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While 2012 was a bit of a mixed bag for me from a personal perspective, it was undeniably a remarkable year to be a gay man in the LGBT community, from celebrating the one-year anniversary of repealing ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to re-electing the most pro-gay president we’ve ever seen to celebrating our own homegrown marriage-equality victory in Maryland.
From that perspective, 2012 may seem hard to top. In fact, as we look ahead to the newly minted 2013, with the Supreme Court looming over us deciding the future of marriage equality, it’s likely that this year will be every bit as historic for our community — for good or for ill. But that’s mostly out of our hands until the court reaches its expected decisions this spring.
With the victory on DADT, marriage has come to dominate our discussions of LGBT issues. As important as marriage is — it would be a literal dream come true for many of us — there are other issues and other LGBT people that need our attention. So there are two things I hope to see in 2013.
First, I want to see President Obama stop fiddling around on an executive order to require employment nondiscrimination policies for federal contractors. Along with the usual hemming and hawing, the administration keeps tacking back to the idea of pursuing a legislative strategy for anything involved with employment discrimination.
That approach might barely have worked back before intransigent far-right Republicans took over the House for the foreseeable future, in the days when DADT repeal was a skin-of-the-teeth legislative victory. But today there is no legislative path to victory on this and the president knows it. For the White House to continue telling LGBT people that we should look to Congress for leadership on this is willful ignorance and rather insulting. The White House needs to explain why the president has used his executive powers in numerous other cases to improve the status of LGBT people but refuses to do so with this executive order.
Better, he should just sign the order this month and be done with it. Don’t wait to make it a present for this year’s Pride celebration. We don’t need a six-month delay in service of achieving a particular photo-op.
Second, I want to see all of us do a better job remembering the ”T” that follows the ”LGB.” Eagle-eyed readers of our print edition may have already noticed that this first issue of the year marks a change in our tagline, from ”Washington’s Gay and Lesbian Newsmagazine” to ”Washington’s LGBT Newsmagazine.” This one change isn’t the parting of the Red Sea or Martin Luther King Jr. speaking from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It is a small change — I know many who would say a too-long-delayed change — but small changes from each of us are needed to reach the bigger goal of making our transgender brothers and sisters a full part of the community.
I’m still surprised at the depth of apathy among many gays, lesbians and bisexuals when it comes to transgender people, and sometimes even outright bigotry. But the trans community has been there for us on DADT and marriage; it’s time for us to be there for them on military service, employment discrimination and the violence that still threatens and claims too many.
So press for that transgender-inclusive executive order from the White House. Give your support to Marylanders looking to pass transgender protections through the Legislature. Donate to or volunteer for groups like Transgender Health Empowerment and SMYAL who do the daily work to make life better for all LGBT people and youth.
If we’re able to that, I’m sure we’ll remember 2013 as a mighty fine year.
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