2010 Year in Review
After a year of much transition and change, Out & About Newspaper marks the local and national events that shaped our communities in 2010.
Annise Parker assumed office January 2 as Houston’s mayor—the first lesbian leader of a major American city.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Nashville dinner, which highlights the organization’s national efforts to end discrimination against members of the GLBT communities, took theme of “Tribute: 15 Years of Impact.”
Christopher (Buck) Nadeau, 38, and his partner, Brandon Jewell, 23, died on February 28 as a result of injuries they suffered in an automobile accident. The couple were traveling home after the HRC dinner when the 2007 Nissan Maxima that Nadeau was driving went off the road and struck a utility pole, killing both instantly.
School district officials in Itawamba, Miss. told Constance McMillen she couldn’t bring a same-sex date to the prom, then canceled the event when McMillen resisted their decision. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the district on McMillen’s behalf, and she secured a $35,000 settlement. The school also created a non-discrimination policy in the wake of the lawsuit.
Freshly Unpredictable, a fashion show and sole fundraiser for the GLBT Chamber of Commerce, sold out for the fifth consecutive year. The event has raised almost $90,000 since its inception in 2006.
The Middle Tennessee area was devastated when torrential rain flooded the city over the weekend of May 1-2, lifting the Cumberland River 13 feet above flood stage, causing more than $1 billion in damage, and killing more than 30 people. The lower Broadway region was shut down for weeks, and the Grand Ole Opry House experienced severe damage that caused it to close until late October.
The list of newly-out celebrities in 2010 included actors Michael Urie and Sean Hayes, pop star Ricky Martin and former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman. Christian singer Jennifer Knapp also came out in 2010, but the most notable Nashville star to say "I'm gay" this year was country singer Chely Wright. She released a fine new album, Lifted off the Ground, and a companion book, Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer, which detailed her difficult coming-out process.
Memphis-based FedEx announced that the company will begin offering insurance benefits to same-sex domestic partners in January 2012.
A judge in Massachusetts ruled unconstitutional a critical section of the Defense of Marriage Act, writing that it “plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state.”
Northeast Tennessee Pride is launched as an organization to "bring" a voice and visability to the GLBTQ community of northeast Tennessee.
About 10,000 competitors participated in Gay Games VIII, hosted by the city of Cologne, Germany. Six Nashville athletes competed in the quadrennial event, including Keith Little, who earned a team-best three medals during the week.
in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the federal challenge to California’s anti–marriage equality Proposition 8, which reached the U.S. court of appeals for the ninth circuit in early December and is expected to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On Aug. 10, the Memphis City Council took up an ordinance to amend City of Memphis Code of Ordinances to include nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. The movement was temporarily halted in September when the Tennessee Equality Project encouraged the City Council to abandon plans of passing the ordinance due to lack of support. It was reinstated in the Council's discussions in October, with the ordinance requiring three positive votes before passing.
Nancy VanReece announced plans to run for the Madison-area council seat held for the past seven years by Michael Craddock. Council elections will be held Aug. 4, 2011.
Moved by the heartbreaking suicides of several gay youth, author Dan Savage started the "It Gets Better" project. His YouTube channel eventually featured similar videos from celebrities and others, including President Obama, expressing that suicide is not a solution to avoid childhood bullying.
The list of companies that achieved a 100 rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index grew once again, to 337 in the 2011 report. Only 13 companies received the same rating in 2002. Cracker Barrel, based in Lebanon, Tenn., earned one of the biggest jumps on the survey, gaining 40 points from the previous year.
The Nashville CARES AIDS Walk raised almost $200,000 for research and educational purposes in the Middle Tennessee area.
Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam (R) easily defeated Jackson beer distributor Mike McWherter (D) in the Tennessee gubernatorial race on Tuesday, claiming 65 percent of the vote.
Republicans won three Democratic seats to take control of the congressional delegation for the first time since 2002. The GOP captured key seats in the 4th, 6th and 8th congressional districts, giving Republicans a 7-2 advantage. Republicans also increased their leads in the State Senate and the House of Representative. On the national front, the GOP earned 60 more seats in the House than they had held, while the Democrats fended off a difficult challenge to maintain a slim majority in the Senate.
Robbie Maris, a senior at Belmont University, requests that Bridge Builders, a student-led organization promoting GLBT awareness, be recognized as a student organization. Although the group has made repeated requests to the administration, the effort has been halted by school officials. Earlier in the month, Vanderbilt University Christian fraternity Beta Upsilon Chi is accused of removing two gay members.
The 17-year-old policy, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," prohibiting gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, was repealed. In October, a federal district court judge had declared it unconstitutional and issued an injunction prohibiting the Department of Defense from enforcing or complying with the policy. The appellate court stayed the injunction pending appeal; thus "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" remained in effect. On November 12, the US Supreme Court refused to overturn the stay. A Pentagon study was released on November 30, with 70 percent of those surveyed expressing the opinion that gays serving openly in the military would cause little to no distraction. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" had originally been tied to a larger military bill, but the House and Senate only voted in favor of repeal after it was introduced as a stand-alone measure. President Obama signed the bill on December 22.