Marriage Set Back in Maine; WA, Kalamazoo Post Wins.
Last night advocates for LGBT equality were served a mixed bag of results.
Hopes for a historic electoral victory in favor of marriage rights were disappointed when Maine voters approved Question 1 by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent. Voters blocked the bill ending marriage discrimination which legislators and the governor approved in May, dashing, for the moment, the dreams of thousands of couples in the state.
In Washington State, voters upheld comprehensive domestic partner rights and protections for same-sex couples, 52 percent to 48 percent.
In addition, voters delivered another victory in Kalamazoo, Michigan where they affirmed city-approved antidiscrimination protections for LGBT residents in housing, employment and public accommodations by a decisive margin, 62 percent to 38 percent.
Of the Maine setback, Lambda Legal Marriage Project Director Jennifer C. Pizer says, “Just a few days after Halloween, we see how effective our opponents’ trick-or-treat strategy truly was – going state to state, shouting ‘boo’ at voters to scare them into voting away the rights of their gay neighbors. Forcing any minority to endure a barrage of lies and insults, ending with a vote that denies them full citizenship, is cruel – it’s not the government our founders envisioned. Ballot measures driven by prejudice are poison; honesty and equality are the essential cure.”
Pizer and Lambda Legal Executive Director Kevin Cathcart applaud the heroic efforts of the LGBT advocacy groups, volunteers and allies who stood up for equality, including Protect Maine Equality, Washington Families Standing Together and One Kalamazoo.
There have been many important wins for equality this year — including the Iowa Supreme Court’s judgment in favor of marriage equality in a suit led by Lambda Legal, the passage of the federal hate crimes act, passage of marriage equality laws in Vermont and New Hampshire, and the elimination of the twenty-year-old ban on travel to the U.S. by people living with HIV.
Marriage-equality bills may also come before legislators in both New York and New Jersey in late 2009 or early 2010. Washington, DC is also on target to approve a city marriage-equality bill by year’s end and send it to Congress for review. Local leaders hope Congress will not interfere; last summer, it let stand DC’s breakthrough out-of-district marriage-recognition law.
“Let’s ramp up our demands that Congress and the Obama administration finally abolish ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’ eliminate the so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ and enact ENDA to make nondiscrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity the law of the land,” Cathcart says. “All of these are crucial components in our struggle for equal rights.