In November 2012, the United States voted President Barack Obama in for a second term. The voting population also favored some truly exciting measures for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights and issues. Many saw this election as a sign that the times are changing and that more people support GLBT causes. Here are some of the key areas where advancement was made.
Going into the election, Massachusetts, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New York and Washington D.C. had already legalized same sex marriage. Coming out, Washington state, Maine and Maryland joined them. But these additions not only added to the number of states where same sex couples could marry, they did so in a key way. Namely this was that they became the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote and not as an order of the courts.
As the AP reported,
"The results in Maine and Maryland broke a 32-state streak, dating to 1998, in which gay marriage had been rebuffed by every state that voted on it. They will become the seventh and eighth states to allow same-sex couples to marry."
Additionally, Minnesota voters defeated a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage. This was itself a great victory as, historically, far more states have voted for such amendments than against them.
And we can't forget that they president who was elected stated a year before the election that he reversed his position on gay marriage from advocating for civil unions, to supporting full equal marriage.
It wasn't in a state that had a track record of being particularly progressive on GLBT issues. Rather it was Wisconsin that voted in the first openly gay senator when the majority of voters opted for Tammy Baldwin. Baldwin ran on a platform that championed economic security, access to healthcare, and fairness and inclusion for all. This resonated with voters of all sexual orientations.
In addition to voting for a lesbian senator, across the country, there was a growing number of openly-gay members of congress. For example, in Rhode Island, openly gay congressman David Cicilline was reelected, and in New York, Sean Patrick Maloney became that state's first openly gay person elected to Congress. Additionally, in the Senate at least three new marriage equality supporters were voted in.
Voters in Iowa also choose to keep the judge, Justice David Wiggins, who had decided for gay marriage in that state in 2009. This was a big change from only a two years before when voters in Iowa chose to remove three of the high court justices who helped make Iowa the first Midwestern state to permit same-sex marriage.
What This All means
The wins on GLBT causes we all significant and many feel were the signs of truly changing attitudes on the issue of gay rights. As the President of the Human Rights Campaign, a national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, Chad Griffin, said in a statement:
"When the history books are written, 2012 will be remembered as the year when LGBT Americans won decisively at the ballot box. The dreams of millions of fair-minded Americans were realized as discrimination crumbled and equality prevailed."
Though under 18's were too young too vote in the 2012 election, many still did their part for causes they cared about. As one teen wrote,"I’m glad to be able to say I helped make [gay marriage in Maryland] happen. Some friends and I held a rally in support of Question 6, the ballot measure in Maryland. It was so much fun, too."
Here's to hoping that the momentum continues and that one day the fact that we had to fight for equal rights will seem like ancient history.