For gay voters, a national disappointment (Maine), local triumphs (Steve Kornell)

Chapel Hill, NC, elected its first openly gay mayor, Mark Kleinschmidt  (the third openly gay man to hold mayoral office in North Carolina). City controller Annise Parker won enough votes to qualify for a two-person runoff for mayor of Houston, TX; if she wins, she would be that city's first openly gay mayor. And in Washington state, returns show a lead for a referendum that would grant domestic partnerships the same benefits of marriage.

In Maine, however,  a marriage equality law enacted by the state legislature was repealed by voters.  In a nail-biter of an election night, the vote looked to be split 50/50 for a good part of the evening. But this morning, with close to 90 percent of precincts reporting, the Yes for repeal was at 53%, No at 47%, according to the New York Times. This marked the first time voters had turned back a gay marriage law enacted by legislators; the vote in California last year was in reaction to a court ruling.

It was a mixed bag for gay voters last night. The vote to preserve marriage equality came up short in Maine, but great strides were made in local elections — including St. Petersburg's City Council race.

Steve Kornell, one of the most impressive candidates in any local race this season, won his St. Pete council seat by a surprisingly large margin — 59.46% to 40.54% — over his opponent, Angela Rouson. He is the first openly gay person in the history of the city to be elected to public office. Like Kevin Beckner, the first openly gay Hillsborough County Commissioner, Kornell brought qualities to his candidacy that transcended issues of sexual orientation: strong community involvement, great campaign preparation, specific ideas and a sharp mind. His election, like Beckner's, is a heartening sign of progress — even though St. Pete voters elected a new mayor who, like Rick Baker, refuses to march in gay pride parades. (Bill Foster was making sympathetic noises about domestic partnership benefits toward the end of his campaign, though, so there may be some hope there.)

Kornell was not the only LGBT candidate making history last night.

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