Maine, Washington and Michigan will have ballots pushing for marriage equality in November’s elections. Both Maine and Washington are hopeful of a same-sex marriage law, while Kalamazoo, Mich. is hopeful for an ordinance prohibiting LGBT discrimination.
Maine should have had its same-sex marriage go into effect Sept. 12, but opponents received enough signatures against the law to force the issue to public voting.
California lost the state’s same-sex marriage law last November after a reversed ruling of the $83 million Proposition 8, with 52 percent against it. The state previously allowed same-sex marriage for five months. Despite the loss in California, additional support in these other states has increased.
“It has sparked a greater public conversation about gay people,” Dan Hawes, a field director with the Washington, D.C. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said to the Associated Press. “While we have lost in previous ballot measures because the margin of loss continues to shrink, it does indicate that there is growing acceptance.”
Matt Barreto, a University of Washington political science professor, also said ballot measures in off-year elections gain more attention no matter the topic or issue. He also said money against this year’s ballots does not come close to what was raised against California.
As of July, Maine opponents had raised $343,000, with $160,000 coming from the National Organization of Marriage. Arizona and Florida also had setbacks with amendments banning same-sex marriage.
The 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act denied federal recognition of gay unions and gay couples having access to federal pensions and health insurance. However, since then, six states have enacted laws or had court rulings permitting same-sex marriage. Thirty states still have voter-approved gay marriage bans in their state constitutions.
States will continue to push and pull against the marriage laws, but November will determine a definite win or loss for Maine, Washington and Kalamazoo, Mich.
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— Kim Brown