Gay Community Has Best Election Night Ever
LGBT community wins big on marriage equality, gets first openly gay U.S. Senator
While Americans were sending their first African American president, Barack Obama, back to the White House for four more years, voters in four states were delivering a huge victory to gay and lesbians couples who want the right to legally tie the knot.
As of Wednesday morning, same sex marriage was legally sanctioned by voters in Maine and Maryland, and voters were narrowly approving it in Washington state. Minnesota voters rejected a ballot measure that would have imposed a ban on such unions, although couples there still do not have the right to wed.
Gay rights advocacy groups were heralding the historic news, thought not so long ago to be highly improbable through the electoral process, while also reelecting Obama, who is the first sitting U.S. president to endorse gay marriage.
“Years from now we’ll remember this election day as the most important and most historic, in the history of the LGBT movement,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a video statement recorded Tuesday night.
HRC, a prominent American gay and lesbian civil rights group, spent two years raising $20 million and mobilizing its largest ever marriage equality campaign.
“We have won a landslide victory for equality at the ballot box,” Griffin declared.
Herndon Graddick, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, gave some of the credit to President Obama.
"Visibility and progress for LGBT people have grown under President Obama and now that momentum must continue," Graddick said in a statement release Wednesday morning. "LGBT people deserve full equality in every aspect of American life and President Obama, in his second term, should take every concrete step within his power to make it so."
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With Maine, Maryland and Washington, there are now nine states and the District of Columbia that recognize same sex marriages. Gay couples can jump the broom in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. Rhode Island recognizes same sex marriages performed in other states.
Voters in Wisconsin also made LGBT history by electing openly gay Democrat Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate.
“I am well aware that I will have the honor of being [Wisconsin’s] first woman senator,” Baldwin said in her acceptance speech Tuesday night. “And I am well aware that I will be the first openly gay member! But I didn't run to make history. I ran to make a difference! A difference in the lives of families struggling to find work and pay their bills…of students worried about debt…and seniors worried about their retirement security.”
Opposition to marriage equality and gay rights issues has been fervent and well funded over the last decade. California’s voter-approved Proposition 8, in 2008, imposed a ban on same sex marriages, was later found unconstitutional in federal court, and tempered the LGBT community’s strategy on obtaining equal rights.
Advocates widely believe that marriage equality will become a reality in more states, as young voters, said to be more likely to support legalizing gay unions than their parents or grandparents, are tasked with deciding on the issue.