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Historic Night for LGBT Candidates But GOP Dominance Could Mean Trouble for LGBT Rights

Historic Night for LGBT Candidates But GOP Dominance Could Mean Trouble for LGBT Rights

While LGBT rights advocates such as stalwart Rep. Patrick Murphy lost out on Tuesday, LGBT candidates themselves had a historic night with a current estimate of 106 of the Victory Fund’s 164 endorsed candidates being elected.

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund is a non-partisan national organization dedicated to increasing the number of qualified openly LGBT elected officials at all levels of government in the United States with the message that if those individuals are qualified, their LGBT identity should not be used to prevent them from holding office.

After results began to roll in, Victory Fund President and CEO Chuck Wolfe issued the following statement lamenting the loss of LGBT allies in Congress but also highlighting the election of so many LGBT officials:

“There is no sugar-coating the loss of so many of our straight allies in Congress, but we can be proud that our community continues to expand its voice at all levels of government in America. Out public officials are having a sizable impact on the local, state and national debates about LGBT equality.  Increasing their numbers is a vital part of a long-term strategy to change America’s politics and make our country freer and fairer for everyone.  We will continue to focus on training committed, qualified candidates, and we will work hard to get them elected to public office.”

Notable wins include:

  • Providence mayor David Cicilline was elected to Congress making him the fourth openly gay member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He joins Representatives Tammy Baldwin, Barney Frank and Jared Polis– all of whom retained their seats.
  • Victoria Kolakowski was elected as a Superior Court judge in Alameda, making her the first openly transgender judge in America.
  • Laurie Jinkins was elected to the Washington State House, making her Washington’s first openly lesbian state legislator.

For more on LGBT candidates that won last night, please click here.

Unfortunately, results weren’t all positive. The GOP has been given control of a sizable number of state legislatures and this fact has made LGBT rights proponents anxious, and for good reason.

The New Hampshire Legislature, for example, is now in the hands of a veto-proof Republican majority. This will likely mean a marriage amendment will soon be drawn up to repeal New Hampshire’s marriage equality law. However, New Hampshire’s governor John Lynch, who the National Organization for Marriage had tried to unseat because he signed the state’s marriage equality bill into law (though he has personally opposed gay marriage), retains his position for a historic fourth term.

Similarly, with North Carolina’s Legislature under Republican control for the first time in over one hundred years, an amendment to ban same-sex marriage in the state would also appear a foregone conclusion because Democratic control of the state legislature was perceived as the only barrier to have thus far prevented the state from adopting a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage like the rest of the southern states.

Perhaps even more worrying, state level LGBT-inclusive employment non-discrimination legislation now seems particularly vulnerable.

In other states, however, potentially more positive signs could be drawn from Tuesday’s results. New York voters elected Andrew Cuomo as their next governor— Cuomo has been a vocal proponent of marriage equality. Other states such as Maryland, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Colorado also elected officials that, based on their previous records, may be open to advancing LGBT rights legislation of varying kinds.

Of course, when peering through an LGBT rights lens, an overview of this week’s election results can not be complete without also conceding how losses at the federal level could seriously impact the progress of LGBT rights legislation.

From the Human Rights Campaign:

The initial results of Election Day indicate new challenges as well as some opportunities ahead for moving forward on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, said the Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization.  The loss of the House of Representatives to an anti-equality leadership, along with the loss of some fair-minded Senators, will certainly impede federal legislative efforts.  Perhaps most strikingly though, candidates who were the most vociferous opponents of LGBT equality did not fare well against fair-minded candidates.

[...]

The loss of the House to anti-equality leaders is a serious blow to the LGBT community.  The presumptive leadership team of Reps. Boehner, Cantor and Pence all score zeros on the HRC scorecard and many soon-to-be committee chairs have long anti-LGBT records.  The past four years of Democratic leadership stopped anti-equality lawmakers from being able to move the most damaging legislation and amendments forward, however, the 110th and 111th Congresses did not hold pro-equality majorities on every issue.  The 112th Congress will prove even more challenging in rounding up the votes needed to advance pro-LGBT legislation.  A particular disappointment is the loss of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal champion Patrick Murphy in the U.S. House.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has also been keen to put things into perspective, with executive director Rea Carey issuing a frank assessment of the uphill struggle LGBT-friendly legislation now faces in Congress while stressing that, at the federal level, an uphill battle is really nothing new and that for proponents, the fight continues regardless:

“We’ll cut to the chase: The shift in the balance of power will very likely slow advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights legislation in Congress. Does this mean a blockade on LGBT rights? Not if we can help it. Fact is, our community has always had to fight — and fight hard — for equality. This is nothing new to us. But here’s another fact: There are Americans, from every part of the country, from every background, from every political leaning and of every faith, who support equality for LGBT people — and those numbers grow bigger every day.

[...]

Bottom line: While political winds and players may shift, the fundamental needs of the people do not. No matter who is in office, people need jobs, protection from discrimination, a roof over their heads, a way to feed their families, a fair shake. No one should settle for less — we won’t.”

If you would like to read more Care2 election coverage across a diverse range of issues, please click here where you can browse our collection of posts.

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28 comments

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5:13AM PST on Feb 10, 2011

BMutiny: You have my vote!

7:41PM PST on Nov 7, 2010

Homosexuality is about who one has the propensity to fall in live with. It is found in 430 different species. The religious right focus on intimacy , as this gets the opposing votes from those who would otherwise appreciate the reality of such a state of being. The electorate of Iowa have done nothing to be proud of. Constitutional guarantees of liberty must never be limited to those who meet the approval of a majority, or it becomes a meaningless document.

1:36AM PDT on Nov 7, 2010

Inez, marriage isn't just about what one does physically in bed. It is about love, romance, attraction, friendship, comradeship, tolerance, communication, raising kids maybe, sharing, lots of things.
It is simply foolish to limit "gayness" to what happens in the sex act. Gay people are attracted to other Gay people; they can't help their attraction, any more than you can help who YOU are attracted to. If Gay marriages increased by a whole lot, it would simply mean that more people were finding each other thru mutual attraction -- what's wrong with that?
Being Gay does NOT make a person sterile! There are many ways I won't go into here, that Gay people can have biological children if they wish -- or adopt them, either way. And there exists NO evidence, NONE, that Gay parents are any worse at raising responsible, loving, well-adjusted kids, than any other parents! {And their kids don't necessarily turn out to be Gay; just like kids of Straight parents don't necessarily turn out Straight!}
If the Birth Rate went down a bit because of lots of Gay women and men choosing to have no or few kids -- that would be a rather GOOD thing for this over-burdened Planet; we STILL would have a maybe too-high Birth Rate, unless Birth Control was universally made available to ALL, everywhere....
I am "straight", I guess, I have had LOTS of friendships with both Gay men and Gay women, I don't see any problem there... no, a Gay person does NOT try to seduce or rape everyone they come across!

1:21AM PDT on Nov 7, 2010

Please don't slam Inez, she is mis-informed as most people were once upon a time. Inez, there are plenty of websites and there is plenty of literature you can learn from.
Most of society was very mis-informed about Gays not-so-long-ago. Gay people were isolated and in the closet; so most people had this image of them as some sort of monsters.
Inez probably KNOWS some Gay people; but does not KNOW they are Gay. Maybe even family members or close friends or neighbors. That is why the single most positive thing a Gay person can do, is to "come out" to EVERYbody in his/her life.
She would learn that Gay people have hopes, fears, dreams, ideals, standards, just like everybody else. A man who is running for President of Ireland, David Norris, is Gay; "asked if he was worried about tabloids.... Norris told reporters 'I have lived a decent, respectable life, and there has been no scandal.'" And he is Gay!

We need Patience and Love to reach out to those not-yet-enlightened. President Obama himself, who once personally opposed Gay Marriage, has hinted in an interview on-the-air, that his views have undergone some changes. Perhaps soon, the whole world will be wondering "what all the fuss was about", as a New Generation just takes complete and total Gay Equality and Rights for granted.....!

7:06PM PDT on Nov 6, 2010

Thanks.

6:30PM PDT on Nov 6, 2010

GOOD NEWS from Kentucky! Jim Gray is Lexington's mayor!!Bad news-- Rand Paul elected to US Senate.

12:55PM PDT on Nov 5, 2010

Thanks for sharing this.

11:39AM PDT on Nov 5, 2010

Exit polling says 31% of Gays & Lesbians voted Republican. Not all are Liberals!


http://www.goproud.org/exit-polling-shows-
gay-voters-played-important-role-in-republican-victories-in-the-u-s-house/

4:06AM PDT on Nov 5, 2010

We are human beings with basic needs, yet we resist acknowledging our similarities. Diversity is what 'makes the world go around.' If we humans can face our fears and embrace diversity, perhaps we would solve a few issues on this planet.

7:22PM PDT on Nov 4, 2010

Never give up...one good thing Palidino lost...did you see him with a bat...rare form hey? We have to stand for what we believe in, not what the chruches tell the masses. I love my gay friends an this election should piss us all off...lets see what pubs do as I will say now their agenda is to get Obama out an to take away your civil rights to be who you are an no protection from discrimination....so vote Obama in 2012.

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