Marriage equality IS on the ballot this year

Marriage equality is on the ballot this year

By Cameron Tolle, Freedom to Marry’s Online Organizer

It’s an all too familiar cycle for advocates of LGBT equality: a legislative body or a court acknowledges the obvious (i.e. denying the freedom to marry to gay and lesbian couples is unconstitutional), anti-gay leaders have a fit, gather signatures and suddenly our civil rights are up for a majority vote in the next election.  From California’s Proposition 8 to Maine’s Question 1, defending our rights at the ballot box has long been a (necessary) priority for our community.  


But thankfully, there are no Question 1’s or Prop 8’s in this election cycle.  In fact, for the first time since the 1990’s, there is no statewide ballot measure that seeks to overturn or outlaw the freedom to marry.  Great.  So we’re off the hook, right?


Not at all. Make no mistake—marriage equality IS on the ballot this year, and in several states around the country we have an opportunity to take enormous steps towards ending discrimination against gay and lesbian families.  A recent article by the Associated Press offers insight into how marriage equality is functioning as a pivotal issue in the midterm elections:


“In Minnesota, New Hampshire, California, and New York, gubernatorial campaigns have become battlegrounds for rival states in the debate, with the Democratic candidates supporting same-sex marriage and the Republicans opposed. In Iowa, voters will decide whether to oust three state Supreme Court justices who joined last year’s unanimous decision making the state one of the five where gay marriage is legal.”


This election cycle determines the makeup of state and federal legislative bodies, many of whom will vote on the freedom to marry in the near future.  

When I think about the possibilities for equality that this election presents, I can’t help but think about election night 2009.  


I was standing in a large banquet room at the Holiday Inn in Portland, Maine alongside hundreds of exhausted, impassioned equality supporters.  As Jesse Connolly, the campaign manager for No on 1: Protect Maine Equality stepped up to the podium, we all took a deep breath:


“Hundreds of thousands of Maine voters stood for equality, but in the end, it wasn’t enough.”

As you might expect, the room went silent.  After spending the last days, weeks, and months knocking on doors, making phone calls, and changing hearts and minds of Maine voters, we didn’t get the votes we needed for gay and lesbian families to be treated equally under the law.   


I looked over at Brian and Tom, an amazing couple who had taken the past week off work to volunteer on the campaign together.  I could see the hurt in their eyes.  Brian and Tom had already started planning for their wedding,  believing that there was no possible way a majority of voters in the state they called home would treat their relationship as second class. But like so many gay and lesbian families in Maine, they were now faced with the grave, painful reality of inequality and continued discrimination.  Political divisions shouldn’t have the power to stop Brian and Tom from having the wedding they’ve always wanted.


We can’t endure another loss at the ballot box that prohibits couples like Brian and Tom from enjoying the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of marriage. As supporters of marriage equality, we simply can’t sit this one out.  Do your research and on November 2nd, cast your ballot for equality!