A remarkably short four decades ago, the Stonewall Revolt of 1969 opened the flood gates for LGBT rights. The closet, so sturdy for so long, started being swept away in a rush of pride. Still, LGBT Americans lived in a culture of "tolerance," a popular euphemism for enduring.
There have been momentous years since then — both Barney Frank's 1987 coming out and the 2003 Supreme Court ruling overturning anti-sodomy laws come to mind — but when we look back in twenty years time or ten or even five, 2012 will be remembered as quantum leap for LGBT rights in the United States of America. It's the year that equality went from being a far-off dream to becoming an inevitable, immutable and irreversible reality. Even Newt Gingrich agrees!
This was the year of equality, the year the American dream came into sharper focus and the nation crossed from begrudgingly tolerating gays, and sometimes even acknowledging their relationships, to demanding our inclusion in the greater American family. Coming out is for the large part no longer a big deal, which is a big deal in and of itself.
There have never been as many out and proud elected officials; never before has Wall Street embraced us with such force; never before have so many conservatives admitted they need to shift gears on marriage equality and embrace change. This was a year of "never before" and "never again."
AFTER THE JUMP, 150 reasons why 2012 was a year of permanence for LGBT Americans, a year that the next wave of rights began its swoop across the purple mountain majesty and above the fruited plain.
And for more of our 2012 Year in Review, be sure to read "I'm Gay: 50 Most Powerful Comings Outs of 2012" HERE.
1. IRREVERSIBLE, INCREASINGLY UNIVERSAL AMERICAN ACCEPTANCE
1. A sitting president supports marriage equality; 2. a major political party wrote full equality into its official platform; 3. again and again the public says it backs complete inclusion. 2012 was the year the LGBT movement crossed into the political mainstream.
4. ABC News and the Washington Post showed in May that 53% of Americans believe gay marriage should be legal, with 39% of those people saying they feel "strongly" about that endorsement. 5. Gallup gets "yes" on gay marriage questions so consistently that they've deemed support "the new normal," and 6. found that a steady majority of Americans — 54-56% — reject the once dominant notion that homosexuality is "morally unacceptable," up about 18 points since 2002.
7. Meanwhile, a recent poll showed growing acceptance among Catholics and straight men; 8. a NBC Latino/IBOPE Zogby survey from October showed a majority of Latino voters do, too; and 9. ESPN even found that most baseball players are all for gay and lesbians marrying their partners. And voters are also thinking about issues other than marriage: a 10. Gallup Poll from earlier this month showed that 63% of Americans describe anti-gay discrimination as a "serious problem."
And in case you forgot, 11. this was also the first year in history that a major political party wrote marriage equality into its official platform.
"We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples," the Democrats declared this summer, with the politically essential caveat, "We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference." This isn't a sign that things are changing. It's a sign that things have changed, 12. as seen in the picture above of Keesha Patterson proposing to girlfriend Rowan Ha at Democratic President Obama's re-election celebration.
13. The Republican Party, meanwhile, were adamant in their homophobia, almost desperately so. "The future of marriage affects freedom," read their official policy declaration. "We believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage." The party's presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, personalized this hate by signing a pledge to constitutionally ban marriage equality and squandered a perfect opportunity to "evolve" on LGBT rights when it was revealed he secretly funded anti-gay efforts to block same-sex marriage in California.
2. "EVERY LEVEL OF OUR GOVERNMENT"
15. President Obama's proclamation that he supports marriage equality would alone prove that 2012 was more than just a watershed year for LGBT rights. Never before has a sitting president said he respects and endorses same-sex marriages, and never again will a presidential hopeful be able to say he or she doesn't. But President Obama is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to elected and appointed officials using their position to speak truth to power.
16. Of course there was Joe Biden coming out for marriage equality before Obama, and 17. UN Ambassador Susan Rice's pro-LGBT speeches before the United Nations. And then there's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a long-time LGBT advocate who really upped her game this year.
Like the rest of us, Clinton had some fun getting in on the 'Texts from Hillary' craze, and even partied down in Cartagena, but the outgoing Secretary of State was all business when it came to defending and championing equality.
18. We knew Clinton would remain an unwavering force for equality in 2012 because she said as much as 2011 came to a close. "Gay rights are human rights," she said before the United Nations last December.
19. Then, in March of 2012, she used her strong voice to tell bullies, "take a look at your actions and the pain you cause," a criticism withering for its disdain and disgust.
20. Over the summer, Clinton wished LGBT people a happy pride and promised that history would prove the call for equality right: "History proves that the march toward equality and justice will overcome barriers of intolerance and discrimination." And 21. Clinton was on hand to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies in November, telling the crowd that even though she's departing, equality will live on at the State Department and beyond.
"It’s going to be an ongoing task for future Secretaries of State and Administrators at AID and for people at every level of our government," she said.
The Obama administration has been working to accomplish that task: in addition to nominating out men and women to federal judicial benches — recent judicial nominees 22. Judges William Thomas and 23. Nitza Quiñones Alejandro may become the first out black and Latina judges in America — 24. Obama is reportedly thinking about maybe nominating an out gay man, Fred Hochberg, currently the head of the Import-Export Bank, to take over as Commerce Secretary.
And, in a development unimaginable only a few short years ago, 25. there doesn't seem to be any right-wing plan to derail Hochberg's potential nomination. If that remains the same, and Hochberg ascends to the seat, we'll know that we're truly living in a more inclusive, more United States than ever in history.
3. MAINE, MARYLAND, MINNESOTA, WASHINGTON.
Electorates in four states – count 'em, four! – voted against hate in November 2012. While over 50% of 26. Minnesotans voted against Amendment 1, a constitutional definition of marriage as "one man, one woman," equality-minded citizens in 27. Maine, 28. Maryland and 29. Washington all gave the green light to gay nuptials, the first time in American history marriage equality has been approved by popular vote, forever changing the face of marriage in this country. (Marriages have already started in Washington, will begin on December 29th in Maine and in Maryland on the first of the new year.)
And these weren't the only ballot boxes being filled with pro-equality love. 30. Citizens in Iowa voted to retain Judge David Wiggins, despite conservative efforts to unseat him over a pro-gay ruling. (And, on a similarly political, though not directly ballot box related note, 31. New Hampshire's House voted against a bill to repeal same-sex nuptials there.)
Yes, there were some gay electoral losses this year, as in North Carolina, where a constitutional ban on equality passed, but it's becoming increasingly apparent that the right can no longer say the public at large opposes equality, and we can march with pride into the ballot box knowing a growing majority of our countrymen and women are behind us.
4. CONSERVATIVES START TO CHANGE THEIR COLORS
On a related note… As the Republican Party comes to its senses on equality — even 32. Newt Gingrich, a leading champion of DOMA in the 1990s, said he accepts the reality of gay marriage — they'll find that many of their most high-profile members are way ahead of them.
"The time has come for me, to accept gay marriage and emphasize the good that it can do," said 33. David Blankenhorn, a conservative used as an "expert" witness for anti-gay marriage forces in California's Proposition 8 case, in a June New York Times piece earlier this year. "For me, the most important is the equal dignity of homosexual love… The time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over," he said, providing a symbolic white flag for a growing corner of the conservative movement.
34. Billionaire David Koch, the conservative stalwart pictured above, told Politico, "I believe in gay marriage," while right-wing radio host 35. Glenn Beck, once one of Fox News' most vitriolic personalities, was less explicit, though far more supportive than in the past, saying earlier this month, "What we need to do, I think, as people who believe in the Constitution, is to start looking for allies who believe in the Constitution and expand our own horizon…We would have the ultimate big tent." To that end, Wall Street billionaire 36. Paul Singer started a PAC to back pro-gay marriage Republicans.
37. Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen became the first GOP congressperson to oppose DOMA, 38. Maine's Republican Party broke with the national organization to back same-sex nuptials, former 39. RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, now out and a vocal backer of equality, launched a movement to woo right wingers toward the right side of history, Project Right Side, and 40. Meghan McCain, daughter of GOP stalwart Sen. John McCain, joined the ranks of Young Conservatives for the Freedom To Marry.
41. Even Orange County, CA, one of the most conservative places in the nation, couldn't resist the pull of LGBT inclusion. After years of protesting Harvey Milk Day, the county supervisors voted to join the rest of the state and honor the slain gay rights leader.
Elsewhere among conservatives, 2012 was the year 42. Ted Olson, a reliable right wing legal footman, and his liberal counterpart, David Boies, successfully brought a case on the constitutionality of California's anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 to the steps of the Supreme Court, just one of the two cases the Court will hear next year.
The Justice's decision will forever change the LGBT movement and the nation, something unthinkable in 2003, the year the court overturned anti-sodomy laws, a victory that seemed at the time like a once-in-a-lifetime win. Even if Olson and Boies built their case and fame on the backs of grassroots LGBT activists, we're happy to have them leading the way on such a grand stage, and know they're up to the task.
If you're still not convinced the conservative movement is realizing the errors of their anti-gay ways and moving toward equality, 43. take a look at this leaked memo from respected GOP pollster Jan van Lohuizen:
Polling conducted among Republicans show that majorities of Republicans and Republican leaning voters support extending basic legal protections to gays and lesbians…Recommendation: A statement reflecting recent developments on this issue along the following lines: "People who believe in equality under the law as a fundamental principle, as I do, will agree that this principle extends to gay and lesbian couples."
The right will never be free of fringe elements, and even more mainstream groups and individuals will cling to dusty old politics — increasingly irrelevant author 44. Ann Coulter was roundly criticized when she suggested, no doubt more for press than for conviction, that parents disown their gay sons to protest National Coming Out Day, and 45. GOProud, a gay conservative group, found itself grasping for straws after consistently calling marriage a political "distraction" — but 2012 made clear that more and more right-wingers are shifting gears, tossing out ideas that up until 2008 worked well for them, and charting a new course toward equality, and there's no turning back.
Just ask 46. Chuck Hagel: the former senator recently had to apologize comments he made in 1998 about Ambassador James Hormel being "aggressively gay." "My comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive," said Hagel in an effort to clear the way for a potential Defense Secretary nomination. A former Republican senator apologizing to an openly gay man? How far we've come.
5. THE DIGITAL FRONTIER: CONQUERED
LGBT rights and the Internet have always had a close relationship, but 2012 made clear that equality is of the utmost importance to the men and women behind the world's technology, and they're spreading their message to all four corners.
First, Google. Always at the forefront of progressive battles here at home – 47. their employees recorded a pro-marriage equality video earlier this year – the tech giant Google took its show of support on the road by 48. launching an international "Legalize Love" campaign in Poland and Singapore with sights on expanding into all the countries where it has offices. "We want our employees who are gay or lesbian or transgender to have the same experience outside the office as they do in the office," said Google diversity chief Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe at the company's LGBT summit in London this summer.
For those keeping track, Google has over 40 offices all over the world, including Russia, Senegal and the United Arab Emirates, each of which has culturally specific laws and edicts against homosexuality and or LGBT activism.
Meanwhile, over at Microsoft, 49. Bill and Melinda Gates donated a total of $600,000 to the successful marriage equality fight in Washington, while 50. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife gave almost five times that: $2.5 million.
And 51. Apple is helmed by a quietly gay man, Tim Cook, who this year stepped out of late founder Steve Jobs' shadow to maintain Apple's place at the top of the world's corporate food chain, and its 100% ranking on HRC's growing corporate equality index sweetens the deal. As if that's not enough, Apple added same-sex couples into their emoticon family.
But don't think these giants have trampled the grassroots. 52. Dan Savage and Terry Miller's It Gets Better project, launched in 2010, continued to attract new participants. 53. The San Francisco 49ers became the latest sports team to record a video testimony. The 54. San Francisco, 55. Portland, 56. Austin and 57. New York City Police Departments all shot footage. 58. Harvard Business School and 59. NYU Athletics joined the chorus, and so did 60. Canada's Royal Mounted Police and even out 61. Air Force service members in Afghanistan.
It Gets Better got so huge that there was even a parody, "It Gets Bigger." You'd be hard pressed to find another campaign of any sort that is still preventing suicides, helping adults address their own hard times and bring together such a diverse group of allies.
And as social media and internet forums become more integral to our public discourse — 62. Pew found that reliance on Internet-based election news grew faster than any other media — LGBT groups like 63. Human Rights Campaign, 64. GLAAD, which enlisted, among others, the White House and Wall Street to join its online-based anti-bullying Spirit Day and 65. state-based marriage groups are finding that they can get out the vote by starting online.
"You couldn't have done this five years ago," said Seth Bannon, founder of the online organizing site Amicus, which HRC uses. "Bits and pieces of it weren't possible even a few months ago."
What was once a digital dream, fantasized about in chat rooms on AOL, is becoming reality, and there's no shutting it down.
6. BIG MONEY
While Jeff Bezos', the Gates' and other high-profile, high-digit donations made huge headlines for their hefty donations, marriage equality movements were mostly funded 66. by average Joes and Janes, and consistently outpaced their opponents. 67. Marylanders for Equality, for example, raised a conservative estimate of $5 million for their successful campaign for gay marriage; opponents at the Maryland Marriage Alliance brought in less-than-half that: $2.4 million.
The same pattern was seen elsewhere. In 68. Washington, Washington United for Marriage raked in $9 million by early October, at which point rivals Preserve Marriage Washington had only about $1 million, but by November's win they had $12.3 million, they said, and most of it came from donations $25 or less.
According to MapLight.org, those in favor of legalizing marriage equality in 69. Maine received $5.1 million in financial aid from activists and allies, including 70. $500,000 from gay Facebook founder Chris Hughes; the "no" side had a relatively paltry total of $1.7 million.
And politicians who back equality also reap the benefits: 71. President Obama saw a rapid uptick in donations after he said he believes in same-sex marriages.
Money talks, and it's walking toward equality.
7. THROWING BAD MONEY AFTER BAD
On a related note, the Catholic Church and the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage lost big this year: 72. HRC's NOM Exposed Campaign found that together, the organizations funded almost 65% of the anti-equality movements in Maryland, Minnesota, Maine and Washington. And, as we've seen, their efforts failed both financially and at the ballot box.
But don't expect them to face facts and accept the reality of equality anytime soon. Thomas Peters, NOM's cultural director, said that even though he and his peers see the changing tide, they're still optimistic.
"I think the future of the marriage movement is bright and ultimately I don’t believe history moves in one direction."
They'd be better off investing their money in a time machine, especially as the network of LGBT donors grows and finds more specific battlegrounds. One prime example from 2012: 73. LPAC, a political action committee started by wealthy lesbians to fight for LGBT and women's issues.
8. R.I.P. REPARATIVE THERAPY
So-called "ex-gay" therapy had a very bad year, even worse than the year they were glitter-bombed by gay barbarians. 74. 2012 was the year Robert Spitzer, a psychiatrist behind a flawed study claiming ex-gay therapy was effective and harmless, went back on his word, saying, "I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy."
75. 2012 was the year The LGBT Casebook hit the shelves, the first time ever counselors and mental health professionals have a concise, well-researched guide to teach them how to responsibnly care for LGBT patients, and it was also this year 76. that transgender was delisted as a "disorder" in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Meanwhile, in California, 77. lawmakers there passed a law prohibiting the use of such practices on minors. Though a judicial panel put it on hold for time being, the 78. case has inspired similar bans elsewhere, an indication that this insidious practice is on its way into the past, where it shall gather dust next to the ideas that gay people are sick, evil or otherwise perverted.
It will be as tired and impotent as Michele Bachmann's political career, which means that her husband, who still operates a clinic that practices "reparative therapy," will soon be out of a job. That's alright; something tells me Marcus Bachmann wasn't born to be "ex-gay".
9. NO LAUGHING MATTER
There was once a time not too long ago when gay people were simply a punchline on television. No longer.
79. GLAAD's annual Where We Are On TV report found more LGBT characters piped into American homes than ever before. Elsewhere in the entertainment industry, 80. hip-hop artist Frank Ocean's coming out showed that there is love and support for gay people in a hip-hop culture where homophobia is closer to being eradicated. And his announcement did nothing to hinder his success among industry insiders: 81. Ocean's been nominated for six Grammys.
Two other hip-hop artists, 82. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, are blowing up after coming out and fighting for equality: the vocally pro-marriage artists' track "Same Love" became a gay marriage anthem months before their appearance with on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. They were accompanied by the hip-hop collective The Roots.
In pop music, 83. Adam Lambert became the first out gay artist to have a number one album on Billboard's album chart. No wonder he was given the honor of covering Madonna at VH1's Divas concert special, an event he also hosted.
And speaking of 84. Madge… say what you will about the Material Girl, but she and 85. Lady Gaga both repaid their gay fans by putting equality front and center of the respective world tours, even in Russia, where the women flouted freshly passed "homosexual propaganda" laws to stand up for LGBT rights.
And it's not just the world of entertainment where LGBT people and our rights have become standard fare. Gays and lesbians are increasingly being incorporated into business growth models: 86. The New York Times recently unveiled its "Civil Behavior" page dedicated to marriage equality and other LGBT etiquette matters; 87. BuzzFeed expanded its breadth to include gay politics; and 88. Huffington Post's corporate owner, AOL, launched its Gay Voices vertical.
Three gay papers once thought to be dead and gone – the 89. Atlanta Voice, the 90. Dallas Voice and the 91. Washington Blade – came back stronger than ever, while 92. Out magazine defied the odds and celebrated 20 years on the stands.
And MSNBC, Good Morning America and other major news outlets are increasingly discussing their gay anchors' private lives on air, like 93. when GMA celebrated Sam Champion's engagement and 94. MSNBC did the same with Thomas Roberts. It's a remarkable development: powerful news organizations and networks are integrating LGBT Americans into the media narrative.
We're just here, we're just queer and we're an essential part of American culture.
10. SOLDIERS OF LOVE
The afterglow of Don't Ask, Don't Tell's end continued into 2012, which saw 95. the first same-sex civil union at a military base, a 96. same-sex proposal at a military base, another 97. military-base wedding, as well as 98. Brenda Sue Fulton and Penelope Dara Gnesin's groundbreaking marriage at West Point's historic chapel. And then there was 99. that photo of Brandon Morgan and Dalan Wells' reunion after Marine Sergeant Morgan's return home. And 100. our first openly gay Brigadier general, Tammy Smith, and there was no shortage 101. of hot, gay-friendly lip-synched videos from our men and women fighting the good fight.
Yes, these soldiers are out of the closet and there's no putting them back, though there's still plenty of people trying: failed Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan called DADT's repeal a "step in the wrong direction" and Rep. Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin is desperately attempting as his final act in Congress to allow military chaplains to turn away gay couples trying to tie the knot on the premises.
It's an unnecessary measure, and not one that's likely to pass, because as most Americans know, gays and lesbians can be good soldiers. But just in case some people are on the fence, the 102 Williams Institute found that DADT's repeal caused no harm to military cohesion, and the 103. New York Times found that honest and out soldiers are simply thriving.
The only thing anti-gay forces now have to throw at us are dubious claims that reportedly gay soldier Bradley Manning passed classified documents to Wikileaks as retribution for Don't Ask, Don't Tell, or the absolutely senseless, and largely ignored, assertion that gays had something to do with David Petraeus' spectacular fall from grace.
Nice try, guys, but that ship has sailed.
11. BOY SCOUTS, CHICK-FIL-A AND SALVATION ARMY: AXIS OF IGNORANCE
For decades the Boy Scouts of America's policy prohibiting gay or lesbian leaders has been a stubborn and seemingly permanent piece of traditional discrimination. This year, cracks began to show and the organization is finally finding itself on the defensive, from both within and outside its own ranks.
They have been shamed 104. by Zach Wahls and other pro-equality scouts, were again publicly humiliated when celebrities and politicians alike 105. rallied around Ryan Andresen, an 18-year old Scout denied Eagle status, the BSA was 106. criticized by the White House and has lost local chapters as well as funding from 107. high-profile backers Intel, the 108. Merck Foundation and 109. UPS.
Basically, it's been a bummer year for the BSA, and the century-old group has little time to make a decision: apologize for and reverse discriminatory policies or find themselves passe.
Two other sturdy international institutions from divergent genres, fast food chain 110. Chick-fil-A and 111. the Salvation Army, are also feeling the heat of our more inclusive culture. The SA is finding itself increasingly criticized for its anti-gay sentiment: 112. the UC Berkeley student government recently demanded the school give the charity the boot, and 113. Current TV's Stephanie Miller issued an apology after giving allowing a Salvation Army official to misrepresent his organization's views on air.
As for Chick-fil-A… Though conservatives claimed victory when they launched a "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" to support 114. anti-gay CEO Dan Cathy's assertion that marriage equality invites God's wrath, as well as the company's shadowy donations to homophobic causes, the reality is that right-wingers have been reduced to aligning their politics with deep-fried junk food. A perfect pairing, actually.
12. "ELLEN REPRESENTS THE VALUES OF OUR COMPANY."
2012 saw simply astounding examples of corporate love. 115. Oreo celebrated its 100th birthday as one of the most recognizable and beloved treats in the nation. It also celebrated gay pride by posting a picture of a rainbow-filled cookie with the caption "proudly support love," a quiet show of solidarity that hastily went viral on social media platforms.
116. Expedia and 117. AmTrak courted gay travelers; 118. The Gap took a stand for marriage equality with their "Be One" campaign. 119. J. Crew continued to feature same-sex couples in its catalogue and 120. HRC's annual Corporate Equality Index showed record inclusion. 121. Chevy and 122. Lexus both showed their pride, and 123. Red Hook Beer toasted its local marriage equality law in Washington State. Incredible.
But one of the biggest, and perhaps most telling, shows of love for LGBT communities came from the 110-year old department store chain 124. JC Penney.
As you may recall, One Million Moms, a numerically misleading conservative group of maybe a few thousand, boycotted the retailer after it hired out entertainer Ellen DeGeneres as its spokesperson. DeGeneres naturally spoke about it on her show, but JC Penney itself wanted to make clear where it stood. "We stand squarely behind Ellen as our spokesperson and that's a great thing," CEO Ron Johnson told CBS News. "She shares the same values that we do in our company. Our company was founded 110 years ago on the golden rule, which is about treating people fair and square, just like you would like to be treated yourself. And we think Ellen represents the values of our company and the values that we share." After a few other flair ups about Ellen, OMM finally called it quits. "We're moving on," they said.
For those looking back on the history of LGBT rights in America, 2012 will be the year pride and inclusion became an essential part of corporate responsibility, and, whether or not you agree with Mitt Romney and think corporations are people, they have considerable sway in this country, and they're swaying alongside equality.
13. SENATOR TAMMY BALDWIN AND OTHER GAY FIRSTS
As of this writing 125. Rep. Tammy Baldwin is "Senator-elect," but in a few short weeks the Wisconsin lawmaker will be sworn in as the nation's first openly gay Senatorand Wisconsin's first female Senator. And it's been a long time coming: Baldwin has been in elected office since 1993, first in the Wisconsin State Assembly and then, beginning in January of 1999, in her soon-to-be departed chair.
Baldwin's margin of victory in November wasn't huge — 51.5% over Tommy Thompson's 45.9% — but the barriers she broke were, though Baldwin remains humble, saying in her victory speech, "Now, I am well aware that I will have the honor to be Wisconsin's first woman U.S. Senator, and I am well aware that I will be the first openly gay member…but I did not run to make history. I ran to make a difference!" And she'll be doing just that on Senate committees with direct jurisdiction over key LGBT bills, including the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act.
But there were a slew of other political firsts for LGBT people across America this year. 126. Sean Patrick Maloney won his Congressional election, making him the first openly gay person to represent New York State in DC. 127. Stacie Laughton became New Hampshire's first transgender elected official when she clinched her race for a seat in that state's House of Representatives. 128. Kyrsten Sinema was elected the first bisexual Congresswoman, and she's from Arizona! 129. Texas State Rep. Mary Gonzalez is the nation's first pansexual lawmaker.
130. Reps. David Richardson and 131. Joe Saunders, both of whom won elections this year, are Florida's first openly gay elected officials. 132. Josh Boschee fulfilled his dream of becoming North Dakota's first openly gay lawmaker. 133. Mark Takano will be the first LGBT person in Congress when he's sworn in as U.S. Representative for California's 71st District.
These and other firsts are a wonderful send off for retiring Rep. Barney Frank: in 1987, Frank became the first sitting congressperson to come out of the closet. Now a majority of states have an out and proud lawmaker. And there are only more to come.
14. STRAIGHT MEN STEP INTO THE SPOTLIGHT:
Straight allies, particularly celebrities, have always been essential to the LGBT cause. Do you really think people would have started paying attention to HIV had it not been for people like Liz Taylor? No way. But 2012 brought a shift on the dynamic and force put forth by straight allies, particularly among the men folk.
Already an outspoken advocate for equality, actor 134. Brad Pitt stepped it up by again donating $100,000 to same-sex marriage fights in four states, even as his mother argued against equality. And 135. Ted Olson and David Boies, both striaght men, are leading the court fight against Proposition 8. Straight governors like 136. Minnesota's Mark Dayton cheer for LGBT rights, a notion unbelievable a few short years ago.
137. Minnesota Vikings football player Chris Kluwe (pictured) charted his own course, becoming an instant legend, when he wrote a letter to anti-gay Maryland lawmaker Emmett C. Burns that equality "won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster" after Burns criticized fellow football player 138. Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Ravens for supporting love. Kluwe reiterated that "lustful cockmonster" message in an ad for Minnesotans for Equality. 139. GQ magazine named both men "honorary gays of the year," which in and of itself speaks volumes about the men's magazine's evolution.
And then there was 140. Zach Wahls. Wahls technically hit the scene in 2011, when the then-19-year old made an impassioned speech defending his two moms before the Iowa State House, but 2012 was the year Wahls grew into his own, regularly appearing on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and David Letterman's Late Night, campaigning for President Obama's reelection effort, speaking before the Democratic National Committee and leading a growing movement of Eagle Scouts calling on the Boy Scouts of America to reverse its ban on gay and lesbian leaders.
"I'm looking forward to continuing the conversation in the months ahead," Wahls said after he gave the BSA a petition signed by 275,000 people asking the group to change its gay ways. Wahls went on, "We leave today one step closer to religious and personal freedom than when we arrived." And this ally was front and center. He's so deeply integrated into the movement that he doesn't even like to be called "straight ally;" he prefers to be seen as being born into the community. And the community is happy to have him.
15. INTERNATIONAL EXPOSURE:
141. Mexico's Supreme Court strikes down a ban on marriage equality. 142. Brazil's largest state gives green light to same-sex nuptials, making it the fourth state there to do so. 143. Denmark signs such acceptance into law; 144. French and British leaders are planning on doing the same.
The 145. Dutch Caribbean island of Saba beat them to the punch, and 146. Uruguay seems poised to do so, too. 147. London's transit authority banned a "gay cure" advertisement. And in 148. Moldova, a nation where LGBT rights are just now blooming, President Nicolae Timofti signed a law banning anti-gay discrimination. And, back in Mexico, 149. a ban on blood donations by gay and bisexual men appears to have been lifted.
These are just a few of the impressive and telling developments happening around the world. Though there are still regions and countries where homophobia runs rampant — St. Petersburg's "homosexual propaganda" law and the Ugandan government's tenacious attempts to pass a globally condemned "kill the gays" bill — 150. the international patience for institutionalized homophobia is wearing thin.
It won't be long until the rights so clearly on the horizon here in the United States are exported and accepted around the world, a development started that night in 1969 and cemented in history this year, 2012.