November 19th. As in Gainesville and Kalamazoo, the religious right is claiming sexual
predators will be allowed to stalk restrooms if these changes are made, and that these are
“special privileges” that discriminate against people of faith.
And Volusia County is considering recognizing domestic partners. It’s early in the process
but Volusia would be the first county in Central Florida to take such action.
So…the sky hasn’t fallen. We may have lost a few elections, but we’re not under water.
Ultimately we’ll keep winning by making incremental moves, by supporting candidates and
elected officials who keep their promises to us, and by not overreacting when the pendulum
occasionally swings to the right.
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executive director is Toby Quaranta, who was an HRC staffer assigned to Florida Red
and Blue on last year’s Amendment 2 battle.
Decidedly anti-gay Republicans now hold the top executive jobs in Virginia. As a 34-
year old graduate student, the incoming governor, Bob McDonnell, wrote a thesis
entitled, The Republican Party’s Vision for the Family in which he argued that
government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or
fornicators." More frightening, however, is the new Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli,
who told the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot that, “Homosexual acts are wrong,” and refused to
commit to a nondiscrimination policy that even outgoing AG McDonnell had in place.
By the time this crew gets going, Tallahassee’s Republicans may look like ultra-
liberals on GLBT issues by comparison.
New Jersey also took a turn to the right, fueled primarily by dissatisfaction with the
unpopular Democratic incumbent Governor Jon Corzine. Corzine, however, has
pledged to sign a marriage equality bill if it gets through the Assembly and Senate
before he leaves office. The urgency is real, because the new Governor, Chris
Christie, has said he will veto the bill. Without Corzine, the long-term outlook for
marriage equality in the Garden State is less certain, regardless of a near-term victory.
In 2008, nearly 50 percent of New Jersey residents supported same sex marriage,
and that’s a huge jump from 27 percent in 1994, according to a study published in
August in American Political Science Review. The same study found that support for
marriage equality has increased in all 50 states since 1994.
That increase is small comfort to Maine’s GLBT community, which just lost a hard
fought campaign to preserve the right to marry. Voters there repealed a marriage
equality law passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor earlier this year,
but which had not yet gone into effect. An analysis of the vote
www.ambiente.us NOVEMBER | NOVIEMBRE 2009
A Mixed Bag for Election Day, But Hardly the End of the World
By Stephen Gaskill
The pundits declared Election 2009 a victory for anti-Obama, anti-Pelosi, anti-gay
Republicans. Admittedly, it’s better to win elections than not. But the Fox News-led
march to declare the death of the Democratic Party and the end of progressive politics
is shortsighted at best, especially in a business that’s at the mercy of wide pendulum
swings in public opinion.
Yes, Democrats lost two gubernatorial races. Virginia’s open seat was a
disappointment, considering that the last two governors were Democrats – the
outgoing occupant of the Governor’s Mansion is Tim Kaine, also chair of the
Democratic National Committee. Early on there was hope of continuing the Blue Tide
in Virginia, especially since the state went for Obama in 2008. The last time Virginia
voted for a Democrat for president before that was in 1964.
GLBT Democrats had a stake in this campaign. The National Stonewall Democrats,
the national chapter-based organization of which the Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus
is a partner, worked with the Virginia Young Democrats to activate young voters. The
VYD’s also have a Florida connection: their new
shows that the rural areas of the state supported the repeal, while urban areas and college
towns opposed it.
So that’s the bad news of Election 2009. What about the good news?
With little national news coverage, Washington State passed an “everything but marriage”
law that expands rights for that state’s domestic partners, including the right to use sick
leave to care for a domestic partner, and rights related to adoption, child custody and child
support. Strategically, this is a good move. It put aside discussion of marriage for another
time and allowed a campaign on the need for basic and necessary protections for the state’
s same-sex couples. Washington State legislators have expanded domestic partnership
protections incrementally for the past several years, but this is the first time voters anywhere
have approved a statewide GLBT equality measure at the ballot box.
Kalamazoo, Michigan voters overwhelmingly preserved a wide-ranging anti-discrimination
law providing protections in employment, housing and public accommodations for GLBT
residents. Similar to the battle that played out in Gainesville earlier this year, TV viewers
were even treated to the same misleading ads claiming that men would legally stalk
women’s restrooms if these “special rights” were retained. Jon Hoadley stepped down as
Executive Director of the National Stonewall Democrats to run the One Kalamazoo
campaign to uphold the law.
So, what’s coming up next?
The Washington DC City Council is moving toward passage of a marriage equality bill; the
Catholic Church, which was heavily involved in the Maine marriage battle, is making
threatening noises in DC, and is being ignored by the Council. Importantly, the US
Congress has veto power over the City Council’s decisions, but hasn’t made any moves to
overrule this one.
Closer to home, the Tampa City Council voted to include gender identity and expression to
the city’s human rights law; a second reading is scheduled for
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