In May, for the first time ever, a Gallup poll found a majority of Americans supported legalizing same sex marriage.
On June 24, following a 36-26 vote, the New York Senate passed same-sex marriage becoming the most populous state to have same-sex marriage.
On July 24, the first legal same-sex marriages were performed. New York City recorded 659 marriages, a one-day record for the city.
On September 20, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was officially repealed.
“Our military will no longer be deprived of the talents and skills of patriotic Americans just because they happen to be gay or lesbian,” President Obama said in a statement released by the White House.
On February 23, the Justice Department announced that it will no longer defend the constitutionality the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
On July 14, California governor Jerry Brown signed the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Education Act. The new law mandates that educational material in California schools includes information on the contributions of LGBT people to California and United States history, prohibits discriminatory material and lessons and adds “sexual orientation” to existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education.
On February 23, Hawaii governor Neil Abercrombie signed the state’s civil unions bill. The law will take effect on January 1, 2012.
In 2011, support for gay marriage by age was at its all-time highest amongst all age groups.
On January 17, Ohio governor John Kasich signed an executive order that prohibited discrimination in state employment on the basis of sexual orientation.
On January 1, the first public same sex civil partnerships in Ireland took place.
On February 1, The United States Department of State began issuing passport applications that asks applicants for “Mother or parent one” and “Father or parent two” instead of for “Father” and “Mother.” The change is “in recognition of different types of families.”
On February 18, in an 8-2 vote, the University of Alaska’s Board of Regents added sexual orientation to its public university antidiscrimination policy.
“With the elimination of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ from the military, the trend is clear,” University President Pat Gamble said in agenda material prepared for the board.
On July 2, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee signed the state’s civil unions bill into law.
On March 24, Roman Catholic-operated Marquette University announced that it would offer domestic partnership benefits to employees beginning in 2012.
On April 29, the United States Department of Labor banned discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
In May, in what is believed to be a world first, Nepal’s Central Bureau of Statistics gave official recognition to gay and transgender people by adding a third gender to their census.
On February 18, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick signed an executive order banning discrimination against state employees based on gender identity or expression.
On May 5, the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil ruled in a unanimous 10-0 decision to legalize same-sex civil unions. Brazil became the largest country yet to legalize civil unions.
On May 5, the Presbyterian Church voted to allow openly gay clergy. In this photo, Reverend Scott Anderson is greeted after becoming the first openly gay person to be ordained to the ministry of the Presbyterian Church.
In November, Indianapolis, Indiana elected its first out LGBT city council member, Zach Adamson.
On May 11, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed the state’s civil unions bill into law, granting same-sex couples in the state all of the rights of marriage. The law will take effect January 1, 2012.
On May 17, the Nevada Legislature passed a bill to bar employment discrimination in the state on the basis of gender identity or expression.
On June 16, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a declaration that condemned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
On July 5, Governor Dan Malloy of Connecticut signed a bill that barred discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, credit and other laws based on gender identity or expression.
In November, Bruce Harris was elected mayor of Chatham Borough, N.J. He’s the nation’s first openly gay, African American, Republican mayor.
In November, Chris Seelbach became the first out LGBT member of Cincinnati City Council.
On July 26, the Constitutional Court of Colombia ruled that same-sex couples in de facto unions constitute a family. The Court further ruled that the Congress of Colombia has two years to address marriage equality through the legislative process. If the deadline passes without legislation, same-sex couples will be able to formalize their unions through notary publics.
On November 8, voters in Traverse City, Michigan defeated by a two-to-one margin a ballot initiative to repeal the town’s anti-discrimination ordinance that was enacted in 2010.
On August 1, members of the Suquamish tribe in Washington state voted unanimously to legalize same-sex marriage.
On August 13, thousands of people marched in the first-ever gay pride march in Prague.
On September 2, the California State Senate passed “Seth’s Law” after 13-year-old Seth Walsh, who committed suicide in 2010 after constant anti-gay harassment at his school. The bill requires every school in California to implement anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies and programs that include actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
In November, LaWana Mayfield made history by becoming Charlotte, North Carolina’s first openly gay or lesbian elected official.
On September 15, the San Antonio, Texas City Council approved a budget that included domestic partnership benefits for city employees.
On November 15, the Oklahoma City Council voted to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in city employment.
On December 6, the US made its first ever push for gay rights abroad. The Obama Administration issued a memorandum directing U.S. agencies acting abroad to use foreign aid to assist LGBT people who are facing human rights violations and to protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers. In a related speech to the United Nations in Geneva, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton declared that LGBT rights are universal human rights.
On December 12, Orlando, Florida established a domestic partnership registry. The law, which will take effect January 12, 2012, offers registered same-sex partners the right to hospital and jail visitation, the right to make health care decisions and the right to make funeral arrangements.
In November, Adam Ebbin, a gay man who has served in the Virginia House of Delegates since 2004, became Virginia’s first openly gay senator.
New York State Senator Roy McDonald, one of a handful of Republicans who voted against his party for same-sex marriage, got sick and tired of being pushed around by gay marriage opponents. He released this statement to the press, which is quite possibly the most badass comment of the year:
“You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn’t black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing.”
“You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, fuck it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing.”
“I’m tired of Republican-Democrat politics. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I’m trying to do the right thing, and that’s where I’m going with this.”
In 2011, support for gay marriage from all political groups was at its all-time highest.