Friday, September 19, 2008

What Do Ballot Fights in California, Florida, and Arizona Mean for NC?

As I talk to colleagues in other states I know how fortunate we are here in North Carolina to have kept anti-gay measures off the ballot. This year California faces a ballot measure to end marriage equality in that state, while Florida and Arizona voters will consider adding "preemptive" marriage bans to their constitutions.

While Equality NC has successfully blocked similar efforts in our legislature, these fights in other states have an impact here as well.

Florida has a real chance at defeating the amendment. It takes 60% to amend their consitution and the polls have it too close to call. Wouldn't it send a great signal to have voters in a state like Florida reject bigotry and discrimination?

In 2006 Arizona became the first state to defeat an anti-LGBT constitutional amendment. That year the proposed amendment banned marriage and domestic partnership. Now the right wing has come back and is trying again, but this time they're only going after marriage. Arizona's got a tough fight on their hands, but they've shown before they can do the unexpected.

Finally, California. The vote on California's ballot measure is second only to the presidential race in importance to our community nationally. The largest state, California has long been a legal and social trend-setter, and with Massachusetts, leads the way on the road to marriage equality. Thousands of same-sex couples have married there since June. If California voters pass the proposed amendment banning same-sex marriage, it will set the national freedom to marry movement back a decade or more.

In North Carolina we're justifiably proud of our work to hold back attacks on our families. But our work doesn't happen in a vacuum. We honor the great efforts of our fellow Equality Federation members in these three states to defeat these measures and make their states, and ours, better in the process.

For more information on each of these important campaigns, visit the Equality Federation's ballot measure site.

-Ian Palmquist

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