UPDATE 11-3-09 10:10AM PST
Maine's Bangor Daily News
Maine's election chief projects 35 percent turnout (Not good enough. Help get out the vote!)
Mainers head to polls to decide same-sex marriage, tax changes
Voters in six states will decide Tuesday on a range of hot-button issues, from same-sex marriage and medical marijuana laws to borrowing funds for open space.New York Times Editorial Standing Up for LGBT Rights
In Maine and Washington state, voters will decide whether to extend marriage rights to gay men and lesbians.
A ballot measure in Maine would repeal a gay-marriage law passed last spring by the state Legislature. If it fails, it will be the first time a state referendum supported gay marriage, says Frank Schubert, a strategist working to pass the measure, known as Question 1.
"Gay marriage has never been approved in a ballot anywhere in the country," Schubert says.
Mark Sullivan, spokesman for NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality, said Question 1 goes against "the right of same-sex couples to get married."
"It's a matter of fairness and equality under the law," he says.
In Washington, Referendum 71, would give same-sex partners and unmarried seniors who live together the same rights as married couples with the caveat "that a domestic partnership is not a marriage."
Political battles this fall in six different parts of the country could have a profound impact on whether the United States will extend the promise of equal rights to those who are not allowed to marry simply because they are the same sex as their partner.
Three jurisdictions — New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia — seem tantalizingly close to securing legislative approval for measures ending the hurtful and unjustifiable exclusion of same-sex couples from civil marriage. But in Maine, Washington State and Kalamazoo, Mich., voters are being asked on Tuesday to strip away vital rights and protections.
The dominant Election Day battleground is Maine. Last fall, forces of the religious right backed a successful ballot measure that overruled California’s top court by banning same-sex marriage. Now those forces are trying for another mean-spirited victory with Maine’s Question 1, which, if approved, would block the legalization of same-sex marriage passed by the State Legislature and signed by Gov. John Baldacci in May. With the outcome likely to be close, a heavy turnout by voters committed to tolerance and justice is crucial.
Washington State has yet to approve same-sex marriage. But it took a positive step last May when Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill that granted gay and lesbian couples the state-provided benefits that married heterosexual couples have, like the right to use sick leave to care for a partner. Voters should affirm this progress by voting yes on Referendum 71.
A third initiative, in Kalamazoo, has the potential to overturn a measure unanimously approved by the City Commission barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations. Fair-minded voters should respond by voting yes to uphold the antidiscrimination law.
Bolstered by out-of-state money and volunteers, both sides jockeyed Monday to boost turnout for Maine's referendum on same-sex marriage - a contest that could give gay-rights activists in the U.S. their first such victory at the ballot box.
The state's voters will decide Tuesday whether to repeal a gay-marriage bill signed into law in May by Democratic Gov. John Baldacci.
The contest is considered too close to call, and both campaigns worked vigorously - with rallies, phone calls, e-mails and ads - to be sure their supporters cast votes in the off-year election.
If voters uphold the law, it will be the first time the electorate in any state has endorsed marital rights for same-sex couples, energizing activists nationwide and deflating a long-standing conservative argument that gay marriage lacks popular support.
Conversely, a repeal - in New England, the corner of the country most receptive to same-sex marriage - would be a jolting setback for the gay-rights movement and mark the first time voters overturned a gay-marriage law enacted by a legislature. When Californians voters rejected gay marriage a year ago, it was in response to a court ruling, not legislation