Election Day was a landmark for gay rights in U.S.
Although news about the election has been predominantly focused on the presidential race, there were also a number of historically significant referendums that were passed at the state level across the country.
Last Tuesday was a particularly victorious night for LGBT rights. Wisconsin, Maryland, and Maine all became the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote; a proposed constitutional amendment in Minnesota to ban same-sex marriage was defeated; and Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate.
The election represents a watershed moment for gay rights in America, and a step forward for human rights. Approving same-sex marriage will give rights to couples who would otherwise be denied them. And Baldwin’s election gives hope that in the not-so-distant future, a person’s sexual orientation will be a non-issue for political candidates running for office.
But there’s unfortunately still plenty of work to be done. There are 32 states that currently ban gay marriage — Pennsylvania doesn’t even recognize domestic partnerships or civil unions, let alone same-sex marriages. Furthermore, Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey voted to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
By refusing to grant gay couples the same recognition and rights as heterosexual couples, these laws treat gay couples as second-class citizens and make them more susceptible to other kinds of discrimination, such as being prohibited from adopting.
Hopefully, this election will become a historic tipping point in the right direction for gay rights. We hope that the progress in last week’s election will build more positive momentum, so that by 2014, even more states will follow Wisconsin, Maryland, and Maine’s lead.