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Relive 17 Of The Biggest LGBT Political Stories Of 2014

The year 2014 saw enormous gains on LGBT rights as well as the pushback by the determined enemies of equality. Marriage equality moved at its fastest pace, but so did the mantra of "religious liberties" and the attempt to write laws against LGBT people in a host of other areas. More and more politicians supported LGBT rights, but the 2014 mid-term election saw wins by more anti-equality candidates than we've seen in a long time. Many LGBT activists, however, showed their determination and their collective power as well, demanding full civil rights and making it clear there is no turning back.

Below, relive some of the biggest political stories of 2014.

  • 1 Oregon Baker Becomes Darling Of Christian Right
    YouTube
    The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries announced in January that Sweet Cakes by Melissa violated Oregon’s anti-discrimination statute when it refused to sell a wedding cake to a lesbian couple. The decision set in a motion a series of actions and reactions among anti-LGBT forces, as Sweet Cakes owner Melissa Klein became a cause célèbre for anti-LGBT activists, closing her business rather than bake cakes for gay and lesbian couples. Claiming that she faced a $150,000 fine, Klein broke down in tears at the annual Values Values Voter Summit in September, as religious conservative activists applauded her refusal to serve gays.
  • 2 Arizona “Religious Liberties” Law Goes Down In Flames
    In February the Arizona Legislature passed a bill that would have allowed businesses to turn away people based on “religious
    Robin Marchant via Getty Images
    In February the Arizona Legislature passed a bill that would have allowed businesses to turn away people based on “religious freedom.” Inspired by anti-LGBT advocates reacting to cases in other states, the law would have allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT people or anyone with whom a business owner disagreed on religious grounds. After a national uproar, with major corporations from Apple to Delta Airlines condemning the bill and threats of a boycott emerging, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill. But as predicted, other states vowed to reword bills they had in the works. A few months later Mississippi passed a more carefully worded -- but, to civil rights advocates, no less dangerous -- “religious freedom” law. By year's end, Michigan, Texas and other states were embarking on similar laws.
  • 3 Gay Marriage Gains Huge Momentum
    This year was a bonanza for marriage equality, as 18 more states saw gay and lesbian couples walking down the aisle, bringing
    Alija
    This year was a bonanza for marriage equality, as 18 more states saw gay and lesbian couples walking down the aisle, bringing the total number to 35 with more on the way. The bulk of those states became equal when the U.S. Supreme Court in October let stand three different circuit court rulings, which upheld lower court rulings striking down bans. States in which activists thought marriage equality was years off — like Utah and Oklahoma — had gay and lesbian couples celebrating big wins. In some states, like Alaska and Kansas, Republican leaders and anti-LGBT advocates fought on, in ugly and futile attempts to stop what was clearly unstoppable. By year's end, Mississippi’s ban on gay marriage was overturned, as was Florida’s; the Mississippi decision was stayed pending appeal, but the Supreme Court refused to stay the Florida decision and couples were set to beginning marrying in January. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, however, breaking with the other circuit courts, upheld marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, setting up what court watchers expected would be a final U.S. Supreme Court decision on marriage equality in 2015.
  • 4 Gay Democrats Re-Elected, Gay GOPers Lose Big
    In the 2014 mid-term elections, which saw a GOP surge, two gay Republicans were hoping to make history by becoming the first
    Boston Globe via Getty Images
    In the 2014 mid-term elections, which saw a GOP surge, two gay Republicans were hoping to make history by becoming the first openly gay non-incumbent GOPers elected to Congress. In the case of Richard Tisei, he would have been the first Republican elected to Congress from Massachusetts in 20 years. But after embattled, long-time Democratic incumbent John Tierney lost his Democratic primary in a surprise upset, Tisei’s fortunes shifted dramatically as he faced the pro-gay, progressive Democrat and former Marine, Seth Moulton, who lapped to victory. Meanwhile, former San Diego City Councilmember Carl DeMaio had the backing of the House GOP leadership and House Speaker John Boehner, who helped raise money for him in his bid for a House seat in a San Diego district. But DeMaio became mired in scandal after two former campaign aides alleged he’d sexually harassed them, masturbating in front of them. On election night the race went down to the wire, with incumbent Democrat Scott Peters retaining his seat days later after provisional ballots were counted. All six Democratic openly gay and bisexual members of the House were re-elected in 2014: David Cicilline (Rhode Island); Sean Patrick Maloney (New York); Jared Polis (Colorado); Mark Pocan (Wisconsin); Kirsten Sinema; and Mark Takano (California). Overall, however, 2014 was a year in which anti-equality candidates made major gains, helping Republicans take the Senate, win or retain governorships in the states, and bring more Republicans to state legislatures than since the 1920s.
  • 5 LGBT Groups Dump ENDA
    In an extraordinary turn of events, LGBT groups that lobbied for years for the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination A
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In an extraordinary turn of events, LGBT groups that lobbied for years for the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which passed the Senate in 2013 after 20 years, pulled support for ENDA in July as the bill languished in the House because of its broad religious exemption. Opposition had been brewing for a long time, with groups such as the Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union warning that the religious exemption in ENDA would exempt those who were most likely to discriminate, such as religious schools or hospitals. But it wasn’t until the Supreme Court’s ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. -- which allowed the arts and crafts chain and other “closely held” companies to deny certain forms of birth control to women in health insurance plans based on the business owners' religious convictions -- that groups saw the danger of the ENDA exemption enough to pull support. Openly gay Congressman Jared Polis hoped to get a version of ENDA with a more narrow exemption voted on in the House, but the Republican leadership refused to take up a vote on ENDA and let it die. While the Human Rights Campaign was among the few groups to still support the bill by year's end, the largest LGBT group also called for a full civil rights bill to be introduced in 2015, one that would encompass public accommodation, housing and credit in addition to employment.
  • 6 U.S. Government, World Health Organization Back Truvada
    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control in May put the weight of the federal government behind pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP),
    Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control in May put the weight of the federal government behind pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the once-a-day pill known as Truvada, that prevents HIV infection, describing PrEP “as one prevention option for sexually-active adult MSM (men who have sex with men) at substantial risk of HIV acquisition.” Advised to be used in conjunction with condoms, PrEP was also backed in 2014 by the World Health Organization, which called for wider access to PrEP among gay and bisexual men, as did Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the Human Rights Campaign. The institutional and governmental backing only furthered sometimes furious but much-needed debate about Truvada among gay and bisexual men and HIV/AIDS activists. Some saw it as a great prevention tool which gay and bisexual men and transgender women should take advantage of, while other men, young and older, weighed in with their concerns about the future of condom use and about other sexually transmitted diseases. Everyone seemed to agree the vital discussion needed to continue into 2015.
  • 7 Major League Football Takes Political Heat
    The NFL, which publicly supported Michael Sam as the first openly gay player drafted to the NFL in 2014, came under fire from
    Ronald Martinez via Getty Images
    The NFL, which publicly supported Michael Sam as the first openly gay player drafted to the NFL in 2014, came under fire from politicians not only for treating the issue of domestic abuse lightly in the case of the Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice. Openly gay state Sen. Scott Dibble in Minnesota, along with 16 other legislators, wrote a letter to the Minnesota Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, expressing outrage that Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer was given only a two-game suspension after telling a group of players, including marriage Equality supporter Chris Kluwe, "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.” Dibble threatened the state would renege on lucrative tax breaks and state money the Vikings has counted on -- including the state’s having subsided the building of team’s new stadium -- saying that if Priefer had said the same thing about any other group he’d be fired. The political pressure might have been one reason why the Vikings, in its settlement with Kluwe, who’d claimed he was cut because of his advocacy and threatened a lawsuit, gave an undisclosed amount to five gay groups, instituted sensitivity training for players and planned a symposium for for 2015 focused on LGBT issues and professional athletes.
  • 8 Houston’s Mayor Parker Battles Anti-Gay Leaders
    Houston's openly lesbian Mayor Annise Parker led the charge in May when the Houston City Council <a href="http://www.houstonc
    Angela Weiss via Getty Images
    Houston's openly lesbian Mayor Annise Parker led the charge in May when the Houston City Council passed an LGBT-inclusive, broad anti-discrimination measure, a major victory for America’s 4th largest city which was one of the few big cities without such protections for any groups. Parker was soon under fire from anti-gay pastors who were intent on doing whatever they could to rescind the law. After filing a lawsuit when the city determined they didn’t have enough signatures to take the issue to the ballot, the pastors claimed they were being victimized by the city because they were asked by an attorney contracted by the city to turn over their sermons and emails related to the ordinance. Even after Parker withdrew the subpoenas for the sermons — which were publicly available — saying that the controversy was a "distraction," national anti-LGBT groups like the Family Research Council and others used the incident to try to push their bogus claims that their religious freedoms are under assault.
  • 9 Brunei Institutes Sharia Law, Sparking Hotel Protests

    AOL
    Protests erupted after the oil-rich East Asian nation of Brunei instituted Sharia Law, a brutal criminal code that includes the stoning to death of known gays, lesbians, transgender people and others, as homosexuality and adultery are considered crimes punishable by execution. Protests of the Dorchester Hotels, owned by the Sultan of Brunei and which includes the famed Beverly Hills Hotel, included celebrities such as Jay Leno, while others, like Ellen DeGeneres called for a boycott. But political eyes were on President Obama, who has been doggedly pushing a secret trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that would give special economic privileges to member countries, including Brunei, which showed no sign of relenting on its brutal new criminal code.
  • 10 Sochi Olympics Spotlight Russia’s Brutal 'Gay Propaganda' Law
    The protests and boycotts targeting Russia in 2013 continued into 2014, as activists used the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi t
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    The protests and boycotts targeting Russia in 2013 continued into 2014, as activists used the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi to focus attention on violence against LGBT people in Russia and the country’s law which criminalizes individuals who expose children to homosexual “propaganda.” Olympic sponsors such as McDonalds and Coca-Cola found themselves in the crosshairs -- though they’d been warned -- finding the Winter Olympics had become a P.R. nightmare. Italian former member of Parliament and transgender activist Vladimir Luxuria, attending the games, was detained by police for wearing a rainbow flag while walking to a gay bar in Sochi, and eventually was thrown out of their country, but only after she bravely helped bring much attention to the conditions for LGBT people in Russia.
  • 11 Transgender Sailor's Discharge Puts Pressure On Ending Ban
    Transgender Navy sailor <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/landon-wilson-transgender-navy-_n_5253439" target="_blank">La
    ARMEND NIMANI via Getty Images
    Transgender Navy sailor Landon Wilson's story put a spotlight on the Pentagon's unjust policy that still doesn't allow transgender people to serve in the military. Wilson was serving as a Dominance Warfare Specialist in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Afghanistan, and was well-trained for a job for which the the military had invested half a million dollars. But when his superiors learned he was transgender after reviewing some paperwork -- ironically, when he was up for a promotion -- Wilson was promptly ejected by the Navy. Transgender people are banned from the U.S. military under a decades-old policy that still deems them as sexual deviants, suffering from a condition called “paraphilia,” even though the American Psychiatric Association revised its manual last year to state that gender nonconformity “is not itself a mental disorder.” Pressure has been building on the Pentagon and the White House -- which could change the regulation with the stroke of a pen, since it's not written into U.S. law -- to join America's allies, such as Canada, Britain, Spain and Australia, in allowing transgender people to serve openly. In May 2014, former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he was "open" to reviewing the policy, but little movement has occurred since then as activists keep up the pressure.
  • 12 St. Patrick's Day Parades Allows LGBT Group
    After more than 20 years of banning an LGBT group from marching under its own banner, and after being boycotted in 2014 by Ne
    Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    After more than 20 years of banning an LGBT group from marching under its own banner, and after being boycotted in 2014 by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade announced it would allow gays to march in 2015 under a banner for the first time. The move, however, didn't satisfy a lot of LGBT activists and angered anti-gay leaders. Parade organizers said at first that only the LGBT employee group of NBC/Universal could march, and it wasn't clear if other groups, like the Irish Gay and Lesbian Organization, which had been barred since the early 90s, would be able to march. After first accepting the change, the Catholic League's Bill Donohue announced his group would not march because, he said, a promise initially made to him that he could march under an anti-abortion banner was broken.
  • 13 NOM Banished To Basement At CPAC, Deep In Debt
    As marriage equality surged across the land, the National Organization for Marriage even found itself <a href="https://www.hu
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    As marriage equality surged across the land, the National Organization for Marriage even found itself marginalized at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in March, literally banished to a table in a basement exhibition hall of the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National, Harbor, MD, rather than holding court on a panel. More than that, NOM saw its finances collapsing, as it was reported in November to be $2.5 million dollars in debt according to it's 2013 tax filings.
  • 14 Uganda, Nigeria Pass Brutal Anti-Gay Laws
    After several years of international pressure seemed to prevent the passage of the so-called "kill the gays" bill in Uganda,
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    After several years of international pressure seemed to prevent the passage of the so-called "kill the gays" bill in Uganda, President Museveni in February signed a version of the law -- which punished homosexuality with life in prison rather than death -- a month after Nigeria's president signed a similar law. In August the Uganda law was ruled "null and void," thrown out by a high court on a technicality, though LGBT activists warned that homosexuality still remains a crime in Uganda under colonial-era laws.
  • 15 CeCe McDonald Released From Prison, Becomes Trans Activist
    YouTube
    In January CeCe McDonald left prison, having served 19 months a on a 41 month prison sentence, after being convicted of second degree manslaughter — in a plea deal she took to avoid possible murder convictions and perhaps 80 years in prison — for using deadly force to protect herself during a brutal transphobic and racist assault in Minneapolis. McDonald gave interviews and spoke out out throughout 2014, making sure her voice was heard, with the help of transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox (who is working on a documentary, "Free CeCe"), transgender author Janet Mock and others. Her story as a then-23-year-old African-American transgender woman defending herself amid a hate attack perpetrated by an older white man was yet another example in the media spotlight in 2014 of the injustice of our criminal justice system.
  • 16 President Obama Signs Historic Employment Non-Discrimination Executive Order
    For several years, LGBT activists pressured President Obama to make good on his promise to sign a bill banning discrimination
    Leigh Vogel via Getty Images
    For several years, LGBT activists pressured President Obama to make good on his promise to sign a bill banning discrimination in employment among federal contractors. The calls become more urgent when it became clear that ENDA had no chance of passing and that he could give protections to at least some workers. Finally, in July the president signed the historic order, bringing workplace equality for those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender among the 28 million workers -- about one-fifth of the nation's workforce -- who are federal contractors.
  • 17 LGBT Protests Rock the Idaho Capitol
    In 2014 Idaho represented change underway in deep red states across America and the promise for the future as LGBT people wer
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In 2014 Idaho represented change underway in deep red states across America and the promise for the future as LGBT people were refusing second class citizenship. Not only did marriage equality come to the state, but it elected its first openly gay male legislator, John McCrostie, (only Idaho's second openly gay or lesbian legislator), and activists staged a series of civil disobedience demonstrations at Idaho's statehouse during the legislative session with more than 100 people arrested on 192 charges. The "Add the 4 Words" protests demanded that sexual orientation and gender identity be added to the states' anti-discrimination laws, as protestors entered the Capitol, sat down and refused to leave the building, calling full civil rights. Even the judge who dismissed the charges against most while fining or sentencing some to community service, admired what the protestors did. "What I appreciate about the approach you all took is the American tradition of civil disobedience is we all disobey and then we take our consequences,” Magistrate Judge Michael Oths said to the courtroom “It does take some guts to stand up in civil disobedience and take the penalty, and I respect that...I respect your courage in doing what you did.” Here's hoping that LGBT Idahoans inspire all of us in 2015.