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2016: The Year in Review


Everything that mattered, from odious Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, to queers marching in New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade, to the end of the ban on trans military service, to the massacre in Orlando -- and much more.

Roy Moore

January 6

Judge Roy Moore Defies Supreme Court

Alabama's antigay chief justice, Roy Moore, tells his state's probate judges to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, defying the U.S. Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.

In May he will be charged with ethics violations, and in September he will be suspended without pay for the remainder of his term and will be ineligible to run again. This will be his second suspension from the court.


February 23

U.S. Appoints First-Ever Special Envoy For LGBT Rights

Marking a huge first, Secretary of State John Kerry named Randy Berry as Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons. Berry will "reaffirm the universal human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity," Kerry said in a statement.


March 9

Queers March in St. Patrick's Day Parade

For the first time in 25 years, and after decades of protest and exclusion, Irish LGBT groups march -- to much fanfare and rousing cheers -- in New York City's iconic St. Patrick's Day Parade.

New York mayor Bill de Blasio marches as well (along with activist Edie Windsor), ending his personal boycott launched in solidarity with LGBT Irish groups that had previously been denied permission to march in the parade.


Top: Irish Council General Barbara Jones (right), New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm (left), and Mayor Bill de Blasio at a news conference at the Irish Consulate, March 3, 2016


March 23

North Carolina's "Bathroom Bill"

North Carolina governor Pat McCrory signs into law the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, also known as HB2 or the "Bathroom Bill," in a special legislative session. Drafted in response to Charlotte's passing of a transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance, the law strikes down all existing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances across the state. HB2 makes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity legal in North Carolina, forces transgender people to use restrooms that don't match their gender identity (subjecting them to potential harassment and violence), and removes the right of LGBTs to sue for discrimination based on race, religion, sex, and other categories that were protected by state law. Response will be swift: Conventions, sporting events, music concerts, business expansions, film production, and other sources of revenue for the state will be canceled in response to HB2. The economic impact could be $5 billion annually.

Photo: Protesters in Charlotte, N.C., March 31, 2016


March 29

Gender-neutral Pronouns Gain Traction

The gender-neutral singular pronoun "they" gets the notice of The New York Times, which notes thatthe Washington Post added the singular "they" to its stylebook late last year. The Times also reports that the American Dialect Society voted the singular "they" the 2015 Word of the Year, citing its "emerging use as a pronoun to refer to a known person, often as a conscious choice by a person rejecting the traditional gender binary of he and she."


April 6

Business Backlash to Mississippi's Anti-LGBT Laws

Business backlash descends on Mississippi as major tech, hospitality, and automotive companies speak out about HB1523, Mississippi's sweeping new anti-LGBT law, which Gov. Phil Bryant signed a day earlier. Leaders from Levi Strauss & Co., General Electric, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Choice Hotels International, the Dow Chemical Company, Whole Foods Market, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Salesforce, Nissan Group of North America, Toyota, MGM Resorts International, and Tyson Foods, Inc., all had denounced the law. The new law could make Mississippi, like North Carolina, ineligible for federal funding for schools, highways, and housing.


April 18

Fed Protests Trans Rights

While "bathroom bills" proliferate at the state level, the federal government marches forward protecting transgender people. The General Services Administration issues a new bulletin that protects the rights of trans people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity in all federal buildings. The policy covers more than 4 million federal employees and any visitors to the nearly 10,000 buildings under the control of the federal agency, including federal courthouses and Social Security offices.


May 17

Gay Secretary of Army Confirmed

Eric K. Fanning is confirmed by the Senate as secretary of the Army. He becomes the highest-ranking openly gay official ever at the Pentagon.


June 9

Hollywood on Blast

The Real O'Neals actor Noah Galvin (below) ignites a firestorm by castigating Hollywood producers and casting agents, straight actors playing gay (Eric Stonestreet playing "a caricature of a caricature of a stereotype of stereotype" on Modern Family), and newly out actor Colton Haynes ("That's not coming out. That's fucking pussy bullshit.") in an interview with Vulture. Galvin would later apologize for his remarks.


June 12

Pulse Massacre

Forty-nine people are killed and an additional 53 wounded at a popular LGBT club in Orlando, Fla., after a gunman opens fire at the club just after 2 a.m. The attack is both the deadliest single-shooter killing and the deadliest act of violence against LGBT people in United States history.

Top: Vigil at the Dr. Phillips center for the Performing Arts, June 13, 2016 in Orlando.


President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden visit a memorial to the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting, June 16, 2016 in Orlando.


June 17

Istanbul Pride Banned

Istanbul bans LGBT Pride, the largest Pride celebration in the region, citing concerns about public safety in the wake of the attack at the Pulse nightclub. This year's would have been the city's 13th Pride celebration.


Turkish police fire water canons, tear gas, and rubber bullets at demonstrators protesting the ban of LGBT pride in Istanbul, June 19, 2016


June 22

House Sit-in for Gun Control

More than a dozen Democratic lawmakers, led by Georgia congressman John Lewis, begin a historic sit-in protest on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, bringing legislative business to a halt and activating a frenzied, late-night showdown that will last for over 24 hours, to demand a vote on gun control legislation in the wake of the Pulse shooting. Democrats, waving signs with the names of the shooting victims, chanted, "No bill! No break!" When Speaker Paul Ryan shut off the cameras by calling a recess, the Democrats broadcast their protest via social media until Ryan abruptly adjourned and left the Capitol.


House Democrats led by Rep. John Lewis on Capitol Hill following the sit-in protest on the House floor


June 24

Stonewall Becomes National Monument

President Obama makes history by naming the site of the Stonewall riots the first national LGBT monument. The bar has been a gathering place after major moments in LGBT history, both for celebration and for mourning, a site to mourn the Orlando mass shooting this year, and, in 2015, to celebrate the Supreme Court's ruling for marriage equality, after a long and hard-fought struggle. "The riots became protests. The protests became a movement. The movement ultimately became an integral part of America," says President Obama in a video about the history of the Stonewall riots.


June 27

Pope Apologizes

Returning to the Vatican from a trip to Armenia, the Pope speaks to the press aboard the papal plane about the recent attack at Pulse. He is asked by reporters about Cardinal Reinhard Marx's recent statement on the tragedy, in which he blamed the Roman Catholic Church for being "very negative about gay people" throughout its history. The Pope says, "I believe that the church not only should apologize to the person who is gay whom it has offended," he said, "but has to apologize to the poor, to exploited women, to children exploited for labor; it has to ask forgiveness for having blessed many weapons."


June 26

Gays Against Guns

The charter chapter of Gays Against Guns marches in the New York City Pride march, holding nra stay away and nra prepare to gag signs, to cheers from the parade-goers. In front of the Stonewall Inn, marchers lay down in a kind of protest called a die-in. Formed in the wake of the Pulse attack, Gays Against Guns aims to "stop the life-threatening convergence of homophobia and flawed gun policy," by employing direct-action protest of the kind used by AIDS activism group ACT UP.


Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton marches in the NYC Pride Parade, June 26, 2016.


June 30

End of Military's Trans Ban

The Pentagon announces the end of the long-standing ban on military service by transgender Americans. "I am announcing today that we are ending the ban on transgender Americans in the United States military," says Ash Carter, secretary of Defense, in a news conference. "Effective immediately, transgender Americans can serve openly, and they no longer can be discharged or otherwise separated from the military just for being transgender."

Photo: Transgender activist and U.S. Navy veteran Autumn Sandeen and U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Shane Ortega

August 5

Social Media Wins Olympic Gold




August 18

GawkerSigns Off

Gawker announces that it will be shutting down after 14 years of operation. Univision had purchased the media company for $135 million after Gawker Media lost a lawsuit funded by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel in retaliation for Gawker outing Thiel in 2007.


September 13

Chelsea Manning's Gender-Affirming Surgery

Chelsea Manning and her attorneys announce that she is ending a hunger strike after the military agrees to provide her with gender-affirmation surgery. Manning began the hunger strike five days earlier to protest her treatment in a military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kans. Manning, a transgender woman and former U.S. Army intelligence analyst, is serving a 35-year sentence for sharing classified documents with whistleblower site WikiLeaks in 2010.


September 15

Indonesia Bans Gay Apps

Indonesia announces it will ban more than 80 apps, including Grindr, Boy Ahoy, and Blued, as well as Web sites and outlets "promoting LGBT," as they have "violated the law on pornography and the law on child protection," says Aidil Chendramata, a director at the Communications Ministry. Earlier, the ministry had directed instant-messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Line to scrap any emoticons inclusive of gays and lesbians. Although homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, which is 90 percent Muslim, the nation's Constitutional Court is now considering criminalization of it.


September 20

Queer Media Takes a Hit

The editor in chief of AfterEllen, Trish Bendix, announces in a Tumblr post that the site is "effectively shutting down" after 14 years. As of the end of that week, the site will no longer have an editorial staff. AfterEllen's owners deny the shutdown but avoid giving any plans for the site's future. Eight days later, Multimedia Platforms, the owner of LGBT publications in New York, Florida, and California, will cease operations. Staffers are terminated, and there are no print issues that week of its publications, which include Next in New York City, Agenda Florida, and Frontiers in Los Angeles.


Kim Davis Sued, Again

Kim Davis's resistance to marriage equality may cost her county dearly. The ACLU seeks to recover $233,058 in attorneys' fees and other expenses associated with the lawsuit it had brought on behalf of several couples last year when Davis shut down marriage license operations in Rowan County, Kentucky, where she is the elected county clerk, rather than issue licenses to same-sex couples after the U.S. Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land.


September 26

Will & Grace Returns

The cast of NBC's Will & Grace reunite for an anti-Donald Trump campaign message in a 10-minute "new scene." Set in the present day, Grace (Debra Messing) and Will (Eric McCormack) try to persuade Jack (Sean Hayes) and Karen (Megan Mullally) to vote for Hillary Clinton despite Karen's longtime friendship with Trump (she even helped him "pick out Melania") and Jack's disdain for Clinton's wardrobe ("I don't like that she wears pants"). Jack is ultimately swayed when told Katy Perry is voting for Clinton. The video pleas for viewers to #votehoney.



October 9

First Out Debate Moderator

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper is the first out gay man to moderate a presidential debate. The tense town-hall-style debate between Clinton and Trump, co-moderated by Martha Raddatz of ABC News, is held at Washington University in St. Louis.

Donald Trump

November 9

Donald Trump is declared winner of the 2016 presidential election by the Associated Press at 2:30 a.m. ET when he clinches Wisconsin, giving him an insurmountable lead in the Electoral College. The bombastic business man wins surprising victories in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida. Trump ran a campaign offending almost anyone who isn't white and Christian, while Hillary Clinton, who would have been the first woman president of the U.S., projected an inclusive vision of America, appealing to people of all races, all faiths, all sexual orientations and gender identities. Her campaign platform included the most progressive LGBT policies of any presidential candidate in history. Clinton woould end up winning the popular vote by over 2.8 million votes.

During the campaign Trump pledged to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn marriage equality if they had a chance, and he supported the First Amendment Defense Act, a piece of federal legislation that would give legal cover to businesses and individuals, even government employees, who did not want to serve same-sex couples or others who offended their religious beliefs. Clinton, in contrast, supports the Equality Act, which would ban anti-LGBT discrimination nationwide in employment, housing, and a variety of other venues. Trump chose Mike Pence, who has an anti-LGBT record as governor of Indiana and in his previous service in Congress, as his running mate. The day after the election protesters will take to the streets in at least 10 cities around the country including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., Portland, Ore., St. Paul, Minn. and several other cities.


November 16

Ellen DeGeneres Awarded Medal of Freedom

Alongside people like Bill and Melinda Gates and Robert DeNiro, Ellen DeGeneres was awarded the presidential medal of freedom by President Barack Obama. The actress, comedian, and talk show host couldn't contain her emotions at the White House ceremony, and neither could we.

Pope Francis

December 7

Pope Reiterates Catholic Church's Ban on Gay Priests

Pope Francis, who once famously said "Who am I to judge?" on the subject of gay priests, approved a new Vatican document reaffirming that "persons with homosexual tendencies" are barred from Roman Catholic seminaries and the priesthood.

The document, called "The Gift of the Priestly Vocation," was written by the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy, and Pope Francis signed off on it.


December 21

HB 2 Repeal Fails, Discriminatory Law Still Alive

The North Carolina state legislature ended a special session without accomplishing the session's promised goal -- repeal of the anti-LGBT House Bill 2.

Gov. Pat McCrory had called the special session for lawmakers to vote on a repeal after the Charlotte City Council agreed to repeal its LGBT-inclusive public accommodations ordinance, which had spurred the state to pass HB 2 in a special session in March. But today the Senate voted down a repeal bill, and the House adjourned without taking a vote, The Charlotte Observer reports. Both chambers have a Republican majority.

The Senate rejected the repeal measure by a vote of 32-16, according to Reuters, then adjourned without taking up a related one that would have placed a six-month moratorium on municipalities enacting nondiscrimination ordinances that cover sexual orientation or gender identity. The House had adjourned earlier.

This leaves in place HB 2, which among other provisions prevents cities from enacting or enforcing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances and prevents transgender people from using the restrooms, locker rooms, and other single-sex facilities that correspond with their gender identity, if those are located in government buildings. It has resulted in nationwide public outcry, with North Carolina losing out on business expansions as well as sporting and entertainment events.


December 25 and December 27

The Loss of Two Icons

A difficult year did not get any easier with the sudden losses of pop superstar George Michael, ironically on Christmas Day, and Star Wars actress and beloved writer Carrie Fisher. Michael was found dead in his English home by his partner. Fisher had a cardiac episode on a flight from London to Los Angeles a few days before Christmas; she died in an L.A. hospital early on Tuesday.

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