LGBT Ballot Measures

While Election Day proved to be a happy one for advocates of reproductive justice, it also brought devastating defeats for the LGBT community and their allies. Four states, California, Florida, Arizona, and Arkansas, had measures on the ballot limiting the rights of LGBT citizens, and every single one of them passed.

California’s Proposition 8 asked voters whether they supported limiting marriage to one man and one woman, overturning a California Supreme Court ruling in May 2008 giving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. Voters supported the measure, 52% to 48%.

In Florida, by a margin of 62% to 38%, voters approved a measure defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Voters in Arizona elected to ban gay marriage in their state. In 2006, voters rejected a similar ballot initiative, becoming the first state in the nation to reject a ban on gay marriage. This year, however, they voted for it, 56%-44%.

Arkansas’ ballot initiative dealt with adoption. The majority of the electorate – 57% – supported prohibiting “unmarried sexual partners” from adopting children or serving as foster parents. This measure will apply to unmarried heterosexual couples as well as homosexual couples and may even affect single people wishing to adopt or foster children.

The success of these measures speaks to the work we have to do to attain full rights for LGBT citizens. The New York Times had a great editorial about the measures, which you can read here. An excerpt:

We do not view these results as reason for despair. Struggles over civil rights never follow a straight trajectory, and the ugly outcome of these ballot fights should not obscure the building momentum for full equality for gay people, including acceptance of marriage between gay men and women. But the votes remind us of how much remains to be done before this bigotry is finally erased.


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