Washington– Today the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, released an analysis of the November 2nd election results as well as details on the organization’s involvement in the elections and a look toward the future in a new political environment.
“Social justice movements always experience steps forward and steps back and this election turned out to be a mix of both,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Even though we will face greater challenges in moving federal legislation forward, nothing will stop us from using every tool to advance LGBT equality at every level. Attempts to hold back the tide of the equality movement will surely put anti-LGBT leaders on the wrong side of history.”
The analysis looks at the factors behind pro-LGBT losses and how anti-LGBT candidates fared. It further details the places in which pro-LGBT advancements are still possible and other avenues to move the ball forward on equality. The full text follows:
2010 Post Election Analysis
The 2010 mid-term elections boiled down to the phrase made famous in Bill Clinton's 1992 run for President – "It's the Economy Stupid." Voter anxiety over economic affairs created a difficult environment for incumbents and swept conservative majorities into the U.S. House and state legislatures around the country. Thankfully this election was not characterized by as much wedge-issue demagoguery as we've seen in the past but make no mistake, these new leaders are no friends to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. While most races were not won or lost on LGBT issues, the equality movement may be collateral damage in the conservative wave that swept the country.
The presumptive House leadership team of Reps. Boehner, Cantor and Pence all score zeros on the HRC scorecard and many soon-to-be committee chairs have long anti-LGBT records. While the past four years of Democratic leadership stopped the most damaging legislation from seeing the light of day, there is no reason to believe that far-right conservatives won't use every opportunity to push their narrow agenda. That job will be even harder without equality champions like Patrick Murphy in the House or Russ Feingold in the Senate.
Even though we will face greater challenges in moving positive federal legislation forward, nothing will stop us from using every tool to advance LGBT equality at every level – from administrative changes to work on the state and local level. Attempts to hold back the tide of the equality movement will surely put anti-LGBT leaders on the wrong side of history and we will continue to highlight how far this new leadership is outside the mainstream of public opinion.
November 2nd was not without its bright spots however. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid staved off a challenge from Sharron Angle, a tea-party backed candidate who is so opposed to workplace equality she said she'd refuse contributions from corporations who give equal benefits to their employees. In California, National Organization for Marriage-backed Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina lost to pro-equality candidates Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer respectively.
The elections also resulted in pro-marriage equality governors in California, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Openly LGBT candidates fared well across the country with a record number of new, out officials including Rep.-elect David Cicilline in Rhode Island. We can use these victories as footholds particularly in pushing for statewide legal recognition of our families.
Knowing this would be a hard fought election, HRC made significant investments to elect pro-equality candidates. We endorsed 21 candidates for U.S. Senate, more than 200 candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, 16 candidates for governor, and 14 candidates for the New York state Senate. HRC's federal Political Action Committee contributed more than $850,000 to Congressional candidates and political committees and the organization also contributed nearly $400,000 to support pro-equality state and local candidates. We deployed 39 staff to 17 states, sent more than 3.3 million election-related action alert e-mails to HRC members and supporters and made tens of thousands of phone calls and recruited thousands of volunteers. Read more on HRC's involvement in the mid-term elections.
Of course, the question now is "where do we go from here?" We won't stop moving forward, because there's more than one path to victory. When one door closes, others often open. Read a full report on our path forward which includes:
- Putting every ounce of strength into pressuring the Senate to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" before the end of the year;
- Blocking harmful bills and continuing to introduce pro-equality legislation – and using both to make sure voters knows how out of touch radicals in the House really are;
- Continuing to put pressure on the Obama administration to make policy changes that don't require an act of Congress, following our "Blueprint for Positive Change," where we've already made major progress;
- Fighting for marriage equality and relationship recognition in states where there are now open doors – and continuing to expose NOM's extreme agenda; and
- Combating bullying in our schools and working with religious communities to amplify the voices of pro-equality clergy. We're also going to enable more gay couples to adopt children and build loving families, and work to make corporations and hospitals more equal. And we will shine a light on bigotry and mobilize hundreds of thousands of supporters to speak out against it.
There is a path forward. And that path requires HRC – and you – to continue fighting tirelessly for justice. Join us.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.