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ELECTIONS: Baldwin makes history; marriage initiatives
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2012-11-07

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A variety of contests took place around the country Nov. 6 that were of specific interest to the LGBT community. Among those were:

—Wisconsin: In her race for the U.S. Senate seat, Tammy Baldwin made history by edging former Wis. Gov. Tommy Thompson to become the first openly gay person in that national legislative body.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement that "Tammy Baldwin has always been a trailblazer, but with her victory tonight Senator-elect Baldwin has again earned her spot in the history books. As the first openly gay person elected to the United States Senate, Tammy Baldwin is a role model for LGBT youth and all young women across the country."

Also, Mark Pocan—a friend of Baldwin—captured Baldwin's Congressional seat by defeating Chad Lee. Lee had made news recently when Kyle Wood, an out supporter, claimed (falsely, it turned out) that someone gay-bashed Wood. Pocan was heavily favored to win.

—Massachusetts: Richard Tisei is trying to make history of his own by becoming the first openly gay Republican on Capitol Hill—and succeeded. To do so, he must upset incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. John Tierney. With 87 percent of the vote counted, the outcome was too close to call.

Also in Massachusetts, there was a tight U.S. Senate race between Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren and GOP incumbent Scott Brown (in one of the most closely watched contests in the country), who participated in some pro-gay votes while on Capitol Hill. Warren prevailed, prompting the Human Rights Campaign to release a statement saying, "Senator-elect Warren's victory tonight is nothing short of inspiring. As she prepares to fill the seat once held by the late Senator Edward Kennedy, I have no doubt that Senator-elect Warren will be an equally dogged leader for LGBT Americans and our families."

In addition, there will again be a Kennedy in Congress as Democrat Joseph Kennedy III has beaten Republican businessman Sean Bielat to replace retiring out gay Democrat Barney Frank.

—New York: Sean Patrick Maloney, a staffer for former President Bill Clinton, won in his attempt to be the first out gay member of Congress from New York state, defeating Republican Rep. Nan Hayworth. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) later congratulated Maloney on winning, stating, "The growing presence of LGBT voices on Capitol Hill draws much-needed attention to the urgency of advancing equality, and HRC is excited to work with the Congressman-elect on these issues in the coming term."

—Colorado: Congressman Jared Polis easily recaptured his seat, becoming the most senior openly gay member of the U.S. House. Democrats have controlled Polis' district since 1975, the Denver Post reported.

—Rhode Island: Gay Congressman David Cicilline retained his post after a campaign that included a National Republican Congressional Committee-sponsored ad linking Cicilline to a convicted pedophile and murderer he represented as a defense attorney 20 years ago. In a statement, National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis said, "We're proud to have David return to Washington for another term as the representative from Rhode Island's first congressional district."

—Arizona: Democrat Kyrsten Sinema was in a virtual dead heat with Republican candidate Vernon Parker for the District 9 U.S. House seat. If elected, Sinema would be the first openly bisexual person elected to Congress. The battle continued to be tight into the morning hours of Nov. 7.

—California: Democrat Japanese-American Mark Takano won a U.S. House seat by defeating GOP candidate John Tavaglione to become the first out gay person of color elected to Congress. Takano won 56.4 percent of the vote tally, compared to Tavaglione's 43.6 percent, according to the Press-Enterprise.

—Idaho: Nicole LeFavour lost in her bid to unseat GOP U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson in District 2. With half of eastern Idaho precincts reporting, Simpson had 68 percent of the vote to LeFavour's 32 percent, the Idaho Press reported.

—Indiana: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdoch lost to Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly. The loss will almost certainly be blamed on Mourdock's controversial comments about rape and abortion.

—Missouri: On a related note, Republican Todd Akin (who once spoke of "legitimate rape") lost to Democratic U.S. Senate incumbent Claire McCaskill.

—Iowa: Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins—one of four justices who ruled in favor of marriage equality in the state—had to survive a retention vote as well as anti-gay forces determined to oust him. (They succeeded in removing the other three.) He was retained, prompting Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin to say in a statement, "Iowans have made a strong statement for judicial independence and refused to let politics get in the way of judges doing their duty to uphold the law. Right-wing groups trying to exact political retribution on judges should learn their lesson. Marriage equality remains the law of the land in Iowa and judges will continue to do their jobs."

The pro-LGBT group One Iowa added in a separate statement that the "historic election shows unequivocally that the tide is turning in this country and that the arc of history is bending towards justice. This election is a decided victory for equality for [LGBT] Americans and we have truly turned a corner in the movement for equality."

As early as 8:30 p.m. CT, the U.S. House was projected to maintain its GOP majority. Later, CNN.com projected the Democrats to retain the majority in the U.S. Senate.

Marriage equality

There was also the issue of marriage equality in four states: Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington state. Six U.S. states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage, but the decisions were made through judicial and legislative actions.

The news seemed to be good on all fronts. At 3 p.m. CT on Nov. 7, the Maine vote was 53 percent to 47 percent in favor of marriage equality (with 87 percent of votes in), according to CNN. In Maryland, it was 52 percent to 48 in favor (with 99 percent of votes in), while in Minnesota the vote to ban same-sex marriage was 51 percent to 48 percent (with 99 percent of the votes counted). In Washington state, it was 52 percent to 48 percent in favor of marriage equality, with 51 percent of the votes counted.

In 2009, Maine voters approved a referendum that overturned the same-sex marriage law then-Gov. John Baldacci signed earlier that year, according to the Washington Blade. State campaign finance reports indicate Mainers United for Marriage raised nearly four times as much money as the anti-gay Protect Marriage Maine.

The question, as phrased in Maine, was "Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?"

In Minnesota, it was "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?"

In Maryland, the battle was contentious as a group of ministers urged people to not vote or vote against marriage equality—especially after President Obama came out in favor of same-sex marriage.

Regarding Washington state, residents voted on Referendum Measure 74. The anti-gay Preserve Marriage Washington urged voters to reject Referendum 74, while Washington United for Marriage wanted people to back it.

Windy City Times will update as details become available.

States with largest number LGBT people elected Nov. 6:

California, 19; Colorado, 8

Florida 6

Illinois 6

Washington 6

Four openly gay speakers of state houses:

Gordon Fox Rhode Island

John Perez California

Tina Kotek Oregon

Mark Ferrandino Colorado

Openly gay members of Congress (by seniority):

Current

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.)

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.)

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R. Is.)

Next session:

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.)

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.)

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R. Is.)

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.)

U.S. Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY)

U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.)

U.S. Rep. Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.)

© 2012 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


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