Taking initiatives.Oregon, Maine, Nebraska, and Nevada all place the question of gay rights before voters
While many gay men and lesbians across the country are debating the impact each presidential candidate could have on policy, voters in four states will be faced with ballot initiatives on November 7 that will have an immediate effect on how gay people can live their lives.
The antigay initiatives in Oregon, Nebraska, and Nevada stem in large part from gay activists' successes in Vermont, where civil unions for same-sex couples were legalized last year. But their impetus also comes from overwhelming passage in March of the Knight initiative, which bans recognition of same-sex marriages in California. "There have been a lot of copycat ballot measures, and the right wing thinks these are a slam dunk," says David Fleischer, director of training for National Gay and Lesbian Task Force The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) is a nonprofit organization that supports grassroots organizing and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights. Founded in 1973, NGLTF works to strengthen the gay and lesbian movement at the state and local levels while in New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of . However, in Maine, voters are being asked to take a proactive step and reinstate a gay civil rights law that was repealed by a citizens' veto in 1998.
Following is a close-up look at campaigns in each of these states.
Activists are expecting a close vote in Nebraska, where a proposal to eliminate recognition of domestic partnership takes the state's Defense of Marriage Amendment Defense of marriage amendment is a term used to describe two different kinds of U.S. state constitutional amendments. The first prevents a state from legalizing same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships, while the second kind bans only same-sex marriage. to a new level. It is the first attempt in the nation, observers say, to ban legal recognition of any relationship--straight, gay, or otherwise--that is less than marriage. "This is a subtle attempt, by using the route of a constitutional amendment, to set in stone a second-class--citizenship category," says Tim Butz of the American Civil Liberties Union's Nebraska chapter.
"There has been tremendous support in the state for this," Butz adds, explaining that a collection of conservative groups, including the Nebraska Family Council, gathered 155,000 signatures in less than two months, nearly 50% more than needed to get the issue on the ballot.
After many negotiations with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine and other nongay groups, gay men and lesbians in Maine expect a victory for Question 6, which seeks to ratify the Bill to Ensure Civil Rights and Prevent Discrimination. "This is a proactive attempt to pass a similar bill to the one that was repealed by the citizens' veto in February 1998," says David Garrity, president of the Maine Lesbian/Gay Political Alliance and cochair of the Campaign to Pass the Referendum Yes on 6. He says the language has been carefully crafted not to confer any special rights or legislative approval upon gay people. It also specifically excludes protections for adults who have sexual relationships with minors.
Foremost, the bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation sexual orientation
The direction of one's sexual interest toward members of the same, opposite, or both sexes, especially a direction seen to be dictated by physiologic rather than sociologic forces. in employment, housing, credit, and public accommodation. The bill "will neither prohibit nor require" domestic-partner benefits or teaching about sexuality or sexual orientation in schools, and it will not establish or require affirmative action affirmative action, in the United States, programs to overcome the effects of past societal discrimination by allocating jobs and resources to members of specific groups, such as minorities and women. for gay people, Garrity says. Also, religious organizations would be exempt from the law, except where those organizations enter into state contracts and receive state or federal funds Federal Funds
Funds deposited to regional Federal Reserve Banks by commercial banks, including funds in excess of reserve requirements.
These non-interest bearing deposits are lent out at the Fed funds rate to other banks unable to meet overnight reserve .
Compared with the 1998 election, for which a minority of voters turned out after a January ice storm to repeal the newly passed gay rights bill, Garrity says the 2000 presidential elections likely will draw many more voters, increasing chances for a win. Furthermore, reaching out for the endorsement of nongay organizations has been a helpful process, "This has been unifying for the gay community and our allies," he says. "And this has the potential to build our community rather than divide it, as some campaigns so easily do."
"No Promo pro·mo
n. pl. pro·mos Informal
A promotional presentation, such as a television spot, radio announcement, or personal appearance. Homo," as some call Oregon's Measure 9, would forbid public schools, including state-subsidized colleges, to "encourage, promote, or sanction" homosexuality or bisexuality, Schools that disobey dis·o·bey
v. dis·o·beyed, dis·o·bey·ing, dis·o·beys
To refuse or fail to follow an order or rule.
To refuse or fail to obey (an order or rule). could have all or part of their state funding cut.
The measure, placed on the ballot through the efforts of Lon Mabon and the Oregon Citizens Alliance The Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA) is a conservative Christian political activist organization, founded by Lon Mabon in the U.S. state of Oregon. It was founded in 1986 as a vehicle to challenge then-Senator Bob Packwood, , is an unexpected attack on public schools, and it has added a new twist to the right-wing strategy. "This is the first time [conservative groups] have turned lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth Transgender youth are children and adolescents who identify as transgender and/or transsexual. Because transgender youth are usually dependent on their parents for care, shelter, financial support, and other needs, and because most doctors are reluctant to provide medical into pawns in their political games," says Jim Anderson Jim Anderson can refer to:
In the past 12 years OCA OCA oculocutaneous albinism. has placed more than three dozen antigay initiatives on Oregon ballots, most of them local, Nearly all the local initiatives passed, but they were later overturned by the state legislature A state legislature may refer to a legislative branch or body of a political subdivision in a federal system.
The following legislatures exist in the following political subdivisions:
Since Measure 9 does not seek to amend the state constitution, as many of Mabon's past statewide measures have, gay groups such as Basic Rights Oregon Basic Rights Oregon is the largest non-profit gay rights organization in the U.S. state of Oregon. Based in Portland, its mission is to "end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Oregon. predict an extremely tight vote. "I believe in the end they will vote it down," says Jaime Balboa, the group's executive director, "But it will be close, and we can't take anything for granted."
Some Nevadans, not content with one law already specifically prohibiting same-sex marriages, have opted to consider a second one: the Protection of Marriage Initiative. Conservative groups gathered three times the number of signatures required to get their proposal, an amendment to the state constitution that defines marriage as "between one man and one woman," on the ballot. "This will codify codify to arrange and label a system of laws. in our state constitution blatant discrimination," says Ben Felix, cochair of Equal Rights Nevada and executive director of A Rainbow Place, a gay community center in Reno, "Besides, this law is already in our statutes, It is not legal for same-sex couples to marry,"
However, amendments to the Nevada state constitution require two referenda, If the measure passes, residents will have to vote again in two years for it to become law, "This will be a long-term fight," Felix says.
RELATED ARTICLE: Another side
OREGON CITIZENS ALLIANCE LEADER LON MABON EXPLAINS HIS SUPPORT FOR ANTIGAY MEASURE 9
Since 1988 Lon Mabon, chairman of the Oregon Citizens Alliance, has been an active advocate for the religious right, sponsoring more than 30 antigay initiatives. The Advocate spoke with Mabon, who rarely talks to the gay press, about Measure 9--an initiative slated for the November ballot that would prohibit encouraging or sanctioning homosexuality in the state's public schools.
Why Measure 9?
We take the position that homosexuality is not an acceptable or normal sexual expression. We don't accept it as normal, and to present it to young children or college students on public school property as something that is, we have the right to say we don't want it.
Why the focus on public schools?
Three reasons. First, this arose from experiences in 1992, when another Measure 9, similar to Colorado Amendment 2, didn't pass [in Oregon]. Some high school students held a mock election A mock election (or pretend election, fake election) is an election organised for educational or transformative purposes. Mock election for educational purposes
Secondary schools organise mock elections to introduce young people to the concept of elections before they , and Measure 9 passed with them. Second, we heard of the organization GLSEN GLSEN Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (New York, New York) [Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network]. They have formed and are more active in the public schools. Third, I felt an obligation to protect kids from diversity training.
Do you think your message encourages hatred of gay people?
This does not have to be a divisive issue. We don't condone meanness or violence in any way. Our only goal is prohibiting homosexuality as valid in terms of right or wrong or prohibiting anything like the creation of the term sexual orientation as a protected class Protected class is a term used in United States anti-discrimination law. The term describes groups of people who are protected from discrimination and harassment. The following characteristics are considered "Protected Classes" and persons cannot be discriminated against based on status for civil rights.
What is your ultimate vision for the gay community in Oregon?
We have no desire of going beyond [passing Measure 9]. I believe in basic tolerance for homosexuals, but I would not promote homosexuality. Like racists, they are wrong in every respect, but I am not going out of my way to make life miserable for them on a personal basis.