Election Results: LGBT Races to Watch

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com November 06 2012 6:37 PM ET

President Barack Obama
RESULTS: Reelected

President Obama's win over Mitt Romney on Tuesday might have changed the political calculus on LGBT rights forever. When the president announced his support for marriage equality during an interview with ABC News in May, pundits rattled off a list of reasons it could cost him reelection. They worried it would hurt Obama with voters in the conservative South, including in swing states such as Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. They sounded the alarm that it could hurt him with minority voters.

“While some pundits predicted the president’s support for marriage equality would hinder his campaign, we know the opposite is true," said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. "His reelection after expressing support for marriage equality is further proof that the momentum is on the side of marriage for all families."

Griffin called Obama "the most pro-equality president ever" and "our Ally-in-Chief." His comments are further evidence that there is little political space between Obama and LGBT voters. So a win for him is being counted as a win for equality too. (Read More About The Race)

Tammy Baldwin — U.S. Senate (Wisconsin)
RESULTS: Baldwin Wins

Tammy Baldwin — who in 1998 became the first woman in Wisconsin’s history to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first openly gay nonincumbent elected to Congress in American history — won her bid for the Senate Tuesday night.  (Read More About the Race)

Jared Polis — U.S. House (Colorado 2)
RESULTS: Polis Wins

On Tuesday, out father Jared Polis handily won reelection to a third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, securing 55% of the vote in Colorado's second congressional district. His antigay opponent, Republican state senator Ken Lundberg, garnered just 40% of the vote, according to CNN.

The 37-year-old gay father told The Denver Post that he is ready to get back to work in Washington, D.C. "I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and working to get this country moving forward," Polis told the Post. (Read More About The Race)


David Cicilline — U.S. House (Rhode Island 1)
RESULTS: Cicilline Wins

Democrat David Cicilline won reelection in Rhode Island’s first congressional district after a vicious race with challenger Brendan Doherty.

Cicilline, a former mayor of Providence, became the nation’s fourth openly LGBT member of Congress when elected two years ago. He will now serve Rhode Island in the House of Representatives until at least early 2015.

“We’re thrilled that David will return to Capitol Hill, where his voice will be vital in a growing caucus of openly LGBT lawmakers,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, which helped Cicilline’s campaign, in a statement.

The 51-year-old was embroiled in a fiercely competitive contest to retain his seat against Doherty, the former head of the state police. (Read More About This Race)

Sean Patrick Maloney — U.S. House (New York 18)
RESULTS: Maloney Wins

Sean Patrick Maloney has defeated Congresswoman Nan Hayworth to become the first openly gay person elected to represent New York in Congress.The Associated Press called the race for the out Democrat shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday, according to Capital Tonight. He challenged a first-term Republican incumbent who had shown some support for equality measures.
 
The highly competitive contest took place in the newly drawn 18th congressional district in the Lower Hudson Valley, an area of mostly suburban counties north of New York City. While the race focused on the economy, it held the distinction of asking LGBT people to weigh the candidacy of one of their own versus a potential ally. (Read More About The Race)

Mark Pocan — U.S. House (Wisconsin) 
RESULTS: Pocan Wins

Wisconsin's second congressional district has just elected its second openly gay representative, a first in the nation.

Democrat Mark Pocan won, succeeding Tammy Baldwin, who herself made history in 1998 as the first out lesbian and first openly gay nonincumbent elected to Congress. (Before that, all openly gay U.S. House members, such as Barney Frank, had come out while already in office.) Baldwin, also a Democrat, was elected as the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate tonight.

Pocan's victory over Republican Chad Lee in the second district was largely expected. The reason for the district’s LGBT-friendliness and liberalism in general can be summed up largely in one word: Madison. The biggest city in the district, it is the state capital and home to the University of Wisconsin’s main campus. University towns are usually liberal, but Madison is intensely so. It was a center of student activism during the Vietnam War era, and one of those activists, Paul Soglin, has gone on to be elected mayor of the city seven times, most recently in 2011. Another carry-over from that era is Madison’s annual marijuana festival, held since 1971, which mixes entertainment with demonstrations calling for legalization of the drug. (Read More About The Race)

Kyrsten Sinema — U.S. House (Arizona 9)
RESULTS: Sinema Wins

UPDATED, Nov. 12, 3:12 p.m. Eastern - Kyrsten Sinema has officially been elected as the nation's first openly bisexual congresswoman, the Associated Press reports. The race to represent Arizona's ninth district was too close to call until Monday morning, when the AP announced that Sinema's lead had risen to more than 6,000 votes — a margin too large for her opponent, Vernon Parker, to overcome.

The Victory Fund, which funds and trains LGBT political candidates, backed Sinema's campaign. "We're thrilled for Kyrsten," Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, said in a statement. "She's a dynamic leader and she'll be a strong voice for her community and for all LGBT Americans."

Sinema announced Sunday that she had gained votes against Parker.

"On Sunday, after additional votes were tallied by the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office, Sinema increased her lead by an additional 1,079 votes. Sunday’s total brings Sinema’s lead to 5,789 over Parker, or 2.8%. We look forward to the remaining votes being counted and Kyrsten Sinema being sworn into Congress next year."

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Kyrsten Sinema is nontheist and openly bisexual. Despite being an improbable Arizona candidate, she’s risen through the ranks in the state legislature and is now poised to become a congresswoman in an historic election. She said the vote count has her "optimistic" on the possibility that she has won. (Read More About The Race)

Mark Takano — U.S. House (California 41)
RESULTS: Takano Wins

The Riverside, Calif., educator and GSA adviser Mark Takano won his race against Republican opponent John Tavaglione for the newly created 41st congressional district. Takano becomes the first openly LGBT person of color in Congress. (Read More About The Race)

Richard Tisei — U.S. House (Massachusetts 6)
RESULTS: Tisei Defeated

After a tight, contentious race, Democratic incumbent John Tierney defeated gay Republican Richard Tiesi in the battle to represent Massachusetts's sixth congressional district. Tisei lost with 47% of the vote, while Tierney scraped by with 48%. The race was one of the country's most expensive congressional races, as well as one of the nastiest, according to Politico.

Tisei's win would have made him the first openly gay nonincumbent Republican to win election. A supporter told The Boston Globe, "If this state won't elect a Republican like Richard Tisei, it will never elect a Republican." In his acceptance speech Tuesday evening, Tierney said, "In the end this was not about our family and it wasn’t about his family. It was about your families. You owned this. This is your victory." (Read More About The Race)

Marriage Equality (Referendum 74) in Washington State
RESULTS: Referendum 74 Approved

Washington voters completed a clean sweep for marriage, joining Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota voters on Election Day in siding with LGBT rights. Because Washington votes entirely by mail-in ballot, the tally was slow in coming.

Votes were still being counted on Wednesday, but the Human Rights Campaign and others soon claimed a win. "This victory rounds out a landslide sweep of all four marriage ballot measures this November," said HRC president Chad Griffin. “This win is a sure sign that momentum is on our side, and with the growing majority of Americans supporting marriage equality, more states will soon join Washington in protecting all families."

Griffin praised Gov. Christine Gregoire for her leadership in passing the bill that voters were then tasked with approving. “This win would not have been possible without Governor Gregoire’s steadfast commitment and the leadership of the business community in the state, putting themselves squarely on the right side of history," Griffin said. (Read More About The Race)

Marriage Equality (Amendment 1) in Minnesota
RESULTS: Amendment 1 Defeated

Minnesotans rejected the constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex couples from marrying, it was confirmed early Wednesday morning.

Upon learning that Amendment 1 was voted down, Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said the results were a "prime example that we are experiencing a sea change in how Americans view their LGBT neighbors. With 30 states having voted to write discrimination into their constitutions, Minnesotans stood up and said, ‘not us,’ and more are sure to follow their lead. No amount of lies and deception funded by deep-pocketed donors could convince Minnesotans that loving and committed couples should be excluded from marriage."

Buzzfeed reports a statement from Thalia Zepatos of Freedom to Marry and Minnesotans United for all Families adviser: "Today Minnesotans affirmed that marriage matters for their gay and lesbian neighbors and friends, as for all of us, and refused to slam the door on marriage in the state constitution. Now loving and committed couples in Minnesota will be able to work to achieve their dream of crossing the threshold, respected equally under the law.”

Minnesota was the only state deciding whether to ban marriage equality via its state constitution. It's been banned by law for years, but this vote made Minnesota the first state where voters rejected a constitutional ban, except for Arizona, which defeated one in 2006 (it would have banned domestic partnerships and civil unions too) only to accept one in 2008.  (Read More About The Race)

Marriage Equality (Question 6) in Maryland
RESULTS: Question 6 Approved

Maryland voters made history on Tuesday by making the state one of the first in the nation's history to affirm marriage equality at the ballot box. Throughout the evening's election returns, Maryland's Question 6 maintained a strong lead, and the final tally saw Marylanders uphold the state's marriage equality law. (Read More About The Race)

Marriage Equality (Question 1) in Maine
RESULTS: Question 1 Approved

Maine voters made history by affirming same-sex marriage. The state reversed a 2009 ban on marriage equality by approving Question 1 on Tuesday. This will forever change the discussion on marriage equality and the public's response to it. (Read More About The Race)

Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins
RESULTS: Wiggins Retained

An Iowa judge who voted to establish marriage equality gets to keep his position on the bench. From HRC: "It appears that Iowans have made a strong statement for judicial independence and refused to let politics get in the way of judges doing their duty to uphold the law. Antigay groups trying to exact political retribution on judges should learn their lesson. Marriage equality remains the law of the land in Iowa and judges like Justice Wiggins will continue to do their jobs." (Read More About The Race)

Above: Sims, Dietz, and McEntee

Brian Sims—Pennsylvania House of Representatives - RESULTS: Sims Wins
Running uncontested, Brian Sims was elected to Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives on Tuesday — making him the state’s first openly gay legislator. Sims, 33, will represent the 182nd district in Harrisburg. The son of two retired Army lieutenant colonels, Sims is an attorney widely credited with turning around Equality Pennsylvania, a once-floundering LGBT group that has since pushed successfully for municipal LGBT protections around the state.

Christopher Dietz—Pennsylvania House of Representatives - RESULTS: Dietz Defeated
With all of the precincts reporting, Christopher Dietz lost his race with 45% of the vote. Republican incumbent Susan Helm won by 2,700 votes, with 55% of voters supporting her in Republican-leaning central Pennsylvania. Dietz was engaged in a heated race against Helm, whose campaign staff and supporters sent out vicious mailers slamming him.

Kelly Jean McEntee—Pennsylvania House of Representatives - RESULTS: McEntee Defeated
With all of the precincts reporting, Kelly McEntee lost her race with 35% of the vote. The 24-year Republican incumbent Ron Marsico won by about 10,000 votes, with 65% of the total. McEntee, an engineer, was actively campaigning against Marsico, with efforts including a seven-mile walk from Marsico's house to the capitol building to protest the fact that he was reimbursed for more than $7,000 in travel and meal expenses. Still, Harrisburg's Patriot-News endorsed Marsico, partly because of his seniority on the House Judiciary Committee.

Simone Bell — Georgia House of Representatives
RESULTS: Bell Wins

Simone Bell won her district with 87% of the vote, and all precincts but one reporting. In 2009, Bell, a Democrat, became the first African-American lesbian to serve in any state legislature, but now she faced a challenge from Republican Earl Cooper after the state redrew the district.

"The map itself is a challenge," she said in July. "There's a huge difference in economic, racial, and educational status."

While there were five openly gay candidates seeking state-level office, Georgia Equality’s Cathy Woolard warns that the state legislature could emerge with a Republican supermajority, which could further impede progress on LGBT rights legislation.


Above: Carr, Steadman

Democrat Pat Steadman (Incumbent)—Colorado state senate
Republican Michael Carr—Colorado state senate

RESULTS: Votes Being Counted

Two openly gay candidates were running against each other in what is believed to be a first for a major state race. Republican Michael Carr was up against incumbent Democrat Pat Steadman for the state Senate seat in Colorado's 31st district, which includes parts of Denver. 
 
As of 10:44 a.m. Eastern, with only 4% of precincts reporting, according to the The Denver Post, Steadman had 70.1% of the vote, and Carr had 29.8%. 


Carl DeMaio — San Diego Mayor - UPDATE: 1 p.m. Eastern, Wednesday

City Council member Carl DeMaio conceded the election to his Democratic challenger Bob Filner in the race to become the next mayor of San Diego. DeMaio was in the running to become the first gay Republican mayor of a major city but was defeated with 48.5% of the vote.

DeMaio will also leave the City Council next month after one term in office, but he said he is confident the city will become a "great city" no matter what political party is at the helm.

"There is no Republican or Democrat way to do that, there is no gay or straight way to do that," DeMaio said Wednesday morning, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Filner will follow pro-gay Republican Jerry Sanders, who was termed out of office. Sanders endorsed DeMaio but said Wednesday that he hopes Filner will continue the city' progress. DeMaio was also endorsed by The San Diego Union-Tribune, which is owned by Doug Manchester, a supporter of Proposition 8.

According to the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, which is owned by DeMaio's partner, Jonathan Hale, Filner reportedly made a point to mention the fact that DeMaio was in a relationship with another man. During the media conference on Wednesday morning, a reporter asked the candidate why he had not appeared frequently with Hale on the campaign trail, unlike that morning, when Hale was by his side.

"I think you've missed a lot," DeMaio countered. "Jonathan and I have been together in my district and throughout the city for three years now."

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While San Diego is one of California's more conservative cities, its exiting mayor, Jerry Sanders, is a Republican who has also been a vocal advocate for marriage equality, winning him support from LGBT residents. In the race to succeed him, the gay Republican DeMaio might have receives less support from LGBT voters who have backed Sanders, as many of them prefer his Democratic opponent, Bob Filner. DeMaio was not the Log Cabin Republicans' first choice for the mayoralty, and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund did not endorse him. While Sanders played a prominent role in the campaign against Proposition 8 in 2008, DeMaio stayed quiet on the issue during his City Council race, the The New York Times notes. Still, DeMaio is running with the full support of the city's Republican Party, and his opponent says DeMaio is "beholden to these antigay financial interests."

Susan Wilson — North Carolina State House, District 115
RESULTS: Wilson Defeated

Last week, Asheville, N.C., state House challenger Susan Wilson was called "an ugly old dyke" on Twitter. This tweet wasn't from just any random person with an iPhone and a Twitter handle — it was from Michael F. Muller, a Republican operative who once managed a separate political campaign for Wilson's opponent, Nathan Ramsey. Unfortunately for Wilson, she was defeated on Tuesday. With all 32 precincts reporting, Ramsey had 54.5% of the vote.

Josh Boschee — North Dakota House of Representatives, District 44
RESULTS: Boschee Wins

Joshua Boschee was chosen to be North Dakota's first openly gay member of the state legislature. Boschee ran against two Republican incumbents, Blair Thoreson and Don Clark, as well as three other challengers to win 26.13% of the vote. The difference, according to the Valley News, was only 38 votes. 

"I think it shows LGBT kids in the state that if you work hard, and you're true to yourself, anything is possible. And I had this opportunity — and with a lot of help, it paid off," sais Boschee.

Boschee becomes one of the youngest state legislators anywhere. He did that despite being attacked in Internet ads declaring that he is promoting a "gay agenda." Boschee said that his campaign was not solely about him being a gay man, and his opponents have also condemned the ads. Fargo TV station WDAY reports that the ads originated with a right-wing group called Public Advocate, headed by a Virginia elected official, Eugene Delgaudio. Delgaudio is being investigated by the FBI over allegations that he used public employees to raise funds for his political campaigns.

Kate Brown — Oregon Secretary of State
RESULTS: Brown Wins

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown will keep her position with 51% of voters' approval with 71% of precincts reporting. Brown defeated Knute Buehler, who took 44% of the vote, according to the Oregonian.

Marie Mayor — Delaware House
RESULTS: Mayor Defeated

Marie Mayor was vying to become the first out state legislator in Delaware. But she was defeated by Republican Stephen Smyk, who took 53% of the vote.

John McCain with Brown.

Tim Brown — Ohio House of Representatives
RESULTS: Brown Wins

Brown became the only openly LGBT Republican state lawmaker in the United States, winning 51% of the vote.

Stephen Skinner — West Virginia House of Representatives
RESULTS: Skinner Wins

Skinner becomes the first openly LGBT state lawmaker in West Virginia.

Andy Staton — Delaware Senate
RESULTS: Staton Defeated

Staton was vying to become the first out state legislator in Delaware.

Justin Chenette — Maine
RESULTS: Chenette Wins

The Victory Fund reports that Maine candidate Justin Chenette becomes the youngest openly gay state legislator in the country at age 21.

Stacie Laughton — New Hampshire House of Representatives
RESULT: Laughton Wins

In another of many history-making victories in Tuesday’s election, New Hampshire has voted in its first openly transgender legislator.

Stacie Laughton, a Democrat from Nashua, won a seat in the state House of Representatives, defeating two Republican opponents, that city’s Telegraph newspaper reports.

“I believe that at this point, the LGBT community will hopefully be inspired,” Laughton told the Telegraph. “My hope is that now maybe we’ll see more people in the community running, maybe for alderman. Maybe in the next election, we’ll have a senator.”

Laughton said she plans to work on a variety of issues in the legislature. She will back measures making it easier for transgender people to change their gender on state-issued IDs and to use the restroom of their choice, but she will also be an advocate for the homeless and people with disabilities, the Telegraph notes. Strengthening public schools is another of her priorities.