It was a case of déja vu. On Election Day last year, on the west coast, California voters approved Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriages, which had been legal since that May. On Election Day this year, on November 3, on the east coast, citizens of Maine voted in favor of Question 1, repealing that state's same-sex marriage law, which state legislators and the governor had approved in May, proving once again that the majority should never get to vote on the rights of the minority.
Maine voters approved, by a vote of 53 percent to 47 percent, a ballot measure reading, "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?" Lambda Legal Marriage Project Director Jennifer C. Pizer declared, "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 had envisioned."
Lambda Legal Executive Director Kevin Cathcart said, "Thousands of passionate volunteers-in Maine and around the country-fought and stood up for equality, and they made us proud. The results were not what we had hoped for: We were handed a terrible disappointment when the Maine electorate voted to approve Question 1. Passage of this referendum blocks thousands of couples in that state from realizing a dream that nearly became reality in May, when their state legislators approved a bill to end discrimination and Governor John Baldacci, realizing that history demanded courage, signed it within the hour."
Cathcart added, "We celebrate Protect Maine Equality for waging the kind of fight that inspired the rest of the country. They knew that the opposition would set up shop in Maine, just as they had in California, with fervor, energy and dollars. Protect Maine Equality and their dozens of partner organizations stepped up and met the opposition strength for strength with prowess, enthusiasm and savvy."
Lambda's leadership, on the other hand, celebrated the good news for the LGBT community that Kalamazoo, Michigan voters had favored, by a vote of 62 percent to 38 percent, ordinance 1856, adding gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender individuals to an existing city measure banning discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations, and that, with two-thirds of the vote counted, Washington State voters had favored, by a vote of 51 percent to 49 percent, Referendum 71, upholding domestic partner rights and protections for same-sex couples.
Cathcart commented, "We congratulate Washington Families Standing Together and the nearly 300 organizations that stood with them ... they appeared to have succeeded in deflecting the opposition's campaign to undo domestic partnership rights in the state of Washington. We hope same-sex couples in Washington will continue to be able to count on many of the same important protections and benefits their heterosexual friends and neighbors enjoy."
He concluded, "The antigay forces around the country only win-temporarily-by exporting their lies and messages of fear from state to state. But the tide of history is turning our way. We will win by keeping our focus, and our energies, trained on the horizon."