Pending gay rights bills in Congress
are likely to have a difficult – if not impossible – time winning
approval after Republican Scott Brown's win over Democrat Martha
Coakley in the Massachusetts Senate race Tuesday.
Coakley was widely considered a shoo-in
to replace the late Ted Kennedy when she entered the special
While Coakley's pro-gay rights
positions are well known, Brown attempted to cloak his views,
refusing to answer such questions from the mainstream media. Brown
would only say he holds a similar position on gay marriage as
President Obama, who publicly supports civil unions for gay and
Brown, however, did respond to
questions from the anti-gay group Massachusetts Family Institute.
According to a
scorecard released by the group, Brown opposes gay marriage, laws
that would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and
gender identity in the workplace and repeal of the military's ban on
open gay service, also known as “don't ask, don't tell.”
Without the Massachusetts seat, Senate
Democrats have lost their sixty seat filibuster-proof majority.
Republicans are widely expected to block any gay rights legislation
put up for a vote. Several bills, including repeal of “don't ask,
don't tell” and workplace anti-discrimination legislation, already
in play, now face a much steeper incline.
The loss also signals an increasing
influence of gay rights foes in the liberal northeast.
In New Jersey, Maine and New York,
social conservatives have been working overtime to alter the
political landscape in their favor. Opponents of gay marriage
supported New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's win over Democrat Jon
Corzine, who had promised to back a gay marriage bill. The loss
spooked lawmakers in the Senate, who killed the legislation. The
loss came just weeks after senators in New York rejected gay
nuptials, despite the urging of Governor David Paterson. Also in
November, voters in Maine “vetoed” a gay marriage bill approved
by lawmakers in the spring.
But Massachusetts was supposed to be
different. Widely considered the nation's most liberal state, voters
have returned openly gay Representative Barney Frank to Washington
since 1981. And Ted Kennedy, an unabashedly liberal lawmaker,
handily won statewide elections for 46 years.
Opponents of gay marriage also
supported Brown's campaign.
The National Organization for Marriage
(NOM), the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage, placed
thousands of robo-calls to Massachusetts voters urging them to defeat
“radical” Coakley because of her support for gay marriage.
As Massachusetts attorney general,
Coakley has sued the United States government on behalf of gay and
lesbian couples whose Massachusetts marriages are not being
recognized by the federal government. The lawsuit, one of three
wending their way through the federal courts, is expected to reach
the Supreme Court.
Late Tuesday, Obama called Brown to
congratulate him on his “hard-fought” victory over Coakley, White
House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters.