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The Top US LGBT stories of 2013

Rochelle Sampy December 24, 2013

As 2013 comes to an end, PinkNews highlights the most important US stories of the past twelve months.

The stories chosen in this US list were those that were widely shared and generated an interesting debate as well as the ones that our editorial team deemed to have a significant effect on LGBT life in the US and beyond. From politics, to court cases, to celebrities to campaigns, you’ll find the most read stories here.

Prop 8 and DOMA struck down in California, paving the way for the state’s equal marriage law

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In June, the US Supreme Court strikes down DOMA and Prop 8 in landmark rulings

The first case saw the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) struck down. DOMA, passed in 1996, federally defined marriage as between one man and one woman only.

In the second case, around California’s Proposition 8, the Supreme Court ruled that such a ruling was not in its jurisdiction, nor was it in the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court, which previously ruled, therefore deferring the decision to a previous ruling by a district court which decided the ban was unconstitutional.

The ruling on Proposition 8 meant that same-sex weddings could continue in California although many hoped that the court would have applied a broader ruling to all US states.

On the following day, the court also reflected on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, passed under President Bill Clinton in 1996.

A month before, Clint Eastwood joined Obama and over other 100 top Republicans who signed up to argue that the Supreme Court should overturn Proposition 8.

Same-sex marriage is made legal across many states, the most recent being Utah

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Utah became the 18th American state to legalise equal marriage just before Christmas. US District Judge Robert Shelby ruled that the state’s equal marriage ban was unconstitutional on 21 December.

Utah – better known for the Mormon Church than for progressive politics – illustrated just how unstoppable the campaign for equal marriage had become across the US in 2013.

June’s US Supreme Court ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) meant for the first time equal marriage activists had the support of the highest court in the land on the issue.

On 19 December, New Mexico’s Supreme Court declared it was unconstitutional to deny marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Eight of the state’s 33 counties started issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples in August, when a county clerk in southern New Mexico independently decided to allow the ceremonies.

But the December ruling by the court made equal marriage fully legal in New Mexico.

Hawaii, New Jersey, Illinois also legalised equal marriage in 2013.

Even in New Jersey, where Republican Governor Chris Christie had fought against equal marriage, he found himself at odds with legal authority.

Ohio is now tipped to possibly become the 19th US state to legalise equal marriage in 2014, after federal judge Timothy Black declared on 23 December that the state should recognise death certificates from deceased partners in same-sex marriages undertaken in other states.

US Senate passes anti-discrimination protection bill

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A bill banning workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans passed the US Senate last month with President Barack Obama describing it as an “important step” to “help end injustice”.

The Democratic-led Senate voted 64-32 to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), with 10 Republicans voting in favour. It now awaits its passage through the House of Representatives.

‘Ex-gay’ activist admits to using Grindr, but states that he never used it for sex

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Matt Moore, an ‘ex gay’ preacher, said that he used gay dating app Grindr after he claimed to be “cured” of his homosexuality.

While he admitted that his behaviour was “disobedient” to God, Moore defended his decision to use the app stating that he did not use it for sex or to talk about sex.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis rap about equal marriage and same-sex relationships

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In February, rap duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis released pro-equal marriage song ‘Same Love’ which reached the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 in July as the campaign for same-sex marriage heightened in the US.

In November, the United Nations announced that the rap duo would be joining their Free and Equal campaign as “equality champions”.

A new strain of gonorrhoea could potentially be ‘worse than AIDS’, warn doctors

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In May, doctors discovered a new form of gonorrhea in Japan which was antibiotic-resistant and had the potential to be worse than AIDS due to its lethal nature.

Although HO41 had not spread outside of Japan or killed anyone as of yet, medical professionals voiced concern.

Two of founder’s granddaughters from ‘God Hates Fags’ church quit the movement and express remorse

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In February, two granddaughters of Fred Phelps, the founder of the homophobic Westboro Baptist Church, quit the organisation, stating that they were sorry for “inflicting pain on others” while they were members.

Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper said: “We know that we’ve done and said things that hurt people. Inflicting pain on others wasn’t the goal, but it was one of the outcomes. We wish it weren’t so, and regret that hurt.”

The sisters also noted that their family had cut them off after their decision to leave the “God Hates Fags” church.

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Anti-LGBT evangelist Scott Lively stands trial for ‘crimes against humanity’ in Uganda

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In January, Scott Lively, an anti-LGBT evangelist, stood trial under the first sexuality-based lawsuit enforced through a statute which allowed foreign parties to sue in US courts.

Accusations by the Sexual Minorities organization in Uganda claimed that Lively’s actions in Uganda over the past decade resulted in torture, arrest, persecution and murder of gay individuals in the country.

Mr Lively has also co-written the book, the Pink Swastika, which contains an introduction saying : “homosexuals [are] the true inventors of Nazism and the guiding force behind many Nazi atrocities.”

Gay teen in Oregon is taken off life support after hanging himself due to of homophobic bullying

Jadin Bell (L) who took his own life in January, and deceased father Joe Bell

In January, Jadin Bell, a 15-year-old teenager from Oregon, was taken off life support, after he hung himself in a local school playground as a result of being bullied for being gay.

In the following week in January, over 200 people attended a candlelight vigil for Bell which included school friends and family.

Fox News accidentally uses a lesbian kiss wedding photo in article about ‘traditional’ marriage

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When publishing an article about the traditional gender roles in marriage during February, Fox News accidentally used a picture of a lesbian couple kissing at their wedding

Following this accident, Fox News replaced the original picture with an image of male and female symbols.

Previously, Fox News came under heavy criticism for using an image of Mrs Doubtfire, Robin Williams’ fictional character from the 1993 film of the same name, in a story about transgender inequality.

Robbie Rogers comes out, quits football in the UK and then returns to the sport in the US

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In February, Robbie Rogers, a Leeds United player announced he was gay, and at the same time quit professional football.

Three months later, Rogers returned to football so as to play with the Los Angeles Galaxy team, becoming the only openly gay Major League Soccer player. 

In August, he urged fellow athletes not to boycott the Russian Sochi Winter Games 2014. 

Click here for the final 3!

Jason Collins comes out as gay

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This NBA star was the second high-profile US sportsman to come out in early 2013.

Coming out in Sports Illustrated magazine,  Jason Collins wrote: “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”

Two-thirds of US residents supported his decision to come out, and he received thousands of messages of support, including from President Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, his teammates, coaches, the Commissioner of the NBA, and countless others.

Various groups mess with the Westboro “God Hates Fags” Baptist Church during their demonstrations

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The “God Hates Fags” church has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in 2013 and here is a short selection of various groups countering their message:

Pro-LGBT supporters staged a counter demonstration in response to a picket organised by Westboro Baptist Church also known as the “God Hates Fags” church.

The demonstration included a shirtless guy named Chris gained more attention than Westboro church who picketed outside the Oklahoma City and Houston Rockets NBA playoff following Jason Collins announcement that he was gay.

Later, accompanied by her father, 5-year-old Jayden Sink, spent four hours on the driveway of Equality House on Friday, selling “pink lemonade for peace”, with the aim to raise money for Planting Peace’s anti-bullying initiative. The church told her she would “burn in hell”.

California Punk band, Get Shot!, revealed that they filmed a porn clip on Westboro Baptist Church’s front lawn, in October. 

When members of Westboro church picketed outside singer Ke$ha’s concerts in August and played a parody of one of her songs, she sent her backing dancers their way for an unexpected performance. 

A Satanist group, the Satanic Temple, in July held a ‘Pink Mass’ at the grave of Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps’ mother, and claimed that she “is now gay, in the afterlife”.

In June, Kimberly Kidwell married Katie Short on the front lawn of the Equality House which is directly opposite the Westboro Baptist Church. 

More: equal marriage, Gay rights, gay wedding, gay weddings, LGBT rights, marriage equality, US

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