What a night Tuesday evening was, and what a difference four years make! In the progress of social justice movements, it's rare to see change happen this quickly, but the tide of LGBT civil rights has turned. Tuesday's election is historic for everyone who supports our country's principles of freedom and justice, and especially for the LGBT community.
For the first time, the American people have elected a president who supports same-sex couples' freedom to marry! More than that, they reelected a president who boldly overturned the long-standing and discriminatory policy that prohibited lesbian and gay members of the military from serving openly. Supporters of LGBT equality, whatever their political affiliation, should rejoice that, at least on the national front, our rights can no longer be used successfully as a wedge issue. We congratulate President Barack Obama!
Just as exciting, we've made history in all four states where our freedom to marry was put to a vote! In Maryland, Maine and Washington voters affirmed the right for same-sex couples to marry, soundly rejecting the outrageous campaigns of lies and scare tactics that have been used so effectively in 32 other states. Though votes are still being counted in Washington, we're poised for victory there, as well. And in Minnesota, for the first time ever in the United States, voters rejected a constitutional amendment (similar to Prop 8) to ban marriage for same-sex couples. I'm proud of the support our entire Vote for Equality team provided to the victorious campaign leaders there.
Nationally, the U.S. capital's lavender ceiling was shattered when the voters of Wisconsin elected Rep. Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate, making her the first openly gay or lesbian person ever to be elected to the upper house of the U.S. Congress! A personal hero of mine, Rep. Baldwin has served our country with distinction and has championed LGBT equality. Her election is a watershed moment in the history of our great country, and it should make our community proud.
In New York Sean Maloney defeated an incumbent to become the first openly gay person elected to Congress from New York. We elected an openly gay congressman in California, as well: Mark Takano, the first openly LGBT person of color to be elected to Congress. And openly gay Reps. David Cicilline and Jared Polis won second terms representing Rhode Island and Colorado, respectively.
This election really matters for those LGBT people who don't live in the spotlight and who are among the most vulnerable in our society, especially clients of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center: the young and homeless, those in need of health care and those aging and alone. A president has been elected who not only supports their equality but who will work to preserve the social services safety net in our country. All of us who understand the connection between equality under the law and quality of life recognize Tuesday's election results as a big, big win.
What's the message from this election to anti-LGBT, right-wing extremists? I think it's clear: The majority of Americans are no longer willing to support their politics of division, demonization and discrimination. I truly believe that there is no going back after tonight. Though we may lose some battles here and there, we should savor this incredible moment and appreciate all the work that has led to it. It's truly historic.
We'll be celebrating at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's 41st Anniversary Gala & Auction this Saturday. I hope you'll join us!