The Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay rights group in Washington, DC, just informed me that marriage equality has won in Washington state – we won all four gay marriage ballot measures last night, three legalizing marriage for gay couples, and one stopping an anti-gay state constitutional amendment.
I asked HRC’s new-ish President Chad Griffin for his thoughts on the amazing lesbian, gay, bi and trans victories last night in the elections. Here’s Chad’s guest commentary (emphasis added):
While the votes are still being counted in a few places across the country, one outcome of the 2012 election is perfectly clear: LGBT equality won a landslide victory at the ballot box this year. Not only did LGBT voters play a decisive role in re-electing President Barack Obama and sending Tammy Baldwin to Washington as the first openly gay United States Senator, but we broke marriage equality’s losing streak at the ballot box once and for all with sweeping and unprecedented victories in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington.
Yet this election stands for a lot more than a simple tally of wins and losses. Our victories this year highlight a new pro-equality American majority, one which is committed to standing up for fairness and to rejecting the divisive and discriminatory anti-LGBT rhetoric of the past. This election was nothing short of a pro-equality mandate, and this mandate must motivate policymakers, courts and citizens alike to increase the pace of our future progress.
Consider what Tuesday’s results said about the state of the American electorate. A decisive majority voted to re-elect the first sitting President in United States history to embrace marriage equality—the same President who fought hard to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and signed critical hate crimes protections into law. And voters rejected a challenger who adopted the most anti-LGBT party platform in decades—one which pledged to support amending the U.S. Constitution in order to divorce all legally-married lesbian and gay couples.
And in all four states where marriage was on the ballot, broad majorities dismissed the same tired and offensive arguments against marriage equality we’ve been hearing for years. Despite a flood of misleading ads, scare tactics and junk science from equality’s well-funded adversaries, voters in these states looked to their own LGBT family members, friends and neighbors for the truth. Our opponents have always rushed to put our equality on the ballot, believing it to be a sure-fire way to tear down our families and undermine our progress. But after this year’s historic victories, you can be sure they won’t be so quick to do so in the future.
One thing these results do not say is that we can put their feet up and relax. As we celebrate the areas where we’ve made historic steps forward, we must also recommit ourselves to future victory. After all, for millions of LGBT people, especially our young people, progress can’t come fast enough.
More than anything, these results speak to a nationwide urgency to do more. Election Day isn’t our only opportunity to advance equality, and there are opportunities right now to build on this momentum. We must get to work so that these victories are felt everywhere. And we must use every tool at our disposal to advance the cause of equality. That means expanding our local and national efforts to pass workplace nondiscrimination measures, anti-bullying protections and equal access to a full slate of federal benefits. It also means engaging with other important national debates, including making sure LGBT people are protected from unfair and hurtful cuts in upcoming budget battles on Capitol Hill.
What’s more, in the weeks to come, all eyes will turn to the United States Supreme Court as the Justices consider whether to take up landmark cases on California’s Proposition 8 and the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. If Tuesday’s election results told us anything, it’s that support for equality is growing in unexpected places, but we’ve got to prepare as a community for a continued fight regardless of the outcome at the Supreme Court.
After all, as long as inequality persists anywhere, we’ve got work left to do. But after last night there is no mistaking the trend. Every day more Americans are standing up for LGBT equality, and every day our opponents look diminished by comparison. The new pro-equality American majority is prepared to stand with us, and we won’t stop working until full equality reaches every single person in every corner of this vast country.