The Great Gay Election of 2012

With margins of victory paper-slim, multiple analyses suggest that the LGBT vote can be outcome-determinative in the 2012 election for president. We are at least 4 percent of the electorate, and 74 percent of us plan to vote. Moreover, 71 percent of LGBT Americans who are registered voters support President Obama. So, for the first time in history, if Obama wins, the LGBT community will have elected a president committed to their liberation. We will have freed ourselves.

And we are clamoring for this. Capturing this spirit, one activist wrote "Please Defriend Me," rebuking anyone who votes against his equality, and this lit a fire, garnering over 125,000 Facebook "likes." On Facebook someone called his position anti-democratic and childish, but the fact that the post went viral suggests that we've reached a tipping point. The dignity of LGBT people is at stake in this race. We are awakened to our inequality and impatient to end it. So the question now is what role each of us plays in history. This is that election.

Doug Wright, the Pulitzer-winning playwright of Grey Gardens, likened supporting Romney despite his anti-LGBT positions to supporting George Wallace despite his racism. This is indeed the analogy that resonates with many LGBT people, who have long suffered discrimination but are no longer willing to accept complacency from family, friends, or themselves. Our time has come, and so has our civil rights leader, Barack Obama.

President Obama indicated his intention to call this question back in 2010, when he mentioned marriage equality during the DADT repeal process, signaling his challenge to the Republicans on this issue of such profound significance in the hearts of the religious opposition. As the months rolled along, they gladly took the bait, to the point that the Republican National Committee affirmed its intention to ban gay marriage through a federal constitutional amendment, which Romney pledged to pursue. The president then rolled out his historic statement of support for marriage equality, then the Democratic Party Platform followed suit and, later, Barney Frank pronounced the completion of the polarization of the LGBT rights movement, for better or worse.

The stage was set. And so we have witnessed historic showdowns on LGBT rights in the drafting of the Republican Party Platform, and corresponding local struggles over billboards against gay marriage, with local responses pushing back. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the main opponent of marriage equality, is overextended thanks to marriage-related ballot initiatives in multiple states, their crusade against the New York state legislators who tipped the New York State Assembly toward passing marriage equality in 2011, and their efforts to keep up with Brad Pitt's $100,000 matching challenge for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and other maneuvers by our own aggressive campaigns.

Four states -- Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington -- are embroiled in high-stakes ballot initiatives concerning marriage equality, and victory is feasible for most if not all of them. President Obama and Candidate Obama have issued statements in support of marriage equality for individual ballots campaigns. Meanwhile, a lesbian, Tammy Baldwin, is poised to become the U.S. Senator for Wisconsin. And New York Mayor Bloomberg announced his endorsement of Obama mere days before the election, based in part on Obama's support for marriage equality. The drama is big.

In the campaign's closing days Obama, riding the wave he created, has stepped up his oratory in rallies in Delray Beach, Fla., and Ohio, touting his remarkable record on LGBT rights, including the repeal of DADT, which brings cheers from the huge audiences. And he speaks of LGBT rights as being on a par with the social responsibilities of our time, affirming our rightful place "as part of the American family" no matter "what we look like or who we love."

So 2012 is calling the question on equality in many ways. From economic fairness for all to truth in campaigning, we are seeking equality, which is fairness, which is justice. And the anthem of equality and justice for all fills the air as America's virtues are tested and nature yearns for oneness. As Obama put it at his passionate signing ceremony for DADT repeal, "out of many, we are one," and intrinsic to this oneness is the idea that "all men and women are created equal."

Indeed, if all the many millions of LGBT Americans vote this year, 2012 will be the year that we liberated ourselves from oppression while also liberating America in many ways. With one vote, one year, we will pull together to protect all political minorities and the very ideals of our nation, ideals like freedom from judgment, compassion for all, truth as its own virtue and power to the people, which have long withstood the test of time but face challenges even today.

Yes, LGBT equality is finally in its rightful place among the great principles of humanity. And win or loose, this is the great gay election of 2012. But let's win, as Lady Gaga and Barbra Streisand encourage, by voting for Obama and equality. Go team!