The 2012 Elections brought monumental strides for LGBT equality. Tuesday’s elections brought support for marriage equality in four states, an ally in the White House, and a record number of openly LGBT individuals elected to Congress, including the first openly lesbian Senator, Tammy Baldwin. “We are elated and we celebrate the power of grassroots organizing and the countless people who worked so hard to achieve these victories. The family and ally voice is what made the difference and it will be what continues to make the difference moving forward,” said PFLAG National Executive Director Jody Huckaby in a November 7th PFLAG News Release.
In Maine, residents voted to legalize same-sex marriage and reverse a 2009 referendum. Marylanders also supported same-sex marriage, approving the Civil Marriage Protection Act signed by Governor Martin O’Malley earlier this year. Though officials report that election results are still too close to call in Washington, current results show that 52% of voters approved a same-sex marriage law passed earlier in 2012. And in Minnesota, voters rejected a proposed Constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. Since 1998, voters in 32 states had banned same-sex marriages. These victories represent the end of this streak and a shift in the American public towards LGBT equality.
In addition to these wins, LGBT individuals and allies also have an ally in the White House for the next four years. In May, President Obama publicly announced his support for same-sex marriage. The President also signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law, extended hospital visitation for same-sex couples, and repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Though President Obama furthered LGBT equality in his first term, there is still much work to be done. “We call on the President and his Administration to continue the important work of creating a fair and equal country for Americans, including LGBT Americans,” said Huckaby.
Tammy Baldwin also made history last night becoming the first openly LGBT politician and the first Wisconsin woman elected to the U.S. Senate. During the campaign, the Wisconsin Democratic Representative promised to support investments in infrastructure, education, and research to create jobs. “I didn’t run to make history,” said Baldwin in her victory speech. “I ran to make a difference, a difference in the lives of families struggling to find work and pay the bills.” Baldwin’s sexual orientation marks a historic win for LGBT equality, but it rarely came up on the campaign trail, demonstrating that Americans realize that what is most important is a candidate’s qualifications, not his or her sexual orientation. Baldwin is one of four openly gay House members, along with Barney Frank, of Massachusetts; David Cicilline, of Rhode Island; and Jared Polis, of Colorado. PFLAG was honored to have Frank and Polis at the 2011 National Convention where Frank spoke about the power of PFLAG and family acceptance and Polis discussed his strong support for the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act. These openly LGBT Congress people have paved the way for LGBT equality in politics and legislation.
“But as we celebrate, our membership of parents, families, friends and allies of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people—and LGBT people themselves—in all fifty states, in all types of communities and from every faith background, are acutely aware of how much more work lies ahead,” said Huckaby. We urge our elected officials to further equality by repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, increasing workplace protections for LGBT individuals, and making schools safer for all students. While we celebrate these Election Day wins, we look forward to the continued work that lies ahead.