Echoes of 2009

Well here we find ourselves…on the final day of 2009.  And as I sit back and look at the past 12-months, all I can say is that it has been quite a year indeed.  It has had its ups and downs and even its turn-arounds.   Yes, 2009 definitely marked a major turning point in the LGBT-movement here in the United States and even in other parts of the world.  And we also had to cope with high unemployment and even a major economic recession but we still managed to push our way through it and come out the other side of it better than we had entered the year.

We were all surprised early on in the year when Iowa legalized same-sex marriage.  This was followed by Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire.   It was quite an exciting few months.  News was just flying all around.  Even New York tried to get into the game, but state politics got in the way there.  New Jersey was trying to get into the mix, but election night hampered that though they did still try before the legislative session ended.  Washington state passed the “everything but marriage” legislation.  It ended up going to the voters, and they narrowly approved it.  Several places throughout the country also added sexual orientation and gender identity to anti-discrimination laws.  We can’t forget that the Matthew Sheppard Hate Crimes Act was also passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, which included both sexual orientation and gender identity.  The Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) is making its way through Congress…as is legislation for LGBT immigration reform.  And we even brought light to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell…though it got pushed off until next year… with the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) taking a back seat to other things during this economic recession.  It was on election night in November that we all watched the biggest turn-around of the year as Maine, which had approved same-sex marriage through the legislative process, overturned gay marriage with a vote of the people.  It was a major set-back…but one in which we learn our lesson and continue to progress forward.  There will be another day to fight in Maine and to get back the rights that we are entitled to.  With a March on Washington, and even marches in our own communities, we made sure that our elected leaders knew how we felt and that we are citizens, and voters, too…and that we deserve equal rights with everyone else.

It wasn’t just here at home that we saw events unfolding.  Argentina began to make a big turn in LGBT rights…first by letting same-sex couples adopt and then approving same-sex marriage.  Portugal is even considering same-sex marriage at this time.  And just a week or so ago, same-sex marriage was approved in Mexico City.  Australia opted not to allow civil unions…though it wasn’t a vote of the people than it was the decision of Australian Prime Minister.  And then there was horror of 2009…. the first steps toward genocide against the LGBT community in Uganda…with Rwanda working on legislation, as well.  The Uganda bill would bring about the death penalty for someone for being gay and life imprisonment for anyone who knows and doesn’t turn the person in to authorities.  It is the dark cloud upon the horizon and one that threatens to rip the very fabric of our community apart.  It will be like the witch hunts of colonial times ending with something similar to Hitler’s Final Solution.  We have brought our community to stride on this…and are working to make sure that none of this legislation comes to pass.  And as we close 2009, the end result is still not known.

Every great movement has its set-backs, and we must not forget to learn from them so that we can make sure that they aren’t repeated down the road.  With all the ups and downs that have transpired over the past 12-months, 2009 will go down in the history books as a major turning point in the LGBT movement.  Remember this little piece….that in 1776, the year the United States declared its independence from Great Britain, General George Washington lost more battles than he won…and yet, in the end, he was the one that persevered.  So let us not concentrate on our losses but instead continue to move forward and work for a better tomorrow as one people fighting for our glorious and righteous cause.  As we begin 2010, the wind is at our backs and the stars are out to guide us.  So let us not stray from our course but sail directly toward the end, and we shall see what’s in store for us all in 2010.

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