Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rainbow Progress

One interesting note from the mid-term election is the number of gay and lesbian candidates who won.

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund today announced that more openly LGBT candidates won election to public office in the U.S. in 2010 than in any year in America’s history.

At least 106 of the group’s record-breaking 164 endorsed candidates were winners as of Wednesday morning, including Providence, R.I., Mayor David Cicilline (pictured), who will become the fourth openly gay Member of Congress when the House convenes in January.

That said, it should also be noted that just because a candidate is gay or lesbian doesn’t make them liberal or progressive or an effective leader. But it does mean that more and more who are gay or lesbian aren’t afraid to run for office and include that facet of their life as a part of their resume. I don’t think I’d ever vote for someone based solely on their sexual orientation any more than I would vote for them based on the color of their eyes. But at least it’s a sign that we’re maturing as an electorate to the point that in more and more places it doesn’t matter.

On the other hand, the campaign in Iowa led by Rep. Steven King to recall three of the Supreme Court judges who ruled for marriage equality was successful, which means that there are still those odious folks who think that equality under the law is an offense.

I have a problem with the idea of subjecting judges to the political process. A lot of states, including Florida, put judges up for retention every so often, and in some states, including Florida, they run for their job just like a county commissioner or attorney general. But judges have to be able to rule on cases and laws impartially, and it’s going to happen — as is the case in Iowa — where they are going to have to hand down rulings that the majority of the people don’t like. That’s especially true when you’re dealing with laws that impact minorities. That is why federal judges receive lifetime appointments; it removes them from the whims and tug of politics and keeps the threat of removal for temporarily unpopular actions from tainting their rulings. Think about where this country would be if the nine members of the United States Supreme Court had to stand for election or retention every so often. The law would be a hash.

Let’s hope that the lesson from Iowa is that money and fear-mongering is not the way to change the law.