I'm on a complete high. Despite predictions of a narrow victory, Barack Obama seems to have swept back to power. The latest results I have is that he won the popular vote by 59,298,913 votes to Romney's 56,801,964. If Florida does go to Obama, as looks almost certain currently, the President will have 322 electoral college votes to 206. It is what I think they technically call a landslide.
There is another big story of interest to me here though, apart from the general rejection of right-wing, conservative philosophy. There are six US states where same-sex marriage is permitted, but marriage equality was achieved either through law suits or by lawmakers, rather than as a result of direct votes by the population.
Last night, the State of Maine became the first US state to introduce marriage equality. It has been joined by the State of Maryland and (subject to finally counting) by the State of Washington. In Mid-West Minnesota, a ballot to introduce a ban on same sex marriage into the constitution was defeated by voters. These smiling young smiling young faces of discrimination who voted yesterday to enshrine prejudice won't be too happy this morning.
This is massive. LGBT people are in the minority everywhere, but voters have shown that they do care about issues outside their own personal interests. Social issues and equality do matter to them.
There will now be 9 US states where same-sex marriage is legal. Federal appeal courts have repeatedly struck down the "Defence of Marriage Act"* and it is likely to end in the US Supreme Court. The President himself took the principled, risky and politically unnecessary step of declaring that he was in favour of marriage equality during the campaign.
Meanwhile, closer to home, yesterday the highest court in Spain declared that same sex marriage is legal and constitutional. This was in the face of an aggressive challenge by the country's conservative party and the Catholic hierarchy. Although mired in arguments, the majority of the population in France supports same-sex marriage and its government is drawing up plans to introduce it there. This will bring to 12 the number of countries with full marriage equality.
Back in May I saw the above tweet. Its words have really stuck with
me. The fight isn't over yet, but we will get there. The times, they are a changin'. They are changing faster than I would ever have thought even two years ago. An acceptance that lesbians, gays and bisexuals should have equal rights rather than be classed as inferior is rapidly becoming a reality. The forces of reaction, discrimination and social conservatism are losing.
I don't want to pretend the discrimination I face is anything like that faced by people who have suffered in the past. It isn't, by a million miles. However, this picture sums up beautifully how widely accepted societal norms can change in a very short space of time and how we look back on it with genuine incomprehension now.
Thank you America. Thank you voters in Maine, Maryland, Washington and
Minnesota. Thank you Spanish Constitutional judges. History is on our
side. Equality is right, it is just, and it is coming.
* Correction: thanks for the comment below. DOMA was penned by Republican Representative Bob Barr and was passed by the Republican dominated Congress. Every Republican but one, in both houses, voted in favour of it. A White House spokesman described it as "gay baiting" but President Clinton, not President Bush, signed it into law.