As 2020 finally trickles to a close, we’re taking a look back at the biggest news- both good and bad- regarding same-sex marriage equality and other LGBTQ rights. Read on for the full story.
2020 in Review: Biggest Same-Sex Marriage & Other LGBTQ News Stories of the Year
Op-Ed. It’s been a very long and strange year all around, filled with suffering, sadness, and grief. Yet, there was also light, hope, and joy.
Good or bad, just or unjust, a lot happened regarding LGBTQ issues and rights. Let’s head all the way back to January and start our 2020 year in review.
January 2020 saw Northern Ireland finally open the doors to legal same-sex marriages. Just under a month later, when the legislation went into effect, Sharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples became the very first lesbian couple to tie the knot.
Back on our side of the pond in the US, New Hampshire made headlines by enacting a law allowing residents to choose a third gender option on their driver’s licenses. They joined 12 other states (Oregon was the very first) that offer a non-binary option.
Down in Virginia, lawmakers introduced four new bills that advance LGBTQ rights, explains LGBTQ Nation. Along with bills that support transgender rights, the state also repealed their ban on same-sex marriage.
The month wasn’t all good news, unfortunately. South Dakota spent the end of January 2020 enacting a law preventing doctors and other medical professionals from providing healthcare to transgender youth. According to Dakota News Now,
The bill would make it a misdemeanor for physicians to perform surgeries, administer hormone therapy or prescribe puberty-blocking medication to kids under 16.
Later that month, on February 25th, Israel allowed transgender citizens to change their gender on their passports without requiring a surgery to have taken place. Two day later, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that denying access to surrogacy for same-sex couples is discriminatory and unconstitutional.
Back in the US, Philadelphia made headlines when the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Fulton vs. City of Philadelphia. The outcome is still pending. Should the court side with Fulton, publicly funded foster care agencies could find it easier to discriminate against same-sex couples.
In entertainment news, Pixar’s Onward became the first Disney film to feature an openly gay character. While Million Moms- of course- boycotted Disney for “forcing LGBTQ agenda on kids,” that same community took to Twitter to say “WAY too little, too late.”
By March, COVID-19 led to governors instituting stay-at-home orders and bans on large gatherings. Coronavirus crashed big weddings around the nation and led to massive changes across the entire industry.
While many couples opted to postpone or cancel entirely, one NYC lesbian couple made news in all the best ways by tying the knot right in the middle of the street.
Despite the pandemic’s threat, Mexico celebrated 10 years of marriage equality with a mass wedding.
March also saw both Virginia and Canada sign into law a bill banning conversion therapy for minors.
Plus, after fighting for decades, same-sex couples won the right to be recognized on the 2020 census (with caveats, of course). Brian Johnson, the CEO of the Equality Illinois explained,
The only way that LGBTQ people are going to be identified as LGBTQ people is if we are in a same-sex marriage and we respond affirmatively to that. But we know that it is still critical that we are counted. LGBTQ people have multiple identities and we want to be counted in as many of those identities as we can.
Over in Hong Kong, the High Court issued a ruling that made it possible for same-sex couples in need to access public housing.
In April of 2020 the FDA finally relaxed the ban on blood donations from gay men. It’s sad that it took them needing something from the community to actually even start the process of removing a ban that is both discriminatory and scientifically unsound, according to their own studies.
Virginia made headlines again, this time for becoming the first state to introduce “comprehensive protections” for its LGBTQ citizens.
Of the bill, Governor Northam said,
This legislation sends a strong, clear message—Virginia is a place where all people are welcome to live, work, visit, and raise a family.
We are building an inclusive Commonwealth where there is opportunity for everyone, and everyone is treated fairly. No longer will LGBTQ Virginians have to fear being fired, evicted, or denied service in public places because of who they are.
Texas, on the other hand, made headlines for all the wrong reasons after Judge Brian Keith Umphress filed a lawsuit attempting to bar the state from disciplining discriminatory judges like him who refuse to officiate same-sex weddings.
On the other side of the Atlantic, April also saw the legalization for same-sex marriage in Sark, a small island in the English Channel. They were the very last of the British Isles to get onboard with marriage equality.
In COVID news, Franklin Graham made all of the volunteers for his NYC tent hospital sign statements condemning gay marriage. But he’d like you to know that he’s not homophobic. Nope. Not even a little.
Meanwhile, Idaho spent the night before their entire state went into lockdown passing anti-transgender laws. To add insult to injury, they did it on the eve of International Transgender Day of Visibility.
Franklin Graham- still not a homophobic- got the boot from NYC. They told him to pack up his tent hospital and hit the road.
Former Pope Benedict XVI, attacked marriage equality during an interview ahead of his book release.
Also in May ,gay widower Michael Ely won a landmark case granting him rights to his lifelong partner’s Social Security benefits. The couple spent 43 years together, but were only “legally” married for 6 months- after Arizona overturned their gay marriage ban.
The US made headlines around the world, and not in a good way. The Commission on Unalienable Rights, created by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, released a report that could have long-term devastating effects on LGBTQ rights around the world.
At the end of May, another report came out showing the impact that same-sex marriage rights have on the economy. Gay and lesbian weddings added about $3.8 billion to the US economy since Obergefell.
Pride Month began with a florist refusing to sell floral arrangements to a same-sex couple for their wedding, and only got more disturbing from there.
On June 12th, Trump’s Department of Health and Human Service rolled back an Obama executive order protecting transgender people from healthcare discrimination. Rolling it back means that doctors, hospitals, and other medical professionals can deny access to healthcare to someone simply because they are transgender.
That same day, Trump announced plans for a new immigration rule that would make it nearly impossible for LGBTQ refugees to seek asylum. According to Human Rights Watch,
The regulation would force asylum seekers to declare the “particular social group” they belong to during their first asylum hearing. This would force LGBTQ+ people who may have lived closeted for most of their lives to out themselves immediately to a potentially hostile judge.
Amidst all of this, the Trump administration had the gall to publish a claim that Trump has “taken unprecedented steps” to protect the LGBTQ community. In response, Human Rights Watch published the real list of Trump’s “unprecedented steps.”
There is a bit of good news, though. On June 15th, the Supreme Court ruled to extend federal job protections to LGBTQ workers.
Then there was this bit of wonderful news: a lesbian couple painted their entire house like a Pride flag to shut down homophobic attacks from neighbors.
Across the globe, Romania failed to ban same-sex marriage, so they set their sites on keeping LGBTQ education from schools. All schools, including university-level programs.
In Switzerland, marriage equality became an attainable goal, as the bill passed in the National Council. It would take the rest of the year to become a reality (they just passed it in December), but it signaled progress.
July saw Montenegro vote to legalize same-sex civil unions, Thailand approve them (with a catch), and Russia ban same-sex marriages entirely. Down in Baja, Mexico, lawmakers came just 2 votes short of finally passing a marriage equality bill.
Sudan finally stopped killing people for being gay by taking the death penalty off the table. However, homosexuality is still a crime in the country.
Remember that florist who refused same-sex couples last month? Well, Ketchikan Alaska– the town she calls home- responded by passing a new law barring LGBTQ discrimination.
In entertainment news, multiple staff members of the Ellen DeGeneres show came forward to report the show’s toxic work environment. By “toxic,” we’re talking multiple sexual assault claims.
Million Moms threw a million hissy fits and boycotted all things Hallmark after the network announced that their holiday lineup would include LGBTQ storylines.
Then, in the “did I really just read that?” arena, we had Trump promoting a doctor who compares gay marriage to the “devil’s agenda” AND claims that diseases are caused by (checks notes) intercourse with demons.
August began Rhode Island changing state laws finally give both parents equal rights, rather than favoring just the “gestational parent.”
Days later, Merritt Corrigan, a Trump-appointed White House USAID liaison, lost her job on after posting a series of homophobic and transphobic tweets, then defending them as her “Christian beliefs.”
Midway through the month, a federal judged ruled in favor of allowing a wedding photographer to discriminate against same-sex couples. Interestingly, no LGBTQ couples were even asking Chelsey Nelson to shoot their wedding. Her suit was entirely a preemptive strike.
Over in the MCU, Marvel’s Wiccan & Hulking made superhero history with their same-sex wedding. Hallmark finally aired a movie that briefly featured a lesbian couple. Of course, Million Moms had about a million things to say about that as usual, calling it “sick and demonic.”
Across the ocean, Switzerland is hemming and hawing over allowing same-sex marriage. The government delayed the vote on the grounds that they needed more information.
In political news, Joe Biden earned an endorsement from the National LGBT Chamber of Congress.
Perhaps my favorite news of all- the Trump administration lost their battle against a toddler. A federal judge ruled in favor of Kessem Kiviti, child of Roee and Adiel Kiviti, two legally-wed gay U.S. citizens.
September started with actress Niecy Nash saying “I do” in the surprise lesbian wedding of the year and Star Trek introducing a non-binary character. Hallmark also finally added a real LGBTQ storyline to their holiday lineup.
Meanwhile, in “oh, the irony” news, a Ukrainian church leader who called coronavirus God’s punishment for same-sex marriage tested positive for COVID-19 himself.
Trump sided with a Catholic school’s discrimination against a teacher in a same-sex marriage. On the other hand, Biden pledged to pass the Equality Act within his first 100 days in office.
Remember the Trump administration’s attempts to remove healthcare protection for transgender citizens? Thankfully, a federal judge blocked that in October.
California also passed a law that vows to treat young LGBTQ and straight sex offenders the same, even after legislators received numerous death threats.
Then came the saddest news of all. LGBTQ-rights champion Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away.
Trump took the opportunity to shove yet another anti-LGBTQ right-wing justice into her vacated seat on the Supreme Court.
The month ended with several Christian ministries and one wedding photographer filing suits against Virginia over the state’s new LGBTQ Rights law.
The Republican party kicked off October by slamming Kamala Harris for officiating over same-sex weddings, something that just made us love her even more.
Supreme Court justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito made it clear that they’d love to see Obergefell fall. Obergefell himself spoke out against their statements. The kicker? He was joined by his opponent in the case, Hodges.
The Senate began confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barret, who was incredibly dodgy about answering any questions regarding her stance on LGBTQ rights.
Barrett passed through the hearings and succeeded in snagging RBG’s seat on the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, same-sex couples raced to get married before the Trump-stacked court could reverse marriage equality.
Perhaps the most shocking news came from Pope Francis, who made history by becoming the very first Catholic pope to endorse same-sex unions. Not marriages, mind you, but it’s a giant leap in the right direction for a religion that is notoriously unkind to the LGBTQ community.
With the Presidential race heating to a boiling point, Trump made a grab for the LGBTQ vote while Melania feigned shock that anyone could think of her husband as “anti-gay.”
Down in good old Texas, the state made it legal for social workers to refuse to work with LGBTQ and disabled clients. Towards the end of the month, after national outcry, the state reversed that decision.
Oh November, where do we even start? The nation turned out like never before to vote in the 2020 presidential election. Four days later, news outlets declared Joe Biden the winner after he secured more than 270 electoral votes.
The Washington Post credits- at least in major part- LGBTQ votes for Biden’s landslide victory. When all was said and done, Biden secured 306 votes- the same number Trump called a “landslide” in 2016.
To this day, Trump still claims he “won by a lot.” He spends most days golfing and ranting on Twitter about unsubstantiated election fraud while 3,000 Americans a day lose their lives to COVID-19.
The 2020 election also saw monumental wins for LGBTQ candidates. More than 160 emerged victorious, more than ever before.
However, Nevada does deserve a moment in the spotlight (even if they did count votes slower than it would take a turtle to circle the globe twice). The state voted to repeal the same-sex marriage ban that still sat on their books.
Down in Mexico, the state of Puebla passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage. The state also became the first to create a special unit dedicated to investigated crimes against LGBTQ citizens. Meanwhile, up in Canada, Yukon became the first territory to ban conversion therapy.
November was full of surprises, as a report released by Pew Research found that a whopping 61% of Catholics support same-sex marriage rights.
Then, right before Thanksgiving, Indiana asked the Supreme Court to grant them the ability to strip same-sex couples of their parenting rights. Less than one month later, the Supreme Court told them “no.“
Oh, and Melania hates Christmas. Like, really hates it. While that’s not really LGBTQ news, it was among the month’s biggest stories.
The last month of the year began with Biden promising to move fast to protect LGBTQ Americans. With “Moscow” Mitch McConnell still holding all of the cards as senate majority leader, Biden at every turn just for the heck of it, Biden faces monumental challenges.
Also this month, the Human Rights Campaign issued their annual report. It showed that individual cities do a better job at protecting LGBTQ citizens than states on a whole do.
Down in Louisiana, a librarian caved to pressure from conservatives and violated the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights by removing LGBTQ children’s books from the shelf.
In entertainment news, Ritz Crackers came under attack from homophobic viewers for showcasing LGBTQ people in their holiday ad. Also, Elliot Page came out as transgender earlier this month.
Midway through the month, Virginia’s GOP got together and censured a fellow Republican Congressman for “betraying” his party. His crime? Officiating over a same-sex wedding.
New York capped off the year by passing a law requiring single bathrooms to be gender-neutral.
Amazon came under fire after a report emerged showing that their Smile program (which lets you donate to a charity with your purchases) allowed over 40 anti-LGBTQ hate groups to profit from the program.
Across the ocean, Switzerland finally got around to voting on marriage equality. The measure passed with major public support. The neutral nation also voted to expand transgender rights.
This month also saw a shocking report come out of Japan indicating that 38% of LGBTQ citizens in the nation have been sexually assaulted or harassed.
Speaking of reports, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) issued one towards the end of this month showing that LGBTQ families have been disproportionately hit hard by the pandemic.
The report was the result of a summer survey, so the numbers presented in it have only increased since then. In other words, it’s just the top of the iceberg.
That about wraps up our 2020 year in review with the biggest headlines in same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights news.
Like that MAP report, though, these stories are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. As mentioned earlier, the year was full of astronomical highs and lows for the community, and the nation as a whole.
Here’s to hoping that 2021 brings far more ups than downs.
What news stories would you add to our 2020 year in review? Share below.
Nicole is the editor-in-chief and regular staff writer for LoveYouWedding. What does that mean? Basically, she handles all the day-to-day tasks related to managing writers and bringing you stellar content on planning the LGBTQ+ wedding of your dreams.
She loves writing about quirky and unique wedding ideas, probably because she’s pretty quirky herself!