The Republicans swept themselves back into power in Congress on Tuesday by winning a majority of seats in the U.S. House, according to CNN projections.
Early on Wednesday, the news network projected the GOP will take control of U.S. House in the 112th Congress by winning at least 60 seats in the election — far more than the 39 seats the party needed to take control of the chamber.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) will likely replace U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in her role when Republicans come into power in the next Congress.
The Republican leader was given a score of “0” in the Human Rights Campaign’s most recent congressional scorecard for his lack of support for LGBT legislation.
Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, said the “shift in the balance of power” in Congress will likely “slow advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights legislation.”
“Does this mean a blockade on LGBT rights?” Carey said. “Not if we can help it. Fact is, our community has always had to fight — and fight hard — for equality. This is nothing new to us.”
Carey said the Task Force will continue to push the Obama administration through its New Beginnings Initiative to make a positive change for LGBT people without action from Congress.
“While political winds and players may shift, the fundamental needs of the people do not,” Carey said. “No matter who is in office, people need jobs, protection from discrimination, a roof over their heads, a way to feed their families, a fair shake. No one should settle for less — we won’t.”
Despite the defeat in the House, Democrats appeared to be in a position to hold onto the Senate as election results were announced.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pulled off a win against Republican Sharron Angle, a Tea Party candidate and former Nevada Assembly member. The Democrat had been trailing Angle in several polls.
The victory of West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) against Republican John Raese also contributed to challenge in the GOP taking control of the Senate.
Despite these wins, Democrats endured major losses in the Senate. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), one of 14 senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act in1996, lost his bid for re-election against Republican Ron Johnson, a wealthy plastics manufacturer.
Joe Sestak, a Democratic U.S. House member who has been outspoken about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, lost his bid to win a U.S. Senate seat against Republican Pat Toomey, a former U.S. House member.
In Illinois, Republican Mark Kirk, a U.S. House member, captured President Obama’s old Senate seat in a contest against Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulious.
Kirk had supported hate crimes legislation as a U.S. House member, but earned the scorn from many LGBT people for voting against a measure that would repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
In Colorado, a tight race between Republican Ken Buck, who has compared homosexuality to alcoholism, and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) was too close to call by the time of this posting.
The Blade will have a more complete report Wednesday on the implications of the election results.