Four years ago, Senator Barack Obama won the presidency, but gay folks across the country were outraged that California voters approved Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage ban.

Last night, it was a completely different story — and one of the most historic and significant nights for the LGBT community, the gay rights movement, and the advancement of overall equality in the United States.

Throughout the country on election night, gay issues and candidates won major races — with gay rights activists working hard on the front lines and straight folks opening up their hearts and minds.

Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin noted in an email to supporters:

“Thanks to all the hard work in achieving tonight's victories. We're not going to slow down – we're doing to double down. We finally have momentum on our side and we will not rest until the promise of equal justice under the law is realized for every single person living in every single corner of this vast country.”

Those victories include:

In Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay person to be elected to the U.S. Senate.

In Rhode Island, openly gay congressman David Cicilline was reelected.

In New York, Sean Patrick Maloney became that state's first openly gay person elected to Congress.

In Maine and Maryland, for the first time in the history of the United States the voters — not judges or a legislature — legalized gay marriage.

In Minnesota, voters defeated an anti-gay marriage measure — an extremely rare victory up to now.

Truly historic. Interestingly, four years ago, Senator Barack Obama would not commit to a pro-gay marriage stance. In 2012, the president firmly came out in favor of legalized same-sex marriage — and voters followed suit. An incredible turn around in four short years, with the most pro-gay president in the history of the United States at the helm.

Still, Adam Umhoefer, executive director of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the sole sponsor of Perry v. Brown, the federal constitutional challenge to California's Proposition 8, said about yesterday's historic election in a press statement:

“While we celebrate these momentous achievements for equality, we know that our work is not yet done. Millions of gay and lesbian Americans continue to suffer under the injustice of discrimination every day just by living in states that do not recognize marriage equality.”

He continued, “At AFER, we remain dedicated to protecting and advancing equal rights, including the freedom to marry, for all Americans. With our federal constitutional challenge to Proposition 8 currently being considered by the Supreme Court, we look forward to the day when every American will be able to equally enjoy the fundamental freedom to marry the person they love.”

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

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