In no uncertain terms, this year’s election was a sweeping mandate on LGBT equality. Forgotten is 2008’s bittersweet realization that though Barack Obama had won, California’s Proposition 8 had passed. Instead, this election’s returns show a new America poised to move forward and ensure that sexual orientation and gender identity are never barriers to freedom and security. Here’s a glimpse of just how sweeping the victory is for the LGBT community:
Maine’s voters have approved marriage equality with 53 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed, a complete reversal of the 2009 people’s veto of the very same law. Victory in Maine demonstrates the incredible power of personally connecting with voters, as advocates spent everyday since the 2009 loss canvassing to reach out. It is a significant milestone, because it is the first state to extend the freedom to marry entirely through a grassroots effort: voters brought forth a petition and then voters approved it. Conservatives cannot point to judges or lawmakers and somehow claim that the people did not have a say.
Maryland also approved marriage equality by a 52-48 margin, proving that efforts to drive a wedge between the gay and black communities will not succeed. Like in Maine, the people had the opportunity to weigh in, and they weighed in on the side of equality and validating the legislature’s decision to pass same-sex marriage. This is also a significant win for Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who championed this legislation all year long.
UPDATE: As of Wednesday afternoon, victory has been officially declared in Washington for marriage equality!
This morning, Washington’s Referendum 74 is still too close to call, but with the votes coming in so far, it is leading 52-48. Given Washington’s victory in approving everything-but-marriage domestic partnerships in 2009, there is reason to be optimistic that its voters once again sided with equality.
Though Minnesota does not have marriage equality to embrace yet, the 51-48 defeat of its marriage inequality amendment is a significant victory. Opponents have boasted that in every state where voters have the chance to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, they have done so, and Minnesota breaks that record. In addition, Democrats won control of both chambers of Minnesota’s legislature, ensuring that there will not be future attempts to enshrine discrimination in the constitution anytime soon.
Yesterday was an historic victory for openly LGBT candidates, and the next Congress will break records for its significant out contingent. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) will become the first LGBT member of the Senate. Mark Pocan (D-WI) will fill her House seat, joined by fellow newcomer Sean Patrick Maloney (D) of New York. In addition, Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO) and David Cicilline (D-RI) won re-election. A projected winner remains to be called in the House races for Mark Takano (D-CA) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), but they are both leading in the polls so far and could add to the record-breaking LGBT caucus.
(UPDATE: Mark Tokano has declared victory.)
One out candidate who did not win was Massachusetts Republican Richard Tisei, though this does not necessarily represent a loss for the LGBT community. Incumbent victor John Tierney (D) is a dedicated ally to the LGBT community who does not bear the same risk of further empowering conservatives who would act against equality.
LGBT Allies [UPDATED]
Many candidates who support LGBT equality also won important races last night. ThinkProgress highlighted 12 anti-LGBT Senate candidates, and 10 (updated from “at least 9″) of them lost yesterday, in all cases to candidates much more supportive of equality:
- Rep. Connie Mack IV (R) lost to Sen. Bill Nelson (D) in Florida.
- Linda Lingle (R) lost to Rep. Mazie Hirono (D) in Hawaii.
- Sen. Scott Brown (R) lost to Elizabeth Warren (D) in Massachusetts.
- Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R) lost to Debbie Stabenow (D) in Michigan.
- Rep. Todd Akin (R) lost to Claire McCaskill (D) in Missouri.
- Heather Wilson (R) lost to Martin Heinrich (D) in New Mexico.
- Josh Mandel (R) lost to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in Ohio.
- George Allen (R) lost to Tim Kaine (D) in Virginia.
- Tommy Thompson (R) lost to Tammy Baldwin (D) in Wisconsin.
- Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) lost to Sen. Jon Tester (D) in Montana.
Conservative Vengeance Campaigns
As icing on the cake, the National Organization for Marriage and its conservative partners lost several of its vengeance campaigns against supporters of marriage equality. In New York, state Sen. Mark Grisanti (R) won re-election despite a campaign against him for supporting marriage equality last year. Republicans may actually lose control of the New York Senate, severely diminishing NOM’s hopes of repealing marriage equality any time soon. The election of Maggie Hassan (D) as governor of New Hampshire similarly blockades repeal efforts there.
In Iowa, the campaign against state Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins’s retention also failed. Unlike in 2009, Iowans were just no longer willing to disqualify a Justice for having ruled that same-sex marriage is constitutional. And Democrats maintained control of the Iowa Senate, ensuring that Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D) can continue to prevent a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage from advancing.
For the first-time ever, Americans have elected a president who openly campaigned on his support for marriage equality. To celebrate this triumph over equality opponent Mitt Romney, Jeremy Hooper offers this revised copy of NOM’s anti-gay pledge: