With GOP in disarray, now’s the time to demand full LGBT equality from Congress and the White House — as soon as we take off our clogs

Haberman-Hardy-After I took off my clogs and caught my breath from dancing the Schadenfreude Polka on Tuesday night, I sat down and considered what the election meant for me and my LGBT friends. It was a big night for us.

First, President Barack Obama, a president who has done more for LGBT equality than any president in history, was re-elected.

Reason to celebrate enough, but add to that the election of Tammy Baldwin, the first openly lesbian Senator in history in Wisconsin, and it was an even bigger night.

Then, came the news that marriage equality passed in Maine and Maryland, and I wanted to dance again. This election was divisive and acrimonious and yet the voters of those states saw fit to assure more equality for LGBT couples. My faith in the essential fairness of Americans was somewhat restored.

Now the question is, how do we move forward from here?

While the GOP is in disarray, forming circular firing squads and dealing with the fallout of its hate-filled campaign, we LGBT citizens should go into a full-court press on Congress and the White House.  Equal rights is not something we can wait for the government to give us; we must demand them.

Luckily, most of the nation agrees with us, at least when it comes to the right to marry. A recent Gallup poll found 50 percent of Americans favor same-sex marriage while only 48 percent oppose it. That’s a big change from the 1990s, when the numbers were 68 percent opposed.

The trend is clear, and those members of Congress who have finished nursing their hangovers this morning are looking toward 2014 and may well think twice about using anti-gay rhetoric in their campaigns.

It’s no secret that millions of dollars were spent trying to demonize LGBT people and anyone who supported equal rights.

Now, it looks like all that money didn’t achieve its desired effect. In fact, it may have soured a lot of voters who were overloaded with negative campaign ads on TV.

Here in Texas, we get our share of campaign rhetoric, but since we are not considered a battleground state we have no idea how relentless the campaign can be.

Last weekend, just prior to the election, I was in the battleground state of Florida. Watching TV at a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, I counted no fewer than 30 negative TV ads in a single hour program.  As I looked around I noticed no one was even watching them.

When I asked a few folks if the TV ads affected the way they would vote, I got pained expressions and shaking of heads. One woman even said she was so tired of the negative ads she never wanted to go through another election.

Luckily the old formula of “gays, guns and God” seems to have lost its magic.

Unless the Republican Party is willing to move even further to the fringes of sanity, it will drop some of the most far-right positions and begin to move toward some kind of moderation. That would be good news for LGBT Americans.

On the Democratic side, I hope there will be a move toward progressivism and away from the centrist posturing that has prevented more legislation for social justice. Democrats need to come out of the closet and reclaim the word “liberal” as a good thing.

The House and Senate need to move toward real progress and away from acquiescing to every whim of the GOP when it comes to LGBT rights. That will be what we will have to push for in the next four years.

But, the next election cycle is still years away, and until then it will be amusing to watch people like Karl Rove and Grover Norquist try to spin this stunning loss into something else. I suspect they will continue to dance to the tune played by the billionaire Super PAC donors who were not very happy Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, where are those clogs? I think I feel another polka coming on!

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board member for the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 9, 2012.