Tuesday was huge for lesbian and gay Americans -- and for any citizen who believes that this country is always moving upward to a more perfect union.
The closest thing we've ever had to a national election involving full citizenship for lesbian and gay Americans went off remarkably, though network and cable media barely recognized it beyond anecdotal reports.
Eight years after Bush-Rove Inc. placed successful anti-gay referendums in 11 key states as a key part of its presidential campaign, voters in a diverse cross-section of the country -- New England, the Atlantic Coast, the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest -- turned out to turn the corner on this chapter in our national history.
Every president elected in my lifetime has promised to be president for all Americans, and every president who has done so has for some perceived political necessity turned his back on lesbian and gay citizens when it came time to enact in that pledge.
Until Barack Obama.
We had four debates in October without a single question by any of the journalists or a single statement by any of the candidates on gay rights. Not one question about the Defense of Marriage Act. Nothing about the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Nothing about the myriad of family and health care issues that uniquely affect hundreds of thousands if not millions of lesbian and gay citizens.
Yet, Americans reelected a president who delivered on his promise to let gay citizens serve openly in our military. We reelected a president who during the campaign endorsed the right of lesbian and gay families to have the same legal protections their married neighbors enjoy.
Voters in Wisconsin promoted an open lesbian Congresswoman to be the first ever openly gay member of the United States Senate.
And voters in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington shut down the strategy bigots have long depended on to halt the growing recognition of equal protection under the law to lesbian and gay families.
Until now, marriage equality had been on the ballot 32 times and lost 32 times. Now, because of Obama's leadership, that's history.
The Human Rights Campaign raised more than $20 million to re-elect Obama and to advance marriage equality and other electoral priorities this cycle. It invested $8.4 million, including $5.5 million in the four marriage ballot measure states. HRC President Chad Griffin said:
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.
The Romney-Ryan ticket took an absolute view against full citizenship for lesbian and gay Americans. And the Republican platform supported that position. As Rachel Maddow noted: "They have to realize they are standing on shifting ground."
Sen.-elect Tammy Baldwin acknowledged her orientation in her acceptance speech, but her focus was much broader as she embraced the progress and change her election represents. Said Baldwin:
Make no mistake. I'm proud to be a Wisconsin progressive. I believe in holding the powerful accountable. I believe in fair play. I believe that when people are struggling, you don't talk down to them, you help lift them up. And I believe in Wisconsin's workers and a work ethic that I will fight for everyday.
Something powerful happened in America Tuesday. Our democracy continued its history of making this country more inclusive. Lesbian and gay citizens couldn't have done this by ourselves. Our friends joined us, and it is exciting to see that spirit alive in our country.
There is a right side to history here, and we've crossed a national barrier. Obama did more for lesbian and gay Americans in his first term than any president in history. And because of him, no one in my lifetime will be able to win the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party without supporting full equality for lesbian and gay Americans.
Obama summed it up at the very end of his speech last night.
It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you're willing to try.
I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We're not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.
Thank you Mr. President.