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2013: The Good and the Bad

Andrew Sullivan takes a stab at writing a wrap-up of the news in 2013. He started out depressed, ticking off all of the bad things and ugly trends that happened or continued. But then he started to notice some of the good things, especially when it comes to equality.

Like many a columnist, I was tasked with an end-of-the-year column, and couldn’t really decide what to say. Here’s what I felt: 2013 was one of the most dreary and depressing I can remember. Politically, it seemed scarred by the Republicans’ ever greater extremism and by the Obama administration’s surprising incompetence. Brutal, dispiriting gridlock and the lame embers of an exhausted culture war set the tone for the rest. It was a year in which most of the forces propelling our culture and politics seemed played out: Obama reached his delivery moment, and he was horribly exposed. The GOP had already seen their electoral crisis the year before, and yet they failed to grasp the nettle of immigration reform and, if anything, took pure nullification to newly manic levels in the states and the Congress. No deal on long-term debt; no immigration reform; no serious infrastructure investment; and a horrible roll-out of healthcare reform.

Still, I had no sooner spelled out these core, depressing facts than I kept thinking of the other, less noticed ones. There were, after all, plenty of reasons for be cheerful in 2013…

And in the US, one huge social shift cemented itself. The last few years have seen a revolution in the way in which gay people are integrated into society. 2013 saw not only the Supreme Court place the federal government firmly behind state-sanctioned gay civil marriages, but democratic legislatures also accelerated the trend across the country. There were many ways in which this titanic year for civil rights could have ended, but civil marriage for gay couples in Utah was pretty damn good. Nine more states now issue marriage licenses for gays than did this time last year – doubling the entire roster in just twelve months. Another, Illinois, will see its first weddings next June. In 2013, England, Wales, Scotland, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand, Mexico and France introduced marriage equality. The new Pope, for his part, defused the extremely tense religious and cultural debate by refusing to “judge” a gay person genuinely seeking to follow Christ. By any standards, this was a watershed year for an issue that has vexed humanity for centuries.

Indeed. The last few years have seen a very clear trend that has told me, as I’ve expressed many times, that greater equality for LGBT people is inevitable. But 2013 really felt like a huge tipping point that will propel us in that direction with even greater speed. Bad things happen. Good things happen. As Martin Luther King suggested, the arc of history is long but it bends toward justice.

Comments

  1. doublereed says

    The ACLU also had an article about 2013 showed significant progress against the death penalty. While Maryland eliminated the Death Penalty, Virginia is notable for not having any death sentences this year despite traditionally being a execution heavy state.

  2. John Pieret says

    At the beginning of the year, 14% of Americans lived in jurisdictions that permitted same sex marriage. At year’s end 38% live in such jurisdictions.

  3. says

    I’mp retty surewe we could find a better voice for the social progress that we’ve made than Andrew “I got mine, fuck the rest of you” Sullivan

  4. says

    @Cynickal: There may be other, more progressive voices out there who agree with you more often, but when someone you don’t like is tooting the equality horn, that just makes it sweeter – as well as underscoring the inevitability of the movement.

  5. mobius says

    Equality has had its ups and downs in America over the past year. Certainly the GLBT community has seen progress, and that is a good thing. But on the racial and economic fronts we have seen the Republicans enact laws that are less than equal…to say the least. The voter suppression laws that have been enacted are a case in point.

    And as for the GLBT community, in states like Oklahoma (my home state, sadly) the inequality has just become more entrenched.

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