With the Nov. 6 elections fast approaching, there are a number of crucial issues at stake in the minds of American voters, particularly the appointment of the President, whether that may mean the re-election of incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama or the election of his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Voters are sure to have a number of crucial issues in mind when casting their ballots, not the least of which are the economy, jobs, health care, equal pay for women, and foreign policy. While LGBT’s are just as concerned with such issues as heterosexual voters, they’ll have the added dimension of furthering LGBT equality through the votes they’ll cast. By and large, gay voters are backing President Obama as a result of his strong first-term track record of supporting and advancing LGBT rights and of his vocal endorsement of same-sex marriage. In contrast, Romney’s flip-flopping on those two issues – among other overall campaign gaffes – has earned him a place of contempt and dishonor among LGBT voters.
Four states have measures on their Nov. 6 ballots pertaining to their gay constituents, but the repercussions of the eventual outcomes of the votes – either for or against – will be of interest to LGBT equality activists across the country. See below for the states and summaries of their pending general election ballot measures.
Citizen Initiative – Same Sex Marriage
Ballot Measure – Question 1: Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?
If passed, this legislation – which was called for by Maine citizens – would strike down the state’s current prohibition of same-sex marriage in its law books. It would also clear the way for the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Thirdly, same-sex marriages licensed and certified in other states would be legally recognized in Maine. There are some additional tax-related provisions in the measure.
However, ministers would not be mandated to officiate at same-sex marriages if doing so would violate their religious beliefs; likewise, houses of worship would not be required to host such marriages. Passage of the measure would also provide protection for clergy and places of worship against lawsuits, should they refuse to officiate at or host same-sex marriages.
Civil Marriage Protection Act
Ballot Measure – Question 6: Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.
Passage of this legislation by Maryland’s voters would amend current state law therefore allowing gay and lesbian couples to obtain civil marriage licenses. It would not affect existing laws that prohibit various forms of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Similar to the Maine ballot measure, this act would protect clergy, places of worship, and other like entities (including faith-based fraternal organizations) against all forms of legal recourse if they refuse to preside over or host same-sex marriages for religious reasons.
Proposed Amendment 1: Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman
Measure Text: Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?
If Minnesota voters approve this act, it would add an amendment to Article XIII of the state’s constitution defining marriage as being only between one man and one woman.
Referendum 74: Concerning Marriage for Same Sex Couples
Measure Text: The legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239 concerning marriage for same-sex couples, modified domestic-partnership law, and religious freedom, and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill.
This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry, preserve domestic partnerships only for seniors, and preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.
Marriages in Washington are currently legal only if they are between a man and a woman, although the state does maintain a domestic partnership registry. If passed, this measure would grant marriage rights to same-sex couples. All state marriage laws and privileges that currently apply only to male-female marriages would go into effect for same-sex couples who marry. Also, same-sex marriages legally sanctioned in other states would also be recognized in Washington.
Again, clergy and religious institutions would not be required to officiate at same-sex weddings, and state and local governments could not levy penalties or legal claims of any kind against those clergy or faith-based organizations that refuse based on religious reasons.
Same-sex couples’ current registered domestic partnerships would automatically be converted into marriages by the state effective June 30, 2014, unless the couples voluntarily get married or sever their domestic partnerships before then. After June 30, domestic partnerships and related provisions will be reserved only for couples in which one or both partners is at least 62 years old.