Voters dealt Democrats a harsh blow as they leaned towards the more conservative Republicans in this week’s mid-term elections in the US.
President Obama’s party lost control of the House of Representatives – described as “a serious blow to the LGBT community” – although it retained its majority in the Senate.
The swing makes passing pro-gay legislative reforms more difficult for the President and may well scupper his attempt to repeal the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ ban on gay and lesbian military personnel.
“Even though we will face greater challenges in moving federal legislation forward, nothing will stop us from using every tool to advance LGBT equality at every level,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign – the largest LGBT civil rights organisation in the US.
“Attempts to hold back the tide of the equality movement will surely put anti-LGBT leaders on the wrong side of history,” he said.
Obama, who has blamed the recession for the voter backlash, said on Wednesday that he still hopes to end the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy this year.
“This is an issue, as I said, where you’ve got a sizable portion of the American people squarely behind the notion that folks who are willing to serve on our behalf should be treated fairly and equally,” he said.
There is a short window of opportunity to repeal the law before the end of the year while the Democrats still control both houses of Congress.