What a year for the LGBT community. There were times where everything looked bleak and hopeless and then suddenly times of great triumph. On any given day you didn't know what was going to unfold in our struggle for equal rights. Grassroots activism achieved a new energy in this turbulent year and many new faces and names joined the roster of heroes and heroines of the movement. The courts surprisingly became a place of hope and the President and Congress at the very last minute (literally!) achieved a Christmas miracle.
So here are some my highlights for the past year of the people we should celebrate, those who should go into the Hall of Shame and events and times we should never forget.
Persons of the Year: David Bois and Ted Olson
These two remarkable lawyers represented all that was good with this year. From two totally opposite ideological homes, they came together to fight for full equality in the courts by taking on the Proposition 8 case. In the process, they took a political movement and made it a civil rights moment for millions of straight Americans. Their poise, brilliance and gentleness were an inspiration for us all..
Gay Man of the Year: Chad Griffin
Working with Rob and Michelle Reiner, Chad Griffin took the concept of bringing together Ted Olson and David Bois and going to court to repeal Proposition 8 and made it a reality. He quietly and with great perseverance overcame many obstacles and raised millions for this historic case. In the beginning, even dozens of the most prominent national organizations and leaders urged him to drop the endeavor. Who among us will ever forget the day that decision came down from Judge Vaughn Walker's court.
Lesbian of the Year: Robin McGehee
Robin became the poster child of the new activism in the American LGBT community. Through get GetEQUAL she arranged protests all over the country from Washington, DC to San Francisco. She has shown a remarkable organizer's skill in negotiating the treacherous waters of LGBT grassroots politics. She represents a new generation of leadership with passion, principles and a great family to boot!
Story of the Year: Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
Yes, I know we have not fully repealed DADT but getting it through Congress was a Christmas miracle. This effort had more lives than a cat. One day it was dead and then the next day we were on the verge of victory. The White House mobilized Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen to put the power of the Joint Chiefs behind the effort. And in Congress the persistence of people like Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Harry Reid, Congressman Patrick Murphy, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Mark Udall and Senator Lieberman gave us an historic victory like none other.
Heroes and Heroines of the Year: The LGBT Veterans
Represented by people like Lt. Dan Choi and so many other distinguished service people and led by SLDN and Servicemembers United, these veterans inspired not only us by their endless courage and sacrifice but also inspired the Congress and the nation. Rarely have we witnessed such day in and day out raw courage.
Entertainer of the Year: Alan Cumming
Across the board, singer and actor Alan Cumming has had a spectacular year. From the release of his successful album " I Brought A Blue Car Today" to his Emmy-nominated performance in "The Good Wife," this had been Alan's year. In addition, he had a cabaret performance at Feinstein's at Loew's Regency in New York City which opened to rave reviews. In Alan's spare time he was in the forefront helping with FightBack New York and dozens of benefits for other LGBT causes.
Organization of the Year: Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund
One should judge an organization on results and effective use of our donations. No one can come close to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund in both those criteria. They won 2/3 of their races this year for a grand total of 106 victories! The organization continues with the best candidate training program in the country. Increasingly they are building a network of elected and appointed officials that means real power. Nothing can replace that famous seat at the table.
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