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October 10, 2008 10:51 am

Defending Marriage Equality

November 4 will be a day of significance for LGBT people all over the country – not only because of the enormity of the presidential choice.  Four states – California, Connecticut, Florida and Arizona – have questions about marriage equality on the ballot, and their outcome could set the marriage movement either forward or backward.  State and national LGBT organizations, including GLAD, are uniting to support these critical state-level battles.

California

All eyes are on California’s high-profile battle over Proposition 8, which seeks to eliminate the right of gay and lesbian Californians to marry.  Same-sex couples have been marrying on the West Coast since June, when the state’s highest court issued a strong decision making California the second state – after Massachusetts – where marriage equality is the law of the land.

Because California is such an important state – politically, population-wise, and symbolically – anti-gay foes are pulling out all the stops.  Because people around the country stepped up and helped Massachusetts defend marriage equality, and because it’s so important, GLAD is doing its part for California. 

At our Summer Party, we raised $34,000 for Equality for All, thanks to a generous match from Scott Davenport.  GLAD’s Board of Directors voted to contribute an additional $25,000 and we are jointly signing a fundraising letter with the other national LGBT organizations

Polls are showing that this battle is extremely close. But it is winnable if our side can raise enough money to put and keep advertisements on the air.  GLAD is urging everyone to consider making a contribution by visiting http://noonprop8.com/home—and also to make sure all your Californian family and friends are voting the right way in November.

Connecticut

Every twenty years, Connecticut’s ballot includes the question: “Shall there be a Constitutional Convention to amend or revise the Constitution of the state?” 2008 is such a year. The Connecticut’s Supreme Court, issuing a decision October 10 in GLAD’s marriage case, Kerrigan & Mock v. Department of Public Health, has ruled that gay and lesbian couples in the state are entitled to nothing less than full marriage equality. As a result, those urging voters to vote “yes” on a Constitutional Convention are animated in large part by anti-gay forces, because it would give them another chance to thwart marriage equality.  GLAD is playing a key role in a coalition of progressive organizations called Connecticut Vote No, serving on the steering committee, setting strategy, and contributing financially.

We urge everyone, especially Connecticut residents, to visit the website http://www.ctvoteno.org where you can learn about the question, add your name to a list of those who will vote “no” and make a contribution.  We have all worked too hard for marriage equality to let it slip away!

Florida

Florida does not have marriage equality – but it does have an anti-marriage equality question, in the form of a constitutional amendment, on November’s ballot.  Florida, however, is the only state in the country which requires that 60% of those voting approve the amendment in order for it to pass. Pro-equality forces, led by the SayNo2 campaign, are optimistic that they can block the amendment, given sufficient support.

According to Elliot Williams of SayNo2, “Every dollar we raise will go toward buying more media time, which will be the key to victory.”  GLAD encourages our supporters to visit http://www.sayno2.com to learn more about the question and make a contribution.  And don’t forget to urge Florida family and friends – parents, anyone? – to vote no.  To have such a win in a “non-blue” state would make a huge statement – and help our friends in Florida move toward full equality.

Arizona

Proposition 102 represents the second time that voters in Arizona will vote on barring gay people from marrying. The anti-gay measure was defeated in 2006 in part because it appeared that it would also harm straight senior citizens.  That vote gave Arizona the distinction of being the only state in the nation to reject an anti-marriage equality constitutional amendment.

But this time, the target is clear: the proposed amendment to the Arizona Constitution would define marriage as a union solely between a man and a woman, and would prohibit the state from creating or recognizing any legal status for unmarried persons that is similar to that of marriage.

The Arizona Together coalition is fighting the measure.  To find out how to support their campaign, visit http://www.aztogether.org.

If the voters reject all four of these questions, it will build momentum and send an important message on how far the country has moved toward equality.  Please consider supporting any one of these campaigns and please spread the word.

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