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2011: The year of gay rights

2011 will be remembered as an important year for LGBT rights

It might lack the drama of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, but 2011 will be marked in the history books as a monumental year for LGBT equality.

National Public Radio examined the state of  gay equality in  an end of the year round-up. From the demise of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to marriage equality in New York, LGBT rights became more mainstream in the United States.

"Increasingly, people are seeing LGBT people as not these sort of existential, scary, bogy-monster threats to the institution of marriage, but people who have a right to equal treatment under the law," writer Dan Savage said in the radio piece.

The columnist, instrumental in the It Gets Better campaign, also pointed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent United Nations speech on gay rights.

While few doubt the importance of marriage rights in New York, the end of DADT is probably the most significant gay rights moment since the Supreme Court's 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision striking down anti-sodomy laws.

From December 1993 until this past September, DADT was the United State's official policy on gays in the armed forces. Gay sailors and soldiers could not be discriminated against, but LGBT troops were not to openly discuss their orientations. If a soldier's sexuality became public, no matter the manner, he/she could be dismissed. The  Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an organization focused on gay equality in the military, estimates over 14,000 troops were discharged under DADT.

During the debate for the policy change, many argued allowing open service would be detrimental to unit cohesion. Gen. James Amos, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, voiced early reservations about the inclusion of gay troops. However, he recently announced open service was a "non-event." 

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