On Election Day, voters in four states — Maine, Minnesota, Maryland, and Washington will go to the polls to vote on marriage equality. There are currently six states (Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York) and the District of Columbia where same-sex couples are allowed to marry. However, the law was changed through legislatures or court decisions. The LGBT community is 0-30 when the issue has come up for referendum, giving the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) a potent talking point when it claims to represent the will of the people. The importance of winning one of these battles cannot be overstated:
Even a single victory “will be a turning point,” said Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, a national group promoting gay rights that has directed $5 million to the four marriage battles.
Reporter Erik Eckholm covered the issue for the New York Times today:
Current polls indicate a solid lead for supporters in Maine and a lesser one in Washington State, while the races in Maryland and Minnesota are about even, with the opponents apparently gaining.
Perhaps the most expensive campaign is in Washington State, where supporters of Referendum 74, to endorse same-sex marriage, have raised nearly $11 million, including $2.5 million from Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, and his wife, Mackenzie, and $600,000 from Bill and Melinda Gates. The opponents have raised $2.4 million, including $1.1 million provided by the National Organization for Marriage. Matt Barreto, a political scientist and pollster at the University of Washington, said that polls showing a 10-point advantage for the proposal may be misleading, because some voters listed as undecided are embarrassed to voice their opposition. But he said that a steady 53 percent of Washington voters express support, and he expects the measure to be approved.
I want to state for the record how much I despise having our rights voted on by the public. It is outrageous and grotesque that people get to vote on my marriage. My views are in line with an excellent NYT editorial in today’s paper:
The freedom to marry is a fundamental right that should not have to be won or defended at the ballot box. In fact, ballot initiatives are a bad way to write or rewrite laws of any kind. Unfortunately, that is the reality of American politics…
The indignity of letting “the people” decide the rights of minorities was underscored by another NYT article today titled, “Alabama Simmers Before Vote On Its Constitution’s Racist Language.” In 2012, the good folks in this southern state are actually going to vote on issues we thought were resolved decades ago. According to the newspaper:
Amendment 4, which Alabamians will vote on next week, would eliminate obsolete but lingering passages from the State Constitution mandating separate schools “for white and colored children.”
Really, folks? In the 21st Century we are still having this discussion? At this rate, gay marriage will be legal in some states in the year 3000. This is why referendums on the rights of minorities are a disgrace that mocks our nation’s values.
In other related marriage news, actor Brad Pitt gave $100,000 to the Human Rights Campaign for the purpose of winning these marriage ballot measures — which ties Pitt for coolest straight dude along with Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and Bezos. (Folks, please feel free to remind us of the many I surely overlooked)
** In the Huffington Post, Scott Wooledge unmasks the phony victim who is appearing in anti-gay marriage ads.
Finally, I’d be curious how our readers think we are going to perform in the states with marriage on the ballot?