One Big Disappointment, Lots of Victories

I’m not going to try to spin it: Our loss in Maine yesterday, where voters rejected a law that would have given same-sex couples the right to marry, was deeply disappointing and discouraging. All of us here at the LGBT Project started yesterday hopeful and were further encouraged by reports that turnout was well above what was expected. But as the early returns showing No on 1 with a slight lead turned into a 30,000 vote lead for the Yes side, I had to concede that we’d lost (though I did keep hitting refresh on the Bangor Daily News results page until the wee hours of morning).

Now I’m here, dejected, eating consolation donuts provided to us by our friends in the Reproductive Freedom Project and wondering when and where we will finally get that first victory for marriage at the ballot box. But part of me can’t help but be excited about the many victories we had yesterday, in races big and small, that prove we’re making progress toward LGBT equality.

Washington

Approval of Washington’s Referendum 71 is NOT a done deal (don’t believe everything you read on the Internet), but with over a million votes counted, our side does have a 20,000 vote lead. The state estimates that it has almost 400,000 ballots still left to count. Add to that any ballots postmarked yesterday but still in the mail, which will also be included in the final tally. The bulk of the ballots uncounted are coming from the more liberal counties, so we’re hopeful that R-71 will be approved, which will give Washington’s domestic partners the tangible rights given to married couples there, although still not the status and respect that comes with marriage.

Kalamazoo

In spite of transphobic fear mongering from opponents of equality, Kalamazoo’s anti-discrimination ordinance was retained by the voters in a landslide, with 62 percent in favor. In addition, all six city commissioners who voted for the ordinance were re-elected (the seventh did not run for re-election). This victory, in concert with last year’s victory in Gainesville, Florida, is repudiating the anti-trans scare tactics used by our foes. Voters see through these misleading messages and vote against discrimination anyway.

Municipal Elections

There were some major victories for LGBT candidates in municipal elections last night. Annise Parker, an openly lesbian candidate, came in first in the race for mayor of Houston, the country’s fourth largest city. She and the second place finisher will advance to a run-off. In a squeaker, it appears that Mark Kleinschmidt, an openly gay man, has been elected mayor of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Detroit, St. Petersburg, Akron, Maplewood, Minnesota, and SALT LAKE CITY all elected their first openly gay or lesbian city council members.

Think about that last one for a minute. Salt Lake City, home of the headquarters of the Mormon Church, elected their first openly gay city council member. If that’s not a sign of progress, I’m not sure what is.

Maine

In Maine, despite amazing efforts by the No on 1 campaign and a host of coalition partners (including us!), we lost. Ballots outstanding and a potential recount could tighten the margin of defeat, but will not change the outcome. Rumors of low voter turnout in Portland and the youth vote not materializing abound, but the truth is that no one knows what happened yet, and we won’t for at least several days.

What we do know is that this is just round one. For those who don’t know the history, Maine voters also rejected an LGBT nondiscrimination law twice at the ballot box before passing it in 2005. In that multiyear effort, Maine leaders stayed committed to the values of equality and fairness, working and reaching out until the voters got it and agreed. That will happen again in Maine. Opponents of marriage equality may be victorious today, but they should know we haven’t given up. We will be back.

Even with lots of victories, a defeat is a defeat. Take today to lick your wounds. I know I’m going to. But don’t take too long, because tomorrow there’s a Senate hearing on ENDA (more on that in a post later today) and we all need to be back in the game for that one. There’s just too much going on to spend a lot of time on the sidelines. Every face-off, even the ones we lose, gets us closer to equality. We will get there. You can count on it.

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Anonymous

I am so infuririated by this Maine vote...how can something so illegal, so unconstitutional be allowed to pass? Is there any active legislation proposing ending tax exempt status of ALL churches & organized religous groups that use the wealth generated off the public dole to support denying members of that same public their CIVIL rights?

Michele

Does the ACLU have a test case yet? Like Loving v. Virginia? This is an Equal Protection issue that needs to get to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Anonymous

Very, very upsetting. I can't believe things like this are still going on. The religious right, no doubt, seems to always be screwing things up royally when it comes to personal freedoms. I bet it's their fault, them and all their "One Man, One Woman, One Way" picket signs and "god says it's wrong" undertones.

O' how religion poisons everything...

Straight Man

God created the institution of marriage. Gay's lesbians, etc need to get over the issue and use your energies to combat homelessness, etc. One question I ponder is why do you label people "far right" when they do not agree with your perverted views". Will this be response be posted...just how open are you.

Straight Man

God created the institution of marriage. Gay's lesbians, etc need to get over the issue and use your energies to combat homelessness, etc. One question I ponder is why do you label people "far right" when they do not agree with your perverted views. Another thing I detest is your use of the word "gay" which used to mean happiness. Will this be response be posted...just how open are you?

Anonymous

God didn't create the institution of marriage. People did. I'm a happily married gay man. Yeah, you heard me. Happily married gay man, suggesting that you "get over" your conception of marriage as reserved only for heterosexuals. The sky hasn't fallen since I and legions of other gay and lesbian people have been married. Quite the opposite. We're extolling the virtues of a great institution that gay and lesbian people should be able to fully participate in. It's going to happen. Get over it, straight man.

Rev. Jonathon E...

Have no doubt that the will of the majority on this one is dead wrong and it will, eventually, be overturned by the institution designed to prevent this very thing: the judiciary. The fundies can howl at the moon when that day comes - like they do, to no avail, on Roe v. Wade and (in hushed tones when no one is watching) Brown v. Board of Education - but gay marriage will be legal in all 50 states by the end of the next decade.

Anonymous

The religious right and all those who follow their archaic cult following must be made to follow the constitutional rights of the citizens.
Their continued interpolation of the scriptures will only destroy the little faith remaining of a faith which created this nation.
The separation of church and state should be respected.
Today there seems to be more sincerity between two of the same gender in unity than what was once known as traditional.

Angry Mainer

I am disgusted by our vote. Although I have hope that we can turn it back around.

On the down side, we in Maine need your help. This is on next years ballot...

TITLE: An Act to Remove Protections Based on Sexual Orientation from the Maine Human Rights Act, Eliminate Funding of Civil Rights Teams in Public Schools, Prohibit Adoptions by Unmarried Couples, Add a Definition of Marriage, and Declare Civil Unions Unlawful

Anonymous

The Maine vote was a major victory for those who want to preserve the institution of marriage in this nation. The perverts lost this one, they need to get over it. The pioneers of the civil rights movement, I.E. Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, James Dobson, ect. are pleased with the situation in Maine.

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