Civil rights issues like employment non-discrimination and marriage equality are what made me a political junkie. I was pretty apolitical for a long time, but 2004 opened my eyes - the nation lit up with anti-gay ballot initiatives, and we gay and lesbian folks and our allies were blamed by a lot of Democrats for 2004's losses while our civil rights were beaten senseless at the ballot box.
Eight years later, my goodness. How things have changed. Last night was a FABULOUS night for Democrats, and an amazing night to be LGBT in America. We won all over the freakin' place, in ways historic and stunning.
Let's start with President Barack Obama. He was already awesome for helping end Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Then (a little early, thanks to VP Biden) he stepped up to become the first sitting president to endorse marriage equality.
As if that weren't enough, the president - and the DNC - campaigned on marriage equality. I noted a lot of Democrats nervously watching that, thinking about 2004. But guess what?
HE WON. BIG TIME.
We now have a president who has openly embraced LGBT equality - leading the country on the issue - and gone on to win re-election. (As if we didn't know.)
Let's check out Wisconsin, where in 2006 (a great year for Congressional Democrats), voters approved a constitutional amendment barring marriage equality 59%-40%. Six years later, Wisconsin isn't just sending one fabulous lesbyterian named Tammy Baldwin to the Senate - our first out gay person elected to the Senate after coming out! - but the seat she vacated in the house? That's right. It stayed in pink hands. Welcome Mark Pocan to the house, everyone. He's one of (one of?!) our newest gay House reps! This becomes the first U.S. House seat in which a LGBT person vacated the seat, and another one of us was elected to fill it!
Is Wisconin going to rename itself "Swishconsin"? Just a thought.
Let's check out New York. Everywhere I saw had polling expecting slimy tea party princess Nan Hayworth to defeat gay family man (and former Clinton White House staffer) Sean Maloney in NY-18. Well, the lavender tide has swamped Hayworth. NY-18 will be getting its gay worth, instead. Welcome ANOTHER new openly gay member to the U.S. House of Representatives!
Not to be outdone, seeing as how so many haters view California as, like, Gay World HeadQuarters, California has joined the game. I just saw projected that Mark Takano will win in CA-41, making him the first Asian-American LGBT member of Congress (and the only non-white one so far; I'm certain that will change in the next decade). Welcome to the family, Congressman-elect Takano!
Further, openly gay Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI) and Jared Polis (D-CO) were re-elected. Congrats, gentlemen.
Also, I noticed that Florida and West Virginia have elected their first openly gay representatives in their state legislatures. Yes, folks, that's right. West Virginia.
Oh, and then there are the ballot measures. It looks likely we're going to go 4 for 4. A seismic shift in LGBT rights has begun - voters had never approved marriage equality at the ballot box...until yesterday. I really didn't think we could win it all, but it looks like we very likely will.
Maryland: WIN. (Now our new members of Congress can get hitched in DC or next door in Maryland if they so desire!)
Maine: WIN! (And this just 3 years after Maine voted AGAINST marriage equality. It looks like the margin will be almost exactly reversed, which makes this even sweeter.)
Minnesota: WIN. I really thought Minnesota might join North Carolina in the haters' corner this year. Honestly, I wasn't hoping too hard for this one. BUT WE WON. Minnesota becomes the first state I know of to present a constitutional amendment barring marriage equality to voters, and have that amendment REJECTED.
Washington state - where I live - is the last in the door, because we vote by mail and it takes a long time for ballots to be counted. We only have about half our ballots counted, but Referendum 74 is looking pretty darn likely to be approved -- it's 52-48 right now, the same margin by which we won in Maryland.
I am never happy that our civil rights are up for popular vote - I don't think that's how it should be done. But we didn't just finally win a round. It's looking likely we MOPPED THE FLOOR WITH THEM this time. It may not be polite to say, but National Organization for Marriage? You can suck it. (And so many homophobes secretly do, so you can actually just continue sucking it.)
I can't tell you how amazing this night and morning are. I feel so much closer to being a respected, equal American citizen than I did just a few days ago. I know it's only a few steps, but damn, are those some big steps. Thanks for being fabulous, America.