Gay campaigners welcome pro-equality candidates

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Massachusetts voters turned out in large numbers and overwhelmingly elected pro-equality candidates for legislative and constitutional offices in last nights mid-terms.

With Deval Patrick’s victory, Massachusetts voters are sending to the corner office for the first time a governor who fully supports marriage equality for same-sex couples.

In addition, voters have chosen pro-equality candidate Martha Coakley to be the state’s next attorney general.

“We are thrilled that an overwhelming majority of Massachusetts voters have decided to put their trust in pro-equality candidates like Governor-Elect Deval Patrick, Lieutenant Governor-Elect Tim Murray, and Attorney General-Elect Martha Coakley,” said Marc Solomon, MassEquality campaign director. “Having supporters in these high offices will certainly add momentum to our campaign to protect marriage equality in Massachusetts.”

Pro-equality candidates fared well in legislative races as well. Some highlights from the election results are:

Voters returned to office every incumbent legislator seeking re-election who had voted against discriminatory constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage. Ten incumbent senators and 27 incumbent representatives who had voted against discriminatory amendments faced challenges in this year’s general election.

Since the landmark 2003 Goodridge decision on marriage equality, not one pro-equality legislator has lost an election. Conversely, five anti-equality legislators have lost at the polls, including four to pro-equality challengers (Reps. Vincent Ciampa and Mark Howland in 2004 primary, Rep. Marie Parente in 2006 primary, and Rep. Susan Pope in 2006 general).

Three of Massachusetts’ most anti-gay legislators will be replaced by new pro-equality legislators. Anti-equality representative Marie Parente lost in the September primary elections to pro-equality candidate John Fernandes,. Pro-equality candidates Steve D’Amico and Stephen DiNatale were also victors, winning the seats of retiring anti-equality representatives Phil Travis and Emile Goguen, respectively. Travis was the lead sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and Goguen had led efforts to impeach the four Supreme Judicial Court justices who ruled in the Goodridge majority.

Representative Susan Pope, who has consistently voted in favour of anti-gay marriage constitutional amendments, lost yesterday to pro-equality candidate Tom Conroy.

Sarah Peake’s victory in the 4th Barnstable house district race brings to five the number of openly gay or lesbian legislators on Beacon Hill. She joins Senator Jarrett Barrios and Representatives Cheryl Coakley-Rivera, Liz Malia, and Carl Sciortino.

“These results show once again that the people of Massachusetts support candidates who support equality,” said MassEquality Campaign Director Marc Solomon. “In the past two election cycles, not one single pro-equality legislator has lost at the polls. I think that speaks for itself. What’s more, in most of these races the issue of marriage equality was hardly raised. This shows that the voters of Massachusetts have already moved on and want their legislators to move on as well.”

During the 2006 elections, MassEquality mobilised its members throughout the state to work on the campaigns of pro-equality candidates. Specifically, we asked our members to donate, volunteer and vote. Hundreds of volunteers participated in MassEquality phone banks, and hundreds more worked on campaigns in the field. In the past two election cycles, MassEquality sent nearly two-million pieces of electoral and issue advocacy mail in support of legislative candidates pledged to vote against writing discrimination into the Massachusetts constitution.

“Again this year, we were able to focus our resources on helping pro-equality candidates win,” said MassEquality Political Director Matt McTighe. “Supporters of equal marriage rights worked strategically in both the primary and general elections. We told incumbents we’d stick with them, and we did. From door- knocking, to phone banking, to fundraising, our volunteers were critical to this success.”

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