“Incredible night” for gay equality

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Gay campaigners are hailing an “incredible night” for gay equality in the US as over 200 pro-gay candidates were elected for seats in Congress and as Governors in the US mid-terms and many anti-gay figures were ousted.

The Democrat Party now dominates the House of Representatives, with Nancy Pelosi representing the party as the first female speaker, while the Senate is neck and neck, signalling a possible change in direction regarding America’s foreign policy and perhaps even some state’s attitude towards gay rights.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which has been following the results overnight says there is now a “fair minded majority” in the US House of Representatives.

Ms Pelosi’s election is good news for the gay community, especially for gay and lesbian residents of San Francisco, whom she represents.

She is seen as a liberal and many conservatives fear she will use her role to introduce gay marriage.

One of the night’s most positive results came from Massachusetts, the only US state with full marriage equality, where gay marriage supporter Deval Patrick was named as Governor, replacing the hostile Mitt Romney.

Similarly, anti-gay Senator Rick Santorum was beaten by gay friendly Bob Casey in Pennsylvania. Mr Santorum had been one of the architects of the Federal Marriage Amendment which would constitutionally ban same sex marriage.

Mr Casey, a Democrat, was backed by the HRC, he said: “HRC got behind my campaign early and has been a tremendous help. The energy and commitment they put behind our campaign was extraordinary. I look forward to working with HRC’s incredible staff and membership, especially to advance hate crimes legislation in the Senate.”

A key area for gay rights was Florida where the HRC was pleased to endorse eventual winner Ron Klein, a Democrat, won a seat in the US House. He defeated Republican Clay Shaw, a supporter of the Federal Marriage Amendment which would constitutionally ban same sex marriage.

Mr Klein has previously backed anti homophobic bullying legislation, against current

Another successful HRC endorsee was Democrat Joe Sestack, an opponent of the US military’s ban on openly gay recruits. He won a US House seat in Pennsylvania against Curt Weldon.

In Vermont, long-time supporter of gay rights, Bernie Sanders got a seat in the US Senate, while HRC endorsee Peter Welch got a seat in the House of Representatives.

After intense support from the HRC, pro equality candidate Democrat Ted Strickland was named as the new Governor of Ohio, replacing Ken Blackwell, who was once quoted saying, “I don’t know how many of you have a farming background but I can tell you right now that notion even defies barnyard logic … the barnyard knows better.”

A similar result emerged in Indiana where John Hostettler was beaten after running an anti-gay advertising campaign. Brad Ellsworth, a Democrat, will replace him in the House of Representatives.

Pro-LGBT Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm was elected to a second term over anti-gay millionaire Dick DeVos, who has links to the religious right.

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, a Democrat, was re-elected to a second term. He was an early and vocal opponent of the constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality in Wisconsin.

Amy Klobuchar, one of HRC’s priority endorsees, won the race for US Senate in Minnesota. HRC contributed staff support for Klobuchar’s campaign since this summer.

She defeats Congressman Mark Kennedy, who scored a zero on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard.

Democrat Ms Klobuchar has fought for hate crimes legislation to include homophobia, she replaces Mark Kennedy, a Republican, who supports the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) which would constitutionally ban same sex marriage.

Another endorsed candidate, Democrat Sherrod Brown replaces Republican Mike Devine, a supporter of the FMA, as US Senator for Ohio.

Mr Brown said: “HRC’s presence throughout the state of Ohio during this election was nothing short of extraordinary. It demonstrated the best that we can achieve when we work together and stand up for what is right. I was proud of HRC’s financial and grassroots support for my campaign, it made a difference in the larger fight for social and economic justice for every American.”

In Maryland, HRC endorsee, Ben Cardin won the race for Senate. The pro-GLBT congressman has been elected over Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele.

Mr Cardin, a Democrat, was instrumental in including two provisions in the Pension Protection Act that will hugely benefit GLBT families.

More good news came out of Maryland in the Governor elections after HRC-endorsed Democrat candidate Martin O’Malley defeated previous representative Bob Ehrlich who recently vetoed domestic partnership legislation in the state.

In Denver Democrat Bill Ritter was named as Governor of Colorado replacing Bill Owens who had opposed a state bill on fighting homophobic discrimination.

Democrat Gabby Giffords was elected to the US House for Arizona ahead of the more extreme Republican Randy Graf. She is a prominent supporter of the HRC, commenting on her win, she said: “I have stood up for equality in Arizona, and I am grateful that HRC and the GLBT community stood with our campaign during the primary and the general elections.

“We can accomplish so much for our families when we work together. Fairness is an essential American value, and when we champion fairness, we can win decisive victories in even the most competitive Congressional Districts.”

She will replace Republican Jim Kolbe, who had become embroiled in the Foley scandal last month.

However ,there were some poor results with gay marriage supporter Lincoln Chafee losing the Senate race in Rhode Island.

Democrat Tammy Duckworth, an opponent of the Pentagon’s policy on gay recruits, was defeated by Republican Peter Roskam.

Campaigners are keeping an eye on New Mexico where it is a close contest between Patricia Madrid, a prominent supporter of transgender rights, takes on Heather Wilson, who has a poor record on supporting gay rights, in what is tipped to be a close contest.