EQUALITY

Watershed Year for Gay Rights

2010 may be remembered as the year everything changed for gay Americans. With Saturday's ruling to overturn Don't Ask Don't Tell, the military's policy banning openly gay soldiers, the movement may have achieved the first of the final few steps to full equality under the law. "Going back thousands of years, the marker of a first-class citizen has always been someone who's been allowed to serve in the military," said Aaron Belkin of the Palm Center, which studies gays in the military. He added that most countries that allow gay marriage lift their military bans first. 40 percent of Americans now live in a state where some type of civil partnership is recognized. But social conservatives won a few key victories in 2010, including the defeat of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, and the ouster at the polls of several state Supreme Court justices who joined in opinions allowing gay marriage.