The LGBT community made great strides in 2012. On November 6, 2012, same-sex marriage came away with victories in all four states in which it was an issue at the ballot box. Ballot initiatives in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage passed in Maine, Maryland and Washington and the proposed ban against same-sex marriage in Minnesota failed. Currently, same-sex marriage is permitted in nine states: Massachusetts (May 17, 2004), Connecticut (Nov. 12, 2008), Iowa (Apr. 24. 2009), Vermont (Sep. 1, 2009), New Hampshire (Jan. 1, 2010), New York (June 24, 2011), Maryland (Nov. 6, 2012), Maine (Nov. 6, 2012), and Washington (Nov. 6, 2012) and also the District of Columbia (Mar. 3, 2010).
Other gains made in the November election came with the candidates themselves. President Barack Obama, the first sitting U.S. president officially in favor of same-sex marriage, was re-elected to a second term. On the Congressional level, Tammy Baldwin (D–Wis.) was elected as the first openly lesbian or gay U.S. Senator and was among a total of six openly gay candidates elected to Congress.
Seven state legislatures gained their first or only openly LGBT state lawmakers this year, including North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, New Mexico, Texas, Pennsylvania and Florida, which went from zero to two gay legislators. Locally, the LGBT community made great strides in Colorado in the November election. Colorado now has eight openly gay and lesbian state lawmakers, a doubling of LGBT representation from the previous session. Additionally, as Democrats again became the majority party in the House of Representatives, they elected Rep. Mark Ferrandino the first openly gay Speaker of the House.
Also in November, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari review on two cases that directly affect LGBT rights. First, the Supreme Court granted cert in Perry v. Brown, the lawsuit challenging the State of California’s Proposition 8, as passed by voters in 2008 and which rendered gay marriage illegal in California. The federal district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals previously held that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. Second, the Supreme Court granted cert in United States v. Windsor, a lesbian widow’s successful lawsuit against the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), which prohibits the recognition of marriages of gay and lesbian couples for purposes of federal law. The Supreme Court has now scheduled oral arguments in the case against California’s Proposition 8 for March 26 and in the DOMA case for March 27.
Finally, 2012 marked the first full year gay and lesbian military members could serve without the threat of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” According to studies, the repeal of DADT has not had any negative ramifications and troops are as cohesive as the previous year.