration introduced the first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

Image via Therese Frare

 

 

A gay soldier is booed at a GOP presidential debate
September 23, 2011

Stephen Hill, an openly gay soldier serving in Iraq, asked candidates at Fox News/Google’s GOP debate: “Do you plan to circumvent the progress that has been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?” Several audience members booed the soldier right before Rick Santorum said, “Sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military.”

While booing is hardly the worst thing Republicans have done to the LGBT community, it’s just such a perfect example of how their alleged values—patriotism, respect for tradition—are just empty words used to stir up animosity against us.

 

President Obama announces the Department of Justice will no longer defend DOMA
February 23, 2011

A full repeal of the odious Defense of Marriage Act will take some serious lifting, but President Obama takes a step in the right direction by announcing that the DOJ won’t defend the statute in court. Almost equally important, a statement by Attorney General Eric Holder reveals Obama has concluded DOMA is “unconstitutional.” We better get our wedding dress out of storage!

 

The Proposition 8 roller-coaster ride continues

Earlier this year, marriage-equality foes asked California’s District Court to vacate Judge Vaughn Walker’s overturning of Prop 8, given that he himself was light in the judicial robes. One day later, Judge James Ware denied their motion—and later denied their request to keep trial testimony tapes sealed.

Responding to a request from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the California Supreme Court did rule however that even though the state of California no longer wished to defend the amendment, pro-Prop 8 forces had standing to appeal Walker’s verdict. That clears the way for the case to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Which is potentially a good thing. )

Meanwhile, in December, the marriage-equality group Love Honor Cherish got the green-light to get signatures for a ballot initiative that would undo Prop 8 in the voting booth. So right-wingers can’t say boo about “activist judges.”

 

Chaz Bono competes on Dancing With the Stars
September 19, 2011

In most cases, the offspring of a pop diva appearing on a reality show would be cause for a bathroom break, not history in the making. But given that Chaz was the first trans person most Americans had ever seen, his mere presence was groundbreaking. It may have been stunt-casting, but producers treated him just like every other contestant. And with Cher popping up on the show and tweeting her unending support while Chaz was on the show, the nation also got to see how a loving parent treats her trans child.

 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a rousing gay-rights address to the UN
December 6, 2011

We just watched Clinton’s speech to the UN for the sixth time and damn if we didn’t get choked up again! It was the first time a cabinet member has addressed LGBT issues before an international body, and she spoke with the perfect blend of righteousness, humility and urgency. “Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.” Hillary in 2016!