As the nation goes to the ballot once again, there are three gay rights laws up for public vote. Those laws are: The right to gay marriage in Maine, the right to domestic partnerships in Washington (which also includes heterosexual couples over 62), and an ordinance to ban work-place and housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in Kalamazoo.
Gay Marriage Rights in Maine
Maine’s gay marriage legislation will go before voters as Question 1, after petitioners gathered enough signatures to enact a People’s Veto on the law that Gov. John E. Baldacci signed in May this year.
Question 1 asks voters:
“Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?”
There has been some controversy over whether the question is misleading because voters are required to vote NO to KEEP gay marriage.
Latest predictions suggest no clear favorite either way, however a statistical analysis of recent poll data carried out by FiveThirtyEight writer Nate Silver puts the odds at around 5-2 against a majority vote rejecting gay marriage. However, a November 2 poll put the Yes on 1 side at 51 percent to the gay marriage advocates 47 percent. Gay marriage has yet to be approved by popular vote.
One of the key debates throughout the campaign is the question whether allowing gay marriage in Maine will mean that Maine schools will be forced to teach about gay marriage.
However, Attorney General Janet T. Mills contends the law can not effect what is taught in school:
“No way, José. Allowing same-sex marriage does not require teaching of gay marriage in the schools any more than allowing divorce requires teaching of divorce in the schools, or allowing adoption requires teaching of adoption in schools.”
Marc Mutty of Stand for Marriage Maine disagrees:
“The opinion poses a position that our campaign does not advocate – that [Maine's gay marriage law] affirmatively changes the curricula to require instruction on gay marriage. That is not our position. Our position is that no change to Maine’s curricula is necessary in order for homosexual marriage to be taught in our schools. Further, that homosexual marriage is taught in other states where it has been legalized. When they study the facts, Mainers will see right through Ms. Mills’ opinion for what it is: a shameless political ploy by supporters of homosexual marriage.”
If this is true, why is Mr. Mutty contesting the gay marriage law if he readily accepts that gay marriage can not directly change the curriculum? He adds (his emphasis, not mine):
“We have demonstrated how it could be taught in schools, and that it HAS been taught in other states that have legalized gay marriage.”
By the same token, gay marriage could be “taught” in schools regardless of whether gay marriage stays legal in Maine because it is a reality in Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa and soon to be in New Hampshire. On this point, Mr. Mutty does not seem to have an answer.
Here is Protect Maine Equality’s pro gay marriage ad:
If you live in Maine, click here to see how you can still get involved with the marriage equality fight.
Domestic Partnership Rights in Washington
Referendum 71 will ask voters if they wish to keep the “everything but marriage” domestic partnership law granted when Senate Bill 5688 was signed earlier this year.
Referendum 71 has also been quite controversial, yet, in spite of a Judge saying that, potentially, there could have been tens of thousands of invalid signatures permitted for Referendum 71 to be put on the ballot, the vote was authorized and will go ahead on November 3.
The question voters will be asked is:
This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities, and obligations accorded state-registered same-sex and senior domestic partners to be equivalent to those of married spouses, except that a domestic partnership is not a marriage.
Should this bill be:
Approved ___ Rejected __
So, to allow domestic partnership rights for same-sex couples and seniors, voters must APPROVE the measure.
Predictions suggest another close vote, with a late October poll pointing to a slight lead for the Yes on Referendum 71 side where, of 500 likely voters, 53 percent would vote in favor of the domestic partnership law, while 36 percent would vote to reject the law. Voter turnout still remains a dominant factor on whether this majority becomes reality.
Here’s a hard-hitting ad on why Washington’s domestic partnership law is so important:
Live in Washington? Go to Approve Referendum 71 now and find out how you can still help.
Gay Rights Ordinance in Kalamazoo
In spite of Kalamazoo’s gay rights ordinance (1856) having explicit protections in section B of the legislation, which says that religious institutions would not have to hire a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) person if it goes against their beliefs, the ordinance has been put to the ballot after petitioners secured enough signatures to block the law, leaving lawmakers with two choices – to rescind the law themselves, or allow voters to have their say. They chose the latter.
The ballot question voters will be asked is:
Shall Ordinance No. 1856, adopted by the City Commission June 29, 2009, which amended Chapter 18 of the City Code of Ordinances to generally prohibit discriminatory practices on the basis of an individual’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, height, weight, marital status, physical or mental disability, family status, sexual orientation or gender identity in the provision of housing, public accommodations and employment, take effect?
So, to approve the ordinance and vote for LGBT worker and housing protections, Kalamazoo voters will need to say YES.
If Ordinance 1856 passes, investigations into housing and work-place discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender identity will be referred to the Kalamazoo City Manager’s Office. Penalties for violating the ordinance stand at 500 dollars a day until a resolution to the situation is found.
As is standard with gay rights ordinances, opponents of the measure have begun attacking Kalamazoo’s transgender citizens with claims that, by allowing them to use whichever restroom they identify is correct for their gender identity, Kalamazoo is allowing for men to use women’s restrooms and that this, in turn, will lead to the sexual abuse of women and children.
This is something that campaign group One Kalamazoo refutes.
Polls suggest another close result, but, because of high-profiled endorsements such as a piece in the New York Times, the amount of money that has been raised by gay rights groups, and the fact that classes are in session at the local university, hope remains that, even in the face of tough opposition, Ordinance 1856 may stand a chance of passing.
One Kalamazoo’s ad entitled “Neighbors” talks about how this ordinance speaks to the very heart of what being a Kalamazoo citizen is all about:
One Kalamazoo still needs your help to preserve the LGBT rights ordinace. Click here.
Finally, figures suggest that half of the American voting public do not vote in off year elections. Those that do vote tend to be more conservative. Potentially this could be detrimental to the success of gay rights legislation (perhaps suggesting why gay marriage often looses at the ballot).
However, hopes are that voter turnout will be more evenly split and somewhat higher than in the recent past, especially in the states where gay rights issues are being put before the voters.
Other Voting Day Posts on Care2:
Related Care2 Actions:
Voting Results For:
MAINE- Equality foes have won in Maine, overturning Maine’s gay marriage law by 53% – 47% based on current tallies.
KALAMAZOO – Kalamazoo voters have approved Ordinance 1856 by a vote of 65% (6,463 to 3,527) meaning that it will be illegal to fire someone or discriminate against them on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity.
WASHINGTON – The full count of postal votes has yet to be completed for Washington State, but at this time, it appears that domestic partnerships for LGBTs and senior citizens will stand with a majority of 51%.
Photos used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Theresa Thompson.
*** UPDATE: Results as they currently stand appear at the bottom of this post, after the fold. ***