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    Ten Things I Learned in 2012

    By Zoe Dunning

    Zoe Dunning

    In the spirit of year-end reflections, here are ten things I learned in 2012:

    1. Every vote counts. I was elected to the San Francisco Democratic Central Committee (DCCC) in June by a mere 32 votes. Out gay candidate Steve Hansen won his seat on the Sacramento City Council by 173 votes. Norman Yee defeated F.X. Crowley for the S.F. District 7 Supervisor seat by 135 votes. Let your voice be heard and VOTE every Election Day!

    2. Good, honest people can and do get elected to Washington, DC. The 2012 elections were extraordinary for women and LGBT candidates. I was excited to see Mark Takano, a gay Asian-American school teacher from Riverside County, get elected to Congress. Additionally, Tammy Baldwin, from my home state of Wisconsin, won her Senate race and will be our nation’s first out gay Senator.

    3. Not so good, not so honest people can continue to serve in San Francisco public office. You can bruise your wife, plead guilty to false imprisonment, and do everything in your power to obstruct the investigation of domestic violence allegations, and still be Sheriff of San Francisco. I personally find it an embarrassment. I hope all of us hold Supervisors Avalos, Campos, and Kim accountable for putting political ideology ahead of integrity.

    4. Republican men would do themselves a favor by not talking about women. Whether it was Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women,” Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a “slut,” or Senator Akin’s infuriating concept of “legitimate rape,” Republican men contributed greatly to the growing political gender gap in America with their blunders and miscues.

    5. Afghanistan, Pakistan and Cuba each have more women serving in their Congress than the United States. I learned this thanks to Gloria Steinem’s speech at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee luncheon I attended in San Francisco. As we celebrate our many advances in getting women elected to political office, we still have a very, very long way to go.

    6. Modern medicine can work miracles. Many of you are probably not aware, but in 2011 I had a very close relative diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of breast cancer (triple negative). She was fortunate to be randomized into a clinical trial to receive some leading edge chemotherapy drugs. After 20 weeks of chemo, several hospitalizations and surgeries, and weeks of daily radiation treatments, she has spent almost all of 2012 cancer-free. I am grateful to her doctors and in awe of her bravery and perseverance.

    7. There is a Dunning Vineyard outside of Paso Robles (no relation that I am aware of). We stumbled upon it while visiting the Central Coast this past July, and the wine was pretty good!

    8. Rachel Maddow is as cool, smart and down to earth in person as she seems on TV. In September, while I was in New York, I had the opportunity to have drinks with her and some friends. She is really quite impressive without being full of pretense. I believe she is an incredibly effective advocate and ambassador for our community.

    9. Don’t take yourself too seriously. August 23rd was proclaimed “Zoe Dunning Day” in Oakland. While sitting on BART on my way home from the ceremony, a young man unable to handle his alcohol sat down next to me. When it became clear he was getting ill, I unwrapped my proclamation and gave him my plastic bag, which he immediately retched his evening’s drinks into. Clearly, the bag had more value and utility than my fanciful proclamation.

    10. It is an amazing time to be an LGBT American. I feel very fortunate to be at an age where I have seen and benefitted from the progress achieved these past 30 years. In particular, 2012 brought us the successful implementation of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal and passage of marriage equality measures in state after state. I look forward to (I hope) the next 30 years of change. As the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

    I wish you all a safe, healthy, and politically active 2013!

    Zoe Dunning is a retired Navy Commander and was a lead activist in the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. She currently serves as 
the 1st Vice Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party.