Today is a big day for the LGBT community.
This morning, President Obama will posthumously award Bayard Rustin - an openly gay man, a pioneer in the African-American and LGBT civil rights movements, a confidante and advisor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington - the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The award is our nation's highest civilian honor.
Walter Naegle, Rustin's partner for the last ten years of his life, will accept the award on his behalf.
Also today, at 3:30 p.m. Central Time (4:30 Eastern), Democratic Illinois Governor Pat Quinn will sign the state's historic marriage equality bill into law, making the Land of Lincoln the sixteenth state with the freedom to marry for all committed couples. The signing ceremony will take place at the University of Illinois Chicago Forum. Quinn will sign the bill on the desk Abraham Lincoln used to write his first inaugural address.
Just half an hour later, Springfield Catholic Bishop Thomas Paprocki will hold an exorcism to cast out the demons of marriage equality and "pray for deliverance" from it. If you're going, don't forget to bring pea soup!
But perhaps most important, today we observe the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). It's a day to honor and remember victims (reported and unreported) of anti-trans hatred and violence who were murdered in the past year, and to rededicate ourselves to combating the bullying, intimidation, and degradation that many trans people face every day.
For me, part of remembering the dead is recognizing the living, so I believe TDOR should also remind us all to honor and affirm our trans siblings for having the courage to be their authentic selves in the face of astonishing ignorance and bigotry, and stand with them as they call our society -- and ourselves -- into an ever more inclusive understanding of the vibrant breadth of the human experience.
Transgender Day of Remembrance memorials, vigils, and other commemorative events are being held across the country today. Click here to find one near you.
YouTube user Sierra Angel Boehm created a hauntingly beautiful video tribute to those we've lost this year. Check it out, after the jump.