1. Marriage Equality Act: Nearly 46 year after the famous Stonewall riot that started the modern day gay rights movement, Congress successfully granted marriage equality to same-sex couples nation wide in a 5-4 ruling on June 26, 2015. Hundreds of same sex partners and LGBT allies flooded outside the supreme court singing the national anthem to celebrate their country that finally recognized that love is love. The act reversed President Bill Clinton’s Defense of Marriage Act from 1996 that recognized marriage only between a man and a woman. The Marriage Equality Act is the Civil Rights act of this generation, moving our country one step further in the direction of truly being the land of the free, making it the most important piece of legislation from this decade.
2. Obamacare: Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act of 2010, lowered the prices of healthcare for those who could not afford it and forced everyone to purchase some form of healthcare. Until last year, if an individual did not have a qualifying health coverage, they would have to pay a fee which therefore leveled out the costs for others. The ACA has been praised by Democrats for being a progressive step to helping the lower class, while Republicans have been scrambling to repeal it, claiming that it raises taxes and increases the wait times at medical clinics. Although President Trump hasn’t been successful in repealing it, he has weakened it substantially by removing the tax imposed by the bill.
3. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal: Under the Obama Administration, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Act from the Bill Clinton presidency was repealed, which allowed lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to openly serve in the United States military. Before this, gay members of the military would only be allowed to serve if their sexuality was kept a secret which, at the time, was disguised as equality. However, the repeal in 2010 showed the nation what real equality for the LGBT community means, and was a major step in the right direction this decade.
4. Human Life Protection Act: This bill, which was passed in the state of Alabama, has made it a felony to have or attempt to have an abortion unless it were completely necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk to the mother. While six other states have prevented abortion from the time a heartbeat can be heard (6-8 weeks), this law is the first to effectively end nearly all abortions. The Human Life Protection Act has been seen as another test against Roe V. Wade and has led to an outburst of protesters. On October 29, 2019, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued a preliminary injunction against the ban, preventing the legislation from entering into effect
5. Marijuana Legalization: Made legal in 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana, a groundbreaking concept causing the entire country to reimagine its policies on drugs. This has greatly reduced the number of incarcerated and has had a tremendous economic boost within both regions. Since then, nine more states and Washington DC have lifted their bans on marijuana and many more plan to follow suit.
6. David’s Law: Named after David Molak, a 16-year old boy who committed suicide after being cyberbullied, David’s Law aims counter online harassment by allowing students to anonymously report bullying which occurs through any electronic device. The bill has been enacted only in the state of Texas and recommends public and open-enrollment charter schools promote mental health as well as requires that they have procedures at which students are able to report any form of bullying anonymously.
7. Sanctuary Cities: Currently 9 of the 50 states contain at least one sanctuary city, and as of April of this year, there were at least 181 total sanctuary cities. A sanctuary city does not mean that they are harboring illegals, but rather that they will limit the number of resources which they will give federal immigration enforcement agents. Currently, at least 11 million undocumented immigrants are believed to live in the U.S. As of this year, 12 states have taken it upon themselves to ban sanctuary cities completely while the other 29 states are currently weighing their stances.
8. Never Forget The Heros: Under the Trump Administration in 2019, ever Forget The Hero’s Bill was signed into law which makes the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund permanent. This fund was created to provide financial assistance to those injured in the 2001 terrorist attacks.
9. Stolen Valor Act: The Stolen Valor Act was signed by President Barack Obama in 2013. This act made it a federal crime to claim military awards in order to get government benefits. This act supported those who were real decorated veterans who deserved compensation and weeded out those committing fraud in order to recover benefits.
10. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act: This Act, passed by Obama in 2010, provided federal funding for school nutrition plans for students that gives under privileged kids more access to healthy foods as well as addressed the obesity issue among youth in the U.S. The USDA created new meal standards for schools to ensure that students were receiving the nutritions needed during the school day.