Election 2010: Gains and Losses on Key Contests Impacting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People Nationwide

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Inga Sarda-Sorensen, Communications Director, isorensen@theTaskForce.org, 646.358.1463
Pedro Julio Serrano, Communications Coordinator, pjserrano@theTaskForce.org, 646.358.1479

Election 2010: Gains and Losses on Key Contests Impacting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People Nationwide

WASHINGTON - Election 2010 results are proving to be a mixed bag for lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. Republicans regained control of
the U.S. House, which will pose challenges for advancing progressive
legislation, including LGBT rights legislation. In state contests,
several gubernatorial candidates who support marriage equality were
victorious, but the GOP made numerous gains in state legislatures across
the country, which could adversely affect LGBT rights legislation. In
Congress, meanwhile, there will be four openly gay and lesbian members.

A new federal landscape

LGBT rights advocates will be working in a new federal landscape come
the next Congress after Republicans regained control of the U.S. House,
and Democrats retained a majority in the Senate. This division will
likely mean greater gridlock and tougher challenges advancing any
legislation.

“We'll cut to the chase: The shift in the balance of power will
very likely slow advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
rights legislation in Congress. Does this mean a blockade on LGBT
rights? Not if we can help it. Fact is, our community has always had to
fight — and fight hard — for equality. This is nothing new to us. But
here's another fact: There are Americans, from every part of the
country, from every background, from every political leaning and of
every faith, who support equality for LGBT people — and those vast
numbers grow bigger every day," said National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Executive Director Rea Carey.

"No matter what the political breakdown is in Washington, the
Task Force will continue to identify and work with all fair-minded
members of Congress who are willing to support and defend equality for
LGBT people. Through our New Beginning Initiative, we will continue to
push for the administration and its agencies to make tangible changes
that benefit lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and our
families — changes that can be done without Congress. We will continue
working with local partners in communities across the country to secure
equality," she added. "Bottom line: While political winds and players
may shift, the fundamental needs of the people do not. No matter who is
in office, people need jobs, protection from discrimination, a roof over
their heads, a way to feed their families, a fair shake. No one should
settle for less — we won't." Watch video here.

Local measures see mixed results in Ohio and Texas

Provisional ballots are still being tallied, but preliminary results in Bowling Green, Ohio,
show that Ordinance 7905, which would protect LGBT people from housing
discrimination, is passing 50.15 percent to 49.85 percent with all
precincts reporting. Ordinance 7906, which would ban discrimination
against LGBT people in employment, education and public accommodations,
was losing 50.71 percent to 49.29 percent with all precincts reporting.
It could take several weeks for provisional ballots to be verified and
tabulated.

The Task Force has been working with One Bowling Green,
the locally-driven, grassroots campaign, by committing financial
resources, dispatching on-the-ground organizers to Bowling Green, and
sponsoring trainings. There was also a massive student-led voter turnout
campaign at Bowling Green State University (BGSU). Hundreds of BGSU
students, who study, live and work in Bowling Green, stood up and spoke
out for a fair and welcoming community.

Dan Hawes, who heads up the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's
organizing efforts, said: "We are pleased that the housing protections
measure appears to have passed, and look forward to a probable victory
on Ordinance 7906. One Bowling Green ran a tough campaign in an effort
to create a more fair and more welcoming Bowling Green for everyone,
including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. As the
provisional ballots begin to be counted, we look forward to our
continued work with One Bowling Green to ensure that each and every vote
is counted." More to come on this contest.

In El Paso, Texas, voters approved an initiative to end health
benefits for same-sex and unmarried partners of city employees. The
initiative was supported by conservative religious groups that took aim
at the city's domestic partners ordinance after the City Council passed
it last year.

Pro-marriage equality gubernatorial candidates win

Pro-marriage equality candidates were victorious in several gubernatorial races. In New Hampshire, incumbent Democrat John Lynch defeated Republican challenger John Stephen; in New York, Democrat Andrew Cuomo beat Republican Carl Paladino; in California, Democrat Jerry Brown defeated the GOP’s Meg Whitman; in Massachusetts, incumbent Democrat Deval Patrick beat Republican challenger Charlie Baker; in Maryland, Democrat Martin O’Malley won his re-election against Republican Robert Ehrlich; in Rhode Island, Independent Lincoln Chafee won over Republican John Robitaille and Democrat Frank Caprio; in Vermont, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Shumlin defeated Republican nominee Brian Dubie.

"These victories once again show that supporting equality is a
winning issue. Voters in these contests have rejected the politics of
division and have elected candidates who embrace equality and oppose the
scapegoating of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people for
political gain. All across the nation, same-sex couples and our families
are sharing our stories with others in a conversation that is
transforming our country. These electoral victories are a testament to
those personal and powerful discussions, as the tide continues to move
nationwide in favor of marriage equality," says Task Force Executive
Director Rea Carey.

In Minnesota, the race remains too close to call. Democrat Mark Dayton has a small lead over Republican candidate Tom Emmer.

There were disappointments on the marriage equality front, when three Iowa
Supreme Court justices lost their seats. They were among the seven
justices who unanimously found Iowa's ban on marriage equality to be
unconstitutional. Those justices were targeted by right-wing,
out-of-state forces that sought to punish them for the 2009 marriage
equality decision.

GOP gains in state legislatures

In New Hampshire, Republicans won a veto-proof majority in the
state Legislature, which complicates the political landscape in that
state. Now the Republicans have override power in case re-elected Gov.
John Lynch decides to veto a bill to repeal the state’s marriage
equality law. As a result of Tuesday elections, Republicans took control
of both houses of the state legislatures in Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota
and Pennsylvania. In summary, 25 state legislatures are controlled by
Republicans, 16 by Democrats and four are divided. The rest have not
been called yet. The domination of Republicans in the state legislatures
could impact next year’s redistricting — likely meaning a more
Republican Congress.

Election of openly gay and lesbian members of Congress

David Cicilline, the openly gay mayor of
Providence, R.I., won election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Cicilline garnered 50.6 percent of the vote to Republican candidate John
Loughlin’s 44.6 percent. He will join U.S. Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.),
bringing to four the number of openly gay and lesbian members of
Congress. Baldwin won with 62 percent to 31 percent against Republican
challenger Peter Theron. Frank snagged 54 percent of the vote, beating
Republican candidate Sean Bielat. Polis garnered 72 percent of the vote
to beat a challenge by Tea Party-supported candidate Stephen Bailey.
Baldwin, Frank and Polis were all re-elected to the House. Steve Pougnet,
the openly gay mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., lost his bid to unseat
Republican U.S. Rep. Mary Bono Mack. The electoral victories of openly
gay and lesbian candidates reflect that voters, from very different
parts of the country, support LGBT candidates for higher offices.

Reproductive rights, English-only and immigration ballot initiatives

This election, there were a handful of issues up for a vote that
were not directly connected to LGBT issues, but important to the Task
Force. Colorado's Amendment 62, which would have
changed the state Constitution to define a "person" as a human being
"from the moment of biological beginning" was defeated by a margin of 72
percent to 28 percent, similar to an almost identical failed measure in
2008; Arizona's Proposition 107, which would change
the state Constitution to ban affirmative action, passed by a margin of
59.56 percent to 40.44 percent; and Oklahoma's State Question 751,
which would make English the state's official language, mandating all
state business be conducted only in English, passed by a margin of 75.54
percent to 24.46 percent.

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The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force builds the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, building the organizational capacity of our movement and generating groundbreaking research through our Policy Institute.

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