It's that time of year again when, bereft of news and possibly nursing a hangover from the office Christmas party, journalists speculate about what might happen in the year ahead. Following last year's crystal-ball gazing, I present my forecasts for 2013. By my reckoning it's going to be another barnburner for the gay community.
1. Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will be struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Given that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear Windsor v. the United States, the future for DOMA looks grim. The law itself is blatantly unfair, arbitrarily setting aside a group of individuals for special treatment for no reason other than a historic Congress' moral disapproval of gay relationships. Having the freedom to disapprove is one thing, but the federal government mugging little old ladies for more than $300,000 of their life savings (that's the Windsor case in a nutshell) is quite another. Section 3 of DOMA should be history when the U.S. Supreme Court breaks for the summer in June. It will not be missed.
2. Britain will legalize same-sex marriage.
Now that the government of Prime Minister David Cameron has presented its plans for implementing same-sex marriage, it's only a matter of time before the issue is voted upon in the House of Commons. With the leaders of the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative parties all in favor of marriage equality, the matter should be a formality. Legislation may be held up because of a small rebellion by Conservative MPs, not to mention opposition from the Church of England's bishops in the House of Lords, but nevertheless it should pass, and more likely than not in 2013. Britain has a strong incentive to act quickly: France is likely to legalize same-sex marriage in the very near future, and, as everyone knows, no Briton likes to be outdone by the French.
3. The U.S. Supreme Court will affirm that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
Friday's news that the Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of Proposition 8 came as a surprise. Consensus seemed to be that the court would decline to take the case, for want of a wider question, and as such, there's now some trepidation as to what the nine justices will make of the voter-approved amendment to California's constitution. But fear not. Collectively, the justices know the direction this issue is heading in, both domestically and internationally. They might not yet be prepared to read a right to same-sex marriage in the U.S. Constitution, but I don't believe they are ready to ignore the greatest civil rights movement of their time. A compromise ruling might be to affirm the narrow ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down Prop 8 but limited the scope of the ruling to California. If the Supreme Court did that, it would effectively be saying that states have the right to define marriage as they see fit, but that once same-sex marriage has been legalized in a given state, citizens' right to it becomes vested. It's an intellectually fuzzy argument, but consider the context: a compromise ruling that, for purely political reasons, ignores the fact that gay men and women are created equal to everyone else.
4. At least one more U.S. state will join the existing nine (plus Washington, D.C.) in allowing gay men and women to marry.
2013 will be a business year for state-level elected officials. 2012 was an election year, and 2014 will be one, as well. As such, if pro-equality activists and legislators want to expand the map of same-sex marriage in America, next year provides the window in which to do it. Some of the likely candidates include Barack Obama's "backyard" of Illinois, which introduced civil unions in June 2011; Rhode Island, where a majority of voters favored marriage equality, and where supporters recently picked up seats in the General Assembly; and Delaware, where Gov. Jack Markell has described an eventual move on the issue as "inevitable." New Jersey, Hawaii and Minnesota are also possible contenders.
5. A U.S. senator will pose for a NOH8 photo for the first time.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) made history in 2011 when he became the first congressman to pose for a NOH8 photo. He was followed by 36 of his House colleagues, all Democrats. Nevertheless, no U.S. senator has yet followed suit. With the 2012 election now over, expect one or more U.S. senators to don some of that famous silver duct tape and strike a pose in front of Adam Bouska. My money is on Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) to be near the front of the line.
6. Sir Ian McKellen will get an Oscar nod for his role as Gandalf the Grey in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Here's my thinking: Everyone wants to see McKellen win an Oscar. He came close with his nomination for 1998's Gods and Monsters, in which he played gay filmmaker James Whale. Having already been nominated for an Oscar for playing Gandalf the Grey in 2001's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, I'm guessing the Academy, at least for the sake of consistency, will nominate McKellen again for playing the same role in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Will he win? Maybe. He's up against stiff competition in Daniel Day Lewis' performance in Lincoln. If they go head to head, it will be a close-run thing. Lewis has won before, of course, which might tip the odds in McKellen's favor.
7. Neil Patrick Harris will marry David Burtka.
Earlier this year, when New York was considering passing same-sex marriage legislation, Neil Patrick Harris tweeted his support and expressed a desire to wed his longtime fiancé David Burtka. Harris had his wish granted by the politicians in Albany and therefore can now take David up the aisle whenever he chooses. My guess is 2013 will the year when he does just that.
8. Americans will fall in love with Greg Louganis (again).
The irresistibly handsome, openly gay, four-time Olympic gold medalist was back in the spotlight in 2012 thanks to his mentorship of the US diving team at the London Olympics. Expect Louganis' star to rise further in 2013. The Hollywood Reporter recently announced that he will be one of three judges on ABC's upcoming Celebrity Splash, which will likely make his smile a permanent fixture on our televisions. Expect his Twitter followers (who currently number less than 6,000, unbelievably) to at least double in number. He deserves it. Might this mean that we finally get to see him on ABC's Dancing With the Stars? It very well may; Louganis has long expressed a desire to appear on the show, and Celebrity Splash will boost his profile considerably. Did I mention DWTS is also an ABC show?
9. The U.S military, the IRS and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will finally recognize the same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens.
When DOMA is overturned, President Obama will be able to instruct the various government departments and agencies he commands to immediately recognize same-sex marriages in those states that allow them. Expect him to do just that. That should trigger spousal benefits for same-sex military partners, the ability of married same-sex couples to file joint federal tax returns and, for binational couples, the ability of American citizens to sponsor their same-sex husbands and wives for immigration purposes. Service will be finally be recognized, tax refunds will be due and families will be reunited.
10. Will will have new music from Sir Elton John and George Michael.
2013 should see new album releases from two of the LGBT community's giants: Elton John and George Michael. Michael's album was supposed to be released in 2012 but seemed to be delayed after his bout of pneumonia proved harder to shake off than first thought. Elton John is expected to release his 30th studio album, The Diving Board, in March.
So there you have it. Are you exited? I certainly am. However, I should add that 2013 will also bring one slightly sad moment: Iceland Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the world's first openly gay, elected, national leader, will be retiring from politics come the nation's spring elections. She will be missed, not least by the LGBT community, for whom she has been a pioneer and one of its greatest ambassadors. I can only hope that, in retirement, she finally has time to grant me the interview I've been requesting now for some time.
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