Press

Baldwin Wins Mixed Results On Civil Rights Initiatives

Date: 
November 04, 1998

Tonight, Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) became the first non-incumbent, out gay or lesbian candidate ever elected to Congress. In addition, openly gay representatives Barney Frank (D-MA) and Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) were reelected. "We have lived through one of the most vitriolic and hostile years in recent memory for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. With the first-ever election of an out lesbian non-incumbent to Congress, it's clear that we're moving forward, even in a time of great backlash from the right wing," stated Kerry Lobel, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "Tammy Baldwin ran a terrific campaign and will bring vision, integrity and energy to our issues. With the reelection of Rep. Barney Frank and Rep. Jim Kolbe, we are better represented than ever before," she added.

Voters in South Portland, Maine passed a local ordinances banning sexual orientation discrimination. Two other cities, Fayetteville, Arkansas and Fort Collins, Colorado defeated anti-discrimination initiatives. (Result of a civil rights initiative in Ogunquit, Maine was not in as of 12:30am.) "We recognize that the struggle for full equality is a long-term one. The victory in Maine is a reminder of the importance of perseverance. And win or lose in Hawaii and Alaska, we will continue to fight for full equality, including the freedom to marry, until we succeed," said Lobel.

Results of anti-gay marriage initiatives in Hawaii and Alaska have not yet been reported, though polling numbers suggest they may pass.

In other races closely watched by the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community, Representative Chuck Schumer will become the new junior senator from New York. He defeated Senator Alfonse D'Amato (R-NY) in one of the most contentious campaigns in the country. While D'Amato recently made overtures to the GLBT community, his staunch anti-choice votes alienated many in the GLBT, feminist, and other progressive communities. In California, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) beat challenger Matt Fong, who angered many in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community when it was revealed that he gave Lou Sheldon's Traditional Values Coalition $50,000. And in the race for California, former Representative and vociferous homophobe Robert Dornan lost to incumbent Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) after a heated campaign.

"The defeat of Dornan, D'Amato, and Fong -a rabid right wing politician, a staunch anti-choice politician who ran a very hostile campaign, and a supporter of the Traditional Values Coalition- may take some of the wind out of the sails of the right wing," said Kerry Lobel. "This year the right wing launched a vicious media campaign against the GLBT community to galvanize its voter base. The overall election results for the right, show this strategy to have failed," she added.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.