2009 started out with a bang on New Year's Eve last year when Kathy Griffin shared hosting duties with CNN closet-boy Anderson Cooper in Times Square. Kathy claims she thought her mic was off as they went into a break when she went off on a heckler. Yeah, right. That's why we love you Kathy. I'm hoping she tops herself this year, or maybe she'll get a room and top Andy instead.
On January 20, 2009 history was made with the inauguration of our first African-American president. The best moment of that day for me will always be Aretha's hat.
April brought us the dimwitted proponent of "opposite marriage", Miss California, USA, Carrie Prejean who rose to notoriety for speaking her mind (which explains the short answer) and taking the debate on gay marriage to new heights by sinking to the lowest depths of bigotry. It should not have surprised anyone that the latest right-wing poster child for all things pure and patriotic had made a few solo sex tapes that became
pubic public. It turns out we didn't have to give her the finger after all. She was doing a nice job of it all by herself.
In May, the California supreme court ruled that denying sane-sex couples the right to marry was unconstitutional. The national Organization for Marriage, lead by bulldog in drag, Maggie Gallagher and funded heavily by the Mormons, launched Proposition 8, a voter initiative that put civil rights up to a popular voter. Though we fought hard and long, we were out-financed by the enemies of freedom and lost at the polls. In the months between victory and defeat, 18,000 gays and lesbians, including Ellen DeGeneres and Portia DiRossi, were legally married in California. The courts decided to let those marriages stand. The legal challenges to the ruling and a new voter intitiative to overturn Prop 8 are in the works.
The crushing defeat of marriage equality in the nation's most liberal state was a call to action for the LGBT community. Activist Cleve Jones, who marched with Harvey Milk in the streets of San Francisco in the 70's and in the 80's founded the Names Project/AIDS Memorial Quilt, took up the challenge issued by activist and political consultant David Mixner and The National Equality March was born. Despite harsh criticism from old guard veterans like Barney Frank, with only five months' preparation, over 200,000 LGBT Americans converged on Washington DC on October 10, 2009 and demanded that the president that we helped elect, who promised to overturn "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the "Defense of Marriage Act", live up to his promises. We're still waiting.
Although we lost in California, we gained domestic partnership in Washington state and full marriage rights in Iowa, New Hampshire and Washington DC. 2009 was a banner year for LGBT rights. As we usher in 2010, we must dig down deep to continue the fight and keep up the pressure on Washington and our statehouses. Our time is now.