From Washington, D.C., to Washington State, a night of votes with consequences for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
On Tuesday, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans will be focused on the presidential race like everyone else — but other elections across the country may also give LGBT people cause for celebration or frustration.
Voters Wisconsin will be deciding whether to send the first out LGBT person to the Senate in Rep. Tammy Baldwin's race against former Gov. Tommy Thompson. In the House, voters could be sending an unprecedented number of out LGBT people to Congress — including Richard Tisei, who would be the first LGBT Republican to have been elected as an out official from his first term. Then, there are the ballot measures on marriage equality issues and more.
Here are just a few of the key races:
President: Obama v. Romney
Image by Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP
President Obama personally supports marriage equality, he announced in May, and discussed in an MTV interview this past week. WIth the prominent place the issue has played in the debate over gay rights, the May move stood as a marker in the long-fought battle — and helped cement the support of many LGBT voters and, perhaps more importantly, big-money donors. In addition to that evolution, which took longer than many of those backers would have liked, Obama this past week formally announced he was backing this week's marriage equality ballot measures.
Supporters, including the Human Rights Campaign and National Stonewall Democrats, also point to the September 2011 end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which followed the 2010 congressional passage and presidential bill-signing of the legislation to repeal the 1993 law. In what is likely to be seen as the most important move Obama took to advance the rights of gay couples — even more than his personal support for marriage equality — Obama also reached the conclusion in February 2011 that the federal definition of "marriage" contained in the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing gay couples, was unconstitutional. Since then, the Justice Department has been arguing in court against the law and the cases are awaiting Supreme Court action.
The biggest question for LGBT voters deciding to back Obama is that it is not clear what efforts Obama has planned on LGBT rights in his second term, and — assuming continued Republican control of the House — how he intends to accomplish them.
Asked two weeks ago what Obama's second-term plan for LGBT Americans is, campaign spokeswoman Clo Ewing pointed to Obama's record, saying, "LGBT voters will overwhelmingly support the President’s re-election because he’s been a strong advocate for the LGBT community and because he has a concrete and specific second-term plan to continue restoring economic security to the middle class."
Image by Rick Wilking / Reuters