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Sacramento, CA – Today is election day across the nation and members of Equality Action Now, a local volunteer grassroots organization are watching three key areas who’s outcome could impact the struggle of the LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transsexual, Questioning, Intersex) community here in California.
While Tina Reynolds, co-founder of Equality Action Now, and her army of volunteers are preparing for tomorrow’s “One Year Ago” rally and march at the state capitol to call attention to California’s gay community and their own struggle to overturn Prop 8, they will be paying close attention to elections in the states of Maine, Washington, and the city of Kalamazoo Michigan.
The first and most important battleground for supporters of is in the state of Maine. Mainers will be the first in any state with the chance to repeal or uphold a law passed by their state Legislature and signed by their governor, legalizing same-sex marriages. The ballot measure, Question One, results from Maine’s provision for a “people’s veto”, which means any newly passed law can be subject to repeal by voters if enough signatures can be obtained to trigger a referendum. Last minute polls indicate that support of same-sex marriage is squeaking ahead but it is still too close to call.
The state of Washington is a voting mail-in state so while their Referindom 71 has already been decided, the results will not be in until later today. Referindom 71 would expand the rights, responsibilities, and obligations accorded state-registered same-sex and senior domestic partners to be equivalent to those of married spouses, except that a domestic partnership is not a marriage. The bill reads that same-sex couples, or any couple that includes one person age sixty-two or older, may register as a domestic partnership with the state. Registered domestic partnerships are not marriages, and marriage is prohibited except between one man and one woman. This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of registered domestic partners and their families to include all rights, responsibilities, and obligations granted by or imposed by state law on married couples and their families.
Today the citizens of Kalamazoo Mishigan will be voting on the Kalamazoo “Non-Discrimination Ordinance”. The City Commission passed the inclusive non-discrimination ordinance on June 29 after five public forums were held to hear comments about the ordinance. The final ordinance, which simply adjusts current employment and housing/accommodations law to protect gay and transgender people as it currently protects people based on race, gender, and religion, includes revisions proposed during the public forums. If passed, the city ordinance could be a template other cities could adopt in the future.
All three elections may or may not have an impact close to home here in California. In any case gay and civil rights activists across the state have already been actively supporting the three other elections by fundraising, phone banking, and as with the all important Maine vote, sending trained organizers to key cities to lend support on the ground. This is a good indication that activism is growing and many individual organizations, big and small are pooling their resources to support common issues.
Here in Sacramento, Tina Reynolds, fresh from attending the National Equality March in Washington DC is reflective and defiant saying,“November 4 will be the one year anniversary when California’s LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transsexual, Questioning, Intersex) community lost our equality and it will be the day after the vote in Maine, Washington and Kalamazoo. We will stand on our own state capitol steps in solidarity with our brothers and sisters fighting for their civil rights everywhere. We will celebrate with them or join arms and continue to gain strength to fight on a national level with them!”
Whatever the outcome in other states, it is likely that California will continue to be an important battleground for gay rights and same-sex marriage.