Election ’08: Barack Obama wins presidency, gays and lesbians lose rights


First, the good news: Barack Obama is the next president of the United States.

After winning on overwhelming majority of the Electoral College votes (and a slight majority of the popular vote), president elect Obama and his family, along with vice-president elect Joe Biden and his family, spoke to a crowd of 60,000 cheering supporters gathered inside Chicago’s Grant Park, with another 100,00 gathered outside.

This is a more powerful moment for America than I can properly describe, so I will just quote Rachel Maddow, who summarized on MSNBC tonight as we watched images of Americans celebrating his win around the country, "to have a moment that means this much, that you can put alongside the emancipation proclamation in our history, in terms of what the idea of America is, and what the relationship of Americans are to one another, so that we can speak to the rest of the world … it’s sort of worth crying about."

I’ll confess I shed more than one tear myself tonight, and as I write this in my apartment in New York well after midnight, there is still loud cheering in the streets outside.

Now the bad news: American gay rights were delivered a blow tonight, as propositions and amendments that deny or prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage were approved in Arizona and Florida, and marriage rights were actually taken away in California. Arkansas also made it illegal for gay couples to adopt (thanks to doublescarlettfan for the tip).

This also makes me want to cry, but not tears of joy.

A night of mixed emotions, to be sure. We can only hope this is a short-term setback, and that President Obama will help usher in a new era of acceptance for gay rights. Including a mention of gay people in his inspiring acceptance speech is a promising start.

Update: Watch his acceptance speech here:

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