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Historic wins for LGBT community

Community/Meta DOMA Repeal

By Scottie Thomaston

Last night was a truly historic night for LGBT people. We re-elected President Obama (who had already worked to get rid of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and declined to defend DOMA in court) months after he announced support for marriage equality, when anti-LGBT groups swore it would be his downfall. Wisconsin elected Tammy Baldwin as Senator, and she becomes the first openly LGBT United States Senator in history. And as Jacob wrote, equality proponents won 3 out of 4 ballot initiatives, with the fourth one still too close to call, because it is a vote-by-mail state.

Of note, with the presidency going to Barack Obama, the Senate remaining Democratic and the House remaining in GOP hands, the status quo in terms of the DOMA cases is unchanged. The House will likely continue defending it until the Supreme Court issues a ruling (though I think they may have to renew the contract in January) and the Obama administration will of course continue to refuse to defend it. This leaves things as they were before the election, and arguably makes it easier for the Supreme Court to go ahead and decide to take up challenges to DOMA when they have a conference on those cases on November 20. In fact, the election and the initiative votes may play an important role in the Supreme Court’s ultimate decision on the DOMA challenges as well as Prop 8.

Another important note: Democrats retained the presidency and the Senate, and it is very likely that at least one Supreme Court justice will retire in the next four years. This is unfortunately not an issue that came up during the election, but the Supreme Court (along with lower courts) is exceedingly important for LGBT rights, as more and more cases work their way through the federal court system. Already, as I said above, the Supreme Court is going to decide what to do about Prop 8, DOMA, and domestic partner benefits in Arizona. And the Nevada marriage equality case is in federal court, while Michigan will challenge its ban on marriage equality. And Illinois is challenging its ban as well. There are also cases dealing with transgender rights working their way through the courts.

The ability to appoint even one Supreme Court justice is exceedingly important right now, since, in terms of LGBT rights, the general view is that there are four votes opposed and four in support, with Justice Anthony Kennedy in the middle. And Kennedy has written two pro-LGBT opinions, but they don’t necessarily lead to the conclusion that he’s ready to take steps forward on the issue, though he may. Now that President Obama, and not Mitt Romney, gets to appoint at least one justice (possibly Ginsburg’s replacement in 2015) it guarantees that at the very least the status quo will be maintained. Mitt Romney had suggested early in the campaign that Robert Bork was a model justice and he wishes Bork was on the Court. Any appointment made by Romney surely would have rolled back LGBT progress for the foreseeable future.

With that said, here is more or less a rundown of our wins.

More gay voters voted in this election, and President Obama increased his share of the gay vote

– President Obama won re-election

– Tammy Baldwin elected as first openly LGBT Senator in history

– Wins in Maryland and Maine, and a defeat for the anti-equality side in Minnesota (Washington still too close)

– Elizabeth Warren wins in Massachusetts, turning the seat from ‘not entirely anti-LGBT’ to ‘very pro-LGBT’

– Two LGBT state legislators win in Florida

– David Cicilline, openly gay, wins re-election to US House (and as Geidner notes, this Congress breaks a record for most openly LGBT people)

– Mark Pocan wins Tammy Baldwin’s seat, replacing an out LGBT person with another out LGBT person for the first time in history

– Colorado gets an openly LGBT House Speaker

– Sean Patrick Maloney wins House seat in New York

– NOM loses (along with at least 3 initiatives and possibly four, the presidency and Andy Pugno’s (of Prop 8 fame) bid for CA Assembly ) their fight to remove an Iowa Supreme Court justice who joined the decision for marriage equality.

– Pro-LGBT governor wins in New Hampshire, likely keeping marriage equality safe there

You can add anymore wins I haven’t noted in the comments!

61 Comments

  • 1. Gregory in SLC  |  November 7, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Thank you for lgbt round up! Looking forward to being able to celebrate WA after mail in votes are counted!

  • 2. Anthony  |  November 7, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Is there any chance of getting a projected victory today?

  • 3. exx-man  |  November 7, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Since the ballots only need to be post marked by election day in Washington, ballots will be coming in for the next couple days. I heard from one source that it could take up to a week.

  • 4. Anthony  |  November 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    That's not a good election system. Really unacceptable to have to wait this long.

  • 5. Eric Koszyk  |  November 7, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    As someone who use to live in WA and now lives in VA, I disagree with your statement.

    Having everyone vote is much more important than knowing who won on election night.

    In WA, people have two weeks to vote and they have up until midnight to get their ballot into the post office.

    That is a much better system than, say, VA, where some people had to stand in lines outside in the cold for up to four hours in order to vote.

    I'll take WA's system over the rest of the nation's any day!

  • 6. Seth from Maryland  |  November 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    ME TOO LOL , i had stand in line for 2 hours on Oct 27 plus it was cold , just give it time, it come in

  • 7. Mark Mead-Brewer  |  November 7, 2012 at 10:31 am

    According to the WA Elections web site they are all but calling it a win on Ref 74.
    The counties yet to be counted are rather sparsely populated compared to those already counted, so we are VERY confident in our WIN.

  • 8. Seth from Maryland  |  November 7, 2012 at 10:48 am

    do you think those counties be 100% in by today?

  • 9. Mark Mead-Brewer  |  November 7, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Yes they will, however we do have a great deal of provisional ballots that will be verified and than counted and added in on Nov 17th.
    With that said there are not enough to swing this in the other direction…this is a WIN just not officially called yet

  • 10. Mark Mead-Brewer  |  November 7, 2012 at 11:03 am

    The provisional ballots are those cast by people who had lost their mail in ballot, or those whose signature didn't match, or those who's address on their ID did not match their voter registration.

  • 11. Gregory in SLC  |  November 7, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Thank you Mark for your efforts to get ref 74 passed. Just amazing!!

  • 12. Mark B. (Seattle)  |  November 7, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    We did what we could Greg. We marched, we rang doorbells, we talked to anyone who would listen. A lot of people did a heck of lot more than we did….but I guess every little bit helped 🙂
    Thanks for YOUR work and support too buddy. You and your hubby ROCK!!

  • 13. Straight Ally #3008  |  November 7, 2012 at 11:21 am

    I am so thrilled for you, Mark!

  • 14. Mark B. (Seattle)  |  November 7, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    It feels so good to think we may actually be legally married in the state we live in.
    Now to ramp up the fight against DOMA! 🙂

  • 15. Seth from Maryland  |  November 7, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    has it been offically called yet?

  • 16. Mark B. (Seattle)  |  November 7, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Sadly no 🙁

  • 17. Seth from Maryland  |  November 7, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    dang, is there any timeline when it be called offically?

  • 18. Eric Koszyk  |  November 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    two weeks or so

    But since more than 50% of the ballots left to be counted are from Seattle's King County, this one is over.

  • 19. grod  |  November 7, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Mark I note your comment on population distribution across WA state. The map of Washington by counties for and against reminds me of the map of Maine's counties in 2009. If it were not for King Co, it would be hard to be optimistic – residents in less than 20% of the counties approved. The last ballot counting stopped at 10:00 pm east evening. The next ballot counting begins this afternoon between 4:00 and 5:00, with some scheduled to begin tomorrow. Your last remark is very reassuring.

  • 20. Anthony  |  November 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Once again, Seattle brings the rest of the state into the 21st century.

  • 21. Eric Koszyk  |  November 8, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Seattle's King County has about a third of the state's population.

    Without it, Washington becomes Idaho.

  • 22. Mike in Baltimore  |  November 7, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Consider Maryland:

    Only six of the 24 (25%) jurisdictions in Maryland voted for Maryland's Proposition Six, but the combined vote in those six was more than 3/4 of the total of 'for' votes on the measure.

    PG County is the second most populous county in the state (only Montgomery County is larger), but the Proposition only lost in PG County by less than 5,000 votes out of more than 340,000 votes cast in that county alone.

    (In Maryland, Baltimore City [4th largest population] is treated as a county in most circumstances.)

  • 23. Felyx  |  November 7, 2012 at 10:33 am

    The courts are watching! The tide has turned. We are headed full steam onto the biggest victory. SCOTUS will notice and love will prevail!

    The arc of the moral universe may be long but we're on the other side of the rainbow now baby!!!

  • 24. davep  |  November 7, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Hey look! It's Felyx! Great to see you here to join the celebrating! : )

  • 25. Felyx  |  November 7, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    I hang occasionally but rarely comment anymore. Still love the P8TT family though. Hugz and cookies to everyone.

  • 26. ĶĭŗîļĺęΧҲΪ  |  November 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    And I still love you, my dear!

  • 27. Bob  |  November 7, 2012 at 10:33 am

    woot woot,,, thanks for that insite,,, Mark,, very hopeful !!

  • 28. _BK_  |  November 7, 2012 at 10:42 am

    VERY good news all-around!

  • 29. Carpool_Kathleen  |  November 7, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Also, the President included gays and lesbians in the wrap up of his acceptance speech, when he said opportunity was to move forward for everyone…black or white…gay or straight…etc."

  • 30. davep  |  November 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Yeah, and he didn't just include us, we were at the "crescendo" of the speech! And I know I wasn't just imagining that sudden roar from the crowd the moment he said it : )

    And I know that words are cheap but it was more than just a few words in a speech. The fact that it happened at all is evidence that things have really changed.

  • 31. Bill S.  |  November 7, 2012 at 11:06 am

    *Control of the Minnesota state legislature has flipped to Democratic control, making it exceedingly likely that equal marriage will be legalized there next year.

    *Democrats maintain control of the Iowa State Senate, eliminating a chance that an anti-gay constitutional amendment will be voted on.

  • 32. Seth from Maryland  |  November 7, 2012 at 11:20 am

    yep , i bet a bill will come up very soon like soon as the democrats takeover

  • 33. MightyAcorn  |  November 7, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Well except…they reelected Michelle Bachmann to the US Congress, more's the pity. Still, hoping she'll have a less comfortable time and fewer supporters there this time around.

  • 34. Jamie  |  November 7, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I know. WTF?

  • 35. Mike in Baltimore  |  November 7, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Considering that Joe Walsh, Ken Aiken, Roscoe Bartlett and Allen West all lost (and most to very proud liberals friendly to the GLBT community), I think she'll be a bit less outspoken. And when she DOES speak, Alan Grayson is back in the House, which means he will have a much larger platform from which to comment on Bachmann's comments (and Grayson usually has no love for Bachmann's comments – tehehehehe).

  • 36. Eric Koszyk  |  November 8, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Does Minnesota have a referendum process like WA and MD do?

  • 37. Mike in Baltimore  |  November 8, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Maryland does not have a referendum process where anything can be placed on the ballot. What it DOES have is a process that if opponents of a specific bill get a specified number of signatures, they can then take it to the electorate. Maryland had five such questions this year (and an additional two dealing with Constitutional changes),

    The three most interesting (to me) were Question 4, (a version of the Dream Act); Question 6 (marriage equality); and Question 7 (expansion of gambling in the state) – all Questions on the state ballot passed.

    In effect, the state does NOT have a referendum process except for voter approval or disapproval of already passed legislation.

  • 38. Mark Mead-Brewer  |  November 7, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Just announced….. of the 400,000 ballots yet to be counted nearly 1/2 (163,000) are from King county which is one of the largest and most progressive counties. It is looking better and better for our win

  • 39. Seth from Maryland  |  November 7, 2012 at 11:22 am

    King county is where seattle is right?

  • 40. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  November 7, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Yes, King Co. is primarily the Seattle area……the most densely populated area in WA, and historically VERY liberal.

  • 41. exx-man  |  November 7, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Yes.

  • 42. Straight Ally #3008  |  November 7, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Jack Wu, a man who wants to join the Westboro Baptist Church(!), lost his bid for a seat on the State Board of Education in Kansas.

  • 43. Straight Ally #3008  |  November 7, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Justice David Wiggins retained as a member of the Iowa Supreme Court!

  • 44. AnonyGrl  |  November 7, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Got one you missed that is rather important.

    Mike Gronstal retained state Senate Majority leader seat in Iowa, guaranteeing that NOM will not succeed in its attempts to introduce a constitutional amendment there to ban marriage equality. Gronstal won handily by 10 points.

    Poor NOM.

  • 45. John_B_in_DC  |  November 7, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    And Mark Grisanti, one of the Republican NY state senators who was targeted by NOM for supporting same-sex marriage in both the primary and the general election, was easily re-elected: http://www.buffalonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?…

  • 46. SKT from Los Angeles  |  November 7, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Mark Takano (D – Riverside) has become the first openly gay Asian American to win a seat in the US House of Reps, and Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) ran unopposed and became the first openly gay man to win a seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

  • 47. MightyAcorn  |  November 7, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Andy Pugno lost by a wide margin, too. I can confidently say that, in his case, as ye sow so shall ye reap. Ugliness ain't pretty, Pugno, and America has had enough.Hope you're ready to lose at SCOTUS too.

  • 48. davep  |  November 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    "Ugliness ain't pretty". Nice! I'm going to borrow that. I'll give you full credit the first three times I use it, after that it's mine : )

  • 49. StevenJ  |  November 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    With these wins, would SCOTUS see that as proof (or even a theory) that the country is moving forward? I've read that SCOTUS doesn't want to move too far ahead of the country, but these wins ARE historic. I'd love to get some of the lawyers who worked on P8TT and the DOMA cases weigh in on how these wins impact SCOTUS' potential outcomes.

  • 50. Mike in Baltimore  |  November 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I guess SCOTUS didn't move very far ahead of the country with the Loving v Virginia decision? After all, it was only 23 years before polling showed that even half the country was OK with multi-racial marriages.

    What then is 'moving too far ahead' of the country? 25 years? 30 years?

  • 51. StevenJ  |  November 8, 2012 at 7:44 am

    I know! That "moving" is so arbitrary. I'm on pins & needles about SCOTUS rulings on the P8TT & DOMA cases.

  • 52. Pat  |  November 7, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Great! now on to the next states!
    Which are they likely to be, by the way? (any timeline for Rhode Island? others?)

  • 53. Mike in Baltimore  |  November 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    I think the vote in Maryland will now put a lot of pressure on Delaware. After all, Maryland abuts Delaware on the entirety of Delaware's West and South sides, and the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay are on the majority of Delaware's East side.

  • 54. John_B_in_DC  |  November 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    These wins are absolutely amazing but anybody noticed that for the most part the polls got it RIGHT this time? We lost little if any support when people went to vote–in fact in Minnesota I believe we won by a LARGER margin than the polls indicated we would. One reason why we were nervous–and a major reason why our opponents were (in retrospect) overconfident–is that in previous elections, polls showed several percentage points more support for marriage equality than we actually got in the corresponding elections. So what has changed? Are the polls better or has support for same-sex marriage finally reached some kind of critical mass? Or is this a matter of the people answering the poll questions and the people actually going out and voting not necessarily being the same–and this time around, our opponents weren't as motivated to get out as they were in previous elections?

  • 55. Bob  |  November 7, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    support for same-sex marriage finally reached some kind of critical mass

  • 56. Bob  |  November 7, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/02/politics/red-blue-s

  • 57. Eric Koszyk  |  November 8, 2012 at 7:46 am

    I tried to do their little poll but there were no answers that fit my description as an Agnostic so I gave up. From the historical record, it seems that Jesus probably existed and was most likely a radical community organizer. He developed a very effective PR team as well.

  • 58. Gabbrielle  |  November 16, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    I really loved Joanna Brook’s alricte where she likens a man’s testimony to his penis. No wonder people in the church are afraid when someone loses their testimony!(It’s great really, the entire essay)Fabulous and well-done, fMh! I loved the pass-along cards as well. I may have to circulate those in RS one of these days.

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  • 60. Equality On Trial »&hellip  |  May 14, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    […] will begin to issue marriage licenses on August 1, when the law takes effect. Minnesota voters voted down a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality this past November, on the same day that the voters of three other states […]

  • 61. Francesco  |  May 15, 2013 at 8:30 pm

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