Laurence Watts’ 10 gay news events predictions for 2013

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

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-on from my crystal-ball-gazing of last year, I hereby present my forecasts for 2013. By my reckoning it’s going to be another barnstormer for the gay community.

1. Section 3 of America’s ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ (DOMA) will be struck down by the US Supreme Court.

Having agreed to hear Windsor vs The United States, the future for DOMA looks grim. The law itself is blatantly unfair, arbitrarily setting aside a group of individuals aside for special treatment for no other reason than a historic Congress’ moral disapproval of gay relationships. Disapproval and freedom of speech is one thing, but the Federal Government mugging ‘little old ladies’ of more than $300,000 of their life savings (the Windsor case in a nutshell) is quite another. Section 3 of DOMA should be history before the US Supreme Court breaks for the summer in June. It will not be missed.

2. Britain will legalise 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 favour 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 legalise same-sex marriage in the very near future and, as everyone knows, no Briton likes to be outdone by the French.

3. The US 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 proposition. Fear not. Collectively, the Justices know the direction this issue is heading, both domestically and internationally. They might not yet be prepared to read a right to same-sex marriage in the US 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 9th Circuit ruling that struck down Prop 8, but which left its effect limited to California. If they did that, the court would effectively be saying that states have the right to define marriage as they see fit, but that once same-sex marriage has been legalised 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 elected state-level officials. 2012 was an election year and 2014 will be 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 favoured marriage equality and where supporters recently picked up seats in the
General Assembly and; Delaware, where Governor Jack Markell has described an eventual move as “inevitable”. New Jersey, Hawaii and Minnesota are also possible contenders.

5. The first US Senator will pose for a NOH8 photo.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich 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 US Senator has yet followed suit. With the 2012 election now over, expect one or more US Senators to don some of that famous silver duct tape and strike a pose in front of Adam Bouska. My money is on Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders 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 Fellowship of The Ring, I’m guessing the Academy, not 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 the form of 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 favour.

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 long-time fiancé David Burtka. Harris had his wish granted by the politicians in Albany and as such can now take David up the aisle whenever he chooses. My guess is 2013 will the year he does just that.

8. America will fall in love with Greg Louganis (again).

The irresistibly handsome, openly gay, four-time Olympic gold medallist 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 named him one of three judges for ABC’s upcoming Celebrity Splash, which will likely make his smile a permanent fixture on our televisions. Expect his Twitter followers (which unbelievably currently number less than 6,000) to at least double in number. He deserves it. Might this mean we finally get to see him on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars? It could very well; 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 US Military, IRS and US Immigration will finally recognise the same-sex spouses of US citizens.

When DOMA is overturned, President Obama will be able to instruct the various government departments and agencies he commands to immediately recognise same-sex marriages from 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 bi-national couples, the ability of American citizens to sponsor their same-sex husbands and wives for immigration purposes. Service will be finally be recognised, tax-refunds will be due and families will be reunited.

10. 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. I should add however that 2013 will also bring one slightly sad moment. Iceland’s Prime Minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir, 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.