The Senate has now passed the PEPFAR bill, which lifts the ban on those with HIV from coming to the United States. I haven't followed it that closely, since it doesn't affect me or anyone that I know directly, but Andrew Sullivan, one of my favorite bloggers, has been following it incredibly closely and has encouraged his readers to lobby their Senators. He has AIDS, and is not an American citizen - he's British. He's been living in this country for a long time, and even married an American man recently, but his visa runs out next March, so this was an incredibly important issue for him personally. I'm very happy that this passed, but particularly happy for Andrew Sullivan. Welcome to America permanently, Andrew.
I didn't contact either of my Senators, because I live in California, and I was pretty confident that both Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer would be strongly in favor of lifting the ban, since both are not only from California, but from San Francisco specifically. And now we can all celebrate that it passed.
I think this is a watershed moment, not only for AIDS activism and gay rights, but for liberals in general. The presumption that the conservative position would ultimately succeed - that the right would be more powerful than the left - proved not to be true. On many issues, I think that presumption serves as a strong deterrent - many people just assume that there are enough conservatives on an issue like this that it's not worth it to try and change. Hopefully, that is now changing.