Here in Washington, 2013 was bad. Even I, a persistent optimist, was deeply put off by the dysfunction.
On the other hand (and you knew some positivity was coming), something great happened in the public sphere. The dysfunction may have been fueled by small, powerful, and well-funded groups that have obstructionist representatives in the House and Senate. But our divided (as in “separation of powers,” not Red v. Blue), federalist government means the courts and people can act to make change when the leaders cannot lead. Change did happen in 2013, and much faster than many optimists would have expected.
Last year was a big one for LGBT equality. The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT equality organization in the US, posted a “Best of 2013” article on its website. It highlighted the signature achievements from last year:
*Nine more states have legalized marriage for everyone, which now means a total 17 allow everyone to marry.
*The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a blatantly anti-LGBT law, was challenged in courts. Several rulings have stated that DOMA’s definition of marriage (in Section 3) is unconstitutional.
*The Windsor Decision: The Obama Administration’s interpretation of the Windsor Decision has meant that an unprecedented number of gay couples have access to federal employee benefits.
*There are at least 30 cases challenging DOMA
*Fifty-five Senators support marriage equality.
*The Senate passed the Employment Non Descrimination Act.
*And the ascension of Pope Francis has changed the tone toward LGBTs in the largest Christian sect in the world. As he said, “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: When God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?'”