The good, the bad, the in-between — what made the news for New England LGBTs in 2012
• The Advocate ranked Cambridge as the 3rd-gayest city in America in its annual report. The designation came with references to the town’s having nude yoga classes, WNBA teams, and appearances by bands such as the Veronicas and the Cliks. (Boston received an honorable mention at 24.)
• The Health Resources and Services Administration, of the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, awarded a $248,000 grant to The Fenway Institute to fund the creation of a national training and technical assistance center for LGBT health issues, marking the first time the HRSA has funded an LGBT-focused cooperative agreement of this scale.
• Mayors for the Freedom to Marry organization launched with 116 New England mayors and counting. The bipartisan coalition affirmed their support of same-sex couples to marry, saying “it enhances the economic competitiveness of our communities, improves the lives of families that call our cities home, and is simply the right thing to do.” Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is one of five co-chairs.
• The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) awarded Boston-based State Street Corporation one of its top Diversity Leadership Awards. NLGCC called attention to the fact that all of the bank’s top-level management participated in training that introduced employees “to new ways of thinking around inclusion and unconscious biases.”
• On February 21, the AIDS Action Committee (AAC) opened a new drop-in center and an on-site MOMS Pharmacy, specializing in HIV/AIDS treatment, at its Jackson Square location.
• On February 29, Lady Gaga officially launched the Born This Way Foundation, focusing on empowering youth and standing up against bullying, at Harvard University. On the same day, a Harvard University student organization called Their Day in the Yard staged a rally in order to bring attention to the historical injustices brought against gay students in the 1920s, known popularly as Harvard’s “secret court.”
• In Massachusetts, the Senate passed a bill on March 1 to make HIV testing easier by removing written consent requirements while maintaining patients’ privacy. Currently the only other state that requires written consent is Nebraska.
• On March 6, Eastern Bank announced the election of three prominent LGBT leaders to positions on their boards. Rebecca Haag, CEO of AIDS Action Committee, was elected to their Board of Trustees. Kara Suffredini, Executive Director of MassEquality, and Gunner Scott, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, were elected to their Board of Corporators, where they will represent the local community.
• The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted on March 21 to kill a bill that would have replaced legal marriages for same-sex couples with civil unions, meaning that New Hampshire’s same-sex marriage laws remain intact.
• Todd Giroux, former candidate for Rhode Island governor, became one of a handful of openly gay candidates running for U.S. Senate. He ran as a Democrat and announced his bid to take fellow Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse’s seat.
• In Rhode Island, gay out-of-state marriages became fully recognized, according to an executive order issued by Governor Lincoln Chafee on May 14.
• On May 31, a federal appeals court in Boston upheld a lower court’s ruling that said DOMA was unconstitutional for interfering with the right of a state to define marriage. This ruling follows the Obama administration’s announcement last year that they believed DOMA to be unconstitutional and would no longer defend it in federal court.
• The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released its 2012 Healthcare Equality Index, rating 11 Boston area healthcare facilities. Eight were named “Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality” for their perfect scores: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Faulkner Hospital, Fenway Health, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, Mount Auburn Hospital, and Newton-Wellesley Hospital.
• A new source of funding became available for Boston organizations seeking to provide support and services for the LGBTQ community with the Boston Foundation launching the Equality Fund. This is one of a myriad of funds that the Boston Foundation offers to provide ongoing support to advance equitable treatment for LGBTQ people and their families.
• Massachusetts’ Transgender Equal Rights Bill came into effect on July 1. Hailed as a major step forward in the rights of transgender people, it bars discrimination in employment, housing, education, and lending, but does not address the controversial right to access public accommodations.
• Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank married Jim Ready on Saturday, July 7, making Frank the first member of Congress to be married to a partner of the same sex. Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts officiated, and guests included House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and Senator John Kerry. Frank announced last year that he will retire from office in 2012.
• In Massachusetts, a Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth was approved for the 2013 fiscal year. LGBT rights advocates such as MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini, Esq. expect it to have a large impact on LGBT youth, with up to 40 percent of homeless youth estimated to be LGBT.
* Owners of the Wildflower Inn in Vermont agreed to pay the Vermont Human Rights Commission $10,000 and donate $20,000 to a charitable trust as part of a settlement reached with lesbian couple Ming and Kate Linsley, who were denied the ability to hold their wedding reception at the inn in 2010. Innkeepers Jim and Mary O’Relly said that they had since independently decided to stop hosting weddings and receptions.
• U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf that ruled that prison inmate Michelle Kosilek must receive sex reassignment surgery. The state of Massachusetts announced it will appeal the decision.
• In Connecticut, DOMA was once again found unconstitutional for denying tax, health and other benefits to married gay couples.
• The Supreme Court chose not to hear an appeal by the National Organization of Marriage (NOM), meaning that the anti-gay rights group had to release the names of donors to their 2009 campaign to overturn legal marriage for same-sex couples.
• In the case Doe v. Clenchy, a Superior Court judge in Maine dismissed the case of a transgender girl who was refused access to the girls’ elementary school restrooms. The ruling on November 21 said that the school was not “deliberately indifferent” to the discrimination she went through. The lawsuit was filed by the parents of the transgender girl with the help of Gay and Lesbian Advocate and Defenders (GLAD) and the Maine Human Rights Commission, who intend to appeal the decision to the Maine Supreme Court.
• New Hampshire Representative-elect Stacie Laughton, who made headlines when she became the first out transgender woman to be elected into state office, handed in her letter of resignation on November, 28 after details of her criminal history came to light.
• Boston, Massachusetts received a perfect 100 score in the Human Rights Campaign’s new Municipal Equality Index, which rates 137 cities across the country for their LGBT-friendliness in areas such as city leadership, marriage equality, employment and public accommodations. Other New England cities scored include Cambridge, MA (100), Hartford, CT (95), Providence, RI (76), and Montpelier, VT (68), Augusta, ME (67), Northampton, MA (64), and Provincetown, MA (59).
• In Massachusetts, gay candidate Republican Richard Tisei lost his bid for Congress against John Tierney, a gay-friendly Democrat who received an endorsement by outgoing Rep. Barney Frank (MA-D).
• Same-sex couples in Maine are expected to be allowed to marry beginning on December 29. Maine voters legalized marriage equality this November. The vote was a definitive reversal of opinion and many hours of door-to-door campaigning following the 2009 ballot vote in which Mainers voted against marriage equality.
• On World AIDS Day, December 1, 2012, Act-Up Boston members held a rally at U.S. Senator John Kerry’s Beacon Hill home calling for more resources in the global battle against AIDS.
(Compiled and written by Alan Tran and Brian McCluskey.)
The author is solely responsible for the content.