Election 2010: It’s about the grassroots, too!

While the congressional shift in power received the most attention this election season, there were local races around  country that will directly affect LGBT people. One such contest occured in Bowling Green, Ohio, where the Task Force has been working closely with local partner One Bowling Green to urge community members to vote YES on Ordinances 7905 and 7906. On Nov. 2, Bowling Green residents voted on Ordinances 7905 and 7906, which would add LGBT people to current housing and employment laws that protect residents based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, military status, ancestry and age.

Members of One Bowling Green and the Task Force prepare to give a campaign update at a late-October press conference.

One Bowling Green and the Task Force remain optimistic about the outcome on both ordinances, though the contests are incredibly tight with hundreds of provisional ballots yet to be counted. Preliminary results show Ordinance 7905 passing 50.15 percent to 49.85 percent and Ordinance 7906 losing by a slim margin of 50.71 percent to 49.29. It could take a few weeks for provisional ballots to be verified and tabulated. The Task Force is now focusing on election follow-up to ensure that all of the provisional votes are counted.

The Task Force's Vanessa Macoy trains One Bowling Green volunteers to make phone calls to voters.

Dan Hawes, who heads up the Task Force’s organizing efforts, said: “We are pleased that the housing protections measure appears to have passed, and look forward to a probable victory on Ordinance 7906. One Bowling Green ran a tough campaign in an effort to create a more fair and more welcoming Bowling Green for everyone, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. As the provisional ballots begin to be counted, we look forward to our continued work with One Bowling Green to ensure that each and every vote is counted.”

Read more about the Task Force’s work in Bowling Green here and here.

The Task Force has long focused on building grassroots LGBT power at the local level. For years, we have worked in communities across the country to pass and protect LGBT rights, and Bowling Green is the latest example of that work and our commitment to the grassroots. The critical importance of equality victories at the local level becomes even more pronounced when partisan gridlock ensues in the Beltway, up on Capitol Hill.

Indeed, one can expect plenty of that in the new Congress, with Republicans regaining control of the House last week. Following the Nov. 2 election, Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey said:

We’ll cut to the chase: The shift in the balance of power will very likely slow advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights legislation in Congress. Does this mean a blockade on LGBT rights? Not if we can help it. Fact is, our community has always had to fight — and fight hard — for equality. This is nothing new to us. But here’s another fact: There are Americans, from every part of the country, from every background, from every political leaning and of every faith, who support equality for LGBT people — and those numbers grow bigger every day.

No matter what the political breakdown is in Washington, the Task Force will continue to identify and work with all fair-minded members of Congress who are willing to support and defend equality for LGBT people. Through our New Beginning Initiative, we will continue to push for the administration and its agencies to make tangible changes that benefit lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and our families — changes that can be done without Congress. We will continue working with local partners in communities across the country to secure equality. Bottom line: While political winds and players may shift, the fundamental needs of the people do not. No matter who is in office, people need jobs, protection from discrimination, a roof over their heads, a way to feed their families, a fair shake. No one should settle for less — we won’t.

Read the full recap of last week’s election results, including outcomes of local and state contests.