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Houston Destroys HERO; LGBT Candidates Fare Better

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

The election news is in, and it’s pretty bad. But LGBT candidates won a number of races across the country.

Houston HERO

The LA Times reports on the fall of HERO in Houston:

Houston voters rejected a controversial ordinance Tuesday that would have barred discrimination against gays and transgender people, an outcome that came after an 18-month battle pitting gay rights advocates against those who believed they were defending religious liberty. The vote had been expected to be close. But with nearly 94% of precincts reporting, the measure was failing by a wide margin, 61% to 39%. Opponents of the measure celebrated, while one of its leading supporters, Mayor Annise Parker, predicted that the city’s reputation would suffer.

Opponents of the LGBT rights law won dirty. Keen News reports:

But opponents of the measure, the Campaign for Houston, portrayed the ordinance as “The Bathroom Bill” and pounded the airwaves with an ad showing a man following a young girl into a public bathroom stall. The voiceover warned that a vote for HERO would mean “any man at any time could enter a woman’s bathroom by simply by claiming to be a woman that day. Even registered sex offenders could follow women or young girls into the bathroom and, if a business tried to stop them, they’d be fined,” said the ad.

Openly lesbian Mayor Annise Parker lamented the vote:

Houston Mayor Annise Parker is blaming the rejection of an ordinance that would have established nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people on “fear mongering” and “deliberate lies” by opponents. The openly gay mayor told more than 100 people at an election night watch party in downtown Houston that the opponents’ campaign was part of an effort to demonize the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The GOP wave also threatened to take out Parker’s democratic replacement:

The Houston mayoral race appears to be headed to a run-off between Democrat and state Rep. Sylvester Turner, a LGBT ally, and Bill King, a former Kemah, mayor who has mixed feelings on the ordinance.

Voters gave a number of reasons for rejecting the ordinance:

Susan Hunter said she doesn’t know why anyone would think that men going into a women’s bathroom or swimming pool, locker room would be a good idea. Hunter said it’s not safe and people need to find another solution. Another voter, Randal Hankla, rejected the measure saying the tactics were being used to frighten people. Hankla says there’s already an ordinance in place for discrimination, so why pile on another rule or law? Jeff Jansen, who also voted against the proposal, said it was pushing a social agenda that he doesn’t agree with.

The folks over at the far-right wing site Breitbart are dancing:

This is a national game changer. Today’s vote is a massive victory for common sense, safety, and religious freedom, not just in Houston, but for all of Texas. The eyes of the nation were on Houston, and the people sent a clear message and soundly rejected this intentionally deceptive and dangerous ordinance. Millions of dollars pouring in from national LGBT extremists, an out-of-control Mayor, and a sustained media onslaught could not overcome the tireless efforts of Houston pastors and people of faith standing for common sense, safety, and liberty. I was born and raised in Houston, and I had faith Houstonians would do the right thing, and they did. This vote will impact the nation and shows, once again, that the people still support common sense Texas values.

In Kentucky, Matt Bevin, the tea party favorite, won the Governor’s race in a come-from-behind victory riding the coattails of the Davis fiasco:

Republican Matt Bevin, who exploited Kim Davis to order to galvanize evangelicals, decisively won Kentucky’s gubernatorial race tonight, defeating Attorney General Jack Conway, who had refused to defend his state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Bevin’s candidacy was heavily supported across Teabagistan.

There was a little ray of light in Utah, where it looks like there may now be an openly lesbian mayor:

Jackie Biskupski (above), a former state legislator, was leading incumbent Mayor Ralph Becker 52 percent to 48 percent by an unofficial count Tuesday, reports The Salt Lake Tribune. Both are Democrats; the mayor’s race is nonpartisan. No further results will be released until after a November 17 canvass.

Also in Utah, marriage equality plaintiff Derek Kitchen was elected to city council:

Thank you! Thank you to my family for standing next to me through this campaign, for my volunteers for putting in countless hours knocking on doors, making calls, and talking to their friends. Thank you to all my supporters, your enthusiasm, donations, and moral cheers really kept me going. This has been such a positive experience for me as a first time candidate for public office. I’m happy to say that we ran a clean campaign focused on the issues and the residents of this great city. I feel honored that the residents of District 4 have put their faith in me to represent them and make important decisions on their behalf. I’m energized and excited to get to work on the salt lake city council as your next representative!

And overall, LGBT candidates themselves had a decent night:

There were anti-gay smear campaigns and surprise victories in conservative strongholds, as 30 of 48 openly LGBT candidates won election Tuesday night.

US Exit Polls: 48% Support Marriage Equality; 31% of LGBT Vote Went to GOP

Friday, November 7th, 2014

titleA couple interesting results out of the exit polling from Tuesday.

On Top Magazine reports:

According to a CNN poll, self-identified gay men, lesbians and bisexuals made up 3% of those casting votes in House races. Among that group, 31% said that they voted for a Republican candidate, a 4% increase from 2008… An NBC News national exit poll found midterm voters evenly divided at 48% on the issue of marriage equality. Two years ago, 49% said that they support such unions. However, support among voters under the age of 30 has increased from a bare majority (52%) in 2010 to a large majority (64%) in 2014. Respondents were asked whether gay couples should be allowed to marry in their state.

Those GOP numbers are surprising, given the party’s general hostility to LGBT rights and marriage equality, but could also reflect the low turnout and overall conservative nature of the voters.

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Three Lessons from the Midterm Election Results for LGBT Equality

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

CongressAlthough likely disheartening for many Towleroad readers, the 2014 election results may offer both tests and even some opportunities on our long journey to equality. The media postmortem today is pretty standard: some are calling it a Republican “wave”; thoughtful pieces are reminding us that such a conclusion is a bit over the top. Some are fawning over how the Republicans did it, others are reminding us that it was a lot of money, a lot of fear, a dash of Ebola, a whole lot of nonsense, and a health dose of Obamizing local races. Chris Johnson has a fine piece up at the Washington Blade on what the election may mean for LGBT equality.

There are hints of truth in lots of these analyses, but I think they miss the mark by focusing only on the results. That sounds counter-intuitive. Results matter, and they matter a lot. But we can learn from how this campaign was conducted and we do a better job next time. Here are three lessons from the 2014 midterm elections for LGBT equality.

1. Conservative LGBTers and organizations like the Log Cabin Republicans are really the ones on the hot seat.

Conservative members of the LGBT community have an opportunity to press our cases before those in power. Ostensibly, they have the access and the goodwill and the connections to Republican leaders, and they have long argued that much of the more progressive LGBT movement is party-oriented, not progress-oriented. I don’t think that’s true, but the Republican victories in the midterm elections give Log Cabiners an opening. If they truly have access, they should open the doors to us. Employment nondiscrimination offers the Log Cabin Republicans a true test. And I will offer them a challenge: I don’t expect the House or Senate to pass anything; that’s too much to ask of these people. But we should be able to get more Republican co-sponsors to a new employment nondiscrimination bill that is not torn apart by a wide chasm of a religious exemption. If the Republicans won’t even do that, then I’m not sure Republican members of our community have any data to support their allegiance.

Authored By Ari Ezra Waldman – See the Full Story at Towleroad.com

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Want Marriage Equality? Don’t Sit out These Elections

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

VoteWhen you read the New York Times headline, “SCOTUS Rules 5-4 against Marriage Equality,” will you think back to September 2014 and wish you had done more?

As a gay man who has spent the last decade working to advance marriage equality, I cheer “yaaaas” with each new marriage victory. And yet, I know that our momentum will quickly be stunted if we sit out the November elections.

Two years ago, both the Windsor and Perry cases were decided on a 5-4 vote. While I hope that The Notorious R.B.G. stays on the court for years, three of those five justices are over 75 years old. If Republicans win six seats in November and take the US Senate majority, they will have a larger role in picking the next Supreme Court justice. And I’m not eager to hear who de facto Senate Majority Leader Cruz wants for a lifetime appointment.

With 64 days until the election, I offer these six numbers to inspire you to mobilize equality supporters, starting today:

6 (of 10) – If we register six of 10 unregistered African American, Hispanic, and Asian voters, we can turn Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas blue. Democrats have the numbers advantage – but only if we register voters and get them to the polls. (Why do you think Republicans are so eager to pass those voter restriction laws?)

Authored By Chris Cormier- See the Full Story at The Huffington Post

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Maine May Fine National Organization for Marriage $50K for Election Law Abuses

Monday, May 19th, 2014

NOM LogoEthics investigators are recommending a hefty fine against the National Organization for Marriage for its efforts to hide its donors in 2009.

Joe.My.God reports:

Maine ethics investigators are recommending more than $50,000 in fines for a national anti-gay-marriage organization for failing to register and disclose its activities in Maine’s 2009 same-sex marriage referendum. That year, an effort to legalize same-sex marriage — approved by the Legislature and signed by then-Gov. John Baldacci — was repealed at the ballot box with 53 percent of the vote. National Organization for Marriage was the largest contributor to the ’09 anti-gay-marriage campaign, and dumped roughly $2 million into the state.

Who thinks they will just ignore the fine, as they have basically ignored every charge brought against them on the issue?

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USA: Marriage Equality Stance Helped President Obama in 2012

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

titleA new study confirms that marriage equality was a wedge issue that worked in favor of Democrats and President Obama in 2012.

Gay City News reports:

Professor Garretson has used state of the art methods and the conclusion that he draws is not so surprising when we think about the immense sea change we have seen over these years,” said Patrick Egan, a professor of politics and public policy at New York University who was not involved in the study. “It used to be that all the energy was on the anti-marriage side, but over the course of the decade enthusiasm shifted toward those in favor of extending marriage to same-sex couples… It became an advantage.”… In a series of complex calculations that used voter enthusiasm, predicted turnout, and actual turnout, Garretson estimated that the four 2012 marriage ballot initiatives gave President Barack Obama an additional 42,000 votes in Maine, 49,000 votes in Maryland, 89,000 votes in Minnesota, and 108,000 votes in Washington State. The Minnesota vote was a ban on same-sex marriage that voters shot down, and voters approved same-sex marriage in the other three states.

Remember when gay marriage was a wedge issue for the right? What a difference a decade makes…

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Germany: Anti-Marriage Equality Chancellor Keeps Her Job

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

UPDATE: Yep, she was re-elected.

German Chancellor Angela MerkelGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel will likely stay in power after elections on Sunday.

On Top Magazine reports:

“In the run-up to tomorrow we have defended our record,” Merkel said in a last-minute plea for votes. “And we have said what we want to do over the next four years. And we are asking the people to express their confidence in us. And that means casting both votes for the Christian Democratic Union. It is also clear that Germany can only do well in the long-term if all of Europe does well. This is why the stabilization of the Euro is not just a good thing for Europe, but it is also in Germany’s fundamental interest.”

One day, Germany will follow the rest of Western Europe and support full marriage equality.

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Australia: 65% Support Marriage Equality, But Many Say It Won’t Influence Vote

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

titleWe’ve got some new marriage equality polling from Australia this morning.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

A majority of Australians continue to support legalising same-sex marriage but they do not rate it as an issue that will decide their vote at the election. A national Fairfax Nielsen Poll conducted from Sunday, August 18, to Thursday, August 22, surveyed 2545 people across the country and found support growing for legalised marriage equality. Sixty-five per cent of respondents supported legalising marriage between same-sex couples, up 8 points since December 2011, while only 28 per cent were opposed (down 7 points). Support was greater among women (75 per cent) than men (55 per cent) and greater among younger voters than older voters. But when asked how important same-sex marriage was in deciding their vote, 57 per cent of respondents said it was “not important at all”.

The new poll shows a slight uptick from the last one we saw about a year ago, at 64%. Fingers crossed for the election.

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Australia: Marriage Equality Updates

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Sydney, AustraliaWith a new Prime Minister and upcoming elections, the marriage equality news is flying fast and furious in Australia.

First off, there’s a reports that former PM Julua Gillard may have considered supporting marriage equality during her tenure. Pink News reports:

Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) alleges that prior to being ousted as the country’s leader, Ms Gillard had considered reversing her opposition to equal marriage…. with Ms Gillard increasingly at odds with her Labor Party on the issue, and the party’s plunging support among Australian voters, SBS reports Labor sources as suggesting that she believed there was no longer any point in upholding opposition to the reform. Nevertheless, Ms Gillard left office in June 2013 remaining opposed to marriage equality – and despite SBS’ revelations – there has been no public change in the former PM’s position.

Profiles in lack of courage.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s sister, Christine Forster, says her brother is conflicted about her vote against the bill last year. ABC News reports:

Tony Abbott’s sister has revealed that the Opposition Leader felt “conflicted” about voting in Parliament against marriage equality last year. Speaking on the ABC’s triple j Hack program, Christine Forster, who is gay, said her brother’s view that marriage is only between a man and a woman is slowly “shifting”. “There’s been a significant shift in how he approaches this whole question,” she said.

The Guardian reports that things are still stuck in neutral – for now – in Australia on the marriage equality front:

Whether the rhetoric is one of conscience or consistency, the promise of marriage equality is precariously wedged within our current political landscape. While Rudd has insisted on bringing a marriage equality bill to parliament if he is reelected, it will undoubtedly fail without support from the Coalition. Conversely, if Abbott assumes office, such a bill would likely be dismissed as a political distraction.

Same Same reports that some Labour MP’s are afraid to publicly declare support for marriage equality:

Today the Same Same team rang around the Labor MPs who were either not present or abstained from voting on the reform last time a marriage equality bill was voted down. We can now confirm that three of them are now privately in favour of the reform. Several others had not changed their view, but some spoke candidly to us about their personal support for changing the Marriage Act. “If I was in another electorate, I would support it.” A few MPs in marginal seats, who did not want to be named publicly, say they have so far felt forced to adopt a public silence on the issue, in fear of losing key support in their electorates.

The Age reports that anti gay activists are planning a rally for Tuesday, called

…National Marriage Day on Tuesday, when hundreds of voters opposed to same-sex marriage are expected to gather across the country. National Marriage Day spokeswoman Mary-Louise Fowler told Fairfax Media that major events would be held in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, in addition to smaller rallies in regional centres such as Wagga.
Ms Fowler said many voters were not happy about the renewed attention to sex-same marriage legislation.
“Children need a mother and a father,” she said.

The rally comes ahead of marriage equality rallies planned around the country for the weekend:

Equal Love campaigners are also preparing for their own events, starting with the Rally for Marriage Equality in Melbourne on Saturday. The event, to be held at the State Library of Victoria, comes just four days after their opponents vacate the venue. A Labor campaign rally organised for Civic Square in Canberra for Tuesday this week will now double as a pro-marriage equality event, with Andrew Barr, Kate Lundy, Andrew Leigh, and Gai Brodtmann all expected to address speak, according to Labor-affiliated group It’s Time.

And finally, Australian Marriage Equality activist Rodney Croome commented on the marriage of the US Ambassador to Australia and his partner this weekend. Towleroad.com reports:

“It’s a happy time when any couple marries and I congratulate John Berry and Curtis Lee on their special day and wish them well for their married life together. Sadly, they join hundreds of other same-sex couples whose overseas same-sex marriages aren’t recognised under Australian law. It will be a source of deep embarrassment for many Australians that our law fails to respect the marriage of the chief representative of our closest friend and ally, the United States.”

We’ll see what happens in Australia after the election.

Australia: Prime Minister Rudd Promises Marriage Equality Vote in 100 Days After Re-Election

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Australia Prime Minister Kevin RuddDuring a debate last night, Australia’s current PM promised a vote on the marriage equality bull within 100 days if he is re-elected. Gay Star News reports:

Australia’s Kevin Rudd said he would, if re-elected, introduce same-sex marriage legislation within 100 days of office. The incumbent prime minister made the commitment on a televised debate against opponent Tony Abbott, who during the debate agreed that same-sex marriage was ‘a very important issue’. ‘I know how important an issue it is, but it’s not the only important issue,’ Abbott said.

Rudd just recently declared his support for marriage equality. But will Abbot allow a conscience vote, as he has suggested previously?

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