by Rex Wockner -
SGN Contributing Writer
There was all kinds of LGBT news on election night. Of course, the Democrats lost their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, which is bad news for efforts to pass the Gay legislation that President Barack Obama promised us. The Democrats maintain a small majority in the U.S. Senate.
The biggest LGBT news of the night happened in Iowa. Heavily funded by the Gay archnemesis National Organization for Marriage, conservative forces managed to persuade voters not to 'retain' three state Supreme Court justices who were up for a retention vote. NOM specifically wanted to punish the justices for their 7-0 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa. The other four justices did not face a vote this year.
'The result in Iowa shines a light on a dangerous agenda to undermine the democratic system of checks and balances that has served us well for over 200 years,' said Lambda Legal Executive Director Kevin Cathcart. 'If an embattled judiciary were to lose its ability to protect our laws and Constitution with impartiality, that would be a tragic loss for our country. We can't let that happen.'
In a message to LGBT Iowans, Carolyn Jenison, executive director of One Iowa, which led the campaign to save the judges, said right-wing forces will be emboldened by their success.
'In this election, three of the courageous justices who recognized the freedom to marry in Iowa fell victim to a perfect storm of electoral discontent and out-of-state special-interest money,' she said. 'In addition, many of our pro-equality allies from Gov. Culver to Statehouse candidates lost their seats due to an anti-incumbent mood that swept the nation. ... While the full implications of these election results remain to be seen, one thing remains the same: The freedom to marry in Iowa remains intact. In the months and weeks ahead, we can expect renewed attempts to overturn the freedom to marry and write discrimination into the Iowa Constitution. It will take a concerted and collective effort on the part of pro-equality Iowans to respond to these attacks and defend our liberties.'
The three fired justices - Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Associate Justice Michael Streit and Associate Justice David Baker - issued a statement which said, in part: 'We wish to thank all of the Iowans who voted to retain us for another term. Your support shows that many Iowans value fair and impartial courts. We also want to acknowledge and thank all the Iowans, from across the political spectrum and from different walks of life, who worked tirelessly over the past few months to defend Iowa's high-caliber court system against an unprecedented attack by out-of-state special interest groups. Finally, we hope Iowans will continue to support Iowa's merit selection system for appointing judges. This system helps ensure that judges base their decisions on the law and the Constitution and nothing else. Ultimately, however, the preservation of our state's fair and impartial courts will require more than the integrity and fortitude of individual judges, it will require the steadfast support of the people.'
According to the Human Rights Campaign, NOM spent $600,000 on TV ads to unseat the Iowa judges and conducted a bus tour that visited 45 counties.
'By their own admission, NOM's Iowa strategy was about sending a warning shot to judges nationwide,' said HRC President Joe Solmonese. 'NOM and its secret donors will continue to target judges around the country if they rule in favor of marriage equality and will foster an anti-Gay, hostile environment in the process.'
Courage Campaign Chairman Rick Jacobs added: 'Having seen its extremist agenda increasingly rejected by the courts and the American people, it is telling that NOM has now settled on a strategy of evading tax and election laws and trying to intimidate judges. These are the tactics one might expect from Al Capone, not a credible political organization.'
OTHER ELECTION NIGHT NEWS
Gay U.S. Rep. Barney Frank was re-elected in Massachusetts, Lesbian U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin was re-elected in Wisconsin, Gay U.S. Rep. Jared Polis was re-elected in Colorado, and openly Gay candidate David Cicilline was elected to a U.S. House seat from Rhode Island.
Rep. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, who led the successful effort in the U.S. House to authorize repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, lost his re-election bid.
A Gay man, Jim Gray, was elected mayor of Lexington, Kentucky. Marcus Brandon, who is Gay and black, was elected to the North Carolina House. Victoria Kolakowski was elected as a Superior Court judge in Alameda County, California, becoming America's first openly Transgender judge. Kolakowski is married to Cynthia Laird, news editor of the San Francisco Gay newspaper Bay Area Reporter.
In all, 106 of the 164 candidates endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund won their races. Openly Gay Steve Pougnet failed to snatch away Mary Bono Mack's congressional seat in Palm Springs, California.
Jerry Brown was elected governor of California and Kamala Harris is leading in a tight race for attorney general. Unlike their GOP opponents, Brown and Harris have vowed to continue to refuse to defend Proposition 8 in the ongoing federal lawsuit against the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Pro-Gay-marriage Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco was elected California lieutenant governor. Key anti-Gay-marriage activist Andy Pugno failed in his bid for the state Assembly. Three more Gay people were elected to the California Legislature: Rich Gordon, Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins. They join Assembly Speaker John Perez, Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, and Sens. Mark Leno and Christine Kehoe to create the largest LGBT caucus in any state legislature.
California voters refused to legalize marijuana by a vote of 53.9 percent to 46.1 percent.
In a statement, the Human Rights Campaign said: 'The loss of the [U.S.] House of Representatives to an anti-equality leadership, along with the loss of some fair-minded senators, will certainly impede federal legislative efforts. ... The loss of the House to anti-equality leaders is a serious blow to the LGBT community. The presumptive leadership team of Reps. Boehner, Cantor and Pence all score zeros on the HRC scorecard and many soon-to-be committee chairs have long anti-LGBT records.'
With assistance from Bill Kelley
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