2013 Election brings huge LGBT victories

By Irene Morse

The 2013 election resulted in some significant victories for LGBT candidates across the country. It is increasingly clear that the American public views sexuality as a non-issue in government, in the workplace and in marriage.

Texas’s elections were particularly notable, as Annise Parker — the country’s first openly gay female mayor — won her third term as mayor of the City of Houston and Celia Israel managed to enter the runoff in her bid for a state House seat. Elsewhere, Ed Murray will become the first openly gay mayor of Seattle after defeating incumbent Mike McGinn.

These candidates have been aided by PACs designed to generate funds specifically for LGBT candidates, the most prominent of which is the Victory Fund, which has been endorsing and funding LGBT candidates since 1991. It operates based on the model pioneered by EMILY’S List (a PAC created to assist female candidates), functioning on the premise that money raised quickly and early in the election is most likely to have a positive effect.  This year the Victory Fund endorsed 85 candidates, 53 of whom won their elections, with an additional 3 advancing to runoffs.The rationale behind electing LGBT candidates is that they are best equipped to advocate for LGBT interests in the government and that the LGBT community is traditionally underrepresented in the political sphere.

These election victories come in the wake of two additional big stories in the fight for LGBT rights.  Yesterday, the Illinois House voted to approve a bill legalizing same-sex marriage.  This bill had previously been voted up by the Senate, so it only lacks the signature of Governor Patt Quinn, who has pledged to sign the bill.

President Obama voiced support for his home state in a statement:

Michelle and I are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours — and for their friends and family who have long wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and equally under the law.”

In addition, the U.S. Senate is in the process of advancing the first major bill that would ban workplace discrimination against LGBT employees by adding a provision regarding sexuality to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.  A few key Republicans have already voiced concerns, including Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), who believes the legislation will lead to frivolous lawsuits, and Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), who have begun crafting a religious exemption to the legislation.

While ENDA’s prospects are a bit more tenuous, the past month has been a historically momentous time for LGBT activists. Including Illinois, there are now 15 states that allow same-sex marriage following a string of recent victories. In last year’s elections, Maine, Washington and Maryland all legalized same-sex marriage. Hawaii may soon become the 16th state to legalize same-sex marriage, as its House will vote on legislation similar to Illinois’ in the next few days. Additionally, this year voters in Delaware, Rhode Island, and Minnesota rejected constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage.

There have also been key victories in the courts, as SCOTUS declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered the government to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The New Mexico Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the issue of same-sex marriage on October 23 and will rule within a matter of months on an issue about which its constitution is silent.

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Posted by on November 6, 2013. Filed under Elections,LGBT,Recent News,Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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