This year has been a big year for LGBT rights. In fact, according to HRC, "2013 is the year of greatest accomplishments for the LGBT movement."
While there's no doubt that there have been set-backs in the gay rights movement internationally (in countries like Russia, India and Australia, among others), it's beginning to feel a lot like LGBT equality is (slowly, but surely) becoming a possibility.
Here's a recap of some of 2013's biggest advances in LGBT rights:
10. NBA player, Jason Collins, came out as gay, making him "the first active player in one of the four major American professional team sports," according to ESPN. His announcement received a lot of support from other pro-athletes, possibly making it easier for other men to come out in sports. Being gay and a professional athlete comes with its challenges, as sports writer, Mike Freeman, shared on Alicia Menendez Tonight. Another notable coming out moment this year happened around the same time, when WNBA draft pick-now player, Brittney Griner, strutted 'out of the closet' and onto everyone's Twitter timeline. And, while it may come as less of a surprise that a figure skating legend is gay (ah, stereotypes), Olympic gold metalist Brian Boitano, also came out in advance for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. (Take that, Putin!)
9. The passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) by the Senate is another victory for LGBT rights in the U.S. President Obama supports ENDA, so if it were to pass in the House, it would provide protections against workplace discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity. According to Charles Joughin, HRC Deputy Press Secretary, 91% of fortune 500 countries already have workplace non-discrimination policies. "So, when you say we need to pass ENDA at the national level, corporate American is shocking leading the way," Joughin said. "It's not just the right thing to do, but it's also good for the bottom line."
Here's a video from The Colbert Report about ENDA. (Why? Because Colbert is awesome.)
8. While Russian president, Vladimir Putin's "war on gays" has made living in the country dangerous for LGBT people within the nation, there is increasing international attention on gay rights as civil rights in Russia and beyond. And, gay rights activism is growing, particularly due to the announcement that the Winter Olympics will be held in Russian city, Sochi. Perhaps being under an international microscope will mean things will improve for Russia's LGBT people.
7. In November, President Obama 'came out' in support of same-sex marriage, saying he was proud lawmakers in his home state of Illinois legalized same-sex marriage. "As president, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law," he said in a statement. "Over time, I also came to believe that same-sex couples should be able to get married like anyone else."
In June, Obama even tweeted, "Retweet if you believe everyone should be able to marry the person they love. #LoveIsLove" along with this photograph.
6. The Advocate, one of the best known LGBT magazines, named Pope Francis their Person of the Year. Why is this an important moment? Because, as the Advocate puts it, Pope Francis leads 1.2 billion Roman Catholics all over the world and what he says makes a difference. So, when the Pope publicly said, "If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?," it symbolized the potential for greater religious acceptance of LGBT people.
5. Obama and Biden announced that they will not be attending the Olympics in Sochi, but instead, are sending out lesbian athletes, Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow. The decision makes it crystal clear where the U.S. stands on gay rights issues. There will be no representation of the president's cabinet in the U.S. delegation for the first time in 20 years.
4. Transgender character, Sophia Burset (played by Laverne Cox) from Netflix hit show "Orange Is The New Black" was named one of Time's "11 Most Influential Fictional Characters of 2013." She's one of a handful of transgender characters who have been featured on TV/film and one of the most recent. Alex Newell also won our hearts this year in his performance of character, Wade "Unique" Adams on "Glee" and sat down with Fusion's Alicia Menendez to discuss bringing transgender issues to the screen. Given the success of both shows and the popularity of these two characters, we may begin to see more transgender characters in the future.
3. The Supreme Court struck down key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), requiring the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages as they do marriages between one man and one woman. All federal benefits afforded to "traditionally" married couples will be given to same-sex couples in states that recognize their marriages. This means the possibility of citizenship for an estimated 28,500 binational same-sex couples. According to HRC, 37.7% of Americans currently live in marriage equality states.
2. Several elected officials 'came out' this year, including Maine congressman and gubernatorial candidate, Mike Michaud, Delaware state senator, Karen Peterson and Nevada state senator, Kelvin Atkinson.
Here's why 'coming out' is so important in the words of the late Harvey Milk.
1. The number of states with marriage equality doubled this year. Same-sex marriage rang in the new year in Maryland, allowing same-sex couples to marry in the state on January 1. Maryland, Delaware, California, Minnesota Rhode Island, New Jersey, Hawaii and Illinois followed suit. And then there were New Mexico and Utah(?!), which were like the Beyoncé of the equality movement. It was the state no one was really expecting because it's been untouched by the marriage movement. Here's a map that shows where same-sex marriage rights currently stand. Millennials are the largest demographic in support of equal marriage rights for all couples. And, if these future voters are any indication, the U.S. will soon recognize same-sex marriage nation-wide.