Big wins for liberals in US elections

Tuesday’s vote in the US was about much more than the White House and Capitol Hill. Across the country Americans were called on to cast their ballot in a wide range of referendums – and the results indicat the US is far more liberal than many thought.

Maine and Maryland made history by becoming the first two states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote – breaking a losing streak that has seen 30 states vote down such bills.

Gay weddings are already legal in six other states and Washington D.C., but that was down to legislators and the courts rather than the public.

The results follow recent polls showing for the first time the majority of Americans support marriage equality. And in Wisconsin, Democrat Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay woman to be elected to the Senate.

Baldwin’s sexuality barely featured in her campaign and after victory she said she had not run to make history but to make a difference.

Obama secured the majority of the female vote. But more and more women are doing it for themselves with the number of female senators rising to a historic 20 per cent. That is just slightly less than in France which has a similar system.

In another sign of change in the Senate, Tea Party-backed Republican Ted Cruz becomes the first Hispanic to represent Texas.

One name that has been a constant on Capitol Hill for the last half a century is Kennedy – at least until the death of JFK‘s youngest brother, Ted Kennedy in 2009. But the election of Joe Kennedy III – JFK’s great nephew – ends the hiatus.

He goes to the House of Representatives for
Massachusetts 4th District.

It has been an electoral marathon, to say the least. And for those who are finding it all just a bit too much, Washington State and Colorado became the first states to approve the recreational use of cannabis in a referendum.

Marijuana is already allowed for medicinal purposes in other parts of the country.

There is no doubt the 2008 presidential vote was historic – but it looks like quite a few taboos have been broken this time round too.

Milwaukee Tightens Security When Occupy Coalition Visits (w/video)

A group of 50 activists from the Occupy Coalition gathered in downtown Milwaukee recently to hold a protest of unequal distribution of city funds and a conversation with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. They were met with an enhanced police presence but did not get to meet the Mayor The Occupy Coalition includes Occupy the Hood, Occupy Milwaukee, Occupy Riverwest and Decolonize the Barrio. On Monday, February 6, the group met at the intersection of Wells and Wisconsin downtown Milwaukee and marched to the Milwaukee city hall. The group of activists was met by an enhanced police presence that required participants to have their bags searched upon entering the building. About 15 police officers were in and around city hall for the demonstration, a presence that is very unusual. Michael Horne has been a correspondent at Milwaukee Magazine for over two decades. Horne said he commonly goes to city hall to gather information for stories and has never been searched upon entering the public building and was surprised at the police presence for the demonstration. “I have never seen the police arrayed outside of the Milwaukee City Hall in all of my years, by which I mean they have the west entrance blocked off and each of the other two entrances. The police were lined abreast inside the lobby and were similarly arrayed at the elevators and stairs. City Hall is usually a step right up place.” Once inside, activists with the occupy coalition made speeches about the unjust conditions that are occurring in Milwaukee. Activists then demanded to meet with Milwaukee Mayor, Tom Barrett to discuss these issues, such as the distribution of funds in a community block grant program within the city and an audit of where city money is being spent. Police did not allow anyone to go to the Mayor’s office on the second floor. Mayor Barrett’s refusal to meet with the group of activists, or at least a couple of activists representing the whole group, is indicative of whom has more access to the upper levels of power in Milwaukee. Within the past couple of weeks Mayor Barrett was in attendance of several different events attended by his constituents, including a fundraiser for Tammy Baldwin, a Valerie Jarrett (senior adviser and assistant to the president for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Obama administration) event, a Milwaukee Press club event, a Milwaukee County Democrats meeting, a fundraiser for Emmanuel Mamalakis, a county supervisor running for city comptroller. The group was able to come into contact with a couple of city alderman including Willie C. Wade, district 7, and Ashanti Hamilton, district 1. Alderman Wade was resistant to speak with the group, who eventually started yelling “sell out.” Alderman Hamilton was much more cooperative and spent at least 10 minutes speaking with the group, promising to fulfill their request of an outside audit done of city finances. The Occupy coalition plans to continue to hold demonstrations and conversations with residents and elected officials of Milwaukee regarding various aspects of the economic crisis in the 4th poorest city in the United States.