Voters Consider Gay Equal Rights

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(PORTLAND, ME/SAN FRANCISCO) Maine Voters will cast ballots to issue a people’s veto of a law passed in April legalizing gay marriages, or affirm the law making it the fifth state to allow same sex weddings.Maine Vote

The closely watched election has drawn supporters and financial support on both sides of the issue from across the country.

But according to the Associated Press, supporters of Same Sex Marriage have raised more than double what opponents have raised.  The AP reports supporters of Same Sex Marriage have raised about $2.7 million.  Supporters of the ballot measure hoping to defeat Same Sex Marriage have raised about $1.1 million.  The campaign against gay marriage is also in debt by about $400-thousand.

In San Francisco a team of volunteers from Equality California worked the phones encouraging people in Maine to vote to defeat “Question One” on the ballot.

“From what everything I’ve heard it’s neck and neck,” volunteer coordinator Michael Keiser-Nyman said, “All the phone calls that we’re making today will make a difference in terms of getting our supporters to the polls.”

Several local opinion surveys leading up to Election Day showed both sides of the issue within a few percentage points of each other.

Coordinators of the “No on One” campaign say they’re encouraged by the support they’ve seen across the country.  But they say they’re most encouraged by the support they’re seeing from Maine voters.

Mark Sullivan with the “No on One” campaign says they’ve been working hard to build grass roots support leading up to the legislative action in April that passed the bill in the first place.

He says opponents of Gay Marriage have run a formidable campaign if not very original.

“We’re disappointed that they presented a campaign that basically was based on the playbook that was used in California with Proposition 8,” Sullivan said.

Scott Fish, a spokesman for “Stand for Marriage Maine” said they want to protect marriage as a union between one man and one woman.  He says many in his campaign support domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples.

“A Yes On One win in Maine will say that the people of Maine care about the tradition of marriage, that they recognize that there really is no substitute for a mother, father, child relationship, that they recognize that not all families fall into that category, and that those families deserve equal dignity and respect, and with domestic partnerships whether they be gay or straight that if there are inequities in the law lets correct them.”

DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP BENEFITS IN WASHINGTON

Washington Voters will cast their ballots on Referendum 71 which will make domestic partnerships between gay couples and senior couples over 62 legally equivalent to marriages except in name.

Here is how the referendum reads on the Washington Ballot:

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 __

A vote in support of the issue would expand domestic partnership rights in Washington.

According to an October 26th poll conducted by researcher Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, 53% of the people surveyed said they would vote to expand domestic partnership rights.  37% said they would reject the measure.

GAY RIGHTS ORDINANCE IN KALAMAZOO MICHIGAN

Kalamazoo’s city ordinance 1856 granted equal rights protections for gays and lesbians.  Section B of the ordinance also granted protections for religious organizations not to hire gays and lesbians if that goes against their beliefs.

But opponents of the ordinance still managed to collect enough signatures to put city leaders in a tough position.

Instead of rescinding the law, city leaders put it on the ballot for voters to decide.

Low voter turnout on odd numbered election years does not usually bode well for progressive candidates and issues.  So, organizers supporting the equal rights ordinance have been targeting college students who are yet to go on fall break to turn out and vote.

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