2018 was so full of consequential news items for the LGBTQ community, for both good and ill, that it is hard to believe they all took place this year. The momentum of these events will continue to carry into the new year, in many cases in ways that will have long reaching consequences.
LGBTQ Representation on the U.S. Olympic TeamRonald Martinez/Getty Images
The U.S. Olympic team included three LGBTQ athletes who competed in Korea. Skier Gus Kenworthy returned to the Olympics after winning silver in 2014, when he was not yet out. He was joined by figure skater Adam Rippon, who won a bronze medal, and speed skater Brittany Bowe.
Rippon and Kenworthy opted not to attend the traditional White House visit after the games in protest of Trump’s policies. Rippon also made headlines during the Olympics for criticizing the choice of Vice President Mike Pence to lead the U.S. Team during the delegation.
Anti-Gay Baker Wins Supreme Court CaseHyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images
In June, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, claiming it violated his religious beliefs and right to free speech. While the court handed down a narrow ruling that didn’t touch the constitutional question at hand, and instead decided Phillips wasn’t given a fair hearing by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, those who favor religious exemptions to non-discrimination laws celebrated the victory.
Brett Kavanaugh Confirmed to Supreme CourtChip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court after a contentious debate, after Christine Blasey Ford testified that he had sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school. The addition of Kavanaugh to the high court makes it more conservative, as he replaced outgoing moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Kavanaugh was opposed by LGBTQ and civil rights groups, and refused to say whether he felt Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, was correctly decided.
The Supreme Court has several cases it could decide to take up that would shape the landscape of LGBTQ rights in this country. That includes a case that could decide the religious exemption issue that was left undecided in the Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling. Additionally, three petitions seek clarification on whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, barring employment discrimination on the basis of sex, protects LGBTQ people in the workplace.
The Rainbow Wave HitsMark Wilson/Getty Images
The 2018 midterm elections saw a historic number of LGBTQ candidates run for office and win.
In total, there were more than 600 openly LGBTQ candidates who launched bids for office this year, with 432 making it onto the ballot. A total of 56.5% of openly LGBTQ candidates won their races, including over 70% of those endorsed by Victory Fund.
Democrats Take Back the HouseJabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Democrats won back control of the House, giving them the ability to slow the momentum of the Trump administration’s agenda by providing an important check when the new year starts. It also gives them subpoena power to begin investigating Trump’s business ties and how they might be influencing his policy, as well as possible collusion with Russia in the 2016 presidential election.
Massachusetts Votes Yes on 3Michael Swensen for The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Voters in Massachusetts voted to protect transgender people from discrimination. Nearly 70% voted to uphold Senate Bill 2407, a piece of legislation from 2016 that “prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in public places like hotels, restaurants, and retail stores.”
Trump’s Trans Military Ban Works its Way Through the CourtsErik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
The Trump administration’s attempts to ban transgender soldiers from the military has continued to work its way through the courts this year, losing at every turn. The administration unveiled a new version of the ban, and asked the Supreme Court to take up the issue, bypassing lower courts. While the high court has the ability to do so, it is rare that it deems such a move necessary.
Trump’s Dangerous HIV/AIDS RecordChen Mengtong/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images
To hear Vice President Mike Pence tell it, in a speech delivered to mark World AIDS Day, the Trump administration is on the side of those living with HIV and is committed to ending the epidemic both here and abroad. The record, however, tells a different tale.
While Trump did sign an extension to PEPFAR, to fight the disease globally, he also twice asked for cuts to the program, in the 2018 and 2019 budgets, despite its effectiveness. Those efforts have been blocked by Congress.
The administration also moved millions from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program to put toward housing increasing numbers of immigrant children following crackdowns on undocumented refugees.
Trump Removes LGBTQ Worker Protections From Trade DealState Department photo by Ron Przysucha / Public Domain
A new North American trade agreement, signed earlier this month, was modified with a footnote on the Trump administration’s urging removing protections for LGBTQ workers.
The United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), which is also known as the “New NAFTA” deal, includes language ensuring each country “shall implement policies that it considers appropriate to protect workers against employment discrimination on the basis of sex (including with regard to sexual harassment), pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, and caregiving responsibilities.”
However, a footnote allows the U.S. to continue not offering protections other than to federal employees.
In another example of the administration exporting its anti-LGBTQ worldview abroad, it has also been working to remove the word “transgender” from UN documents.
Anti-Transgender Violence Epidemic ContinuesTowfiqu Photography/Getty Images
Sadly, 2018 has yet again seen an alarming number of transgender people killed.
There have been at least 25 transgender people known to have been killed in the United States this year alone. They are: Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, Viccky Gutierrez, Celine Walker, Tonya Harvey, Zakaria Fry, Phylicia Mitchell, Amia Tyrae Berryman, Sasha Wall, Carla Patricia Flores-Pavón, Nino Fortson, Gigi Pierce, Antash’a English, Keisha Wells, Cathalina Christina James, Sasha Garden, Diamond Stephens, Dejanay Stanton, Vontashia Bell, Shantee Tucker, London Moore, Nikki Enriquez, Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier, Tydi Dansbury, Roxsana Hernández, and Kelly Stough.