Today’s Primary Results: a Mixed Bag for LGBT Equality

2010 June 9

1. Arkansas

I was very sad to read, (midday Wednesday here) that homophobic “Blue Dog” founding “Democrat” Blanche Lincoln won her runoff race for the Democratic party’s nomination for U.S. Senator against the presumably more progressive Arkansas Lieutenant Governor, Bill Halter. Lincoln is the nasty pol who had infamously declared in October of last year, in response to a request to support ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would bar discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered workers in the workplace:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (S. 1584) which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. However, equal rights should not become special rights, and I appreciate you taking time to share your thoughts with me on this important issue

Presumably the Democratic Nominee somehow finds it logical to still support special rights for heterosexuals, however—you know, the right to marry, to not be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation, the right to sponsor a non-U.S. citizen spouse for permanent residency in the United States, for example.

Not surprisingly, the man who signed the despicable and cynically named “Defense of Marriage Act of 1996″ —literally in the middle of the night, so as to hide from reporters—Impeached President William Jefferson Clinton, who in two national elections became president without receiving a simple majority of votes cast (43.0% in 1992; 49.2% in 1996) actively campaigned for his friend the bigoted lady from Arkansas, most likely resulting in turning the tide in her favor.

Disturbingly, BoldProgressives.org reported on Monday that the Arkansas Democratic Party Good-Ole Boy Network had been pulling out all the stops to ensure a win for their Good-Ole Gal Blanche:

Garland County is the most populous county Bill Halter won 3 weeks ago, and could be key to his run-off victory this Tuesday. But election commissioner Charles Tapp reduced the number of polling places from 42 to 2.

Also, after personally promising Bill Halter there would be early voting this weekend, Tapp reversed course. Hundreds of voters showed up to vote yesterday but were denied.

The mailing from  BoldProgressives.org continues, quoting from BlueArkansasBlog.com:

Make no mistake, this is by design.

Remember how rural voters broke so heavily for Halter in the primary? Well now those same rural voters have to travel miles across a mountain range to get to town on a weekday to cast their vote, and Tapp ran away when he was asked about what this would do to disenfranchise minorities.  How painfully obvious can this get?

Used to be that the party that came to mind when thinking of both homophobia and voter disenfranchisement was the GOP.

2. Iowa

On the other hand, right-wing homophobes had made a goal of punishing gay people in Iowa for daring to think that they are not inferior to straight people. They had sought to put a Constituttional Amendment on the ballot in Iowa to repeal the state’s judicially mandated equalization of marriage rights. However, they didn’t count on this, as reported on OneIowa.org (emphasis mine):

Despite mudslinging from his primary opponent, Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad emerged the clear winner in tonight’s primary, capturing three quarters of his district’s votes.

“We congratulate Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad on his decisive victory and welcome his continued leadership at the statehouse,” said One Iowa Executive Director Carolyn Jenison.

Rep. Abdul-Samad is the pro-marriage incumbent, who soundly defeated an opponent funded by the anti-gay Iowa Family Political Action Committee.

We who watched all of this happen from exile overseas, or alone, separated from our partners by unjust law, or together with our partners but fearful of separation at any moment can take some faint comfort from Iowa while watching the profoundly thick-eyebrowed lady from Arkansas relish in her newly reconfirmed special rights in Arkansas.

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