Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) on Thursday suggested the results of the 2012 elections could prove “a turning point” in American history.
“I’m not sure what we will call it when we look back at history, but it’s certainly clear that something important happened in the election of 2012,” she said during a panel at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center that featured faith leaders and LGBT rights advocates from across the country. “The numbers tell some of it. Now there are 10 states including the District of Columbia who permit marriage equality among all people. No longer can the opponents say marriage has never won when put to the American people because three states answered yes — Maine, Maryland and Washington.”
Norton noted 46 percent of black Marylanders voted for their state’s same-sex marriage law on Election Day. Question 6 passed by a 57-43 percent margin in predominantly black Baltimore City. It lost by slightly more than 4,300 votes in Prince George’s County.
“The fact that it was that close when some believed in Maryland it would be much further apart than 46 to 54 [percent] means African Americans are beginning to see the clear analogies between themselves and the LBGT community,” said Norton.
Norton, who on Nov. 6 easily won re-election after defeating Libertarian Bruce Majors and Natale Lino Stracuzzi of the D.C. Statehood/Green Party, further applauded Minnesota voters who struck down a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman. She also applauded the White House for no longer defending the Defense of Marriage Act, lifting the ban on people with HIV/AIDS from entering the country and supporting other LGBT-specific measures and policies.
Norton further praised both President Obama and Vice President Biden for publicly supporting nuptials for gays and lesbians.
“The president said he evolved; that needs to be respected.” said Norton. “He thought, he probably prayed and he reached his own conclusions. And when the president evolved, you can imagine that there will be a lot of other people thinking whether they should evolve too.”
Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, whose parents were Pentecostal ministers, told the Washington Blade last month he identified with Obama’s evolution on marriage rights for same-sex couples. He said during a second interview outside a Baltimore polling place on Election Day that Biden’s comments on how he would not “subject other people to his feelings” on abortion during last month’s vice presidential debate against Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan factored into his decision to back Question 6 and marriage rights for same-sex couples.
As for the GOP, Norton said nuptials for gays and lesbians is “not an issue” for young Republicans.
“Some of the Republicans appear to be in a reflective — some may even call it a self-pitiful — mood when they saw the new majority of Americans turn from their party in the 2012 elections,” she said. “They will have to think how to reconcile the very good and much needed advocacy of family values.”
Norton further highlighted 70 percent of black children are born to single women.
“We got a marriage problem — not a gay marriage problem,” she said. “There is work to be done on marriage, but I sure don’t see… the gay community as the place to begin at this point. It should not be difficult in my judgment for Republicans to reconcile marriage equality with Republican philosophy.”
Reverends Nancy Wilson of the Metropolitan Community Churches and Yvette Flunder of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries in San Leandro, Calif., Rev. Dennis Wiley of Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ in Southwest Washington and Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, were among those who also sat on the panel.