Friday, December 31, 2010

2010...The Year In Review

2010 was quite a ride. As the horizon of a new year begins to sweep its way across the globe. I thought it would be appropriate to take a look back at everything that happened this year. never seems like that much until you begin to put it all in one place. Then the enormity of this years happenings really shines through.

 Paul the Psychic Octopus passed away before he could predict Jullian Assange and Bradly Manning who Wikileaked into infamy, while the BP oil spill just leaked...for three months. Haiti and Chili weathered intense earthquakes...while in the U.S Economy was ruled officially "out of recession" yet most Americans lost jobs and homes and generally sank deeper in debt. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ruled that Corporations can be considered as "individuals" and paved the way for unparalleled political corruption. Nuclear proliferation continued in North Korea and Iran and  all the while the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ground on.

Had enough? .....Thats not even the gay rights stuff yet. In the back and forth between success and failure that was the DADT repeal and the tragedies of gay suicide or the utter farce of the Rekers "Rentboy" scandal...2010 was an intense year for us all...lets take a look back...


This November's elections were a mixed bag of good and bad. First was the controversy of Target and Best Buy Corporations Donations to a Campaign fund that supported "pro business" candidates including very anti-gay Tom Emmer. Target apologized and promised more oversight into their campaign contribution process...then continued to do it again.

This election season also saw a concerted effort in Iowa on the part of conservative forces and the National Organization For Marriage to exact revenge on the Iowa Supreme Court Justices who ruled in favor of upholding same-sex marriage. They ultimately succeeded in unseating three of them and ushering in an era in which Judicial officials need to keep one eye one the law and the other on being fearful for their jobs.

2010 also saw a record number of LGBT candidates elected to office with some 106 candidates taking office across the nation, including candidates like David Cicilline in Congress and Texas' first openly gay mayor of Houston, Anise Parker.


Not much to fit into this category as much of what was promised, failed to materialize.Doma was a complete non-starter while the Employment Non-Discrimination Act(ENDA) failed again this year because anti-gay/trans legislators succeeded again in scaring people into thinking that including Transgendered people will mean that the workplace bathroom will become the sight predatory men using women's bathrooms for nefarious purpouses. Transphobia strikes again!

But the most entertaining(i.e. frustrating) piece of political theater to date was the Don't Ask Don't Tell compromise repeal. The benefit of of the repeal process not only being the repeal itself but what it illuminated in Washington. DADT became the example of the road all pro gay legislation has to walk to eventually become law. It had its heroes in the acts of GetEqual and those who chained themselves to the white house fence. It had its villains in the form of John (Darth) McCain who's main job seemed to be official mouthpiece and goal post mover of the anti-repeal team. We also saw tragedy and comedy in the outrageously offensive and condescending Study done to poll troops on their opinions about their gay fellows. And when that study ultimately landed in our favor?... John McCain wanted a second study.

Even our Allies seemed to be more "frenemies" than "fierce advocates". The president put very little effort into lobbying the repeal and communiqueswere leaked from the white house urging lawmakers not to force this to a vote. Messages were mixed with impugnity. One White house official would deem the repeal a "no-brainer" and "inevitable" while another congressman would claim with 100% certainty that it would never happen. No one knew who to trust, let alone what the hell was going on in the White House. Democrats attempted to attach the repeal effort to a bill they believed would never fail, the Defense Authorization Act...a bill that funds the U.S. military. Republicans scoffed and for the first time in 62 years sunk the Defense bill rather than pass it with DADT attached...much due to the filibustering efforts of John McCain. At that point we all thought the repeal effort was dead.

 It was finally with great shock that DADT passed in a last minute stand alone bill drafted by many of the senators who opposed it when it was being forced for a vote attached to the Defense Authorization Bill.  It first passed the cloture vote, preventing McCains filibustering, then the actual vote to adopt the measure all in the same day and the same week it failed the previous vote. Don't Ask Don't Tell was finally dead. Shock and awe filled the land which eventually gave way to celebration as President Obama signed the bill into law and restored the dignity of gay and lesbian service members nation wide. Epic Win!

The Courts:
2010 was a litigious year with the courts putting tremendous pressure on law makers. Three court cases wound their way up the judicial ladder challenging the Defense of Marriage Act. First, in Maine Federal Judge Joseph Tauro ruled in two separate cases that DOMA was unconstitutional. This was the first blow to Doma and a ruling which the Obama administration's Department of Justice has chosen to appose on appeal. Thanks fierce advocates!

Next was Judge Vaughn Walkers hearing of Perry v. know...that one the Supreme Court wouldn't allow to be televised so we had to follow via live blog? The one in which Ted Olsen and David Boies brilliantly decimated the arguments of Prop 8's ill prepared proponents? ...yes, that one. Judge Walker's findings that Prop 8 was, in fact, unconstitutional caused fundies heads to explode and elicited a round of allegations that Judge Walkers Sexuality was to blame for his ruling. None of those Allegations have yet to damage that ruling one whit. We also recently watched the(televised) Ninth Circuit court of Appeals hearing to determine who has standing to defend Prop and the Appeal of Judge Walkers previous ruling....stay tuned to that one true believers! This promises to be 2011's show to watch!

DADT also suffered a hail of lawsuits from all sides...including those from the Law Cabin republicans(which won its first round) Also, Lesbian Air Force Major Margaret Witt won reinstatement into service after being discharged under DADT and Air Force Major Mike Almy,  Air Force Staff Sgt. Anthony Loverde, and Navy Petty Officer Second Class Jason Knight, along with the Serviceman's Legal Defense Network(SLDN) filed yet another case challenging the policy. All of these cases remaining active until the repeal is fully certified and the discharged soldiers named in the suits reinstated.

Bullying and suicide:
The role call of young gay people who took their own lives this year due to bullying is staggering and heart breaking. Even though all of us have been aware of bullying and the fact that gay teens have a higher ratio of suicide, it still came as a shock each time a new name was announced. Justin Aaberg, Tyler Clementi, and Seth Walsh were just a handful of the many we lost this year. Their  loss helped launch "safe schools" campaigns across the nation as well as Dan Savages,  "It Gets Better" Project which featured videos of encouragement from LGBT people who survived bullying  as well as prominent celebrities and politicians offering practical advice and encouragement to help curb the spate of suicides. What began small as just everyday people sharing their stories grew to mammoth proportions with videos offered by many straight celebrities as well as the President and members of his administration.

 Left to right: Nerdy Apple Bottoms "Boo", Katie the Star Wars Girl, and Dyson KiloDavis

Also this year with the tale of so much death and loss and the attention it brought to bullying, were the stories of awesome parents who supported and encouraged their kids in the face of an intolerant and insecure society. Sara blogged about her son's Halloween costume choice in her blog "Nerdy Apple Bottom" after she and her son received a healthy dose of scorn from other preschool mom's because she honored her son Boo's request to dress up as Daphne(from Scooby Doo). Sara's response was to tell the other moms to back the hell off and to stand proudly by her son. Also this year was Katie the Star Wars girl, who was harassed at school because she was a girl who loves all things Star Wars. Katie also had an awesome and supportive mom who happens to blog and took her story to the Internet where Katie received an overwhelming outpouring  of love from other fans and Lucasfilm sources. Finally we read about Dyson Kilodavis, who loves to wear dresses and all things pink and sparkly. He also received the complete support and acceptance of his family. His mother Cheryl even wrote a book by the name of "My Princess Boy" to help educate kids about those like her son...a book which brought Cheryl a lot of controversy. However, despite the backlash all these parents received, they all went down in my book as the heroes of 2010.

Some came out with courage, others slinked out, some got pulled out against their will but say what you will, 2010 had some spectacular outings.

Of those who came out with style are my two favorites...Ricky Martin and Pastor James Swilley. It is a scientifically proven fact that there is no way for Ricky Martin not to be hot...its just impossible. And though we all knew or suspected he was gay from the Barbara Walters interview and from what he wouldn't in no way lessened the little whoop of joy we all let out when he confirmed it. Coming out has done nothing to diminish his ability to melt hearts and knees in either gender with his raw sexiness.

One man who came out with courage was Pastor James Swilley of Georgia's "Church In The Now. Swilley came out to his entire congregation in an act of singular courage and integrity in response to the wave of gay suicides. There was no sex extortion...just one man laying everything he had worked for on the line because of his conscience. It was a truly shining moment. On the flip side of the integrity coin, was the coming out of former Republican National Committee leader Ken Mehlman. Mehlman, who had helped craft George Bush Jr.'s homophobic Presidential campaign publicly announced his sexuality and promised to throw all his effort behind marriage equality.....the only problem is, he continues to support anti-gay republicans to this day.

Again proving that the loudest voices against gays are usually gay themselves, two of the most sensational stories to come out of  2010 were the "Bishop" Eddie Long scandal and the George Allen Rekers "Rentboy" Scandal. Bishop Long, is  pastor of Atlanta Georgia's "New Birth Baptist Church" and has sponsored many programs attempting to "cure" people of homosexuality. He has also spoken out against marriage equality and in support of constitutional bans on gay marriage. Unfortunately, Bishop Long was also accused of Luring teenage boys into sex acts with him by showering them with gifts and oversees trips paid for by his church....all of these allegations continue to be denied by Bishop Long and the lawsuits are still pending. Needless to say, his credibility as an anti-gay voice has been seriously compromised

But by far...the most talked about outing has to be that of George Alan Rekers and the male prostitutes he hired ostensibly to "lift his luggage". Rekers was a Creator and backer of several anti-gay bills and a cofounder of the National Association for Research and Therapy for Homosexuality(NARTH)....another ex-gay program with claims of "curing" homosexuality. NARTH and Rekers were allied with groups like NOM and the Family Research Council among others, who then  immediately abandoned him to the wolves once his story came to light.

For Rekers case...he still denies that he hired Jo-Vanni Roman for sex but only as a travel assistant and for help lifting heavy objects...even though Rekers was photographed lifting his own luggage while his escort stood by. In addition to the fact that the Rentboy site which Rekers used to hire Jo-Vanni Roman makes you agree to the sites content before entering. In addition, once his escort became aware of Rekers background he spilled the beans about what Rekers really required of him, including nude massages and somthing dubbed "The long stroke" assistant indeed...The outing of George Allen Rekers, while not a killing blow to ex-gay groups, never the less severely damaged their credibility as well as the credibility of those organizations that had previously aligned with Rekers and NARTH.

This year saw a few conservative voices speak out for marriage equality and against DADT like those of Cindy and Meghan McCain who came out against Husband and Father John McCain to support gay rights as an issue beyond any partisan lines. There seemed to be some obvious stress on the the McCain family from this because Cindy later backtracked her stance and was then not heard from again...while daughter Meghan politely and with love told her dad where to stick it. Laura Bush also came out in support of gay marriage with the "many of my best friends are gay" approach. While many people wondered why she didn't say anything when her husband was pushing constitutional bans...others were still glad to see another influential conservative voice make the GOP think twice about their stance to gay rights. You be the judge.

John (aka Darth) McCain became the villain of the year and joined the ranks of those on the far far away wingnut right to appose the DADT repeal at every turn. As he set conditions upon which he claimed he would support a repeal, those conditions would be met and he would set new conditions..again and again. first the support of the military Chiefs of Staff...then a study...then congressional support...then a new study. Finally we all got that he just meant ..."no way, no how, not ever". This caused many to lament that the legacy he will be remembered for will be for supporting discrimination and opposing civil rights and fair treatment of gay Americans.

On the "Frenemies" list was the most of the Obama Administration and Gay Inc. Whether it was President Obama himself, The DoJ, the house, or Harry Reid. Democrats came under fire as doing nothing...or deliberately scuttling gay legislation. From their lackluster support for ENDA ending in its defending DOMA against all of its court claims not to take on "controversial bills"...and ultimately dropping the ball on the DADT repeal...Democrats looked less like "fierce advocates" than "farce" ones. Aided and abetted by Joe Solmonese and the Human Rights Campaign it began to look like those who claimed to be our allies and our voices in Washington were completely deaf to our pleas....Now that DADT is repealed. Everyone is taking the opportunity to pat themselves on the back for a job well done when it wasn't their behind chained to the white house fence. Thanks to GetEqual, Dan Choi and the blogging community for keeping up the pressure.


Pop Culture:
And speaking of keeping up the pressure...who would have expected to find our most vocal support coming from Lady GaGa? she spoke at rallies...even gave a few of her own. Appeared at awards events with discharged military personnel at her side...and personally challenged Harry Reid to end Don't Ask Don't Tell, prompting Reid to text her after the vote that he had kept his promise....That is the power of  one voice that passionately follows its convictions. I believe she helped move a mountain....Now if I can stop thinking of meat dresses and just get that song out of my head...(Gaga oh la la...)

Do I even want to go into the popularity of Modern Family?...nah..I live that...


Pope Culture:
Of all the hilarious moments of 2010 was the report of a male prostitution ring being run right out of the Vatican. One of the Popes ceremonial ushers was arrested after being wiretapped pimping out members of the Vatican's Giulia Choir..mostly other African men who had come to the Vatican to study for the Priesthood. The entire affair made all the more ridiculous by the Pope's later statement that Prostitutes are exempt from the catholic ban on condom use because of the threat of HIV transmission.

To distract the world from the fiasco at home, he turned attention to the fiasco abroad. As the Church continued to be rocked by endless allegations of pedophilia and child abuse, His Eminence attempted to shift blame claiming that the entire thing was not the fault of the church that allowed the abuses to continue and the abusers to maintain their positions....but the fact that the abusers themselves must have been awful, sinful gays infiltrating the priesthood....Yeah....that one didn't work on anyone else either....He also spoke out against gay marriage as one of the"most insidious and dangerous" threats to the world today. Meanwhile..the lawsuits continue to pour in.


Gay Genocide In Africa:
Who can forget the "Kill The Gays Bill" of Uganda? one I hope, because even though we thought this thing was dead, it appears to be very much alive. Even though one of the bills founders, Martin Sempa, is being sued for making false "allegations of homosexuality" against another preacher..the wave of anti-gay hatred continues. They just keep moving punctuation marks around and reintroducing the bill again and again. Thanks to the encouragement of American Evangelicals, Uganda has become THE place to go to practice genocide against gays and lesbians. Were that it was limited only to Uganda ....sadly the reach of American Evangelical groups involves many African nations making life for African LGBT's touch and go still today. I recommend keeping up on the blog Gay Uganda to keep abreast

Small Victories:

 Not so small!!...Congrats to D.C. and New Hampshire for winning the right to marry! Every state that enjoys marriage equality helps the rest of us still fighting for it. Hopefully California will be soon to follow. Congrats also to Ireland who recently won civil partnerships...and Australia who may be getting close to adopting full marriage equality if their momentum continues.

Strides were also made this year in the realm of HIV/AIDS research with the discovery that the medication Truvada, a pill that when taken everyday cuts down HIV transmission by (approx.) 44%. There is also hope in the form of the "Berlin Patient"..Timothy Brown, an American living in Germany who was treated with a stem-cell transplant from the bone marrow of an "HIV resistant" patient. The treatment appears to have completely eradicated HIV from Mr. Browns body..though it is rightly pointed out that this may by a temporary remission and that one mans remission does not mean a cure for everyone else. However, both of these discoveries may herald further advances and are cause for hope.


Well...that was our year in review. Can you believe that much stuff happened in one year? In our personal lives, Jay and myself fostered our 3 nieces and nephews for nine months out of the year. Jay turned 40, and Selena began her first year of school. We also hosted a handful of YouTubers for the "Big Gay Camping Trip". Wow....this has been a very full year.

If you made it through this year with all your marbles...congrats. Let me know if you see mine. Lets send out our wishes that 2011 bring more things to celebrate and more reasons to come together. From all all of us here at the Leffew house...we raise a glass in toast to the new year and hope that for all of you the new year will be happy and bright and that 2011 will be an awesome year.

Until next time dear readers....

1 comment:

  1. Pure class.You ve summed up the year beautifully.Lets hope we reach marriage equality very soon.
    Wishes from Australia,