Gay rights activists began this year with renewed hope that Congress would repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the ban on service by open homosexuals in the military. They also expressed trepidation about the prospects for a federal court challenge to Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot initiative in California that banned same-sex marriage. Turns out, the courts worked well for them, producing clear victories in the form of rulings in California declaring the bans on gays in the military and same-sex marriage unconstitutional. A third judge in Washington also found that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell violated the constitutional rights of a former Air Force major, while a judge in Massachusetts struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. President Obama has been defending the military ban, preferring repeal by Congress. Congress ultimately came through on Dec. 18 and Obama signed the repeal into law on Dec. 22.

Amanda Bronstad, Sheri Qualters