At the end of 2009, there's been more good news from the South.
Washington DC’s City Council has voted for marriage equality in the nation’s capital. Mayor Adrian Fenty has signed the bill, which was co-sponsored by 10 of the city council’s 13 members.
The law has to be reviewed by Congress, which has the final say on DC's laws. Lawmakers appear unlikely to intervene though, so gay couples could be legally marrying in Washington by March.
Meanwhile, the town of East Point, GA, has made smaller headlines by joining a handful of other cities in that state to adopt protections for its gay and transgender employees. The local law, which passed unanimously, prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The city has had domestic partner benefits since 2005, and the city charter also includes a Bill of Rights section that says the city will not adopt any laws that intentionally discriminate against gays and lesbians.
Atlanta, Decatur and Doraville are other Georgia cities that protect LGBT employees. The cities of Chamblee and Clarkston prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity.
These are the incremental local changes that pave the path towards equality and fairness. This is why local activism and simple visibility is so important, whether its in your town, your workplace, or your neighborhood.
People often dismiss the South as being intolerant and backwards, but the reality is that it's like anywhere else, with pockets of prejudice but also pockets of progress. We just need to help make sure the right pockets grow bigger.