Saturday, November 7, 2009

Californians Rebel Against 2010 Marriage Vote

Despite a slight 51% majority of Californians supporting marriage equality while 43% oppose, 60% of them do not want to revisit the issue in 2010 says the Los Angeles Times. Just last year 52% passed Prop 8 while 48% opposed it.

The findings come from a new Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California College of Letters, Arts & Sciences poll of 1,500 registered voters who were interviewed from Oct. 27 through Nov. 3. It was conducted by two nationally prominent polling firms, the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, and the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies.
Views on same-sex marriage were sharply polarized based on political party, with 66% of Democrats thinking it should be legal and 71% of Republicans in opposition. Nonpartisan voters were less enthusiastic than Democrats but still backed it, 59%-34%.

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The survey showed that same-sex marriage continues to reverberate differently along race and generational lines. Just over half of whites backed it, while just under half of African Americans and Latinos did.

All three groups, however, opposed having to vote on it in 2010. (Asians were questioned by the poll and included in the overall sample, but their numbers were statistically too small to isolate.) Young voters continued to be far more supportive of gay marriage rights than their elders.

Among those ages 18-29, 71% said they supported same-sex marriage; among those 65 and older, only 37% favored it. Younger voters were also one of the few groups who backed putting it on the 2010 ballot, which will be dominated by the races for governor and U.S. Senate.
This could raise some red flags for groups like Love Honor Cherish and Equality Network who among others are leading the charge to restore marriage equality to California in 2010 and are actively involved in the statewide organizing group Restore Equality 2010. (They were also the lead organizers behind Wednesday's march in remembrance of Prop 8's passage.)

This Sunday, November 8, they will be holding a town hall meeting to discuss the signature gathering campaign to get language on the 2010 ballot to undo Prop 8.

The Facebook Event Page states:

For activists in: Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Century City, Chinatown, Culver City, Fairfax, Hollywood, Koreatown, Marina del Rey, Malibu, Mid-Wilshire, Pacific Palisades, Playa Vista, Santa Monica, Silverlake, Venice Beach, Westwood, West Hollywood, and West L.A.

√ Learn about Restore Equality 2010 and the movement to repeal Proposition 8

√ Help qualify our marriage equality initiative for the ballot by signing up as a volunteer
or Hub Coordinator

√ Get training on how to properly collect signatures

√ Meet and strategize with fellow activists

Friday, November 6, 2009

EVENT: LAvender Los Angeles Exhibit Reveals the City of Angels' Rich Pre-Stonewall LGBT History

In 1958, eleven years before Stonewall, gay men and drag queens at Cooper’s Do-nut shop in Downtown LA, rioted against abusive police. They threw donuts and took over the street.

Los Angeles has a rich history of LGBT activism and culture, which is often overlooked by those who focus on New York and San Francisco. LAvender Los Angeles aims to change that misperception by telling the story of LA’s LGBT community and the birth of the modern LGBT movement which began in Los Angeles in 1950.

LAvender Los Angeles is a two week exhibit that will run from November 8 - 20 at 114 W. 5th Street near Main Street (MAP), with a fundraising preview on November 7th at 7:00.

In addition to the exhibit itself, LAvender Los Angeles will present several discussions and special events, including discussions on LAPD relations, the Gay Press, LGBT Political Power, and a weekend walking tour. This history exhibit focuses on the history before the Stonewall Riots in NYC in 1969, and highlights how efforts here in Los Angeles led to LGBT empowerment across America.

Roots of Equality (RoE) is producing LAvender Los Angeles after noticing a lack of connection to our past in the post-Prop. 8 generation.

“We are responsible for passing on our history and our culture.” said RoE co-founder Teresa Wang. “This is not something we’re going to learn from our parents and relatives.”

As Los Angeles takes the lead in this most recent wave of the LGBT rights movement, this generation’s leaders can look to our own city’s past. “Los Angeles has just as much importance if not more than any other city in this country’s LGBT history,” explained RoE co-founder Tom De Simone, “we aim to show this city’s LGBT citizens that they have a rich history to be proud of.”

For more information, visit the Roots of Equality website.

The Scary Lesson of Maine - It Has To Be Done

In a great article examining what happened to bring about Maine's passage of Question 1, which threw out the state's new marriage equality law, the Bangor Daily News takes a look at who voted and how the two opposing campaigns convinced their supporters to vote.

The map below delineates the different parts of the state and how they voted on Question 1.

Maine Question Map

Opinions may differ on particular strategies. But the unofficial results show that, as with many other cultural issues, whether Mainers voted for or against same-sex marriage largely depended on where they call home.

Rural Maine voted heavily to overturn Maine’s law allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed.


In the most extreme example, 73 percent of the nearly 27,000 Aroostook County voters who cast ballots voted “yes” on Question 1. Roughly two-thirds of voters in Piscataquis, Somerset and Washington counties also favored repeal.


The opposite was true in many of Maine’s more populated areas.


In Cumberland County, 60 percent of voters opposed the repeal and in Portland, Maine’s largest city, that figure swelled to 73.5 percent. Roughly 54 percent of voters in Bangor and Scarborough cast votes against the repeal of the same-sex marriage law.


Gay marriage also had strong support in college towns, picking up 73 percent of voters in Orono and 63 percent in Brunswick.


One notable exception to the rural-urban divide was in the heavily Roman Catholic and Franco-American neighborhoods of Lewiston and Auburn, where 59 percent and 54 percent of voters, respectively, favored the repeal.


University of Maine political scientist Amy Fried pointed out that those returns were a change from 2005, when Lewiston voted in favor of preserving anti-discrimination laws protecting Maine’s gay and lesbian residents.


Fried was also intrigued by the partisan message — or lack thereof — in the 2009 referenda.


Two anti-tax measures failed while changes to the state’s medical marijuana laws passed — all of which Fried said could suggest a strong turnout among more liberal-minded Mainers. But the defeat of gay marriage could suggest a strong conservative presence at the polls, she said.


“That’s if you want to think of it in those terms, and maybe we shouldn’t in Maine because we are ticket-splitters,” she said.


Coastal counties were typically more evenly divided. The exceptions were Waldo County, where the Yes campaign won 54 percent, and Hancock County, where the No camp won 53 percent.
It is very puzzling that the voters chose to support medical marijuana while at the same time voting against LGBT civil rights.

Ideology, partisanship and religion are usually strong indicators of how someone will vote, and using that formula, many believed we would win in Maine, but the voting results indicate a vast sea of the unknown. You can point out that the populated areas voted in our favor, but that doesn't always happen - Los Angeles County voted in favor of Prop 8. Marriage equality has never won at the ballot, having failed 31 times. We have yet to crack the nut to victory.

The NO on 1 campaign learned a lot from California's Proposition 8, applying the most obvious lessons learned by placing gay and lesbian couples in ads to tell their stories and appeal to voters to support equality for all. They were fast to respond to the opposition (though how effective these responses were is still up to debate), outspent them, and were on the air with ads two weeks before the Yes on 1.

But it wasn't enough.

Another head scratcher is the fact that Maine is one of the most secular states in the country. Though the Catholic Church wields great power in the state, a majority of Mainers don't self-identify as very religious.

According to a report by FollowTheMoney.org, which breaks down the major contributors to both campaigns, the Yes on 1 campaign was mostly funded by the Dioecese of Maine and conservative organizations. Their fast facts:
  • 58 percent of the total raised by Maine's Question 1 opponents in 2009 flowed into the state from donors around the country--the same amount proponents raised in total. Regardless, the proponents prevailed: voters repealed same-sex marriage.
  • Gay-marriage advocates raised money from more than 10,000 donors--12 times more than opponents reported. Question 1 passed despite the numbers imbalance, banning same-sex marriage in Maine.
  • The campaign for Question 1, the successful push to repeal gay marriage in Maine, was funded almost entirely by churches and conservative organizations.
This comes as no surprise, nor should it to Mainers - it was loudly proclaimed that the Catholic Church was largely behind Yes on 1. Yet despite these fast facts, Mainers still sided with the church.

So what does this tell us moving forward? That we cannot rely on the old standards that those who are liberal or secular will vote for LGBT equality. That centuries of society-approved discrimination and slander of the LGBT population is still entrenched in many minds, even those that appear open-minded or self-aware, forcing the hands of voters to choose in favor of their fear and ignorance and vote against us.

Voters are rarely open to hearing a campaign's message during an initiative battle. Most of the time they have made up their minds already (while telling pollsters that they are open-minded and will vote for equality, a "Bradley Effect" of sorts that Nate Silver explains well.) People then dig into their positions and prepare for battle.

However, people are more open to hearing other opinions and positions when there isn't a raging referendum pounding at them. That's why educational campaigns are so important and so different from initiative campaigns. They exist to inform, discuss and portray the LGBT population to those who know nothing about us, while not pushing a message that they must vote for us. In time, voters' fears of what, up to this point for them, is the "unknown" becomes known and less threatening. So when the time for a ballot initiative does roll around, they're more apt to vote in favor of LGBT rights.

This doesn't happen over night. It can take years. Equality Maine has done years of educational work, and we still lost. But only by 5.6%! The margin is narrowing. I believe that margin would have been much greater if it wasn't for their outreach.

Wayne Besen has suggested that maybe a whole new strategy should be considered and not engage in degrading ballot initiatives at all (and another post). And though I agree that these referendums are unconstitutional and that maybe we should simply focus on the courts and legislature, in the meantime, we have initiatives staring us in the face.

Here in California, Courage Campaign, Equality California and Vote For Equality are all doing educational work, laying the foundation for a future initiative. Whether we go to the ballot in 2010 or 2012, we have a lot of work to do, and not a lot of time to do it. Yes on Prop 8 did a lot of damage and a lot of Californians now believe the campaign's lies as if they were gospel. If the pattern holds of failing at the ballot, we may not succeed in time in California with our educational work by either proposed year.

But charge ahead we must.

A lot of the times, we fail to keep ads with out faces on the air, to keep the radio alive with our voices. It's hard to get these messages funded when there's no impending vote, but we have to figure it out. We have to constantly remind the populace that we are here, we aren't going away, and we're deserving of equal rights. And as I've said, voters will be more willing to listen when we're not tossing attack ads back and forth. If they're willing to listen, imagine what we can accomplish!

The old adage of changing hearts and minds by telling our stories still holds true, and that is what an educational campaign is for. We do this by either talking to our neighbors, co-workers, friends and family, or to perfect strangers by knocking on doors during canvasses, or through phone calls at a phone banks. It takes patience, especially if we know a vote isn't coming soon. And it's probably the scariest thing we'll ever have to do - allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, in the face of those who may very well vote against us, or even worse, hate us, talking to each of them . . . one at a time. This can be terrifying in fact. Yet it is key to victory.

No one said the fight for equal rights was going to be easy.

Image of NO on 1 campaign manager Jesse Connolly by Rex Wockner.

VIDEO: Joy Behar, Sandra Bernhard and More Cattily Discuss Carrie Prejean Sex Tape and LGBT Rights

As Andy Towle said, "Deliciously bitchy."

Prop 8 Proponents Attempt to Make CA Attorney General Plaintiff in Federal Case; Extreme Group File to Intervene as Defendants

The official Proposition 8 proponents, who are the defendants in the federal case challenging the initiative, filed a motion to realign California Attorney General Jerry Brown as a plaintiff, even though the Attorney General has been characterized as a "nominal defendant." In their opposition, plaintiffs state:
The Attorney General should remain a defendant in order to preserve this Court's ability to award Plaintiffs the full relief that they seek: an injunction immediately directing the chief legal officer of California - and every state official subject to his supervising authority - to cease enforcing Prop. 8. An injunction against the Attorney General is the most effective means of ensuring that any remedial order issued by this Court is immediately implemented on a statewide basis.
Brown has been very vocal against Proposition 8, having refused to defend it in court challenges against it. Though he hasn't officially announced it, Jerry Brown intends to run for California Governor.

The two motions involving the attorney general:

Opposition by Plaintiffs to Motion to Realign Attorney General, filed 10-28-09

Opposition by California Attorney General to Motion to Realign Attorney General, filed 10-28-09

In other news on the case, Proposition and the Right to Marry reports:

On August 19th, Judge Vaughn Walker denied a motion to intervene in Perry v. Schwarzenneger by the Campaign for California Families (CCF). Represented by Liberty Counsel founder Matthew Staver, CCF opposes not only same-sex marriages, but any legal status for same-sex couples. CCF has a history of contratemps with Yes on 8 - the official Prop. 8 proponents - who are defendant-intervenors in the Perry case. CCF previously sought to intervene in Strauss v. Horton, 46 Cal.4th 364 (2009), but Yes on 8 publicly opposed its intervention. And Yes on 8 opposed CCF's intervention in the Perry case. Their divisions surfaced before the November 2008 election, when CCF opposed Prop. 8 for failing to ban domestic partnerships.

CCF appealed Judge Walker's order on their intervention motion. The Recorder reports on oral arguments in the appeal before a 9th Circuit panel. On The Recorder's account, the panel's judges appeared unsympathetic to Staver's attempt to identify CCF's particular interest as a proposed Perry party. Staver contended "that the official Prop 8 forces weren't adequately litigating the case and had stipulated away far too many facts" about gays and lesbians. As an alleged result, if Prop. 8 were upheld on narrow grounds, Staver claimed that it may easier to show that gays and lesbians are a "suspect class" - that they are a minority deserving heightened constitutional scrutiny when they seek constitutional protections.

The Recorder quotes Howard Nielson Jr. of Cooper & Kirk, co-counsel for the official Prop. 8 proponents in the Perry case. Nielson tried to hedge about what facts proponents had agreed not to contest, including whether sexual orientation is immutable.

(Major H/T to Proposition 8 and the Right to Marry)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wisconsin's Supreme Court Hears Case Challenging State's Marriage Equalty Ban

William McConkey is my hero.

As I reported earlier, he is fighting on behalf of his lesbian daugther Wisconsin's same-sex marriage ban enacted by voters at a referendum in 2006. He claims that the question on the ballot was unconstitutional because it in fact asked two questions, thus making it impossible to determine the will of Wisconsin voters.

The referendum stated, “Shall section 13 of article XIII of the constitution be created to provide that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state and that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state?”

The state's Supreme Court heard the case Tuesday. (Watch the proceedings here)



In other Wisconsin news, the Supreme Court threw out the case by anti-LGBT group Wisconsin Family Action challenging the new domestic partnership law. They claim that it's too close to marriage which violates the same-sex marriage ban. Making matters worse, Wisconsin's attorney general had refused to defend the law.

The court gave no reason for the rejection of the case, signaling to Wisconsin Family Action that they must refile in lower courts and go through proper court procedure. So the fight isn't over.

UPDATE: Department of Justice Argues No Fundamental Right Exists for Federal Gay Marriage Benefits

UPDATE: Brief added at bottom of post. H/T to Proposition 8 and the Right to Marry.

Earlier on Unite the Fight I reported that Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley sued the federal government for discriminating against legally wed, same-sex couples because it did not extend federal marriage benefits upon them.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), under the Obama Administration, has responded with a filing in court claiming the federal government cannot be forced to extend such benefits and cites the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as its reason.

The AP reports:
The Obama administration agrees the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, is discriminatory and wants it repealed, but says it has an obligation to defend laws enacted by Congress while they are on the books and can be reasonably defended.

The law "does not prohibit gay and lesbian couples from marrying, nor does it prohibit the states from acknowledging same-sex marriages," according to the court filing by Assistant Attorney General Tony West.

Massachusetts, the filing continues, is trying to claim individuals have a right to federal benefits based on marital status.

"There is, however, no fundamental right to marriage-based federal benefits," according to the 36-page filing.
DOJ spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler went on to tell the AP that any state "can allow gay and lesbian citizens to marry and can make its own decisions about how to treat married couples when it comes to state benefits."

"Massachusetts is not being denied the right to provide benefits to same-sex couples and, in fact, has enacted a law to provide equal health benefits to same-sex spouses," she said.

Like I and many others have said before, precedent has shown that an administration can choose not to defend a law that it believes to be unconstitutional (Reagan, Bush, Clinton). And since Obama does believe it is unconstitutional, I do not understand why he and his DOJ can say in one breath, "We don't like this law but we're going to defend it."

Let's top this off with quoting America Blog: "...this White House has already refused to enforce laws it didn't like - on immigration and medical marijuana - so don't lecture us about how you had to side with the religious right because of your respect for the rule of law. We simply weren't important enough."

Obama has stepped it up more lately, such as passing hate crimes legislation. I'm grateful. But this is such an affront to what the Supreme Court has already said is a fundamental right.

If he truly believes it's discriminatory, then isn't it hypocritical to defend it?
Brief Defending DOMA in Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. U.S. Dept. Health and Human Services

BREAKING: New York Senate Expected to Vote on Marriage Equality Bill Tuesday


After much speculation on whether or not the New York Senate would finally vote on the state's marriage equality bill, Gov. David Paterson announced that he has called the senate in for a special session Tuesday and has added the bill to the agenda.

From Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle
:
November 5, 2009--“Marriage equality has been an issue Governor Paterson has long championed and we are thrilled he has called the State Senate back to Albany next Tuesday and put the marriage equality bill on the agenda. We now expect that we will get the respectful debate and vote that we’ve been waiting for since June.

There is never a wrong time or inconvenient time to debate human rights legislation because it’s always the right time. As long as a group of New Yorkers are being denied equal rights, addressing issues like marriage equality must always be a priority. Support for providing equal rights to LGBT New Yorkers has always been bipartisan, and we expect that this bill will be no different.

We look forward to hearing our lives and our families debated on the Senate floor next Tuesday. It’s now time that each of the 62 State Senators vote their conscience on this bill that has great implications for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers in all parts of the state.”
Openly gay Senator Tom Duane, sponsor of the bill, has claimed that he has all the votes needed to get it passed. The bill has already been approved by the state Assembly.

ACTION: If you live in New York, call your senator!

We all eagerly wait to see a victory. It could act as a great sage for the wounds inflicted in Maine.

NOM's Maggie Gallagher Shows Up at D.C. Marriage Equality Rally

Uhm, Maggie, did you really think they wouldn't notice that you were there, gloating all the while? At least when we have a rally, we don't shut people out like you do. You're always welcome. But don't say I didn't warn you . . .



Speaking of Maggie - she recently appeared in a public debate facing off with Marriage Equality New York's Board President, Cathy Marino-Thomas at Hofstra University recently. In the debate, she had the gall to say to Cathy:
[Your lesbian relationship] may be better, but it’s not a marriage. It may be better than a marriage. It’s probably better than my marriage, to hear you talk about it. I wouldn’t talk about my marriage in such glowing terms.



Speaking of Maggie's marriage - she actually married outside her Christian religion to a Hindu. I have no problem with that. Actually, I think it's rather cool and shows she may be a little more open-minded than I thought (or she's just a hypocritical oxymoron). But I wonder what the fundamentalists who donate tons of money to her National Organization for Marriage would think of that.

(H/T Mike Tidmus)

Oh, and one other thing. Do you think Maggie while fire Ex-Miss California Carrie Prejean now that the former beauty queen has a sex tape floating around?

Election Aftermath: News Reports, Interviews, Opinions, Rants - Quite a Stir.

I'm a bit behind. Sorry folks. Lots to cover. Here's a roundup of the election aftermath.

Tony Perkins of the staunchly anti-LGBT Family Research Council and Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry appear on AC360 to discuss the defeat in Maine.



Dan Savage counters Yes on 1's claim that they don't hate gays on MSNBC.



New Yorkers held a rally in Union Square on Wednesday night protesting Question 1's success in Maine. Currently, New York's Senate is supposed to vote on the state's marriage equality bill, but whether or not they will vote is still up in the air.



This MSNBC report is causing quite a stir due to the fact that the reporter used the anti-LGBT jargon "traditional marriage." However, the report itself does a good job of showing the consequences of Maine's Question 1. It includes an interview with a lesbian couple.



Contessa Brewer continues her reporting by interviewing Bishop Harry Jackson, the face of the opposition to same-sex marriage in Washington D.C. She asks the pertinent question, "People seem so energized to go out and fight same-sex marriage. why aren't they spending all that energy fighting divorce?" What a lame, hypocritical response.

She also brings up the half million the Catholic Church spent in Maine. Want to see who contributed? Go here.



Lisa Leff and David Crary write "Gay leaders blame TV ads, Obama for loss in Maine" for the AP:
Stunned and angry, national gay rights leaders Wednesday blamed scare-mongering ads - and President Barack Obama's lack of engagement - for a bitter election setback in Maine that could alter the dynamics for both sides in the gay-marriage debate.

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"President Obama missed an opportunity to state his position against these discriminatory attacks with the clarity and moral imperative that would have helped in this close fight," said Evan Wolfson of the national advocacy group Freedom to Marry. "The anti-gay forces are throwing millions of dollars into various unsubtle ads aimed at scaring people, so subtle statements from the White House are not enough."

The White House, asked about the criticism, had no immediate comment.
Go Evan.

My two cents: Obama hasn't been there much to back us up when we need him. Why should we be there for him when he extends his hand to us . . . palm up for cash?


Washington Post, "Gay groups say loss won't alter strategy":
For the gay rights movement, the defeat is another setback to its long-held strategy of building the case for marriage equality state by state. Historically, the tactics have been to target places where conditions seem favorable, and Maine, characterized by its governor as a libertarian state, seemed to fit that criterion.

Still, advocates say the strategy remains effective. They point to Tuesday's balloting in Kalamazoo, Mich., where voters approved an anti-discrimination ordinance that provides gays protections in employment, housing and public accommodations. Another victory appeared to be likely in Washington state, where incomplete returns indicate that a majority of voters have approved the legislature's expansion of domestic partnership rights.

Advocates say there was a partial victory even in Maine, where the vote was closer than it had been in previous campaigns.

"We're hopeful that it's a signal that there is increasing support for gay couples to marry," said Dan Hawes, field director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "Nationally, we're going to continue education efforts to move the needle of public opinion, especially in California."
What do you think? Do you feel that we should keep going down this same road, engaging in a degrading referendum process that allows citizens to vote on each other's civil rights?

Wayne Besen at Truth Wins Out doesn't think so:
It is time we wake up and acknowledge that the GLBT fight for equality is the world’s first “Civil Likes” movement. Each year, a popularity contest is held somewhere on the map and if the locals find us likeable our families are protected. If the natives have a negative view of gay people, we remain second-class citizens.

Given this reality we have to make a major choice.

We can declare the current process a disgusting and humiliating insult to our humanity and opt out of all future referendums. The movement would make the case to the nation why such votes are anathema to American values and in the process educate people about our families and quest for equality. A powerful campaign of continued and sustainable civil disobedience would have to supplement this strategy.

Or, we can continue to participate in degrading referendums. But, if we do so, we have to stop pretending that the majority of the American people understand the U.S. Constitution, much less the notion of equality. Those who vote against GLBT rights simply do not like gay people and their antipathy, often masked by religious bigotry, overrides the idea of equal protection. What our public relations experts will have to figure out ways to make us more likeable [sic] and overcome such objections.
Wayne isn't alone. David Mixner is fed up with the current strategy.
How can we have any dignity, honor or pride in ourselves if we validate this continued process of ballot box terrorism? How can we stand tall next to each other if we explain away another's cowardliness? How can we allow people to dehumanize our relationships and our very integrity if we give people passes to sit out the battle for our very freedom? No longer are political timelines a reason for delay, no longer are incremental approaches acceptable and no longer can the political process expect us to be patient and wait our turn. Our turn came long ago and there will be no more waiting.

--------

New tactics must be embraced and honored. Civil disobedience must now be on the table and it is time for a long discussion about how it is to take place in the community. Perhaps we have to fill the jails, block military bases, sit in Congressional offices, block marriage bureaus, etc in order for them to know that business as usual has stopped. Careful and thoughtful consideration must be given now to this option.

-------

No longer can I stand before you in speeches and rallies urging you to stay the course. The course needs changing and we need to toughen up in the process. Yes, we must continue fighting but this time, instead of responding to their strategy, we must forge our own. Make no mistake about it. The days of acquiesce are over. There is no option except one at this stage and that is full equality now.

Freedom,Liberty,Justice are not mere words. They represent a way of life that is being denied to LGBT Americans every day of our lives.

Enough. No More, Enough

On a related note, read NY Times piece, "Gay Rights Rebuke May Change Approach."

I for one am hopeful about the federal challenge to Proposition 8. For the first time ever in a marriage case, there will be full-on public trial, including witness testimony and cross-examination of those behind these discriminatory initiatives to discover their true motives. (Presiding Judge Walker ordered the Yes on Prop 8 campaign to hand over internal communications in an effort to uncover motivation.)

If the Olson/Boies team can prove that these referendums, particularly Prop 8, are done purely out of animus towards the LGBT population, then the state of California will have no bearing interest and render Prop 8 unconstitutional. This would have a direct, nationwide effect.

(Read David Boies editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Yes: It is a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution.")

It is expected that this case will go all the way to the Supreme Court. But the data discovered in the upcoming January trial will be examined. History in the making.

VIDEO: Los Angeles One Year Prop 8 Anniversary March and Rally. Strategies Against Prop 8 Still Vary.


Last night in Los Angeles, more than 200 hundred of us took to the streets to remember the devastating passage of Proposition 8 one year ago. And after the defeat in Maine, we had even more reason to remind the world that we won't sit back while our rights are being stripped away.

The battle with Prop 8 is far from over. The federal challenge against it is set to go to trial this January. That's right - trial! It will be the first time a marriage case will have a full trial, with expert witnesses, first-hand accounts and an examination into the motivations of those who work against us.

Chad Griffin of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the organization behind the Olson/Boies team fighting Prop 8 in court, said "Our founding fathers did not intend for people's Constitutional rights to be determined by political campaigns. The results in Maine underscore exactly why we are challenging California's same sex marriage ban in federal court. When the Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia, more than 70 percent of Americans disapproved of interracial marriage. The U.S. Constitution guarantees equal rights to every American, and when those rights are violated, it is the role of our courts to protect us, regardless of what the polls say."



On top of the court case, Restore Equality 2010 is working to return marriage equality to California at the ballot next year. They are gearing up for signature gathering and fund-raising.

Their press release states, "Tapping into the anger of Proposition 8 and the loss in Maine, the 'Million for a Million' campaign will include an online fundraising appeal to a network of more than 400,000 grassroots activists, fundraising events in Southern California, Northern California and the Central Valley, and outreach to major donors within the LGBT community in California and throughout the country."

“With a sophisticated online component and with the support we have among the grassroots, I believe we can raise the money necessary to move the campaign for 2010 to the next level,” said Eugene Hedlund, founder of TruthandHope.org, whose organization won awards for its work on the Obama campaign.




Organizations throughout the state have endorsed the “Million for a Million” campaign including: Yes! on Equality; TruthandHope.org; Equality Network; One Struggle, One Fight; Meet in the Middle for Equality; and Restore Equality 2010, whose members include Love Honor Cherish, SAME, Stonewall Democrats, Marriage Equality USA, Latino Equality Alliance and more.

Other groups are focusing on an educational campaign on marriage to lay the foundation for a 2012 ballot initiative. Equality California recently announced that they will be relaunching Let California Ring, an outreach and educational arm of the state's largest LGBT advocacy group.

Courage Campaign, one of the largest progressive netroots organizations in California and on record of being in support of 2010, is currently still conducting in-depth research, while consulting with Obama's Deputy Campaign Manager Steve Hildebrand, to determine the best strategy going forward.



Images by Marta Evry of Venice for Change; slide show by yours truly. (And yes, that's me with Lt. Dan Choi.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

EQCA's Geoff Kors: On Prop 8 Anniversary, A Reason For Hope

Guest blogger Equality California’s executive director Geoff Kors has a long and distinguished record of service to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. At EQCA, Geoff directs EQCA’s legislative efforts which have given LGBT Californians the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation. Under Geoff's leadership, EQCA has passed more LGBT rights legislation than any other organization of its kind in the country. During his tenure, California became the first state in the nation to pass marriage legislation for same-sex couples. Geoff also oversees EQCA's Political Action Committee activities and educational work with the EQCA Institute, including the Let California Ring campaign.

The post below also appears on EQCA's blog, California Ripple Effect.

I’m coming down quickly from the nervous anxiety of another election night where voter initiatives affecting the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were on the ballot. I waited on the edge of my seat last night as the promising numbers for Washington State started rolling in and the good news about the win in Kalamazoo came. Then the news about Maine hit me like a ton of bricks. One year after the sharp disappointment about Prop 8’s passage here in California, voters in Maine denied marriage to loving same-sex couples in their state. The Maine campaign put up an incredible fight, and I feel proud of their work. Still, the loss is painful.

We’ve come a long way in ten years. Just a decade ago in 1999, same-sex couples in California weren’t recognized in any way by the State. The next year, we just barely won passage of the nation’s first statewide recognition of same-sex couples. But under this law, domestic partners had virtually no rights. Since then, we’ve strengthened domestic partnerships several times until they have almost all the state rights that are provided to married couples, we’ve passed marriage bills twice through the legislature, and we’ve won marriage in the courts. Governor Schwarzenegger’s vetoes of both marriage bills were devastating, and Proposition 8’s passage is a constant reminder that there is more work to do. Today, one year after the day Prop 8 passed, as we read the headlines on the loss in Maine, that reality is as strong as ever.

As a movement, we learn from our losses just as we learn from our wins. In 2000, voters passed a marriage ban in California -– the Knight Initiative -– by over 23 percent. In 2004, voters passed anti-marriage measures in more than a dozen states. Our side came closest to a win in Oregon, but even there we lost by 14 percentage points. Then, last year, we closed the gap to just 4 percent here in California. Not a win, but major forward movement. From each of these fights, we have learned that we must be ready to respond to our opposition’s lies and attacks, tell the stories of same-sex couples and their families, have a strong presence on the ground through a field campaign that is to scale for the state, fundraise early and out-raise our opponents, and engage communities of color and faith and other allies as key partners. These are lessons we are already putting to work in California so that we can prevail at the ballot box here in 2012, the best opportunity for a win in the next few years.

Those numbers give me hope. But I’m even more inspired by these numbers:

• Volunteers in California rallied for the rights of same-sex couples more than 3000 miles away. EQCA field organizers and volunteers made over 60,000 calls to Maine. Nine of our field staff and our field director traveled to Maine, with the organizers raising money to help pay for their travel expenses, to work on the ground with the campaign staffers there. Thousands of calls were also made to Washington.

• Contributions rolled in from all over the country early to help Maine win. Equality California and its members gave generously to the Maine campaign.

• More than 8000 Mainers signed up to volunteer with the campaign –- a massive volunteer force for a state of Maine’s size –- a state with about the same population as San Diego.

• People across the nation are already planning to hit the streets. I expect to see numbers in the thousands as we rally to let the world know that we will not be silent as our rights are taken away.

Across the nation, LGBT people have heeded the call to action like never before. The grassroots movement is the strongest it has ever been, and everyday people have realized the amazing impact they make when they get involved.

We can’t –- we won’t –- stop now. We can and will secure the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, in California and across the nation. In California now, we are going door-to-door in neighborhoods where the majority voted yes on Prop 8. We are reaching out through the media and releasing new ads that tell the stories of same-sex couples and their loved ones. We are working in coalition with family organizations, organizations working in communities of color and faith, and other allies, to reach out in communities across the state. Day by day, we are getting closer to the support we will need to restore marriage equality.

As I wait for the final results to come down from Washington State, I’m thinking ahead to future election nights. Not too far in the future, there will be an election night where we are waiting for results from California to hit the news. I know those results will be a cause for celebration. We will restore the freedom to marry in California, and across the country.

Note from UTF: Tonight rallies and marches will take place across California and different parts of the country to remember the passage of Prop 8. Click here for more information.

VIDEO: Amazing New Marriage Equality Ads Launched in New Jersey

Maine who? Christie who?

Last night, New Jersey voted pro-marriage equality governor John Corzine out of the office and replaced him with anti-LGBT Chris Christie.

So what? Garden State Equality (GSE) has launched two new marriage equality ads today. The New Jersey legislature is poised to pass a marriage equality bill that Corzine has promised to sign during his lame duck session, and GSE is prepared.

This first ad features Marsha and Louise, an amazing couple who experienced the failure that is New Jersey's civil unions.



Emilia, a straight widow, laments that same-sex couples can't visit their partners in the hospital, a privilege that she had when her husband was lying ill in the hospital.



Garden State Equality needs your help to keep these ads on the air. The legislature will be voting soon, but after the failure in Maine, they may feel hesitant. It's important that their constituents support the bill, and these ads will state the case.

Donate today.

I'm the Author of My Equality - Not Maine's Question 1

Reporter Karen Ocamb invited me to contribute this piece for her Prop 8: One Year Anniversary series on her blog LGBT POV. I don't write a lot of deeply personal pieces for Unite the Fight, but what happened last night in Maine was personal, and so I respond in kind.

Last Friday I was a nervous wreck. I had asked several friends for input, and though all of them were very helpful, I knew that only I could come up with the best plan. Of course one of my friends, making me even more nervous than I already was, reminded me, “You only get to do this once. It has to be perfect.”

With my friend’s words echoing in my ears, I hastily yet carefully filled the apartment that I share with my boyfriend with lit candles, dusted and washed the dishes, used mouthwash, actually put on a tie and trimmed the jungle beard. When Loch came home from work, I got down on one knee, took out two rings and proposed.

Loch said yes. We cried.

Last night I was a nervous wreck. Again. I was live blogging the election night results, constantly updating Unite the Fight with poll numbers from Maine and Washington, Twittering like a mad man. I felt the same adrenaline rush that I felt Friday night, the same excitement of possible history in the making. I even began picturing a wedding in Maine.

Maine said yes. I cried.

“Yes.” That answer brought tears of joy to me Friday. But last night, it brought tears of sorrow. With 93% of precincts reporting, Mainers voted Yes 52.77% to 47.23% to killing the marriage equality bill passed by their legislature and signed by their Catholic governor.

Last November, Loch and I had been dating for 8 months. During the Summer of Love, the idea of marriage for us was almost a joke - we were still trying to figure which one of us had to fight traffic and drive across town to stay at the other’s apartment for the night. But when Prop 8 passed, we were devastated. Though neither of us knew where our relationship was headed, the idea that a majority of our fellow citizens told us where it couldn’t go hurt us deeply.

So we took to the streets. And I started Unite the Fight.

A year later, marriage is not a joke to us. We’ve arrived. We’re ready. And I wanted to celebrate our engagement with a win in Maine. But there was another reason I so desperately wanted Maine to uphold marriage equality.

I come from a very fundamental, Christian background. My family is so deeply rooted in religion that my parents became missionaries, and at a young age, I was taken all over the world to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I came out to my parents when I was 18. I had to subsequently come out three more times to get past their denial.

Fourteen years later, my parents still struggle with my being gay. They have never once met anyone I have ever dated, nor during that time did they ever ask if I was seeing anyone, carefully picking questions during phone calls to avoid the topic of my personal life. Yet they have always made it clear that they love me despite arguing that my choices are an abomination.

It was a big step just telling them about Loch. Loch was different. He was the one. And I knew that he was going to be a part of my family. But I had to figure out who else consisted of my true family. Were my parents going to be included in that unit? Were they going to participate in that aspect of my life?

It hasn’t been easy. We face our true test this Sunday. For the first time ever, my parents are going to meet someone that I love. And not only that, they’re going to be meeting my husband-to-be.

I wanted so badly for Maine to stand beside Loch and myself when we sit down for dinner with my parents Sunday. I wanted deeply to have a whole state to have our backs when I proudly introduced my fiancĂ© to my parents. Though I don’t require the approval of anyone anywhere to sanctify my relationship with Loch, having a marriage that is not only recognized by a government but by my fellow citizens sends a powerful message not only to a faceless nation but to the very real people who are my parents.

I can’t change what happened in Maine. I can’t change the fact that I won’t have my wedding in the gorgeous Pine Tree State. I can’t change that two years in a row, a slight majority voted away my rights.

But I can continue to take a stand. I can continue to fight for what is right and just and fair. I can continue to struggle to protect my future marriage and the children that I plan to have with Loch.

And though I cry as I write this, and feel defeated, I refuse to let what happened in Maine keep me down.

Tonight, all across the state of California and different parts of the country, rallies and marches are being held to mark the historical blot on our nation’s history that is Proposition 8. We must remember that though Proposition 8 stripped us of our rights as it tore our hearts out, it also woke the sleeping giant that is the LGBT population.

Proposition 8 and Question 1 are just chapters of a beautiful tome that will tell the amazing story of the LGBT Civil Rights Movement.

Today, Kate Kendall of NCLR responded to the passage of Question 1, saying, “We are in a difficult moment. This is a hard day. But we can't lose hope or stop believing in the rightness of our cause. We have the privilege of living in the midst of our own civil rights movement. The cost of that privilege is the same cost it has been in every movement--our humanity and dignity is attacked and undermined and we stand tall, never give up, and never lose faith. Today is a test, and we must be the measure of it.”

We are privileged. Don’t forget that. Stand up tonight. Take to the streets. We’re the authors of our own story. Let’s give this adventure a happy ending.

Image of Loch and me by Marta Evry.

Washington State Close to Passing Inclusive Domestic Partnerships Bill

UPDATE: Reject 71 campaign is hiding from the media and have said of the new domestic partnership law, "We've got to get rid of the cobra before it gets out of the cage."

In Washington state voters decided whether or not to Approve or Reject Referendum 71, which would be an approval or rejection of the state's "everything but marriage" domestic partnership law. For the first time, the state did an all mail-in vote and any ballots post marked with yesterday's date will be counted. So they're still trickling in.

Right now, the tally is 51.03% for approval to 48.98% for rejection.

The Approve Referendum 71 issued the following statement:

Voters affirming domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian families

For Immediate Release - Nov. 3, 2009

Washington may be first state in nation to support domestic partnership by popular vote

SEATTLE - Washington voters today appear to be approving Referendum 71, upholding a state law that provides important legal protections for gays and lesbians and seniors in registered domestic partnerships.

Nearly all of the state's voters now vote by mail and ballots only need to be postmarked by Election Day, not counted by Election Day, so many ballots won't actually be counted until Wednesday or Thursday. In King County, where 'Approve' is winning by a two-to-one margin, fewer than half the ballots have been counted, and the campaign estimates that the ballots that remain to be counted in King County will account for over 30 percent of the votes remaining to be counted statewide.

"Based on the results we saw tonight, we will be making history in moving forward toward full equality for gay and lesbian Washingtonians and their families," said Anne Levinson, Chair of the Approve 71 campaign. "Voters across the state listened to the personal stories of gay and lesbian families, and the challenges they face, and, based on the returns so far, they are sending a resounding message - we want to see all families treated equally under the law."

"We believe the end result of this election will be a win not just for the couples and families, but for all Washingtonians who believe in values of fairness and equality," Levinson continued. "It was profoundly wrong for some to try to eliminate the rights of others."

"We are all harmed when any of us is treated differently under the law. We hope this puts an end to the divisive and mean spirited attacks by extremist groups against gay and lesbian Washingtonians and that we can all work together on the real problems confronting all families - gay and non-gay alike."

The Approve 71 campaign was supported by a broad statewide coalition and received more than 500 endorsements, including faith-based groups and organizations representing communities of color, seniors, education, health care and public safety; clergy of many denominations; labor; large employers such as Microsoft, Google, Starbucks, Boeing; small businesses; civic groups, organizations that care for families, immigrant populations and children, who all took a stand in support of their friends, neighbors and co-workers.

"This was one of the shortest statewide ballot campaigns in Washington. We had only weeks between certification and the first ballots going out. If these trends continue, this will be only the sixth referendum approved in the history of our state," said Josh Friedes, Approve 71 Campaign Manager. "To have these kinds of numbers in an off-year election where those who vote tend to be older and more conservative is a real testament to the broad support for Washington's gay and lesbian families."

Friedes and Levinson both noted that because of Referendum 71 - which Protect Marriage Washington, the Family Policy Institute, the National Organization for Marriage and others fought to force on the ballot -Washingtonians now have a greater understanding of the challenges faced by gay and lesbian families and the legal protections they lacked.

"Were it not for the referendum, the law would have just quietly gone into effect in July. By forcing the referendum, those groups have likely done quite a lot to advance the cause of full equality for lesbian and gay families in Washington state," Levinson said.

Marriage Equality Heartbreakingly Defeated in Maine

The promise of Maine was a strong one, but in the end it wasn't strong enough to overcome the fear and lies championed by the opposition. With 93% of precincts reporting, marriage equality was defeated for the 31st time at the ballot box 52.77% to 47.23%, roughly the same numbers as Prop 8.

"Tonight, hundreds of thousands of Maine voters stood for equality, but in the end, it wasn't enough," said Jesse Connolly, NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality's campaign manager in a concession statement.

"I am proud of the thousands of Mainers who knocked on doors, made phone calls and talked to their family, friends and neighbors about the basic premise of treating all Maine families equally.

"And I'm proud of this campaign because the stories we told and the images we shared were of real Mainers -- parents who stood up for their children, and couples who simply wanted to marry the person they love.

"We're in this for the long haul. For next week, and next month, and next year-- until all Maine families are treated equally. Because in the end, this has always been about love and family and that will always be something worth fighting for."

Those images of real Mainers was the hallmark of the NO on 1 campaign. Unlike the opposition who either used out-of-staters or actors in their ads, the NO on 1 campaign used real residents with real stories to tell, explaining why marriage equality was so important to them.

At times it was questioned whether or not the campaign should bite back equally hard against the opposition's lies and attack ads, but Jesse Connolly and staff studied hard the failure of California's No on Prop 8 campaign which didn't use gay people in their ads and took forever to respond to the opposition's claims. Jesse and team adjusted that rule book and adapted it to Maine.

The Pine Tree State proudly boasts a strong libertarian population and attack ads don't sit well with them. The strategy was to rise above the fray of lies such as "homosexual marriage in schools" and stick to the "All Families Are Equal" and the "Live and Let Live" mantra Maine holds dear. They responded fast and quick, had a very impressive field campaign, creatively utilized the internet and the netroots (which I am proud to say I was a part of) and had over 8,000 volunteers.

But in the end, it wasn't enough.

This time.

Unlike California, whose voters amended the state constitution banning same-sex marriage, Mainers only threw out a law passed by its legislature and signed by the governor granting marriage rights to Pine Tree State's LGBT population.

Marriage equality in Maine will probably take a similar path that Maine's anti-discrimination bill took - it was passed three times by the state's legislature, was defeated twice by a people's veto whose campaigns were rain by fierce anti-LGBT forces, and it wasn't until the third time voters upheld the law. The video below gives a moving history of LGBT rights in Maine, including the defeats and wonderful victories.



A new marriage equality bill will likely appear before Maine's legislature and pro-marriage equality governor, John Baldacci, soon.

This is just a chapter in a long narrative, not just for Maine, but for the nation. In one year's time since the historical passage of Prop 8, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont all passed marriage equality either through the court or in the legislature. Currently, Washington D.C., New York and New Jersey are on the cusp of passing marriage equality legislation.

The tide is turning. One defeat does not mark the end. We dust ourselves off, learn from what worked and what didn't, and charge ahead.

Images by Rex Wockner.

Read responses:
GLAD
HRC
David Mixner, "Gay Apartheid in America"
LezGetReal (Boycott Lobster?)
Blabbeando
Nate Silver
Daily Kos, Eddie

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

UPDATE: Maine No on 1 Behind / Looks Good For Washington/VICTORY IN KALAMAZOO!! / Bookmark and Track This Post For All Referendum Updates

Image: from New York Times

I'm done live blogging for the night. It is now 9:28pm PST. I will update everything one last time.

Though I am overjoyed about Kalamazoo and the hopeful victory in Washington, I can't dismiss the fact that I'm very depressed about Maine.

Those hateful numbers as of right now - 52%/48% against us. Same as Prop 8. It's like it's being rubbed in our faces.

I want to marry my fiance. I will not give up. And neither will the NO on 1 campaign. They have not conceded.

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VICTORY IN KALAMAZOO (SEE BOTTOM OF POST)!

MAINE (Update 9:28pm PST)


Yes: 248,965 votes/52.4%
No: 226,239 votes/47.69%

82% of precincts reporting

These numbers are looking oddly familiar. Prop 8 deja vu anyone? :(

* Adam Bink, "Based on what we have and what other news outlets are reporting, now over 60% of precincts are in, including a lot of more rural places, and it's looking like 51-49% against us."

Ugh.

*Results pulled from NYTimes as BDN is stalling.

*Results are expected to start coming in at 8pm EST/5pm PST. Bangor Daily News is known for the best tracking of the polls. (This will stay at the top)

* Adam Bink, "Final % in from the city of Portland itself, largest city in the state and a heavy base vote area- No 71%, Yes 29%, without absentees."

* Adam Bink reports,"I just took a look at all the final numbers in from every Portland precinct. Portland is the largest city in the state. We're winning each precinct by a touchdown or two. Portland is the uber-base of base precincts in the state, and we needed to do huge there, and we have."

*Adam Bink reports, "In Portland 5-2 precinct, our worst place in the city, the numbers are approx 1,400 No, 1,100 Yes. Very, very good."

* Adam Bink reports voters are still in lines at the polls.

*Nate Silver gives NO on 1 a 71% chance.

*Campaign manager Jesse Connolly will be doing an interview at 9:15pm EST/6:15pm PST tonight live on Rachel Maddow from the NO on 1 election night party. Governor Baldacci goes on in the 11 hour.

*NO on 1 will broadcast live their election night event on their website.

Live streaming video by Ustream


The program:
9 pm- Maine Coalition
MC- Betsy Smith, Executive Director of EqualityMaine

Mary Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director, GLAD
Shenna Bellows, Executive Director, MCLU
Myke Johnson, Anne Underwood or Marvin Ellison, Religious Coalition

9:30 pm- Elected Officials
MC: Jesse Connolly, Campaign Manager of No On 1/ Protect Maine Equality

Governor John Baldacci
U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree
Maine Senate President Libby Mitchell
Maine Speaker Hannah Pingree

10 pm- National Partners
MC: Pat Peard, No On 1/Protect Maine Equality, Executive Committee Member

Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Joe Solmonese, President, Human Rights Campaign
Robin Brand, Senior Consultant, Gill Acti)on

10:30pm- Maine Families
MC: Darlene Huntress, GOTV Direstoc, No On 1/Protect Maine Equality

Ray Dumont of Portland reads his Mom's (Yolande Dumont) letter
Bill Whitten, Yarmouth
Terry Guerette or Tamiko Davies, Portland
Jim Bishop or Steve Ryan, Bar Mills



WASHINGTON (UPDATE 9:28PM PST)

Approve: 506,93 votes / 51.1%
Reject: 484,567 votes / 48.9%

50% reporting

* Results will begin posting here at 8pm PST. This is a mail-in vote. Final results won't be posted tonight. (See statement by Approve 71 below)

*Nate Silver gives 10-1 odds against Reject Referendum 71!

*Watch Approve 71's election night event in Seattle live at 8pm PST!

Broadcasting Live with Ustream.TV

*From Approve 71 campaign:

The Approve Referendum 71 campaign wants to remind you that Washington state is now an all vote- by-mail state (with the exception of a small number of voters in one of 39 of Washington’s counties). Unlike some vote by mail states where ballots must be received by Election Day, in Washington state ballots only have to be postmarked no later than Election Day (or dropped in an official ballot drop off boxes by 8:00 pm), meaning ballots are often arriving as late as a week after Election Day. We are sharing this information now because we recognize our system of voting in Washington state is unique and some may draw inaccurate conclusions based on the early returns on Election Night. Close results should not be seen as strength by the opposition or indicative of final results.

Read more information about Washington's vote process.

KALAMAZOO


ONE KALAMAZOO DECLARES VICTORY IN BALLOT FIGHT
Kalamazoo residents approve nondiscrimination ordinance

“Our campaign started with a very basic idea, and today voters confirmed that we are One Kalamazoo,” said Campaign Manager, Jon Hoadley.

With only absentee ballots outstanding, 65 percent of Kalamazoo voters have approved Ordinance 1856 by a vote of 6,463 to 3,527, adding protections for gay and transgender people to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. This margin is larger than the number of outstanding absentee ballots that are currently being counted.

“I am elated with the outcome of the election,” says Yes on Ordinance 1856/One Kalamazoo Steering Committee member and local resident Janice Brown. “This vote reinforces what our campaign set out to prove – that our fellow residents of Kalamazoo share the belief that all people should be treated fairly and equally, including gay and transgender people.”

The outcome of today’s vote confirmed that all hardworking people in Kalamazoo should have the chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families without fear of being fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance.

“Kalamazoo is a great place to live and the passage of Ordinance 1856 makes the city an even better place,” says local resident Rev. Matt Laney, Pastor of the First Congregational Church. “I am proud to live in a city that recognizes that all people deserve fairness and respect.”

The Yes on 1856/ One Kalamazoo campaign in support of the nondiscrimination ordinance involved hundreds of local volunteers and contributors, and had the endorsement of over 30 local religious, social, business, and political organization. The campaign would like to thank the Kalamazoo community for asserting their belief in the inherent equality of all Kalamazoo residents, and the countless volunteers for their hard work and dedication in recent months – and in some case, years – to ensure the passage of the ordinance.

*Polls close for Kalmazoo, MI at 8pm CST/6pm PST. (This will stay at the top)