NewsWrap for the week ending November 11, 2000 (As broadcast on This Way Out program #659, distributed 11-13-00) [Written by Cindy Friedman, with thanks to Graham Underhill, Chris Ambidge, Brian Nunes, Jason Lin, Rex Wockner, Greg Gordon & Lucia Chappelle] Anchored by Chase Schulte and Cindy Friedman This week the eyes of the world were on U.S. election results, a number of which were still not clear by This Way Out's deadline. Gays and lesbians have been profoundly concerned with the selection of a President who may appoint as many as four Supreme Court justices during his term, to either increase or reverse the current narrow conservative majority. It's also generally believed that a victory by Democratic Vice President Al Gore would help to advance an equality agenda, while a win for Republican Texas Governor George W. Bush would stall it. Exit polls showed gays and lesbians favoring Gore over Bush by nearly 3-to-1. But just as voters were split right down the middle on the Presidency, they have installed a Congress in which Republicans hold only slim majorities in both houses. Combined with the lack of a mandate for either presidential candidate, this is likely to impede significant legislative changes of any kind. As even Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has indicated, it will force an increase in compromise and bipartisan cooperation, by contrast with the we-win-you-lose attitude of the majority following 1994's so-called "Republican Revolution". Gays and lesbians lost a valuable friend in the U.S. Senate with Republican Virginia Governor George Allen's defeat of incumbent Chuck Robb. Robb was one of only fourteen Senators to vote against the anti-gay so-called "Defense of Marriage" Act of 1996. Allen held Robb's gay-supportive record against him in the campaign. But many gays and lesbians celebrated New York's election to the Senate of Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, the exiting President's wife, who in her campaign was outspoken in her support of civil rights. As for openly gay and lesbian politicians, all three current Congressmembers were reelected. Twenty-year incumbent Democratic Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank was endorsed by more than three-quarters of his constituency. Sixteen-year incumbent Republican Arizona Representative Jim Kolbe was also returned by a landslide. Democratic Wisconsin Representative Tammy Baldwin barely managed to hang on by a margin of only about 2% against Republican opposition that was far more united than during her first election to the Congress by 6% two years ago. There's still a chance they may be joined by Southern California Democrat Gerrie Schipske. She seemed to have fallen just short of ousting incumbent Republican Representative Steve Horn, but she believes that will change after absentee ballots are added in. That process could take another two weeks, and then a recount is likely. Democratic Vermont State Auditor Ed Flanagan, the first open gay or lesbian ever to be nominated by a major party for the U.S. Senate, was trounced by gay-supportive Republican thirty-year incumbent Representative Jim Jeffords. Finishing even farther behind Vermont's incumbent Independent U.S. Representative Bernie Sanders was transsexual Republican Karen Kerin. Three other openly gay Democrats failed by large margins against incumbent Republican Representatives in Pennsylvania, California and Ohio, while two openly gay Green Party nominees lost in New York and New Jersey. A record 118 open gays and lesbians were running for office in this election, 43 of them incumbents. 66 were in races for state legislatures. Almost all the incumbent state lawmakers were returned to office, including at least two who were facing reelection for the first time since publicly coming out. There may be three gay and lesbian incumbents who were not returned. Democratic Montana state Representative Mary Anne Guggenheim was ousted, Democratic Maine state Representative Susan Longley also appeared to have been unseated by a narrow margin. Democratic New Hampshire state Senator Rick Trombly has asked for a recount after apparently being ousted by less than 1%. But a dozen other gays and lesbians gained seats in state legislatures, to bring the total to at least 40. Notably they included Democrat Karla Drenner, not only Georgia's first openly lesbian or gay state lawmaker but the first in the five-state Deep South region and only the second in the South. Democrat Chris Kolb became the first openly gay or lesbian state lawmaker in Michigan. Voting in the state of Vermont was viewed with particular interest because of a concerted campaign against lawmakers who voted this year for "civil unions" giving gay and lesbian couples all the state-level benefits of marriage. That so-called "Take Back Vermont" campaign was led fiercely by Republican gubernatorial nominee Ruth Dwyer. She lost to incumbent Democratic Governor Howard Dean by a few percentage points more than she did in their last matchup. Civil unions definitely took a toll in the state House, where at least 16 civil unions supporters lost their seats while all civil unions opponents were returned. As a result, control of the House has passed from the Democrats to the Republicans. In the state Senate, civil unions had little impact, with both supporters and opponents returned, and the Democrats will retain a slim majority. In exit polls, slightly more than half of Vermont voters indicated they support civil unions, although 14% were "very angry" about them. Two states, Nevada and Nebraska, voted by large majorities to deny legal recognition to gay and lesbian marriages. In both states, conservative religious groups were able to raise large amounts of money to support the initiatives, much of it from out of state, while gay and lesbian groups had little statewide organizational structure to even begin to mount opposition. The Nevada measure will have to be passed by voters again in 2002 in order to become effective. The Nebraska measure is remarkable for denying recognition not only to gay and lesbian marriages but to "the uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership or other similar same-sex relationship." A legal challenge is already in preparation. Although opinions differ, it's possible this prohibition could block private employers from extending domestic partner benefits and even void powers of attorney and other contracts between gay and lesbian couples. It's even possible it could damage legal partnerships of other kinds, since Nebraska law uses the term "domestic partnership" to describe business partnerships contracted within the state. In Oregon, gays and lesbians were relieved by the defeat of Measure 9, which would have prohibited publicly-funded schools from "instruction encouraging, promoting, and sanctioning homosexual and bisexual behaviors." This was the latest in a series of anti-gay initiatives proposed by the Oregon Citizens Alliance since the 1980s, and it appears to have revitalized that group which last year nearly decided to shut down. Polling had been very close on the measure and early returns looked that way too, but the latest figures available indicated its defeat by about 6%. OCA's Lon Mabon conceded defeat but promised to be back in 2002 with a slightly edited version of the same proposal. In Maine, gays and lesbians were disappointed by the apparent failure of a ballot initiative that would have given them statewide civil rights protections from discrimination. A similar measure had been enacted by the legislature and signed by the governor in 1997 only to be narrowly repealed in a low-turnout special election early in 1998. This time all the signs were hopeful, as pro-rights groups mounted a stronger campaign than their opponents, polling was strongly in their favor, and even the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland supported the measure. But the survey results weren't matched by the actual vote, for which the latest figures available showed a loss by about 2%. Supporters of Question 6 now await the official finding of Maine’s Secretary of State. And finally... On the same day as the general elections, gay columnist Dan Savage entered a plea of guilty to a misdemeanor count of fraudulently voting in a caucus. That plea bargain agreement ended a saga that began when the Presidential campaign did, at the Iowa Republican caucus in January to pick the party's Presidential nominee. Savage went to Iowa undercover to see what would happen to a gay man volunteering in the campaign of homophobe Gary Bauer. He also participated in the caucus by simply filling out a registration form with the address of the hotel he was staying at, something he said showed how vulnerable the system is to abuse. Iowans were not impressed by this security issue, and Savage was originally charged with an additional felony voter fraud charge that could have put him in prison for six years. By pleading guilty to the misdemeanor, he was sentenced only to a $750 fine, a year's probation, and 50 hours of community service he'll be able to do in his home city of Seattle, Washington. That's good for Savage, who had said earlier, "I don't want to go to jail in Iowa. That's redundant."