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December 7, 2013

In the blog series Momentum: 2013, A Year of Equality we ask Lambda Legal’s experts to discuss the impact of the previous year and the continuing work necessary to keep equality moving forward.

What a year this has been! Since this time last year, we went from six states and D.C. with the freedom to marry to sixteen states, and the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the mean-spirited and discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. Our progress for marriage equality has been rapid, and millions of same-sex couples are now enjoying the freedom to love and marry.

More than a third of the U.S. population now lives in states that have or will soon have marriage equality, and more than 3.5% identify as LGBT. The number of LGBT people who had this freedom 10 years ago was zero. That’s momentum.

To win these victories, we used all the tools we have in a democracy - litigation, ballot measures, legislative action, public education. And every state that Lambda Legal first targeted for marriage equality now has it – including those states where the path to freedom has included setbacks followed by second or third efforts.

Listen to Lambda Legal's State of Equality Teleconference with Executive Director Kevin Cathcart, moderated by Leslie Gabel-Brett, Director of Education and Public Affairs.

There were other significant advances this year, including Senate passage of an inclusive ENDA; victories for transgender rights for healthcare in Oregon and transgender rights on the job in South Dakota; a victory for LGBT students in Florida; protecting same-sex couples in Arizona; legal victories for LGBT parents and families in Iowa. Lambda Legal successfully defended the rights of married members of the National Guard in Texas and protected rights to fair housing for a lesbian couple in New York City.

But all this progress didn’t happen overnight, and the work is far from over.

This year, Lambda Legal celebrated it’s 40th anniversary. Since 1973, we have been advancing and protecting the rights of LGBT people and people with HIV. The victories we secured in 2013 are built on cases that we won and precedents that were established decades ago. In fact, the final marriage equality victory in Hawai’i was 20 years in the making, starting with a case that Lambda Legal helped win in 1993.

Momentum carries us forward – but only if we roll up our sleeves and continue the work.

We are ready for 2014. We have launched the next chapter in the fight for the rights of LGBT people and people with HIV in the states where little progress has yet been made, and strong LGBT people are fighting for equality. We have momentum – let’s keep it going.

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