Yesterday’s elections

Timothy Kincaid

November 6th, 2013

It’s been a good year for equality. In the past twelve months, marriage equality has come to Maine, Maryland, and Washington (by popular vote), Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota (by legislative act), New Jersey (by state court ruling), and California (by federal court ruling).

Which was all before yesterday. Tuesday, with the vote for marriage in the Illinois House and the vote for marriage in the Hawaii House Judiciary and Finance Committees, was a most delicious day.

But when there’s a whirlwind day, you can miss some of the less high profile moment. Also yesterday were elections around the country, and here are a few more happy moments.

Ken Cuccinelli, the GOP Virginia gubernatorial candidate, is a man seemingly obsessed with the sex lives of his neighbors. Virulently anti-gay (he tried to reinstate sodomy laws through the argument that he would also enforce them against straights who strayed from the missionary position) he was the hope and darling of wingnuts who see their world vanishing.

Yesterday Cuccinelli did much better than expected, but ultimately Democrat Terry McAuliff, a friend and supporter of the community, prevailed. The takeaway lesson from the election was that Cuccinelli’s social agenda was a drag on his campaign and that victorian morality is a detriment to election. Also losing (badly) was his crazy as a loon running mate, Pastor EW Jackson, who was known mostly for sharing such diamonds of wisdom as

“Their minds are perverted; they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally; and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality. When they talk about love, they’re not talking about love, they’re talking about homosexual sex. And so, they can’t see clearly.”

Meanwhile, Chris Christie sailed to victory in his reelection bid for New Jersey Governor. And while Christie has consistently opposed marriage equality (even vetoing a marriage bill in February) he has done so in terms that separated him from Cuccinelli.

Christie has long been an advocate of civil unions (a position that, while outdated, would have placed him in the ‘strong ally’ category a decade ago) and has a good and close relationship with gay organizations in the state. And when confronted with the fact that civil unions no longer brought equality, he presented a legal argument in opposition to marriage that must have made his legal team fall on the floor laughing before signaling retreat on the position at the first moment that it became clear that his absurd legal argument was not being taken seriously.

This example of conservative loss coupled with moderate win is about the last thing that social conservatives in the Republican Party wanted to see.

A small bit of bad news comes from Holland, Michigan, where anti-gay discrimination seems to have won the day. In 2011 the city counsel, in a 5-4 vote, refused to enact a local non-discrimination ordinance, a decision that sharply divided the city. Two of the majority five were opposed in yesterday’s election based on their anti-gay vote, but they – along with the rest of the counsel – were reelected.

But in Washington, Ed Murray, the openly gay state legislator who successfully led the battle to bring marriage equality to the state, appears to have won election as Seattle’s mayor.

One election I did not watch – didn’t even know about – was also in New Jersey, where openly gay Republican Don Guardian beat the incumbent mayor of Atlantic City. The political situation of gay GOP candidates winning or performing well in major cities is now starting to seem less like an anomaly.

Alex Wan, a fiscally conservative gay Democrat in Atlanta easily won reelection, though not with enthusiastic support from Atlanta’s gay community who largely disapproved of Wan’s proposal to ban strip clubs and sex shops along Cheshire Bridge Road.

In Houston, Lesbian mayor Annise Parker easily won her third term.

In Alabama’s 1st District, mainstream Republican Bradley Byrne swept aside TeaParty opponent Dean Young, for his party’s nomination. Young, former exective director of Christian Family Association, defended wackadoodle Judge Roy Moore in 2002 with this statement:

“[Homosexuality is] a deviant lifestyle. It’s a destructive lifestyle,” Young said, according to reports in the Associated Press and the Montgomery Advertiser. “If they don’t like the laws of Alabama … then maybe they need to go back to California or Vermont or wherever they came from.”

I’m certain that there were a good many more I’ve not mentioned so please feel free to add to the list in the comments.

Scott Hutcheson

November 6th, 2013

Another one, Royal Oak, MI passed a non-discrimination ordinance.

I remember back when this was a rallying point for Gary Glenn about 12 years ago.

Here’s the history:

Mary in Austin

November 6th, 2013

In a special election for Texas State Representative, District 50, progressive Democrat and former Ann Richards staffer Celia Israel advanced to a December runoff against a Tea Party Republican, chiropractor Mike van de Walle. If Israel wins the race to represent the northern Austin suburbs, she will be the second openly gay person to serve in the Texas Legislature. (The legendary Glen Maxey, also of Austin, was the first.)

Richard Rush

November 6th, 2013

“A small bit of bad news comes from Holland, Michigan, where anti-gay discrimination seems to have won the day. . . .”

I’m waiting for Brian Brown to announce a VICTORY! celebration.


November 6th, 2013

I don’t understand your argument about how “Christie has long been an advocate of civil unions.” He advocated civil unions in the context of opposing marriage equality, arguing that separate but equal was good enough. Civil unions were already the law when he became governor–after a deciison from the state Supreme Court. He certainly didn’t propose the idea, and there’s no evidence that he supported civil unions before the Supreme Court decision.

Is there any evidence that if Christie had been governor of a state that had no relationship recognition at all, rather than NJ, he would have supported civil unions?

Timothy Kincaid

November 6th, 2013


I can’t predict what would happen if Christie were in another state.

But he has advocated for civil unions not only in the context of opposing New Jersey marriage. He has proposed that the Federal Government set up civil unions for nationwide state recognition (a non-starter for a host of reasons). He has also argued that other Republicans in other states should support and adopt civil union laws.

I would have to research, but I recall a television special some years back in which the interviewer tried to question him on whether his support for civil unions would fly with other Republicans and I was – at that time – surprised that he didn’t go for “but this stops marriage”, instead responding that gay citizens deserve to have their relationships recognized.

Of course, he’s a politician in a blue state and says what he needs to say there. And, as Romney has illustrated, sometimes one’s support for gay citizens evaporates once one leaves those confines.

But there’s no reason – yet – to believe that he’s disingenuous. And, for what it’s worth, Garden State Equality has a better relationship with him and his office than they have had with previous governors.

And irrespective of Christie’s ‘real secret beliefs’, the point is that he won and Cuccinelli lost with the public positions that they hold.

Timothy Kincaid

November 6th, 2013


I also expect them to declare that Cuccinelli’s fairly close election is evidence that the public really supports his wacky uber-conservative Catholic social positions.


November 6th, 2013


I suppose, in the end, we’ll see whether his support for civil unions flows from deep-seated personal belief or from political tactics: will support for civil unions form a plank in his 2016 presidential primary campaign? (I’m not holding my breath.)

It’s not surprising, I would say, that he didn’t publicly argue that civil unions provide a way to block marriage–doing so would have been politically foolish. But (as you know) his administration consistently argued in its legal filings that a state that conferred civil unions didn’t have to extend the right to marry.

The fact remains that he–and he alone–prevented equal marriage from coming to New Jersey for more than a year. Obviously he’s better than Cuccinelli–but he’s running in a state in which Cuccinelli-style anti-gay activism would never fly. I don’t really see why he should be given much credit for avoiding outright animus that would have doomed his campaign in 2009 while doing everything he could to block equal rights throughout his first term.

Timothy Kincaid

November 6th, 2013


Yes, as you said, we will see what he does when he reaches outside a blue state.

But please note that this is not about giving or denying credit. It’s about comparing two Republican gubernatorial candidates and pondering the impact this will have on other states and elections and the Party in general.

Neon Genesis

November 7th, 2013

My city of Chattanooga TN is going to vote next week on whether or not to pass a domestic partners benefit bills for gay couples who are city employees and this is the bible belt.


November 7th, 2013

Unfortunately, none of these are single-issue votes. Most of the politicians in these cases differ on more than just their stances on LGBT rights and equality. I have ally friends who were disappointed that their home state ultimately voted against Cuccinelli, and exit polls suggested that healthcare and jobs were the primary focus for voters; With Obamacare polling poorly this week and the government shutdown forgotten by many, Cuccinelli couldn’t help but gain some votes. Christie, on the other hand, might have had a larger margin of victory if the election had been before his veto. We can’t know these things for certain, which will give the Republican party the plausible deniability it needs to stay blind to the political trends it should no longer ignore. Difficult victories are not going to make the Democrats any more reflective on non-social issues either. We need to fight harder to make primaries the focus of the average voter. Only then will the trends be obvious.

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