It’s always gratifying to end the year on a high note, especially when it’s one of the biggest gains ever for the gay rights movement: the legislative death of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” No doubt a significant victory for President Barack Obama, whose commitment to fierce advocacy had been repeatedly questioned while repeal efforts stumbled.
While a now-divided Congress casts doubt on further federal LGBT gains in the next session — and while setbacks for marriage equality in places like New York and New Jersey are still stark reminders of what’s yet to be achieved — there's much to celebrate in 2010. Though by no means exhaustive, this list gives a glimpse of those who shaped LGBT news, seasoned activists, newfound allies, and impartial-but-incisive jurists alike.
Pennsylvania representative Patrick Murphy
Many heroes converged at the Department of Interior in Washington, D.C. to witness President Obama sign “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal into law on the morning of December 22. But one politician received more rousing applause than any other, to the point where the voices of many exuberant ceremony attendees were rendered hoarse: outgoing Congressman Patrick Murphy, who spearheaded repeal efforts in the House. The Iraq War veteran never had any doubts that he’d see an end to the discriminatory policy. “I used to jump out of airplanes for a living, so I was always confident that my chute was going to open up,” he toldThe Advocate. “Paratroopers don’t quit.”