Obama Victory Bodes Well for LGBT Community

By Lisa Keen

In the Nov. 6 race with the greatest impact on the LGBT community, President Obama secured re-election Tuesday night, winning both the popular and electoral vote majorities.

The Obama re-election on the same night the LGBT community won unprecedented battles in four states over marriage equality and Wisconsin elected the first openly gay U.S. Senator, prompted comment from many political pundits throughout the night.

"This country is really changing," remarked CNN commentator Paul Begala. "We've just elected our first openly lesbian senator, Tammy Baldwin.... We re-elected a president who endorsed gay marriage. Nineteen years ago, I was working for Bill Clinton...and we thought it was progress to pass 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'" The results on LGBT issues Tuesday night, he said, "might be one of the most wonderful things about tonight."

The Obama victory was especially sweet for many LGBT people given the Republican ticket's staunch opposition to equal rights for gays in marriage, the military, and nearly every other arena, contrasting with President Obama's support.

"As the first president to sign a pro-LGBT bill, the first president to speak out in support of the freedom to marry, and the president who made open service in our armed forces for gays and lesbians possible, LGBT Americans have won a major victory tonight," said Jerame Davis, head of the National Stonewall Democrats.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, calling President Obama the "most pro-equality president ever" said, "There is no doubt that we will continue to see tremendous progress toward full equality like we've made during his first four years."

"While some pundits predicted the President's support for marriage equality would hinder his campaign," added Griffin, in a statement released Tuesday night, "we know the opposite is true. President Obama's historic and heartfelt declaration that all loving and committed couples should be able to marry further rallied millions of voters and sparked conversations that advanced marriage campaigns around the country. His reelection after expressing support for marriage equality is further proof that the momentum is on the side of marriage for all families."

Log Cabin Republicans did not issue a statement Tuesday night.

In his victory speech in Chicago after midnight, President Obama said that most Americans hope the country is a place that provides good education, a strong economy, and, among other things, a country that "isn't weakened by inequality." He also paid homage to the "diversity" of Americans.

Obama said he does not believe the country is as divided as pundits suggest, and that it doesn't matter who you are, including whether you are "gay or straight," "you can make it here in America, if you're willing to try."

The apparently heavy turnout of Democrats for Obama seemed to have paid off for LGBT candidates and ballot measures, with pro-same-sex marriage ballot measures passing in Maine, Maryland, and Washington, and the unprecedented defeat of a proposed ban on same-sex marriage in Minnesota. Obama's victory in Wisconsin also apparently helped propel U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin to an historic win as the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate.

While Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney did not make same-sex marriage a prominent issue in his campaign, he and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan made indirect attacks against President Obama over his support for marriage equality in particular.

Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, in a conference call sponsored by the National Journal with right-wing activist Ralph Reed's "Faith and Freedom Coalition" on Sunday, said President Obama was taking the country down a path that "compromises those values, those Judeo-Christian values, Western civilization values that made us such a great and exceptional nation in the first place."

A Romney campaign robo-call in Virginia also attacked President Obama on religious values. And another robo-call, released last Thursday, warned "President Obama used his health care plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith."

Early returns suggested that heavily gay sections of key states, including Ohio, may have played a role in Obama's eventual win in the electoral college. An early exit poll result published by the New York Times, indicated that 76 percent of voters who identified as gay voted for Obama - a percentage that matches most previous election data historically.

The popular vote as of Wed. at noon stood at 60 million for President Obama and 57.4 million for Romney. The electoral vote was 303 for President Obama and 206 for Romney. (To win, a candidate needs 270 electoral votes, regardless of the popular vote outcome nationally.)

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