Crystal ball gazing for 2012Politically Aware, Bottom Highlights Monday, January 9th, 2012
Commentary: Politically Aware
2011 will go down as a huge year in the fight for LGBT rights, but that certainly wasn’t a guarantee last January, when the ink was barely dry on a complex process to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell; marriage equality in New York seemed like a football likely to be pulled from in front of our community again, and LGBT youth were in the headlines as victims of bullying and suicide. Fortunately, President Obama and Gov. Cuomo came through, and many in the nation have rallied against bullying.
As 2012 opens, there are similar opportunities and dangers. Below are the Politically Aware predictions for 2012, mixing the broad and the specific, based on information and aspiration.
There will be little legislative progress. As long as the current Republicans control the House of Representatives, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) will not pass, and the Defense of Marriage Act will not be repealed. Republicans also did very well in state legislatures in the 2010 elections, meaning there will be little progress at that level. Sadly, that may include California this year, given that EQCA still appears to lack an executive or political director. The lone bright spot may be Maryland, where Gov. O’Malley appears ready to put marriage equality before the legislature again.
There will be action, but no final decisions, in the courts. The Supreme Court is already more involved in 2012 politics than it probably prefers, with decisions pending on the Affordable Care Act, immigration laws and Texas’ redistricting map. Neither they, nor the president, will want to put DOMA or marriage equality on the docket. The three judge panel will rule on Proposition 8, likely to be followed by an appeal to the full Ninth Circuit which will eat up the year. Something similar will slow down DOMA if needed.
President Obama won’t evolve in 2012. Marriage equality may be a winner in recent national polls, but it gets crushed in the Electoral College. (Ask Al Gore how that goes.) By November 2012, political statistician Nate Silver’s most LGBT favorable model shows that only 24 states would defeat a same-sex marriage ban. That list is missing battleground states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Florida, and at 242 electoral votes, is 28 short of the margin needed to win the presidency. Expect more LGBT progressive executive orders and more administrative officials to come out for marriage equality, possibly even Secretary Clinton. By the way, there will be no Clinton-Biden job swap; if Hillary makes the ticket, it will be due to Biden’s “health concerns”. Her successor will be Sen. John Kerry.
The real action will go down at the ballot box. A Prop 8 repeal initiative could pass, but it’s less clear that the Love Honor Cherish coalition will be able to gather the signatures. Eighty percent chance that Minnesotans defeat their amendment against same-sex marriage, which sadly is about the same as the chance that North Carolinians will pass theirs. The most historic moment will be the election of Tammy Baldwin as the first openly LGBT person elected to the Senate.
By November, you’ll be tired of local election coverage, so for now, only one prediction: If the San Diego mayoral primary includes both District Attorney Dumanis and Assemblyman Fletcher, the November run-off will be between Congressman Filner and Councilman DeMaio. Happy New Year!
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