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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 7 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 45
National election wrap-up - All five openly Gay members of U.S. House of Representatives win re-election
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National election wrap-up - All five openly Gay members of U.S. House of Representatives win re-election

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

All five of the openly Gay members of the U.S. House of Representatives have won re-election, as did Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who is Bisexual.

That's the good news. The bad news is several Gay candidates seeking to join their ranks were defeated - including Democrat Sean Eldridge, husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, in eastern New York, and Republican Richard Tisei in a hard-fought race against Democrat Seth Moulton, an Iraq War veteran, in Massachusetts.

Another Gay Republican, Carl DeMaio, was in a virtual dead heat with Democratic U.S. Representative Scott Peters of San Diego. DeMaio confronted allegations from a former staffer of sexual harassment in the campaign's final weeks.

It is important to note that while there have been Gay GOP congressmen previously, none were out of the closet at the time they first won their seat.

Gay-rights leaders have acknowledged that the new Congress, with an infusion of conservative Republicans, will be unlikely to support a federal bill outlawing a broad range of discrimination against LGBT people, which has become a top priority for activists now that same-sex marriage seems well on its way to being over, with victory on our side.

'The road will be hard and rocky,' said Heather Cronk of the LGBT-rights group GetEQUAL. 'We must offer up forward-thinking legislation to secure much-needed legal protections, rather than wallowing in self-loathing pity.'

Fred Sainz, a vice president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the short-term goal would be 'to change the hearts and minds of those not yet there with us.'

'We'll be putting on our walking shoes and walking the Halls of Congress - a lot - over the next few years to make sure that the new members become allies,' Sainz said, noting that the Republican caucus in the Senate (which will become the majority party in January) includes several supporters of same-sex marriage.

It should also be noted that nearly two-thirds of Americans now live in states where Gay marriage is allowed, including several states which still do not ban discrimination by employers or in public accommodations based on sexual orientation.

'It's incomprehensible that you can get married at 10 a.m. and be legally fired, thrown out of your apartment or denied a hotel room at 2 p.m., simply because you got married,' Sainz said. 'It's not something that Republicans will be able to ignore.'

Rea Carey, executive director the National LGBTQ Task Force, said that Congress, even it took a more conservative turn, would be unable to stop the advances of same-sex marriage.

'As much as the results in Congress are challenging, our work continues at the state and local level,' she said.

Perhaps Carey is right. Several Republicans who won election as governor either support the same-sex marriage laws in their state or accept the laws as reality. Among them are governors-elect Bruce Rauner in Illinois, Charlie Baker in Massachusetts and Larry Hogan in Maryland.

'Things that would have been hot button issues before have become less hot button,' said Kevin Cathcart, executive director of the LGBT-rights group Lambda Legal. 'We're still going to make progress this year and make progress next year, even if not on Capitol Hill.'

However, Republican Governor C.L. 'Butch' Otter won a third term in Idaho, and vowed to continue fighting the legalization of same-sex marriage even though the state's ban has been overturned in federal court.

'I believe we are the last chance to stand up and fight for traditional marriage,' Otter said in his victory speech. 'If they want to change the rest of the 49 states, go ahead. Why should we change? That's not what our voters want, that's not what our creator wants, and that's not what Idaho wants.'

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