President Barack Obama won re-election to the White House for a second term on Tuesday evening, according to major media outlets, bringing to an end a tumultuous campaign against Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Media outlets, including NBC News, CBS News and Fox News, declared Obama the winner at about 11:15, around 15 minutes hours after the polls closed on Pacific Coast. The win was the result of Obama picking up wins in Ohio and Iowa, although other swing states remained too close to call.
In a tweet just as the election was called, Obama thanked his supporters, saying “This happened because of you. Thank you.”
In his first term, Obama took numerous steps to benefit the LGBT community, including repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” dropping the U.S. government’s defense of the Defense of Marriage Act in court and passage of hate crime protection legislation. In May, he ended his 19-month evolution to come out in favor of same-sex marriage. LGBT advocates are waiting to see how he’ll tackle the issue of LGBT workplace discrimination and the advancement of marriage equality over the course of his second term.
In contrast, Romney said he opposes discrimination, but signed a pledge from the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage pledging to support a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage throughout the country, defend DOMA in court and establish a commission on religious liberty to investigate the harassment on opponents of same-sex marriage.
Despite the difference between Obama and Romney on these issues, discussion about LGBT issues or same-sex marriage was virtually invisible over the course of the presidential campaign. Not one question on LGBT rights or same-sex marriage came up in the three presidential debates or the vice presidential debate, and the candidates didn’t take the time to discuss them over the course of the general election.
The exception was when Obama and Democrat were seeking to rally their progressive base. References to LGBT issues permeated Democratic National Convention, where speakers voices support for the LGBT community and chided the Republican Party for opposing same-sex marriage. Additionally, when making appearances at campaign rallies Obama made references to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and mentioned gays as among the groups he supports.
Update: Statement by HRC President Chad Griffin, released moments ago:
“As millions of Americans celebrate President Obama’s reelection tonight, the LGBT community is particularly elated to send the most pro-equality president ever back to the White House for a second term. There is no doubt that we will continue to see tremendous progress toward full equality like we’ve made during his first four years,” said
“While some pundits predicted the President’s support for marriage equality would hinder his campaign, we know the opposite is true. President Obama’s historic and heartfelt declaration that all loving and committed couples should be able to marry further rallied millions of voters and sparked conversations that advanced marriage campaigns around the country. His reelection after expressing support for marriage equality is further proof that the momentum is on the side of marriage for all families,” said Griffin.
“With our Ally-in-Chief back in the White House, we look forward to working with him on a host of issues including addressing workplace non-discrimination and expanding federal benefits to same-sex couples.”
“Four years ago, our country made history by electing Barack Obama as the first black president. After four years, the American people have spoken and they want to continue marching forward with this transformative Commander in Chief.
“As the first president to sign a pro-LGBT bill, the first president to speak out in support of the freedom to marry, and the president who made open service in our armed forces for gays and lesbians possible, LGBT Americans have won a major victory tonight.
“National Stonewall Democrats looks forward to the continued progress toward equality that was begun under this president.”
Breaking, stay tuned for updates.