Blockbuster at the Ballot Box
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Yesterday was a blockbuster at the ballot box for LGBT equality and we are so proud and excited! While much will be said about the presidential and congressional races, we are also thrilled by the votes in four states in favor of the freedom to marry and against discrimination. We have turned a corner toward equality in this country, and there is no turning back.
Today, we already know that in both Maine and Maryland, same-sex couples will soon be getting married. In Maine, voters said “Yes!” to the nation's first-ever proactive, pro-freedom-to-marry initiative. And in Maryland, voters affirmed the action of the state legislature, which had previously enacted a state law ending the ban on marriage for same-sex couples. And while mailed-in ballots are still being counted in Washington, we are optimistic that voters there have also approved marriage equality. When all the votes are counted, there will likely be nine states plus the District of Columbia where same-sex couples will have the freedom to marry. Amazing.
There’s more: In Minnesota, voters rejected an amendment that would have written discrimination against same-sex couples into their state constitution. After winning her election in Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin will be the first openly lesbian member of the U.S. Senate. And in Iowa, where Lambda Legal secured the freedom to marry through litigation, the campaign by antigay groups to oust an Iowa Supreme Court justice for his vote in that case has failed.
The meaning of this election is clear: Until this year, antigay propaganda led to the defeat of marriage equality every time voters went to the polls—but this year, the lies stopped working. And equality started winning.
The country is more ready for equality than it has ever been, because of tireless work for decades by organizations and activists that used the combined power of litigation, public education and political action to make change. Voters have now reelected a president who embraced marriage for same-sex couples, led the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and is standing with us to defeat the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. Now we look forward to working with President Obama to enact the Employment Nondiscrimination Act and the Student Nondiscrimination Act.
We congratulate all the elected officials who stood up for equality, and all the activists and allies across the country who fought so hard for it. But equality is still beyond the reach of many LGBT people and people with HIV across the country. Yesterday brought incredible victories and so much hope. Today, with your help and support, we get back to work.