Another year has come and gone, and man, what a year it was.
We got the right to legally wed in California, and then saw it taken away again by voters. And in the wake of that vote, we saw our community come together in a way that hasn’t happened in years as people across the country reacted to the California ballot amendment with anger, outrage and hope. And then, at least locally, we saw that new spirit of activism challenged almost immediately as we began to fight among ourselves on the best way to rally or protest or boycott or whatever.
We saw the election of the nation’s first non-white president, a man who had, throughout his campaign, responded to the LGBT community in unprecedented ways. He talked about our community and our right to equality everywhere, including speeches at churches, in accepting the Democratic nomination and in claiming victory on election night. We celebrated that victory, and then, within two months, we were decrying his “betrayal” when he tapped an evangelical preacher to deliver the invocation at his inauguration.
We saw Dallas County’s lesbian sheriff win re-election, and LGBT and LGBT-friendly candidates elected to office all across the country. But we also saw elected officials like Sally Kern, the Oklahoma state representative who said homosexuality is a bigger threat to our country than terrorism, easily win re-election, too.
Mainstream religious denominations continued to fight over the issue of homosexuality â€” with conservative Episcopal congregations and even whole dioceses voting to leave the Episcopal Church USA to align themselves with much more conservative Anglican ministers in Africa. In Fort Worth, Broadway Baptist Church members fought each other over whether and how to include their same-sex couple members in the church’s 125th anniversary directory.
In the year that we marked the 10th anniversary of the hate crime murders of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr., anti-gay hate crimes were on the rise again, including the brutal beating of Jimmy Lee Dean as he left a gay nightclub in Oak Lawn.
And while the LGBT community celebrated its growing inclusion in mainstream progressive politics, the debate over inclusion within our own community continued, when protests started outside the Crews Inn bar over the bar owner’s decision to exclude drag queens and transgenders on certain nights.
There was more. So much more. Where will it all go from here as we head into 2009? Will President Obama deliver on the promise of Candidate Obama? Will the California courts overturn a discriminatory popular vote on gay marriage? Will someone find a way to stem the rising tide of violence? Will the churches remember Christ’s admonishments about love and not judging? Will we even come to some agreement on divisive issues within our community?
I hope the answers to all those questions are yes. But even if that happens, it won come easily. So stay tuned, and we will do our best to keep you informed as this new year unfolds.