Let’s be clear: equality under the law is not optional in a democracy—it is the fundamental basis of our way of living. Voters yesterday were asked to support equality or to steal basic rights from their fellow citizens; it is immoral to have a majority vote on minority rights. Yesterday, the movement for equal rights for same-sex partners took one step forward and one step back as results came in for ballot measures in Maine and Washington State.
In Maine yesterday, voters acted to repeal the state legislature’s action in May legalizing same sex marriage. This is the first time that voters have overturned the decision of a state legislature that had previously approved marriage equality. We are saddened that couples in Maine are being denied the right to join together in marriage and that the campaign of misinformation spread by those who oppose marriage rights won the day. However, we applaud the Protect Maine Equality campaign for their groundbreaking work exposing the scare tactics and their hard work for marriage equality.
In Washington, voters approved Referendum 71, upholding a domestic partnership law in the state. Over the past few years, the legislature has passed important bills advancing LGBT rights and the voters have now shown their approval of that work. The campaign was also an opportunity to talk with people about the need for equal benefits and protections for all couples in the state. Congratulations to the Approve Referendum 71 campaign, who worked with a broad coalition of more than 500 organizational partners, including businesses, faith groups, communities of color, labor, seniors groups and more to win this effort.
More and more, Americans are affirming that we have the right to protect our relationships with the people we love and to earn a living without fear of being fired for reasons that have nothing to do with how we do our jobs. In the voting booth yesterday, we won two out of three of these ballot measures. While the movement for equality isn’t always a smooth one, we are making progress for justice and fairness for LGBT people … and indeed for all of us.