The Rainbow New Year … 2011 LGBTQ in Review

Tons of blog posts in the queersosphere about the highlights of 2011 for the LGBTQ community.

Let’s start with a list from Mara Keisling, Executive Direct of The National Center for Transgender Equality. These are 14 Reasons that Made 2011 Great for Trans People.  The list includes at least 19 municipal/state actions that protect trans people (Pennsylvania is not among the states, but we did see at least 5 PA municipalities pass T inclusive anti-discrimination ordinances. That makes a total of 26 – I believe the most in any state.)

Patrick Hamilton submitted a guest post to Bilerico explaining how the efforts of the religious right inspired him to take concrete action on multiple LGBTQ social justice issues.  Quite a review of transgressions in the name of God. Sigh.

MetroWeekly takes a stab at explaining the complicated legal unfoldings related to Prop 8 and DOMA. The essence is that the Department of Justice has deemed DOMA unconstitutional and refuses to defend it in court. This has had a ripple effect on issues from immigration to health insurance coverage. It also prompted House Republicans to hire their own attorney and reaffirm DOMA. DOMA has been found unconstitutional in 14 courtrooms setting up a hell of a framework for the eventual role of the Supreme Court.

Special Pennsylvania Note: Both Jason Altmire and Mark Critz voted “Yes” to reaffirm DOMA. My support for Altmire is gone based on that unnecessary pandering to the right.  He’s done okay in the past on LGBTQ issues, but the only reason left to support him is that Critz is an even paler representation of a Democrat. Sigh.

Here was a big surprise:

[I]n December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, a generally conservative court, sided with Vandy Beth Glenn — the trans woman, represented by Lambda Legal, who has testified before Congress about being fired from her job as an editor in the Georgia General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Counsel because she was transgender — in finding that discrimination on the basis of gender non-conformity constitutes sex-based discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause.

Pam’s House Blend hasn’t yet posted any “end of year” round-ups, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point to her ongoing coverage of the on the ground battle to pass a “marriage protection” amendment in North Carolina as a highlight of the power of social media. She’s been relentless pursuing every letter to the editor, every municipal vote, every questionable motive of the amendment supporters.  Her coverage shows the insidious nature of these amendments and adds fuel to the inevitable Supreme Court battle as I mentioned earlier.

Let us not forget Hillary Clinton’s historic speech before the UN declaring equality a human rights issue.

httpv://youtu.be/MudnsExyV78

And … our biggest victory in history … the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” … repealed by Congress in 2010, certified in July 2011 and in effect as of September 20, 2011.

On a local level, things not so good. At least from my point of view.

  • A local lesbian being held up at gunpoint sparked a furious confrontation with the police during a protest. Accounts vary, but it did open a huge can of worms about the alleged gay-bashing by police (much less the “liberal” East End.) The police are in major denial.
  • I learned that the City Firefighters and EMT unions do not offer domestic partner benefits to their members. So much for inclusivity among first responders. This also blows a major hole in the claim that Pittsburgh is “gay-friendly” IMHO.
  • Allegheny County Chief Executive (until Tuesday) Dan Onorato continued his refusal to extend domestic partner benefits to County employees. Ironically, he’s going to work for an insurance company. That’s a little scary, but I think he gets the last laugh on me.
  • Social media went wild with rumors that a local bar booted two women for kissing. A big “kiss-in” was announced. No one showed up. Nothing happened. No one was willing to talk. It was basically a stellar example of apathy and disinformation that only serves to hurt our community.
  • WPXI aired a horrifyingly biased story involving the arrest of two women for prostitution. Their butchery of trans sensitive reporting was appalling to watch.
  • The Advocate reported us (tongue in cheek) as the 5th Gayest City in America. People took it seriously even though the published ‘quantifiers’ were clearly untrue and even referenced a non-existent organization. That was actually pretty amusing. I was among those who fell for it, until I talked with The Advocate publishers.
  • Pennsylvania’s redistricting puts a lot more power in the hands of avidly anti-gay State Representative Darryl Metcalfe (Cranberry) as he manages to make Butler more influential than Erie. Not good.
  • On a bright note, more than six pieces of LGBT positive legislation have been introduced in the General Assembly ranging from Hate Crimes to Bullying.
Certainly, other things happened as well for good and for bad.  We’ll continue to take a look back as well as scan the horizon for signs of whats to come in 2012.

Have a safe and happy New Year celebration.

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