Marriage Equality Takes Four Steps Forward
Election night four years ago was one bittersweet affair for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. They swooned over the history-making election of then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as the nation’s first black president. But they despaired over California’s approval of a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage, coming in a state Obama won handily.
But election night 2012 was different. Last night was a night of firsts.
President Obama was the first sitting president to come out in favor of marriage equality, and it didn’t cost him at the polls. For the first time ever, a ballot measure against same-sex marriage (in Minnesota) was defeated. And for the first time ever, voters said yes to marriage-equality measures in Maine, Maryland and Washington state. The rights of a minority should never be put to a popular vote. Yet when the results favor equality, you can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief.
Since the 1990s, voters in 30 states have denied same-sex couples the right to marry and to enjoy the dignity and security that goes with it. What happened last night ended a shameful streak that condoned discrimination. It also marked what many advocates believe is a tipping point.
“It is clear that marriage-equality opponents are fighting a losing battle and our movement for full equality is at a tipping point,” said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition. “More and more Americans are realizing that LGBT people deserve the same protections to care for the people they love.”