The election is over, and there are plenty of reasons to celebrate! Besides the re-election of President Barack Obama and “America’s happy warrior” Vice President Joe Biden, this election saw the legalization of gay marriage in Maine and Maryland, the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado, and more women elected to the Senate than ever before. I hope you spent last night cheering and hugging random strangers in a bar, but even if you didn’t, here are 10 reasons to get really, really, really excited about the election results:
1. President Obama and Vice President Biden were re-elected.
Obama killed it in both the electoral (303 to 206) and popular (50% to 48%) vote, securing four more years of near-universal health care, reproductive rights, student aid, vocal support for marriage equality, and more progressive policies, not to mention the cutest First Family ever. As he promised in his victory speech, “the best is yet to come.”
And how about that speech?
“I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.
I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.”
2. Gay marriage was legalized in at least two states.
Gay marriage was on the ballot in four states, and all four states came through in favor of marriage equality. Gay marriage is now legal in Maine and Maryland, marking the first time in American history that gay marriage has been won via popular vote.
Minnesota voted against adopting a constitutional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Gay marriage was also on the ballot in Washington, and while results aren’t official yet, things look pretty promising.
3. There will now be more women in the Senate than ever before.
Political action committee EMILY’s List pointed out that after yesterday’s election, there will now be more women senators than ever before. Three new women senators were elected, including the amazing Elizabeth Warren, and every Democratic woman incumbent Senator was re-elected. Results are still out for three women challengers, but there will be at least 18 women serving in the Senate in 2013, and possibly more. It’s still nowhere close to half, but it’s definitely progress!
4. The first openly gay senator was elected.
Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin was elected and is now the first openly gay senator in American history. “We never had an openly LGBT member of the U.S. Senate, and even though there are strong pro-equality allies who serve there, it has always been a conversation about a group of people. So this changes everything,” she told the Guardian this week.
5. The first Asian American woman senator was elected.
Democrat Mazie Hirono won Hawaii’s open Senate seat and became a whole bunch of firsts: the first Asian American woman elected to the Senate, the first woman elected to the Senate from Hawaii, the first Japanese immigrant elected to the Senate, and the first Buddhist elected to the Senate.
6. The first disabled congresswoman was elected.
Democrat Tammy Duckworth, a double-amputee Iraq war veteran who is half-Thai and speaks Indonesian, was elected to Congress in Illinois. She is the first disabled congresswoman ever.
7. Most of “Team Rape” lost.
Most of the men from what Stephen Colbert called “Team Rape” – Richard “rape pregnancy is a gift from God” Mourdock, Tom “getting pregnant from rape is just like being pregnant and unmarried” Smith, and Todd “legitimate rape” Akin – lost their races. Only Steve “pregnancy doesn’t happen from statutory rape or incest” King won his race – the Team Rape Republican Iowan was re-elected to the House of Representatives.
8. Marijuana is now legal in two states.
Colorado and Washington voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana, becoming the first two U.S. states to decriminalize recreational marijuana.
9. Florida voted for reproductive rights.
Florida voters rejected an amendment that would have drastically limited access to safe abortion by restricting state funding for abortion (even though abortion isn’t state funded), limiting private insurance coverage of abortion care, and stripping privacy rights from minors seeking abortions.
10. Puerto Rico could become state #51.
A majority of Puerto Ricans voted to become the 51st U.S. state in a non-binding referendum that will require approval from Congress. Time to start rearranging those stars!
Images from yahoo.com, baltimoresun.com, csmonitor.com, policymic.com, slate.com, facebook.com/mazie.hirono, facebook.com/thecolbertreport, nma.tv, swampland.time.com, nymag.com