As a politics writer, I get used to writing about stories that make me angry. Very angry. Angry from the standpoint of being a progressive citizen of the United States, but also as a woman and someone who tries her best to stay attuned to the issues other minorities face. And there are, unfortunately, many of these.
Regardless, I decided to look to stories from this year (so far) that inspire, in order to celebrate this country of ours on the Fourth of July, and this weekend. We're making progress, people! (Though sometimes that means two steps forward, and one giant step back.) Ten stories that have put a smile on my face in 2013:
1. Let's start things off on a Hillary note. Hillary Clinton endorsed marriage equality. She also got a Twitter account. The former is clearly more significant on the latter, but we're certainly not complaining about having access to more of her insight and wisdom.
2. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) became the first openly LGBT person to take office in the United States Senate. “At every glass ceiling I’ve broken, I’ve hoped that that’s the message that goes out so loudly and clearly,” she said. “This is a message that we don’t have to limit our aspirations in this society anymore.” What a woman.
3. And speaking of women in Congress, Rep. Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) took office as an openly bisexual congressperson earlier this year, too. Sinema is expected to shake things up in the House and is already being hailed as the representative of a new generation of politics. In sum: She's a total badass.
4. Lastly in inaugural news, the first state matriarchy, New Hampshire, also took office in January. New Hampshire voters elected the nation's first ever all-female delegation to Washington D.C., sending Ann McLane Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter to the House, along with Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen to the Senate. Plus, they elected a female governor, Maggie Hassan. Amazing.
6. Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) succeeded (however temporarily) in her epic filibuster. Yes, Gov. Rick Perry (R) might have called another special session in order to push anti-abortion legislature through the Texas Senate, but the filibuster got a huge amount of national coverage and succeeded in creating major conversation.
8. The Violence Against Women Act passed Congress. “[VAWA's passage] is a significant achievement for women and a victory for the entire country," Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement in February. "We applaud the steadfast advocates in Congress from both parties who have championed this long-overdue reauthorization." We've gotta have the basics.
9. In a snub to Republicans senators who would have blocked her appointment to Secretary of State, President Obama appointed Susan Rice National Security advisor. He scored even more points for nominating another woman, Samantha Power, to replace Rice as American ambassador to the United Nations. Literal girl power.
10. And, obviously, who could forget the awesome Golden Globes moment when Amy Poehler got onstage after Bill Clinton introduced Lincoln and said, in complete awe, "Wow, what an exciting special guest. That was Hillary Clinton's husband!"?