I’m still trying to fully process everything that happened last night. I spent most of Tuesday on the edge of nerves waiting for the election results to start coming in. Cautiously optimistic yet preparing myself for bad news. Instead we got:
- President Obama re-elected with a significant lead in the Electoral College, and the first Democrat since FDR with 50% or more of the popular vote.
- The Democrats made gains in the U.S. Senate (including the first openly gay Senator in Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin) and the prospect of real filibuster reform is closer than ever.
- Marriage Equality won in three states (will now be the law in Maine and Maryland, and defeat of a constitutional amendment to ban it in Minnesota) and is looking good to win the fourth (Washington), after losing 32 consecutive times.
After the punch to the gut that was watching North Carolina vote against equality this spring, I was terrified of what would happen in these four states. Obama’s coat-tails hadn’t been long enough to defeat Prop 8 in California in 2008, and the ballot box record on these issues was not encouraging. But by the end of this year, nearly 20% of Americans in 9 states will see that full marriage equality is nothing to be afraid of.
The other side yelled “Judicial Activism” when the courts ruled that gay people deserved equal treatment. They demanded that the people have a say when State Legislatures passed laws recognizing the dignity of all families. And now the people have had their say, so I ask them what now?
In just a few weeks, the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear cases challenging the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” and California’s Proposition 8, and in social issues cases, popular opinion is often an important factor in what the court decides. And four states voting in the affirmative for the equality of gay Americans is a good thing.
The U.S. Senate
The most important thing that can and should happen in January 2013 is the end of the 60-vote Cloture requirement. For too long now, a minority of Senators has been able to effectively hold hostage all manner of bills with only 41 votes. This is not a responsible way to run a country, and it must end. If the minority (whichever party it may be, and the Democrats will hold that position in the future at some point) wants to block a piece of legislation, they need to actually filibuster. In the style of Jimmy Stewart’s “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” or The West Wing’s “The Stackhouse Filibuster,” hold the floor of the Senate until either you have worn the opposition down or the American people demand you stop, but no bill should lose when 59 Senators support it.
Obama’s Second Term Means The First One Sticks
The Affordable Care Act will now become the law of the land, and while it’s far from perfect, it’s good. It is true that we have one of the best health care systems in the world, but it is more expensive by factors that are obscene. What good is the availability of good treatment when you can’t afford the doctor visit? And most importantly, My friend, Justin Scott, will no longer be denied insurance or over-charged for it because of a lung condition that is “pre-existing.”
The President who signed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” can with our help push forward on ensuring that everyone is protected from being fired for who they love with an expansion of the “Employment Non-Discrimination Act.” And his support for marriage equality and fighting alongside us at the Supreme Court make us stronger.
The withdrawal from Afghanistan will happen as planned, and we just might finally come to the end of being a nation at war. In time allowing videos of soldier homecomings to become rare and special, and not a regular feature of the local news.
Today, I am so happy and excited for the future of our country. We can continue to move forward and grow more equal.