Juan and Ken Ahonen-Jover

Implications for LGBTQ equality

Filed By Juan and Ken Ahonen-Jover | November 06, 2008 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: eQualityGiving, LGBT civil rights, presidential campaign

Michelle Obama very eloquently spoke a few months ago about the common struggles "from Selma to Stonewall."

The path to equality is not a straight road, so to speak. We advance, and then we go backwards. So the question to ask is: Overall are we moving forward? The answer from yesterday's elections is a resounding YES.

Read why... despite the setbacks

Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden, the most LGBTQ-friendly elected President and Vice-President, support all our Equality Goals except marriage, but they do want to reverse DOMA.

Yet the more enduring victory yesterday for the LGBTQ community may be that President-elect Obama will likely nominate several justices to the US Supreme Court. Having taught constitutional law for many years, Obama will likely appoint justices that value privacy and equal protection under the law, which are the cornerstones for LGBTQ equality.


The bad news is that we lost the marriage constitutional amendments in Florida and Arizona. California is still counting some 3 million votes, but with the current tally at 52% to 48% against us, same sex marriages in California will likely no longer be legal.

We secured marriage equality in Connecticut by defeating a call for a Constitutional Convention. Given the difficulty of changing the constitution in that state, the right to marry in Connecticut is now secure, as it is in Massachusetts.

In New York, we won a democratic majority in the State Senate which may approve marriage equality there. Governor Patterson is committed to leading the efforts to pass such legislation.

We also made gains in Iowa, which may prove useful in defending the right to marry there. The Iowa Supreme Court will hear the marriage equality case in December. Hopefully, they will refer to the two most recent rulings on the topic (Connecticut and California) which went strongly in our favor.


Congratulations to Jared Polis, who has become the third openly LGBT Member of Congress!

Marilyn Musgrave, the author of the Federal Marriage Amendment, was finally defeated. What makes the victory sweeter is that the winner is Betsy Markey, an eQualityGiving endorsed candidate, who is pro-equality. The conference call that eQualityGiving organized for donors to talk to Betsy gave all of us insights about her competence and values.

Unfortunately, three other great, pro-equality candidates did not win: Nick Carter in Wyoming, Linda Ketner in South Carolina, and Ashwin Madia in Minnesota.

The outcome of three other pro-equality candidates that we endorsed is hanging on a few hundred votes in each race, and it may take days to sort out: Al Franken in Minnesota, Jeff Merkley in Oregon, and Darcy Burner in Washington.

All of our Heroes, the Members of Congress who are pro-equality, were re-elected with significant margins, as expected.


We lost the Arkansas vote forbidding unmarried couples to adopt or be foster parents. We should expect the extreme right to push now for similar votes in other states to limit our ability to adopt children or be foster parents and as a way to motivate conservatives to go vote.


Go to our website for the detailed information on this election, as well as updated results of the pending races:



In this election we had some significant victories and some significant losses. Just remember how disheartened we were two years ago when New York's highest court ruled that the NY constitution does not compel recognition of same-sex marriages. However, in the last few months, the Supreme Courts of Connecticut and California ruled that we had that right.

The immediate future looks promising with New Jersey and New York likely to offer marriage equality and with the pending Iowa court decision.

Also, we are hopeful that President Obama will deliver on his campaign promises in support of our equality. We are excited that a Democratic Congress, with a new openly gay man, will work to provide legislation for the president to sign into law.

Today we start on a new road that should bring us closer to legal equality. We just have to keep working to make the advances we want.

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We lost 4 of the 5 ballot initiatives, mostly by large margins. An expansive anti-rights, not just anti-marriage initiative in Floriday won by almost 2 to 1 !! We lost in California - supposedly the most gay-friendly state in the country. This is being pitched as a reversal of the 'gay wave.' It is going to give cover - not just cover, a colorable argument - to those who are hesitant to support our rights. Already it may have blunted the drive for legislated marriage rights in New York (granted there are other factors there as well). And it is going to make it much more difficult and politically costly to pass anything more than a basic hate crimes law and a basic ENDA at the federal level.

We also made gains in Iowa, which may prove useful in defending the right to marry there. The Iowa Supreme Court will hear the marriage equality case in December. Hopefully, they will refer to the two most recent rulings on the topic (Connecticut and California) which went strongly in our favor.

Bah. The Court in Iowa is going to look at the California amendment too. What court is going to rule in favor of gay marriage now, when even the most liberal state has banned it? The implications of the amendment will hurt us.