The Iowa Supreme Court publishes, on average, a little more than 100 decisions a year. Each ruling goes online first thing Friday mornings. When Varnum v. Brien went live at 8:15 A.M. April 3, 2009, the court's website crashed when more than a million visitors tried to read the opinion. In a unanimous decision, the seven supreme court justices--five Democratic and two Republican appointees--had ruled that Iowa's ban on marriage for same-sex couples violated the equal-protection clause of the state constitution. When county clerks began issuing marriage licenses three weeks later, Iowa became the third state with legalized same-sex marriage.
Ted Olson, the lead counsel of the American Foundation for Equal Rights' lawsuit seeking to overturn Proposition 8, California's 2008 initiative amending the state's constitution to ban same-sex couples from marrying, was at the podium. State Supreme Court Justice Ming Chin asked, "If the governor and attorney general do not defend, then no one can defend it?"
After hedging and then getting some pushback from elsewhere on the bench, Olson replied, "Yes."
(Flickr/Ben Wurdmuller) A sculpture outside a bar in Rochester, New York
I wish I had come out as bisexual earlier, and I'm sometimes embarrassed that I didn't given how much less I had to lose than those in far more hostile environments; I was at a socially liberal college, and I didn't have to fear being estranged from my family. Being attracted to women meant that I could pursue romantic relationships with the gender everyone expected me to without feeling like those relationships were dishonest, but I was troubled by a growing sense that the important people in my life didn't know the whole story. Part of what kept me from doing something about it sooner was the stereotype that bisexuals were lying to themselves -- that, for men, bisexuality was just a pit stop on the way to gayville.
(Photo via Wikimedia Commons) Andrew Breitbart is well known for his role in scandals such as the resignation of Shirley Sherrod and the ACORN video controversy.
As someone who underwent ex-gay therapy for three years -- and not because I was "going undercover" as gay to fancy myself an investigative reporter -- I couldn't care less if a clinic owned by Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and her husband, Marcus, practices ex-gay therapy.
(AP Photo/Gail Burton) A couple protest outside the circuit courthouse during a hearing in a 2005 lawsuit challenging Maryland's ban on gay marriage.
In a single day last week, the number of Americans living in a state that allows gay marriage doubled. But, beside the New York vote's tangible effect on 20 million state residents, the win is also a potent symbolic victory that has reinvigorated the movement nearly two years after its last wins in New Hampshire and Washington, D.C. It's a watershed.
"New York is one of the iconic American states, so it has national and international implications," says Mark Solomon, campaign director for New York-based Freedom to Marry, the largest national organization dedicated to fighting for marriage equality. "We've heard from all over the world on how this is pushing things forward."
As lawmakers geared up for the last day of the legislative session in Albany, New York, I got married a couple of blocks from the state Legislature. My fiancée and I took wedding pictures as activists on both sides of the gay-marriage debate congregated around the Capitol. The scene made for a striking juxtaposition: Alongside the joy of our wedding stood a solemn reminder that gay and lesbian citizens of the state were still excluded from a fundamental right many other New Yorkers take for granted. That discrimination ended last Friday.
(AP Photo/Louis Lanzano) Revelers celebrate in front of the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan's West Village following the passage of a same-sex marriage bill in New York.
Same-sex marriage is legal in New York now, and it's about damn time.
For five days, the Republican-controlled Senate debated and amended the same-sex-marriage bill to include stronger exemptions for religious groups; the negotiations kept legislators in Albany past the summer-recess deadline and into the night yesterday. At around 10:30, all but one member of the Democratic caucus, state Sen. Ruben Diaz, and four Republicans joined the majority to pass the bill by 33-to-29. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the law shortly before midnight, setting off jubilant celebrations in Manhattan's gay neighborhoods.
Musical theater is as close as it comes to religion for me, so you can consider Glee's 8-to-9 Tuesday slot on Fox my "Hour of Power." Like a missionary outpost in D.C.'s cultural desert, each week a local gay bar screens the latest episode on a large projector. For that short span of time, the club music and cruising stop while patrons from their 20s to their 60s sit in reverent silence to watch the high-school travails of McKinley High's glee club.
If you ask me, any show that can hold a club queen's attention for that long deserves its title as "the gayest show on television."
Rep. Barney Frank hugs Speaker Nancy Pelosi during an enrollment ceremony for the bill to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Today, the president will sign a bill repealing "don't ask, don't tell," the 1993 law that bars gays from serving openly in the military. Given the amount of public support for allowing gay people to serve openly (over two-thirds of Americans favor repeal), it had largely become a question of when and how -- and not if -- the law would be repealed. All except the most committed opponents had abandoned arguing on the merits; they quibbled about process, timing, and implementation.
Cindy McCain, who is speaking out against the ban on gays serving openly in the military even as her husband is working to maintain it. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
'Twas the night 'fore Thanksgiving, and all through the house
The McCain clan's divided -- dad, daughter, and spouse.
Thanksgiving is going to be a little tense over at the McCains' this year, where "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) is putting a strain on the family. Sen. McCain has emerged as the lead opponent to allowing LGBT people to serve openly in the military; his daughter and wife have both publicly stated their support for the law's repeal. If this were a typical year, the McCains could, like most families, stick to the standard challenges: the difficulty of bringing children from two sets of marriages and their families to the same table; the impossibility of having every dish come out at the same time yet still be hot.
The recent spate of gay-teen suicides has triggered a nationwide response -- a national anti-bullying conference including representatives from the Education, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Interior, and Justice departments; new guidelines from the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights; and countless submissions to Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" campaign, including videos from straight, high-profile public figures like President Barack Obama.
New Jersey State Sen. Barbara Buono, left, and parent David Zimmer, who holds up a copy of a photograph with the words, "Gay Must Die" that he said his son took at Ridgewood High School (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
After a rash of suicides by gay (or perceived to be gay) teenagers made national news this fall, sex columnist Dan Savage responded with an online video, recorded with his husband, telling gay teens that "It Gets Better." Savage encouraged other gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender adults to make videos about how they struggled as teens and howtheir lives improved. "Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids?" Savage asked. "We have the ability to talk directly to them right now." Thousands of people turned on their webcams and recorded responses.
"Why do gays love Lady Gaga?" a straight friend asked me at the 2009 National Equality March, right after the pop-star diva told the crowd that the gay-rights rally was "the most important moment of [her] career."
She's a star, I said, and she's outrageous -- she wore a dress stitched from slabs of raw beef to the MTV Video Music Awards and sunglasses studded with lit cigarettes in the music video for "Telephone." Of course, Gaga has many predecessors -- from Judy Garland to Marilyn Monroe to Madonna -- and indeed, right before Gaga's appearance at the march, the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, D.C., burst into a rendition of Garland's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
Dan Choi, a former infantry soldier who was let go under "don't ask, don't tell" (AP Photo)
In yet another embarrassing court defeat for opponents of gay rights, yesterday a federal judge in California ordered the Obama administration to stop enforcing "don't ask, don't tell," the ban on openly gay service members in the military.
Lt. Dan Choi on Tuesday, June 30, 2009, after publicly announcing he is gay. (AP Photo/Pool, Gloria Wright)
Joseph Rocha spent years as an enlisted soldier working to move his way up. He wanted to enroll in the U.S. Naval Academy to be an officer in the United States Marine Corps. He volunteered for difficult assignments and earned certifications in martial arts, combat, and swimming -- all the while his fellow soldiers harassed him about his sexual orientation. They pressured him to sleep with prostitutes and, when he would not, asked him if he was a "faggot." His commanding officer openly referred to him as gay and looked the other way as Rocha was made to simulate oral sex on men and beaten on his 19th birthday. After years of relentless taunting, he finally cracked, told his superiors he was gay, and was quickly discharged.