The 10 Gayest Political Stories of 2010
|Ring ceremony: Reid and Choi|
In inverse order:
10. Gay love reunites the Bush v. Gore adversaries. Democrats and Republicans can't agree on anything, right? In modern American politics, that was nowhere more apparent than in Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court case which ultimately decided who would become the 43rd president. So the mere image of seeing Bush's lead attorney, Theodore Olson, and Gore's counsel, David Boies, join forces a decade later to battle Proposition 8 and fight for gay marriage equality was one of the gayest stories of the year.
9. Gays aren't especially safe anywhere, even in New York City. The past year uncovered some horrific danger spots around the globe for gays and lesbians, with Uganda considering the death penalty for homosexuality and the United Nations briefly deleting sexual orientation from a list of unacceptable reasons to kill people.
Close to home, it was a pretty bloody year throughout the five boroughs. The two men who beat brothers Romel and José Sucuzhañay to death for mistakenly thinking they were gay were convicted of manslaughter as a hate crime. Staten Island saw a wave of anti-immigrant and anti-gay beatings this summer, leading to an NYPD presence of military proportions.
The violence even crept into gayborhoods, with attacks in Julis Bar, on the streets of Chelsea, and even in the bathroom of the Stonewall Inn. This was only topped by an epic scene of gay gang torture in the South Bronx that could have come from a Saw film.
8. Carl Paladino Despite being an experienced owner of gay bars, the Buffaloonian was the gay-bashing gift that kept on giving through the gubernatorial campaign. Could 2010 possibly have been as deliciously batshit crazy without him? Perhaps Governor Paterson put it best when he told us we should be grateful for people like Paladino, because they bring out the best, most concentrated opposition in people.
Paladino loved his baseball-bat metaphor (fittingly, the same week those kids in the Bronx were violated with a baseball bat). He went crazy over men in Speedos. He wanted to make sure kids knew being gay was not an "equal, valid option." But he had no problem with women fucking horses. He even invoked a rabbi to help him keep the forces of degeneracy at bay, which leads us to . . .
7. Rabbi Yehuda Levin: proof that homophobia ain't just for Christians anymore. We had plenty of fun with homophobic Christians this year, but the most colorful religious homophobe of the local political year was Rabbi Yehuda Levin. He had been kicking around on the fringe for years. And then Paladino brought him in infect the mainstream. The rabbi actually wrote the remarks Paladino gave condemning homosexuals most strongly — the candidate, not ready for prime time, tried to use that as his excuse for having delivered them.
Levin would go on to pull his support from Paladino for not being homophobic enough, and he would predict a plague of locusts upon the United States for allowing gays to serve in the military.
6. Judges revolt. With referendums always favoring a ban on gay marriage, and the Obama Administration seeming to back off its pledge to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, two judges became the most important figures in advancing LGBT rights in 2010.
On August 4th, Judge Vaughn Walker (appointed to the federal bench by George H.W. Bush) declared California's Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The decision was a great read, and the party in Foley Square was great fun. and Walker concluded his opinion with a great takeaway:
Also in California, Judge Virginia Phillips ruled that Don't Ask, Don't Tell violated soldiers' First and Fith amendments. The airtight ruling was harder to write off as the work of an "activist judge" as the plaintiffs were the GOP-affiliated Log Cabin Republicans. And even though the Obama Administration has continued to appeal her ruling (and her injunction to stop discharges), she probably changed some important minds in public opinion and, more importantly, in the military.
As Justin Crockett Elzie (the first Marine discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell) told us, the moment Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen testified that the policy should end was really its death knell. And Mullen and other military leaders didn't want to cede power to the courts on this. Phillips lit a fire under their ass, making it so that if they wanted to be in charge of how the repeal was going down, they had better act fast.
5. Lt. Dan Choi changes the game — over and over again. The badass lieutenant's peripatetic behavior kept the LGBT movement, the politicians, and the military constantly on their toes. He symbolized the growing rift between those demanding direct action and those who wanted to work with lobbyists and elected officials.
But there are two specific moments that we think bookended his influence on the fight for gay rights this year.
The first was the when, on impulse, he gave his West Point ring to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who was to keep it safe until Don't Ask, Don't Tell was repealed.
4. Republicans hate the gays more than they love the military. Choi's questioning of Reid was about the Majority Leader's decision to attach Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal to the annual military spending bill. Reid gambled Republicans would never be able to bring themselves to vote against the troops. He was wrong.
We were in the Senate with Choi when bill went down the first time. We were also in the Senate when the Advocate's Kerry Eleveld needled John McCain about the fact that people who didn't tell were still being discharged. The McCain/Eleveld exchange was remixed into a mini-viral hit.
3. St. Vincent's closes its doors, and GMHC prepares a move. The death of St. Vincent's Hospital hit gay New Yorkers — many of whom had seen countless friends die there in the height of the AIDS crisis — especially hard. With the Gay Men's Health Crisis preparing to move out of Chelsea, something that would have been inconceivable a short time ago is now inevitable: The two largest institutions that dealt with HIV/AIDS are leaving the neighborhood that has the highest rate of infection in the city.
2. The suicide of Tyler Clementi. Gay teen suicides hit the national zeitgeist hard this fall, but perhaps none registered so much as that of Clementi, a young Rutgers student. Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" campaign drew participation from the highest levels and created the inevitable backlash.
1. Congress and Barack Obama kick Don't Ask, Don't Tell to the curb. Who would have believed that a lame-duck session of congress would see the final defeat of Don't Ask, Don't Tell? And as a standalone bill, no less, with 65 votes in the Senate. With the stroke of a pen, and just a week left on its calendar, Obama closed out the gayest political year ever.