Openly gay columnist Dan Savage says that we owe our election day victories to our straight allies that have come to our aid.
Openly gay columnist Dan Savage says that we owe our election day victories to our straight allies that have come to our aid.
The presidential campaign season came to a close with virtually no reference to LGBT issues — including the hot-button issue of same-sex marriage — in mainstream discourse between President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
In each of the three presidential debates and the vice presidential debate, not a single reference to LGBT issues was made either by moderators or the participating candidates.
There were some exceptions to this rule. In an Obama radio spot that aired close to Election Day on stations intended for younger listeners, a woman chides others who don’t intend to go to the polls.
“What are you going to tell them,” the woman asks. “You were just too busy? You didn’t think it mattered? Is that what you’re going to tell your friends who can’t get married? The ones who couldn’t serve openly in the military?”
References to the LGBT community also came up numerous times during the Democratic National Convention, such as when Obama said the United States is a place where “we don’t think that government is the source of all our problems — any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles.” Obama also touted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal in his campaign appearances in swing states.
It was an interesting year in so many ways. Looking back made me realize the first thing I did was accept reaching the age when many people retire. I contemplated that for about 10 minutes before moving on to more relevant thoughts. After all, life was still fun, my job still interesting and writing was still something I enjoy.
Each month of the year brought with it some new events to focus on. Overriding everything was the election. In January, I wondered why we should care what the Iowa caucus results were — and I am still wondering. That was about the same time the pizza guy flamed out over his transgressions with a series of women. The ups and downs of the Republican debates were fascinating in a macabre way, like watching a train wreck is fascinating. Some of the candidates faded faster than others including Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann (not fast enough), Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry. Others like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum hung around longer and used the eventual nominee Mitt Romney as a piñata dragging him further to the right all to the eventual benefit of President Obama.
Then there was Foundry United Methodist Church’s fight for LGBT rights within the Methodist Church. While they lost that fight we can all be thankful for the ongoing work of Foundry and their Senior Pastor Dean Snyder. In May, Dr. Robert Spitzer, a leading member of the American Psychological Association, wrote an apology (better late than never) that admitted he was wrong when he authored a study supporting “reparative therapy” for gays. That study harmed unknown numbers of young gay men who were subjected to this phony therapy and still are in some areas.
June brought Pride with its festivals and parades and the knowledge that we now had a president who supported marriage equality and was willing to stand up and tell the world. There was also the decision by the Supreme Court to declare “Obamacare” constitutional. In his statements on the Affordable Care Act as well as other comments Justice Scalia again showed why he should be impeached.
July brought the International AIDS Conference to the United States for the first time in 20 years. There were meetings and talk about how far we have come in the fight against HIV/AIDS and recognition of how far we still had to go. There was the announcement of the first patient, called the “Berlin Patient” who has reportedly been cured and the discussion of spending more money on finding a cure and not just finding a vaccine. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the conference and to great applause spoke of a generation without AIDS being within reach.
In August we watched the spectacle of the Republican Convention in which they approved a platform clearly more appropriate for the 19th century than the 21st. They highlighted their fight against women and the LGBT community and selected the Romney/Ryan ticket, which proved a colossal mistake.
The election was going fine for the Democrats until the first presidential debate, when President Obama barely showed up. An election thought to be in the bag suddenly became a nail biter for a short while. But those of us who are Nate Silver fans soon understood that President Obama was going to win a second term and do so fairly easily. The bonus was winning marriage referenda in four states and gaining House seats and two Senate seats as well.
All in all, a good year yet it ended with so many things left to be done. Some are easy and can be done with the stroke of a pen like the president signing an executive order to ban discrimination in federal contracting. Others — like setting the nation on a course to fiscal solvency — will take negotiation and perseverance and require our help as we pressure Congress to act.
But at midnight on Dec. 31, as we say goodbye to 2012 and welcome in 2013, let us all drink a toast to the year past and say a prayer and pledge to each other that in the year to come we will keep up the good fight for equality and will do everything in our power to make the world a safer and healthier place for all.
A record number of lesbian, gay and bisexual candidates were elected to the U.S. House this year, nearly doubling the number of out representatives serving in the lower chamber of Congress.
Gay Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) won re-election, and on the same night, out candidates Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Mark Takano of California and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin won their races. The new additions — minus Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), who are leaving the U.S. House — means LGB representation in the chamber will jump from four lawmakers to seven.
Maloney, who will be the first openly gay U.S. House member from New York, said upon the announcement that he won his bid to unseat Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.) that voters in the state’s 18th congressional district voted for change.
“Across four counties on two sides of the Hudson River, in hundreds of schools, firehouses, community centers, in the Democratic vote of a quarter million of our neighbors, the people have settled this debate,” Maloney said. “They have closed this campaign.”
Sinema will become the first openly bisexual member of Congress and Takano will become the first openly gay person of color to have a House seat. Pocan’s election means Wisconsin’s 2nd congressional district will maintain gay representation as Baldwin heads to the U.S. Senate.
Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin made history on Election Day when she became the first openly gay person to win election to the U.S. Senate.
In a closely watched contest in Wisconsin, Baldwin, a Democrat, won election to the Senate in a race against Republican former Gov. Tommy Thompson. She won the election after serving nine terms in the U.S. House and being the first non-incumbent openly gay person to win a congressional race.
Following the announcement of her victory, Baldwin said she’s “well aware” that I will be the first openly gay member of the United States Senate, but said she “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 the bills, a difference in the lives of students worried about debt and seniors worried about their retirement security, a difference in the lives veterans who fought for us and need someone fighting for them and their families when they return home from war, a difference in the lives of entrepreneurs trying to build a business and working people trying to build some economic security,” Baldwin said.
Attacks on Baldwin’s sexual orientation were virtually absent from the Wisconsin race, though Brian Nemoir, a Thompson campaign official, circulated a video of her dancing at a gay Pride festival and told media outlets, “Clearly, there’s no one better positioned to talk ‘heartland values’ than Tammy.” The incident resulted in negative press for Thompson, who apologized for his aide’s action.
Marriage equality took a giant leap forward on Election Day when, for the first time, voters in three states approved same-sex marriage rights at the ballot. In addition, voters in Minnesota rejected a ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage.
The results brought the total number of states where same-sex marriage is legal to nine plus D.C.
Same-sex marriage was made legal by referenda in Maryland, Maine and Washington State. The margin of victory in each state was slim; in Maryland, the measure passed with 52.4 percent of the vote.
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, praised the wins after the results of the ballot initiatives were announced.
“Our huge, happy and historic wave of wins last night signaled irrefutable momentum for the freedom to marry, with voters joining courts, legislatures and the reelected president of the United States in moving the country toward the right side of history,” Wolfson said.
But those victories came just months after a defeat for LGBT advocates in May when North Carolina approved an amendment banning same-sex marriage.
In the week prior to Election Day, the Obama campaign published a letter in each of three states where marriage equality was on the ballot saying Obama supports the legalization of same-sex marriage in each of the states.
“While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the president believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect,” said Michael Czin, Northeast regional press secretary for the Obama campaign, in the Portland Press Herald. “The president believes same-sex couples should be treated equally and supports Question 1.”
Maryland voters on Nov. 6 approved the state’s same-sex marriage law by a 52-48 percent margin.
“Fairness and equality under the law won tonight,” Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, a coalition of groups that included the Human Rights Campaign and Equality Maryland that supported Question 6, said shortly after he announced voters had upheld the law. “We’re sure to feel the ripples of this monumental victory across the country for years to come.”
Election Day capped off a long and often tumultuous effort for Maryland’s same-sex marriage advocates that began in 1997 when three state lawmakers introduced the first bill that would have allowed nuptials for gays and lesbians.
Equality Maryland and the American Civil Liberties Union in 2004 filed a lawsuit on behalf of Lisa Polyak and Gita Deane and eight other same-sex couples and a gay widow who sought the right to marry in the state. Baltimore Circuit Court Judge M. Brooke Murdock in 2006 ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, but the Maryland Court of Appeals ultimately upheld the constitutionality of the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples the following year.
State lawmakers in 2011 narrowly missed approving a same-sex marriage bill, but legislators approved it in February. O’Malley signed the measure into law on March 1.
The Maryland Marriage Alliance, which opposed the same-sex marriage law, collected more than 160,000 signatures to prompt a referendum on the law — the group needed to collect 55,736 signatures by June 30 to bring the issue before voters on Nov. 6.
Marylanders for Marriage Equality struggled to raise money in the first months of the campaign, but it ultimately netted nearly $6 million. HRC contributed more than $1.5 million in cash and in-kind contributions to the pro-Question 6 campaign, while New York City Michael Bloomberg donated $250,000 in October.
Former National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and his wife Chan announced a $100,000 contribution to Marylanders for Marriage Equality during an Oct. 2 fundraiser that O’Malley, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and others attended at gay Democratic lobbyist Steve Elmendorf’s Logan Circle home. The governor also headlined a star-studded New York City fundraiser for the campaign that gay former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman hosted in September.
The Maryland Marriage Alliance netted slightly more than $2.4 million, which is less than half the amount Marylanders for Marriage Equality raised. The National Organization for Marriage, the Knights of Columbus and the Archdiocese of Baltimore are among the groups that contributed to the anti-Question 6 group. Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Family Research President Tony Perkins and Dr. Alveda King, niece of slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., are among those who publicly opposed the same-sex marriage law.
The Maryland Marriage Alliance came under increased scrutiny as Election Day drew closer.
The Blade obtained court documents that indicate the Internal Revenue Service in 2011 filed a lien against Derek A. McCoy, the group’s chair, for more than $32,000 in unpaid taxes in 2002 and 2003. He also faced criticism from same-sex marriage advocates for defending a suburban Baltimore pastor who suggested during an October town hall that those who practice homosexuality and approve it are “deserving of death.” A California minister described gay men as “predators” during an anti-Question 6 rally at a Baltimore church on Oct. 21 that McCoy, Jackson, Perkins and others attended.
“Nobody here endorses violence, endorses bullying of any sort in any stance,” McCoy said during a Nov. 2 press conference, two days before a Frederick pastor noted during another anti-Question 6 rally that Superstorm Sandy struck New York City after Bloomberg gave $250,000 to Marylanders for Marriage Equality. “We stand collectively to love our community, to love the constituents who are in our churches and within our broader community in the state of Maryland.”
McCoy said after Election Day the Maryland Marriage Alliance respects “the results that have come from a democratic process.”
The law will take effect on Jan.1.