For a brief period of time Tuesday evening, it looked like heavily LGBT Broward County, Florida, might give Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton the boost she needed to win that state’s critical 29 electoral votes. If it had, the race would have been over.
It didn’t happen.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump won the state with 49.1 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 47.7 percent. And by 2:40 a.m. Wednesday, the New York Times and some other media were projecting that Trump had won the White House after apparently taking Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes. Shortly thereafter CNN reported that Clinton had called Trump and conceded the election.
The news defied nearly every poll prediction in the run-up to the November 8 election and dramatically altered the political landscape for LGBT rights in the United States.
Although Trump was to some the “most pro-gay” Republican presidential nominee ever, he has promised to name an Antonin Scalia-type justice to the U.S. Supreme Court who can undo marriage equality. He has promised to reverse “all” President Obama’s executive orders, several of which have increased protections for LGBT people. And he has urged allowing individual states decide what rights LGBT people can enjoy.
Exit polls conducted by the major television networks and Associated Press indicated that one in five voters said the U.S. Supreme Court was their top priority in choosing a president.
In other election news Tuesday night:
- Democrats failed to win enough U.S. Senate seats to take over as the majority there, leaving Republicans in charge of the White House and both houses of Congress. Democrats did pick up two seats in the Senate, both supporters of equal rights for LGBT people: U.S. Rep Tammy Duckworth defeated incumbent Republican Mark Kirk. LGBT community support was split in that race, with the Human Rights Campaign backing Kirk and other groups supporting Duckworth. And Democrat state Attorney General Catherine Masto won retiring Democrat Harry Reid’s seat for Nevada.
- North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, who led that state’s efforts to pass the anti-LGBT law HB2 this year, appeared to have lost his bid for re-election. Democrat Roy Cooper was 4,480 votes ahead of him at 3 a.m.
- Oregon elected the nation’s first ever openly LGBT governor. Kate Brown, who assumed office following a scandal involving the previous governor, won election in her own right Tuesday night, earning 51 percent of the vote; and,
- The six openly LGBT incumbent members of the U.S. House won re-election Tuesday night but none of the 12 other LGBT candidates for Congress –two for the Senate and 10 for the House—won.
Following the news of Clinton’s concession call to Trump, lesbian news commentator Rachel Maddow of MSNBC said, “it’s hard to overstate the political import of what this is.
“Our country is about to face some serious crises, and so buckle up, your country needs you,” said Maddow.
Trump took to the stage at his rally in New York City at 2:54 a.m.
Reading from a teleprompter, Trump said the country owes Clinton a debt of gratitude for her service to the country.
“It is time for us to come together as one united people,” said Trump. “I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be a president for all Americans and this is so important to me.”
“To those who have chosen not to support me in the past,” he said he would “work together and unify our great country.”
As he left the stage, his campaign played one of his most common theme songs, the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
By 3 a.m., Trump had 279 electoral votes to Clinton’s 218. It takes 270 to win. Trump reached that goal by winning Wisconsin, a state many expected would go for Clinton.
In the final days of the campaign, Clinton worked hard to get out the LGBT vote. During a campaign stop in heavily gay Wilton Manors, Florida, she promised to call on Congress to pass the Equality Act, work to achieve an AIDS-free generation, “end the harmful practice of the so-called conversion therapy,” and take on homelessness, bullying, and violence against LGBT youth. She also promised to push for gun control “so that what happened in Orlando can never happen again.”
Trump’s campaign issued a statement to “strongly condemn” the anti-gay activities of a white nationalist supporter, William Johnson, from Los Angeles. Johnson funded a robo-call in Utah October 31, calling an obscure independent presidential candidate a “closet homosexual.”
Johnson’s robo-call was apparently prompted by the success the independent candidate, Evan McMullin, was having in drawing votes away from Trump in Utah, potentially costing Trump six electoral votes.
According to media reports, the robo-call said: “Evan has two mommies. His mother is a lesbian, married to another woman. Evan is okay with that. Indeed, Evan supports the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. Evan is over 40 years old and is not married and doesn’t even have a girlfriend. I believe Evan is a closet homosexual. Don’t vote for Evan McMullin. Vote for Donald Trump.”
(McMullin has said he loves his mother “very much” but believes in “traditional marriage.”)
In 2012, 76 percent of LGBT voters supported Democratic President Barack Obama, 22 percent supported Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Exit poll data late Tuesday night indicated the vote breakdown in this election was essentially the same for the Democrat, with 78 percent voting for Clinton. But only 14 percent voted for the Republican Trump. Previously, the lowest support from the LGBT community for a Republican presidential candidate was 19 percent in 2008 for John McCain.