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November 6, 2009

 

Two out of three ain’t bad

Wins in Washington and Kalamazoo soothe a likely loss in Maine

Olympia, Wash.--In two out of three LGBT-related issues around the nation in the general election, the pro-gay sides were victorious on November 3.

In Washington, the pro-gay side kept a domestic partner law that conferred most of the state rights of marriage on unmarried, registered couples, beating back a strong challenge by just 2.2 percent of the vote.

The issue has been a contentious one, with anti-gay groups successfully delaying the release of names on the petitions placing the issue on the ballot. They argued that those who had signed the petitions faced threats and recriminations if their names were placed before the public.

In Kalamazoo, Michigan, voters approved adding LGBT people to the city’s antidiscrimination ordinance.

The measure included both sexual orientation and gender identity, adding those terms to the city’s protections for employment, housing and public accommodations. It passed with 7,671 votes, compared to 4,731 against.

“This marks an important victory for Kalamazoo, where voters have affirmed that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are part of the fundamental social fabric of the city, which now joins nearly 20 other cities in Michigan that have enacted nondiscrimination ordinances,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “In affirming fairness, voters also rejected a reprehensible right-wing campaign grounded in lies and fear-mongering.”

Things were not looking so rosy in Maine, however, where the effort to cast a “people’s veto” of the state’s same-sex marriage law appeared to pass by a three percent margin.

The anti-gay campaign to repeal the law, however, was met with challenges before the state’s election commission, where the National Organization for Marriage was accused of violating state financial disclosure laws.

No on 1, the organization fighting to keep the same-sex marriage law, is not conceding defeat, however. At press time, they argued, absentee and early votes had not been counted, and the full results of the towns and villages were not tallied.

In areas not yet reported, there were more than enough registered voters to easily sway the results.

Unlike 31 other states including Ohio where voters have passed constitutional amendments to ban marriage, the Maine vote was only to repeal a law. The legislature is free to pass the measure again.

With only one exception, the gay side has lost every time marriage has been put to a public vote. The exception is Arizona, which defeated a marriage and domestic partnership ban in 2006. Two years later, however, voters there passed a marriage-only version of the ban.

Five other states have full same-sex marriage: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and in January, New Hampshire.

Washington’s “everything-but-marriage” measure joins similar ones in New Jersey, Oregon and California, where marriage was legal for five months last year until a ban amendment was passed.

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