President Obama won re-election to the White House on Tuesday, 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 after the polls closed on the West Coast. The victory was the result of Obama picking up wins in Ohio, Colorado, Virginia and Iowa. Florida was too close to call at the time of this posting.
Obama gave a victory speech at his campaign headquarters in Chicago that political observers said harkened back to the passionate speeches that helped him first win the presidency in 2008.
“America’s never been about what can be done for us,” Obama said. “It’s about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That’s the principle we were founded on.”
In his speech, Obama included a reference to gays as among the groups that he says are included and welcomed in the United States.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try,” Obama said.
After conceding the election in a phone call to Obama, Romney delivered his concession speech at his campaign headquarters in Boston. The Republican candidate’s words recalled a similar speech given to his one-time opponent for a U.S. Senate seat, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, during the 1980 Democratic National Convention.
“I believe in America,” Romney said. “I believe in the people of America. And I ran for office because I’m concerned about America. This election is over, but our principles endure. I believe that the principles upon which this nation was founded are the only sure guide to a resurgent economy and to renewed greatness.”
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 promising 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 alleged harassment of opponents of same-sex marriage.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, praised Obama for his win and said it represents a landmark victory for LGBT people throughout the country.
“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,” Griffin said. “There is no doubt that we will continue to see tremendous progress toward full equality like we’ve made during his first four years.”
Griffin also thanked Obama for coming out for marriage equality in the face of speculation that the announcement would diminish from his election chances.
“While some pundits predicted the President’s support for marriage equality would hinder his campaign, we know the opposite is true,” Griffin said. “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.”
Jerame Davis, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, said Obama made history over the course of his first four years and will continue to do so over the next four.
“Four years ago, our country made history by electing Barack Obama as the first black president,” Davis said. “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.”
Not every LGBT organization was behind Obama. The gay conservative group GOProud endorsed Romney in the election, saying a change in course over the economy was the priority of LGBT voters.
Jimmy LaSalvia, GOProud’s executive director, congratulated Obama for his win in a statement while saying he won re-election by performing a political sleight of hand.
“We congratulate Barack Obama on his win,” LaSalvia said. “The President performed a spectacular political sleight of hand in this election. Instead of this election being a referendum on his failed record on jobs and the economy, Obama and his campaign successfully made this about side-show issues and the culture wars.”
Despite the differences between Obama and Romney on these issues, discussion about LGBT issues or same-sex marriage was virtually non-existent 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 time to discuss them over the course of the general election.
The exception was when Obama and Democrats were seeking to rally their progressive base. References to LGBT issues permeated the Democratic National Convention, where speakers voiced support for the LGBT community and criticized 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.