As we prepare to end this tumultuous ride we call 2008, is it safe to say it was the gayest year yet? It certainly will be remembered as the year gay issues came off the back burner and gays rejected apathy for activism.

With so much interest in gay issues, compiling this year's ten most compelling gay stories was a murderous task. Thankfully, On Top editors have strong stomachs.

Here are the ten stories that most impacted the GLBT community in 2008.

Gay Marriage in California: The California Supreme Court ruled in May that denying gay couples the right to marry was unconstitutional. Approximately 18,000 gay and lesbian couples married in the state in what was dubbed “the summer of love.” Even before the court ruled, gay marriage foes were working on Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment passed on November 4 that banned gay marriage. A flurry of grassroots activism sprung from that defeat as thousands of gay activists and allies flooded the streets in protest. Gay rights groups filed three lawsuits with the state Supreme Court asking it to invalidate the measure. The court will listen to those arguments in March.

Gay Marriage in Connecticut: In October, the Connecticut Supreme Court agreed that gay marriage should be legal and gay couples began marrying a month later. A November poll by Quinnipiac University found that a slim majority (52%) of Connecticut voters agreed with the court's decision.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Hearings: In July, Democrats on Capitol Hill held the first hearings on “don't ask, don't tell” since the 1993 law was enacted. Under the law, gay and lesbian service members must remain closeted and celibate to qualify for service in the military. Legislators listened to the standard anti-gay arguments of “gays are bad for morale” and “the military is a unique institution” but appeared genuinely disinterested, even insulted. But threatened with a Bush veto, Democrats were unable to alter anything. President-elect Barack Obama, however, has signaled he is interested in repealing the 15 year old gay ban.

Lawrence King: The death of Lawrence King, a 15-year-old boy, at the hands of 14-year-old Brandon McInerney serves as the epitome for why we need strong hate crimes legislation in America. The Oxnard, California boy was shot twice in the head on February 12 at his elementary school after asking McInerney to be his Valentine and died on Valentine's day.

Darren Manzella: In 2008 Army Sergeant Darren Manzella became the face of a discriminatory military ban on gays serving openly. In December 2007, Manzella told 60 Minutes investigator Leslie Stahl that he had been openly out to his superiors without incident. Manzella said he was investigated for being gay and even supplied the Army with photos of his boyfriend - A.J. - and a video of the pair kissing during a road trip. But when the investigation ended he was told to go back to work. After CBS aired the story, the Army changed its mind, discharging the sergeant effective June 10.

The Divisive Politics of Sally Kern: It was March 7 the day a rouge Internet video of Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern went viral. Speaking to a Republican audience she said: “I honestly think it's [homosexuality] the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam.” Kern, the wife of a Baptist pastor, refused to apologize for that statement (and others that followed). She found comfort in the arms of right-wing conservatives and managed to win re-election in November.

HIV-Travel Ban Lifted: Congress lifted the U.S. ban on HIV-positive travelers in July as part of its reauthorization of PEPFAR. The ban was widely seen in the GLBT community as a draconian rule.

A Watershed Election: In what Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund President Chuck Wolfe called a “watershed election” over 100 out candidates won elective office in November. The New England states led the nation with approving the highest number of openly gay members to their state assemblies; the region generated a total of fourteen wins. Openly gay Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin will be joined by Colorado's Jarred Polis in the House. And the gay community strongly backed the first gay-affirming president in Barack Obama.

Making an Impact: Gay activism returned in a big way this year. Some have called the protests and demonstrations that followed passage of four anti-gay measures on November 4 Stonewall 2.0. The success of grassroots organizations like Join the Impact has thrown the future of traditional suit-and-tie activists into question.

Obama's Anti-Gay Pastor: Just making the list is the current controversy over Rev. Rick Warren. Gay rights groups protested Obama's pick to give an invocation at his inauguration. After losing gay marriage in California to Warren and his forces, gays are in no mood to be kicked around. Warren represents the gay community's worst fear: That Barrack Obama's commitment to the gay community may be all mouth and no trousers.

And what will be the biggest gay stories in 2009? You can expect to see two state Supreme Courts deliver gay marriage rulings early in the year: Iowa and California. And gay marriage will continue to be debated in four other states: New York, Vermont, New Jersey and New Hampshire.

Congress is likely to pass the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act.

Obama's commitment to gay rights will certainly remain under the microscope of gay rights groups feeling the pressure to deliver real reform.

And what will become of the struggling Stonewall 2.0 movement? Will the effort gain momentum in 2009 or fizzle out?

Happy New Year from everyone at On Top Magazine.