With 11 state marriage amendments passing overwhelmingly, the
election of anti-gay crusaders like Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint to the U.S. Senate,
and a clear win for a presidential administration that loves to talk about a
Federal Marriage Amendment, things might look politically bleak for the gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community. But even in the most monstrous,
fag-hating clouds are fabulous silver linings. Here are six good things that
-happened for the GLBT community on Election Day:

1. Pro-marriage candidates won. Gay-marriage opponents
in Massachusetts made it clear after last year’s legislative votes that anyone
who voted against setting in motion a ban on same-sex unions would be committing
political suicide. Turns out they were wrong. An overwhelming number of pro-gay
legislators in the Bay State did just fine November 2, while candidates who
made marriage their primary issue found themselves making concession speeches.
The same was true even in Michigan, where voters, despite approving a marriage
ban, elected 24 of the 28 state candidates endorsed by gay advocacy group Michigan
Equality — which translated into a net pickup of two GLBT-supportive legislators
in the Michigan House. Every little bit helps.

2. Texas justice. In Dallas County, Lupe Valdez, an openly
lesbian Democrat, beat her Republican opponent to become the county’s first
female sheriff and the first Democrat to hold the job in nearly three decades.
With an endorsement from the Dallas Morning News, Valdez, who campaigned
as a reform-minded anti-corruption alternative to the powers that be, won accolades
for her experience in the Federal Prison System and U.S. Customs Service. Valdez
showed that qualified queer candidates can do just fine, even in Bush Country.

3. Cincinnati fights discrimination. Ohio’s Hamilton County
went Bush and voted for the state amendment that banned gay marriages, but thanks
to plenty of hard work and coalition building (including ties with churches),
Cincinnati activists turned back the city’s infamous Article 12. Added to the
city charter in 1993, Article 12 banned the City Council from passing any laws
that gave “minority or protected status” to gays and lesbians, making
it open season in terms of housing and employment discrimination based on sexual
orientation. The group Citizens To Restore Fairness spent two years gathering
3,000 volunteers, who campaigned door to door to educate voters. On November
2 the hard work paid off — despite being outspent by three to one on the airwaves
just weeks before the election, Cincinnati repealed Article 12 by a 10,000-vote

4. House of Reps. It was a perfect 10 for the openly gay
members of the U.S. House — Democrats Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Massachusetts’
Barney Frank and Arizona Republican Jim Kolbe coasted to easy re-election victories.
All three serve in districts far from the Castro and Chelsea, proving that having
the hots for someone of your own sex doesn’t impact your ability to bring home
the bacon for the straight locals. Together the trio have 48 years’ experience
serving in the House, and have tackled issues like border safety and prescription
drugs for seniors. Note to queer political hopefuls: Baldwin, Frank and Kolbe
get their jobs done without making sexuality an issue.

5. Slowly but surely. Neither North Carolina nor Idaho
come to mind when you think of civil rights breakthroughs, but both red states
elected their first openly gay state legislators. In Oregon (which also passed
a gay-marriage ban), Rives Kistler was elected to the Supreme Court, the only
openly gay person in the country to be elected statewide — ever. Out state legislators
won re-election in Missouri, North Carolina and Utah — yes, Utah. According
to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a queer take on the candidate incubator
Emily’s List, the number of openly gay elected pols has quadrupled in the past
decade from less than 50 to almost 300. Not a huge number in a country with
half a million politicians, but it’s still a start.

6. Not going anywhere. Black Tuesday was also a wake-up
call. Just days after the election, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
held a conference in St. Louis for hundreds of activists that turned into a
huge “get over it”-fest, goading people to organize at the grassroots
level and keep up the fight. And the queer kids are as angry as ever. Meagan
Moering, a Montana student, said it best in a post-election interview with The
Advocate: “Being an out lesbian in the Northwest is difficult enough
as is; having these laws against us makes it even more discouraging.” But
Moering isn’t backing down anytime soon. “Regardless of any president or
amendment,” she said, “the GLBT community is not going away, and I’m
sure not going to let this scare me back into the closet.”

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