Top 5 Nation + World Stories of the Year

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Top5NationAndWorldAbstr_394381578.jpgThe battle to repeal DADT
On Feb. 2, the U.S. Defense Department started the clock on what was expected to be a several-year process in repealing the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Eleven months later, President Obama signed into law a bill lifting its ban on gays from serving openly in the military. For more on the decision see our year in review story on politics on Page 7.

The “It Gets Better” project

Sadly, this year the nation witnessed a rash of LGBT teen suicides as a result of homophobic school bullying. The victims included Billy Lucas, 15, a Greensburg, Ind., teen who hanged himself; Asher Brown, 13, of Houston, who shot himself with his father’s handgun; and Tyler Clementi, 18, the Rutgers University freshman who jumped off the George Washington Bridge in New York. In response, supporters from around the globe created YouTube videos to tell LGBT youth facing harassment that, yes, it does indeed get better, and the “It Gets Better” project was born.

Overturn of Prop 8
In August, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker struck down Prop 8, the voter-approved measure that banned same-sex marriages in California. The federal judge’s decision came five months after the state’s highest court legalized the practice, and after an estimated 18,000 couples from around the nation had tied the knot. Gay marriage foes appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; a decision is pending. Most observers and participants believe the case is destined for the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Ugandan “Kill the Gays” law
Early this year, the world leaders urged Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to oppose a proposed law that mandates a death sentence for active homosexuals living with HIV or in cases of same-sex rape. Under the law, which was drawn up following a visit by leaders of U.S. conservative Christian ministries that promote “conversion therapy,” anyone convicted of a homosexual act would face life imprisonment. Despite international condemnation, a Ugandan newspaper in October ran a front-page story featuring a list of Uganda’s 100 “top’’ homosexuals, with a bright yellow banner across it that read: “Hang Them.” Alongside their photos were the men’s names and addresses. The Ugandan National Assembly will likely vote on the bill in early 2011; if it passes, many African nations are expected to follow Uganda’s lead and enact similar “Kill the Gays” laws.

Iowa votes to remove judges

Three Iowa Supreme Court justices who overturned Iowa’s ban on gay marriage were removed after 54% of voters backed their ouster on Nov. 2. They were among the seven justices who unanimously decided last year that an Iowa law restricting marriage to a man and a woman violated the state’s constitution. Gay marriage foes spent an estimated $1 million on the campaign, most of which came from out-of-state groups including the New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage. Activists and legal scholars are worried that the groups that were successful in this campaign will replicate this strategy in other states whenever judges make a decision they oppose.

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