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News Stories of the Year

News Stories of the Year


From marriage celebrations in D.C. to beleaguered youths taking drastic action to a prominent activist succumbing to pressure, 2010 was as dramatic as they come. But the good news outweighed the bad, with happy endings for people like Constance McMillen, Dan Choi, and the students in Arkansas's Midland School District. Here's our list of the most riveting news events of the year.

Annise Parker Takes Office

Somewhere Harvey Milk smiled on January 2: Lesbian Annise Parker began her first day as mayor of Houston, the nation's fourth-largest city. Even though her city is on relatively stable financial ground, Parker still had to deal with an economy that has yet to fully recover. City council members showed how much faith they have in Parker's leadership that they voted unanimously in December to give her the ability to order mandatory furloughs.

HIV Travel Ban Lifted

The teens started off with some good news -- on January 4, the 22-year-old ban on HIV-positive visitors to the U.S. was finally ended. A gay man from the Netherlands became the first HIV-positive tourist to freely enter the country when he landed at New York's JFK airport. With the travel ban ended, the U.S. is now planning on hosting a biannual global HIV/AIDS summit in 2012.

D.C. Marriage Kicks Off

"Don't ask, don't tell" repeal was the year's big gay achievement, but marriage equality also advanced in 2010. Washington, D.C., opened the doors to same-sex marriage, with the first ceremonies being held March 9. Media reports of the first marriages showed a racially diverse mix of couples -- a big change from gay marriages showcased in states like Vermont and Iowa.

First Lesbian Episcopal Bishop Named

Too bad her surname wasn't Glassceiling -- Mary Glasspool certainly broke a barrier when she was consecrated on May 15 as the first openly lesbian bishop in the Episcopal Church. The partnered Glasspool is now a bishop suffragan in the church's Los Angeles diocese. In an interview with The Advocate, the pioneer shared her favorite Bible verse: For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

ACLU Investigates Fake Prom

When 18-year-old Constance McMillen invited another young woman at her prom at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Miss., she had no idea the nation would be riveted by her actions. Last spring, school officials told McMillen she couldn't bring a same-sex date to the prom, then canceled the event altogether when she resisted their decision. The ACLU sued the district on McMillen's behalf, and then a group of parents set up an outside prom -- and sent McMillen and her date to a sparsely attended fake prom. The school district later settled with McMillen for $35,000, paid her attorneys' fees, and enacted a nondiscrimination policy.

Target Controversy

As opposed to a retailer like Wal-Mart, Target has enjoyed a positive reputation among many gay and lesbian shoppers. But that all changed this summer when news broke of a $150,000 corporate donation from Target to a group supporting antigay Republican Tom Emmer, who ran unsuccessfully for governor of Minnesota, where Target is based. Boycotts followed, then an apology from Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel, and then the news in December that Target continued to contribute to antigay causes -- months after Steinhafel's "sorry."

Youth Suicides

Tyler Clementi, Raymond Chase, Seth Walsh -- these are just some of the names of the young people who took their lives this year after enduring bullying for being gay, or being perceived as such. But these young people didn't die in vain; their stories brought attention to an epidemic that has endured for decades, if not centuries. Celebrities and politicians, from Kim Kardashian to President Obama, filmed "It Gets Better" videos, while states and cities enacted or considered antibullying legislation.

Arkansas School Board Member Thinks "Fags Should Die"

While teachers and students across the nation wore purple this fall to highlight the epidemic of antigay bullying, the vice-president of the Midland School District board in Arkansas went in another direction. Posting on Facebook, Clint McCance took umbrage with people dressing in purple, and then, responding to comments on his page, said he hoped gay people would kill themselves, dropped the f word repeatedly, and said he relished "the fact that [gay people] give each other AIDS and die." After The Advocate broke the story, reaction was swift: A Facebook page called for his firing, and national media ran with the story. McCance offered a pseudo-apology and resigned from his post in late October.

Lesbian Students Prevented from Graduating

Girlfriends Kelsey Hicks (pictured) and Melissa McKenzie, both 18, were told by administrators at Del City High School in Oklahoma that maybe they should finish out their education at another school. Hicks put it this way while talking to a local TV station in November: "The principal will say 'Well, you're gay. You're not going to do anything with your life. You might as well just drop out now.' It's stuff to put you down that makes you want to drop out." A statement from school officials said they don't discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age -- sexual orientation was notably absent from their list.

Dan Choi's Breakdown

In mid December, the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" looked like it slipped through Congress's fingers (thankfully, lawmakers would get it together before Christmas). Dan Choi, a lieutenant in the Army facing discharge for coming out, had been one of the most public gay personalities in the battle to end DADT -- he came out on The Rachel Maddow Show, chained himself to the White House wall, endured hunger strikes, and traveled the country to tell his story at rallies and protests. The assumed defeat of the repeal hit Choi hard, and he was hospitalized at a mental facility following the news. But the resilient activist wasn't down for long -- he attended the signing ceremony for DADT's repeal December 22. At the event, Senate majority leader Harry Reid returned a West Point ring belonging to Choi, which he had given to Reid five months earlier with the request to have it back when the law was repealed.
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