In perhaps the biggest year for the LGBT rights movement in history, one story stands out as the most significant: President Obama’s re-election after he publicly endorsed marriage equality.
Obama won re-election by taking 51 percent of the popular vote compared to the 47 percent won by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, paving the way for the pro-LGBT policies of his first term to continue over the next four years. Obama won major swing states, including Ohio, Florida, Colorado and Virginia.
In May, during a TV interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts, Obama announced his personal support for same-sex marriage, making him the first sitting U.S. president to take that step.
Tuesday’s election makes Tammy Baldwin the first openly gay person to serve in the U.S. Senate and brings the tally of LGBT members of the U.S. House to at least five.
"People ... see our country and our states moving toward full equality in many respects," Baldwin told CNN the morning after the election. "When you have legislative bodies that look more like America, that happens."
Baldwin is also the first woman to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate.
Late last week, a gay Republican staffer in Wisconsin claimed to be the victim of a hate crime over his conservative political leanings. Kyle Wood, a campaign volunteer with Wisconsin GOP U.S. House candidate Chad Lee, shared his story of an apparent hate crime with conservative news outlet The Daily Caller:
“I was getting ready for work and there was a knock at the door,” Wood emailed The Daily Caller late Wednesday. “I opened it, and a guy wrapped a ligature around my neck, slammed my head into the doorway, and smashed my face into a mirror, telling me ‘You should have kept your [f*******] mouth shut.’”
“He then kidney-punched me, while at the same time saying I was ‘warned,’ and continued to beat me,” he added.
From the chance to elect the nation’s first openly gay U.S. senator to the nation’s first state referendum to pro-actively legalize same-sex marriage, Nov. 6 could prove historic for LGBT equality.
Here are 10 key contests to watch around the country on Election Day.
Brighter than the “super moon” that was out on the same night, Atlanta’s LGBT community shined in record numbers at Atlanta Human Rights Campaign Gala at the Hyatt Regency Saturday evening. In keeping with this year’s theme of “25 Years of Fighting for Equality,” activists from the past and present were honored.
The event raises money for the Human Rights Campaign’s national fight for LGBT rights. It began with a rousing performance by Grammy nominee Frenchie Davis. She was followed by an uplifting video montage showing just how far the LGBT community has come since the first Atlanta HRC Dinner was held 25 years ago. The crowd of over 1,100 roared with approval when hometown hero U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was shown in the clip.
“I’m moved that the people appreciate what I’ve tried to do over the years. I feel so blessed,” Lewis told GA Voice, asked how it felt to hear the room erupt into such applause at the mere mention of his name.
Actor Sean Hayes, who played way-gay Jack McFarland on the groundbreaking sitcom "Will & Grace," will be honored at the Atlanta HRC Dinner, set for May 5 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.
Hayes, currently starring in "The Three Stooges," joins U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), the first openly gay person elected to Congress, to add star power to the line-up for the 25th Atlanta Dinner. He will receive the HRC Visibility Award at the event.
"This award is given to an LBGT member of our community who brings positive and wide-spread visibility to our cause. These attributes align with HRC’s mission of creating a country that inspires and engages all Americans to work toward ending discrimination against LGBT citizens and realizing a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all," organizers said in a press release tonight announcing Hayes' appearance.