LGBT Rights In The U.S. in 2013: The Five Best and Five Worst Moments
It's been a landmark year for America's LGBT community. Perhaps most monumentally, DOMA was struck down in June, with many federal agencies following up the decision by recognizing gay marriage and implementing benefits. But the news hasn't been all good: Remember Fox News' reaction to Chelsea Manning? Liz and Mary Cheney's public fight over Mary's marriage to a woman? We've rounded up the year's five worst and five best moments for the LGBT community, so read on for the stories we want to revisit, the landmarks we'll always remember, and the intolerant moments that will hopefully soon be a bad memory.
First, the five best moments...
1. The Prop 8 and DOMA Rulings
On June 26, Prop 8 was busted and DOMA was struck down by the Supreme Court.
Thanks to this DOMA ruling, same-sex couples soon became eligible for federal benefits. As Bustle reported, striking down DOMA also had major implications for immigration:
The immediate benefit that same-sex couples are going to get depends on where they were married, and if their state recognizes those marriages. Let’s say I get married in New York, I solemnize the marriage in New York (meaning I have the ceremony here), and we live here. For federal purposes, I am now going to be able to petition for my green card, or if I am in deportation proceedings, I am going to have that form of relief discussed earlier.
2. A Heartwarming Response to Chelsea Manning
When Chelsea Manning revealed she identified as a woman and no longer wanted to be known as "Bradley," many people responded in an uplifting, accepting fashion. Wikipedia immediately updated her biography appropriately, and many supporters and media outlets instantly switched out "Bradley" for "Chelsea" in their news stories. (Of course, many people didn't get it at all, which we'll get to later.)
And the support continues: Since Manning's announcement, many people have protested the fact that Chelsea is unlikely to get hormone therapy in prison.
3. Frank Ocean, Tom Daley, and Other Celebrities Come Out
This year, many famous figures chose to come out without labeling themselves as one sexual orientation or another. Despite many news reports, Olympic diver Tom Daley didn't pigeonhole his sexuality when he simply announced he had a boyfriend. Frank Ocean basically did the same thing. Jodie Foster came out, and so did Raven Symoné. And Olympic figure skater Brian Boitano came out just this month, ahead of the Sochi Olympics.
4. The Conversation about Gender-Neutrality Has Exploded
This year, Philadelphia began requiring by law that buildings have gender-neutral bathrooms. Meanwhile, California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that would allow transgender or gender-fluid individuals K-12 to adopt the gender pronoun of their preference, and to use the bathroom or locker room they felt most comfortable with.
5. Marriage, Marriage Everywhere
Suddenly, left and right, states have begun legalizing gay marriage. Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey all jumped on the bandwagon, and, just last week, Utah and New Mexico overturned constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. The momentum is undeniable.
Now, brace yourself for the five worst moments:
1. A Very Public, Awkward Fight Between the Cheney Sisters
Liz Cheney's decision to speak on Fox News about her disapproval of Mary Cheney's marriage to a woman was heartbreaking — especially when you consider that Liz had previously expressed happiness for her sister when Mary Cheney had married her wife Heather Poe. And especially when you consider just how poorly timed the interview was; taking place right before the holidays in November. We don't want to think about how tense that Thanksgiving meal must've been. Or how awkward that upcoming Christmas meal will be.
2. Fox News' Response to Chelsea Manning
Yes, many who supported Manning before she came out as trans continued to support her following her announcement. And, yes, much of the press has honored her wish to be called "she" and "Chelsea."
But many media outlets didn't honor that wish. Some of them treated her coming out as a whimsical decision.
Fox News then made things worse by playing Aerosmith's "Dude Looks Like a Lady" and getting on everybody's nerves. Again.
3. ENDA Gets Killed (Thanks, John Boehner)
While marriage equality is, of course, a huge step for LGBT rights, it's not the only one, nor the most important. But the marriage-equality victories get far more coverage than, say, John Boehner refusing to put up ENDA for a vote in the House, even after the Senate passed the bill. ENDA would have protected LGBT individuals from workplace discrimination.
So LGBT citizens can get married in 17 states, but we still don't have a federal law preventing LGBT work discrimination — and as important as marriage equality is, having a discrimination-free work environment is one of the most basic rights a person can have.
4. Cathy Brennan Lies About Trans Teenager Harassing Other Girls
Bustle has already had its fair share of words about the incredibly frustrating Cathy Brennan. Who is she? As Bustle's own Amy McCarthy writes:
Brennan is part of a small collective of radical feminists who consider themselves to be “trans-exclusive.” As such, trans-exclusive radical feminists (often called TERFs online) do not recognize gender dysphoria as a legitimate condition that is treated by hormone therapy or gender confirmation surgery, even though most scientists disagree.
Besides the fact that Cathy Brennan's own existence was bad for trans rights this year, Brennan also posted a letter to her blog by a conservative group, Pacific Justice Institute, claiming that a trans student in Colorado was harassing girls in the locker room. Even worse than that? The letter by Pacific Justice Institute had the student's name on it.
Guess what? Turns out Pacific Justice Institute's claim was a hoax. No harassment had taken place. Cathy just let her disdain of transgender individuals (particularly transwomen) play to her confirmation bias, and used her widely read blog to spread false claims.
5. Everything Alec Baldwin Said
Alec Baldwin dropped homophobic and transphobic slurs left and right: The former 30 Rock actor called a photographer a "toxic little queen," "cocksucking fag," and "fucking little bitch." Sure, he did it out of anger, but he still said it, and he lost his MSNBC show because of it. What else is there to say?