With the re-election of President Barack Obama, gains in LGBT representation in Congress, and four victories for marriage equality at the ballot box, advocates are declaring Election 2012 to be a watershed moment for the LGBT-rights movement.
In a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said Nov. 6, 2012 will "prove to be a turning-point election in the history of the LGBT movement."
"The momentum is on our side on all fronts for the first time, our opposition is on the defensive on all fronts, and we intend to keep them just there," Griffin said, declaring Tuesday's victories to be a "landslide for equality."
Indeed, nearly two years after HRC began planning its 2012 election strategy and after the largest effort to mobilize the LGBT community ever, exit polls indicate LGB Americans remain a voting block to be reckoned with.
According to national exit-poll data, turnout by voters who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual increased by 4 percent in 2008 to 5 percent in 2012. Of those voters, 76 percent cast their ballots for Obama, a 6 percent increase over 2008. Voters were not asked if they identify as transgender.
Griffin was euphoric over the wave of good news following yesterday's election, the most recent coming just this afternoon when activists declared victory for marriage equality in Washington.
"We have run the numbers every which way, and we can now confidently say that we have won," said Washington United for Marriage campaign manager Zach Silk in a statement released shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday.
The approval of marriage equality in Maryland, Maine and Washington as well as the defeat of a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota has left Griffin and HRC energized.
Never before has marriage equality won at the ballot box, a fact opponents like the National Organization for Marriage have long pointed out. Not anymore, said Griffin.
"Winning one of these would have been historic," Griffin said. "We would have halted our opposition's argument that this issue cannot win at the ballot box."
To win all four, however, is powerful in a way that may take time to truly realize.
Despite victories across the country last night, opponents of equality remain. In a statement, NOM President Brian Brown credited the four marriage-equality victories to the liberal demographics of the states.
"Though we are disappointed over these losses, we remain faithful to our mission and committed to the cause of preserving marriage as God designed it," Brown stated. "Marriage is a true and just cause, and we will never abandon the field of battle just because we experienced a setback."
Looking forward, Griffin said HRC will continue to press Obama on workplace protections for LGBT Americans, including the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which remains stalled in Congress. Moreover, the president has yet to expand an executive order to ban federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, which Griffin says HRC plans to continue to push for during Obama's second term.
They will also focus their efforts in states that have not yet passed marriage-equality legislation, although Griffin would not go into specifics about any particular campaigns.
Said Griffin, "When we have this momentum it is not the time when we slow down, it is the time when we double down."
[Photo: Chad Griffin (Courtesy of HRC).]