In 2008, there were some significants setbacks for equality when we lost the ballot initiatives in California, Florida, Arizona, and Arkansas.
But there were some significant victories that will help to advance equality in 2009 and beyond.
Read our Top 10 Victories for Equality in 2008...
#1 The Presidency
Barack Obama and Joe Biden support all Equality Goals with the exception of marriage equality (although they support repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and providing all the federal benefits and obligations of marriage).
After some critical priorities are dealt with (the economy, the wars), the LGBT community should stand firm in asking for full legal equality as promised during the campaign. With a solid Democratic majority in the House and Senate, there should be no impedance to gaining full legal equality for our community.
#2 Supreme Court Decision in California in Favor of Marriage Equality
The decision of the most influential State Supreme Court in the country was superb and advanced the cause of equality on several fronts, not just marriage.
We are hopeful that California will be able to offer again marriage to all couples. It will be either as a result of another California Supreme Court decision or repealing Prop. 8 at the ballot box.
#3 Supreme Court Decision in Connecticut in Favor of Marriage Equality
The Supreme Court of Connecticut broke legal ground by determining that despite that the legislature had approved Civil Unions, it was not enough and that the state needed to provide full marriage equality.
#4 Defending Marriage Equality in Connecticut
Connecticut voters rejected in November holding a Constitutional Convention, which could have overturned the marriage decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court.
As a result, same sex couples from any state have the right to marry in Connecticut and that right is safe from the forces that want to take it away all over the country.
#5 Electing the Third Openly Gay Member of Congress
Jared Polis (D-CO) was elected to the US House of Representatives. He is openly gay and totally pro equality (including marriage equality). He was an eQualityGiving Endorsed Candidate. Jared Polis joins Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) as the third openly gay Member of Congress.
#6 Defeating the Author of the Marriage Protection Amendment
This was a double victory: Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) was the most anti-equality member of Congress. She not only authored the Federal Marriage Amendment, but also worked very hard to convince Republicans and President Bush to put it for a vote (it was voted twice, but it failed both times).
The double victory is that Marilyn Musgrave has been replaced by Betsy Markey (D-CO), who is totally pro-equality, including marriage. She was also an eQualityGiving Endorsed Candidate.
#7 Winning Another Pro Equality US Senate Seat
Jeff Merkley (D-OR), another eQualityGiving Endorsed Candidate, became the new US Senator representing Oregon. He replaces Gordon Smith (R-OR) who, while good in general on our issues, was only a Heartbreaker.
Having a pro-equality Senator loyal to the Democrats will become important not only on our issues but in votes to confirm progressive Supreme Court justices.
#8 Re-electing a Hero who was in a Close Race
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), an Equality Hero, was facing stiff opposition this year for her first re-election bid. We are pleased that with the help of our donors she was re-elected.
In fact, all of the eQualityGiving Equality Heroes were re-elected, though Giffords was the only one who was vulnerable. Being pro-equality (including marriage) does not jeopardize election or reelection.
#9 Winning a Democratic Majority in the New York State Senate
An important victory for the LGBT community nationwide was switching the majority of the New York Senate from Republican to Democratic.
The New York Assembly has passed marriage equality legislation, but was never brought to a vote by the Republican NY Senate majority.
The presumed new Senate Majority Leader, Democrat Malcolm Smith, has stood strong for marriage equality despite opposition by three Democratic members of the New York Senate. This is the type of leadership we deserve and should nurture.
#10 Electing a Pro Equality Attorney General in Oregon
John Kroger (D-OR), an eQualityGiving Endorsed Candidate, won in a landslide as the new, pro equality Attorney General in Oregon. This is an important victory for LGBT equality given the importance of implementing the new Domestic Partnership legislation in that state as well as fending off the continuous efforts from the right to put forward ballot initiatives to discriminate against our community.
Not Yet Resolved: US Senator from Minnesota: pro-equality Franken or anti-equality Coleman?
Bonus #1: Electing or Re-electing 47 Openly LGBT People
Bonus #2: Defending Transgender Equality in Montgomery County, Maryland
Bonus #3: Keeping Marriage Amendment Out in Indiana
Bonus #4: Keeping Marriage Amendment Out in Pennsylvania
You can read here more details for each of the Top 10 Victories for LGBT Equality in 2008, including who were the leading organizations involved.
May these victories be a preface of reaching full equality in 2009.