The biggest LGBTQ stories of 2020

Mark Segal PGN Publisher
Mark Segal is publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News

The Supreme Court rulings top the list of major changes

Although Trump continued to chip away at the rights the LGBTQ community has attained over the last few years, we did make some amazing gains in Trump’s final year as President. The importance of some of these earth shattering changes have been overshadowed by a lack of historic knowledge.

The two Supreme Court rulings should be on the top of any list of major changes for the advancement of our rights, especially for our trans community. Stopping discrimination against trans people is now protected under the constitution on the basis of sex. The weaker of the two rulings was the issue of employment, housing, and accommodation discrimination, because that ruling will almost certainly be challenged on the basis of religious freedom.

The next step to ensure that religious freedom cannot be used as a basis of discrimination is the passage of legislation: the Equality Act. The fight to get that law passed goes back to 1974 and two pieces of legislation, one by Bella Abzug of NY, and one by Robert N.C. Nix, one of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus. Nix was from Philadelphia.

It terms of politics, another cultural change from years of work came when a gay man and former veteran from South Bend Indiana who would become know as Mayor Pete, became the first truly competitive openly gay candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination. His campaign energized the LGBTQ community across the nation, and along the way he humanized who we were by showcasing his husband Chasten, their dogs and his quick wit and eloquent speech.

The pinnacle of Mayor Pete’s year was when he was nominated to President Biden’s cabinet and will soon become the first out candidate confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Some point out that Trump appointed a gay man as acting Intelligence Chief. He was never confirmed for that position by the Senate, and on a more important note his legacy in that position will be that under his watch this nation was attacked by the largest cyber warfare in history.

Also in the political arena, members of our community ran and in many cases won more political races then at any time in history. Over 400 in one year. As a result we now have OUT governors, senators, congresspeople, judges, state senators, state representatives, mayors, city council people, and even school board members. Much of this is the result of the impressive work of the Victory Fund, who since 1991 made it their mandate to discover, support, and nurture candidates from the LGBT community. All of these candidates stand on the shoulders of people like Kathy Kozachenko, who became the first out person elected to any office in this nation to the city council in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1974, followed by Elaine Nobel to the Massachusetts State House in 1975, and Barney Frank to Congress in 1980.

If all of this were not enough, the President, Joe Biden, proudly announced that his incoming administration had appointed members of the LGBT community to 11% of the high-level positions in the White House.

But it is disheartening that many of the LGBT media and writers who compiled their list ignored a story that has haunted us all year, the horrific murders of our trans community.   This alone might explain why many in our own community do not take this issue as one that needs our attention, and needs it now. At least 43 trans people were killed in the U.S. in 2020. That ranks only behind Mexico and Brazil.

It’s an understatement to say there is much work to be done in 2021. But, as always, we’ll continue to stand up and fight.