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What the 2012 Election Means for Sexual Freedom

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Congratulations to Kyrsten Sinema, the newly elected congresswoman from Arizona's 9th district. Sinema is the first openly bisexual person to be elected to office at a national level.

Congratulations are also due, of course, to Tammy Baldwin. The new Wisconsin senator is, as you have surely heard by now, the first openly gay or lesbian senator to be sent to Washington.

A huge thank you, as well, to the people of Maine, Maryland and Washington who all voted this week to grant marriage rights to their LGBT citizens.

It's a good day to be queer in America. More than that, it's a good day to be human in America, as we're seeing fundamental rights expanded to more people.

The wins for the LGBT community at the ballot this year don't stop with the historic bullet points I just covered. The history being made by these women and the people who voted for them is real. But it points at something bigger: a changing landscape of social norms in which being gay or lesbian or bisexual isn't the most important feature of someone running for office.

That's good news for me. I don't have any plans to marry my girlfriend. We're both happily married to other people. We're not like the monogamous gay and lesbian couples Obama praised when he came out in favor of gay marriage on the campaign trail. We're on the polyamorous fringe no mainstream politician is ready to defend.

But I feel the world is a safer, friendlier place for me and mine as the march towards full civil rights for LGBT people advances. It's a better place for my daughters to grow up and discover who they want to be and who they want to love without facing bigotry and stigma for their choices.

I don't imagine that homophobia will vanish overnight, or even in my lifetime. But I do see the tide turning towards acceptance, safety and respect for people of all genders and sexual orientations. I wish the change would come like a lightning strike and not like the slow movement of water over rocks, eroding old prejudices. But the change is coming. Some important pieces of it are here now.

While I'm partying for Kyrsten and Tammy and all the couples newly allowed to marry, I'm also aware that the advances for queer rights in this election have made my sexual identity as a polyamorous woman more of a target. In the Washington Examiner, Gregory Kane takes explicit aim at polyamorous people and the transgender community.

"I'm all for gays and lesbians climbing aboard the equal rights train," he writes. "It's who they're bringing with them I have a problem with."

It seems clear he's trying to stir up fear and distrust, pointing to my family and community as the scary monsters in the closet who will be turned loose should voters allow same-sex couples to marry.

We're not monsters in the closet. We're people who deserve the same rights and respect anyone else does. All of us outside the mainstream of sexual mores have experienced some isolation and social censure for our choices. All of us have been courageous in embracing our orientations. Those of us who are polyamorous or transgender or otherwise outside the embrace of what the mainstream seems as normal aren't shadowy figures trying to ride the coattails of the gay and lesbian rights movement. We're allies and friends and in many cases queer people ourselves. We are faces of the movement for gender rights and sexual freedom, just as much as a monogamous gay couple is.

Unlike Kane, I don't anticipate seeing polyamorous marriage cropping up on the ballot anytime soon (awesome as that would be). What I do hope for is more visibility.

As the center shifts towards a saner, more inclusive and humane take on gay rights, it makes all kinds of sexual orientations and identities more visible. If there's no longer one right way to do things, there's more room in the discussion for a plethora of right ways.

As a queer woman, I'm thrilled to see other queer women headed to positions of power in national government. I'm moved to tears by the expansion of marriage rights in three states.

And I'm bracing myself for what comes next: the toxic response of a conservative machine that sees itself losing ground and will work to generate fear and hostility in an effort to stop progress.

I'm sure we'll see more articles like Kane's, attempting to divide those of us outside the box of traditional heteronormative relationships into "good" minorities and "bad" minorities, creating imaginary in-groups and out-groups.

We'll also see more days like this one, where the world is suddenly dramatically better for the many people whose desires and relationships don't fit the fairy tale model of romance. So let's celebrate today, and be ready for the long, slow work of change to come.

Cheers!

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