If you live in Maine or Washington State, now is the eleventh hour on the ballot questions, which those opposed to equality of treatment under the law hope to use to roll back gains made in equal rights for LGBT people.
Introduced in early 2009, the bill that made same-gender marriages legal in Maine was the subject of an extensive, 12-hour public hearing in April, and was thereafter debated, passed by the legislature and signed into law. There is a provision in the laws of the State of Maine that allows the people to veto legislation passed by the legislature at the next general election — called The People's Veto. It is a one-time shot. Those opposed to Maine having legalized same-gender marriages garnered the requisite number of signatures to place the veto action on the ballot for November 3.
According to the Religious Coalition Against Defamation and the NO on No. 1 Campaign, the Maine election is going to be very close. The simple answer is that those who turn out and vote in the largest numbers will win, as with all election ballots. This election could be decided by as few as a couple dozen votes.
This means that, if you favor full inclusion and equal rights and treatment under the law and you are a registered voter in Maine, you must turn your opinion into action. Vote NO on Question 1, either on November 3, 2009 or, even better, by voting early, that is, by asking for and sending in an absentee ballot.
Information about opportunities to help the effort in Maine to defeat Question 1 are laid out on the NO on 1 website, under the Get Involved tab.
A similar situation faces the voters in Washington State: Washington State has a Domestic Partnership law, in effect since July 2007. The Washington State legislature added 160 more of the responsibilities and rights of marriage to the existing legislation on domestic partnerships in 2008. Again in 2009, the legislature expanded the domestic partnerships legislation to provide, in the end, the same rights, responsibilities, and obligations under state law as marriages.
Though the 2009 expansion was signed into law by the governor, it has not gone into effect because there is an attempt to overturn the law by referendum. Referendum 71 is on the November 2009 ballot, asking the voters to approve or reject the 2009 expansion law passed by the legislature.
For those who are registered voters in Washington State, if you favor full inclusion and equal rights and treatment under the law, you must act by voting to approve Referendum 71. Again, these things all turn on a simple equation: those who turn out to vote on one side or another of an issue in higher numbers prevail. Just that simple. You must not rely on the innate goodness of the people you know, the people around you, or your sense of the people in the state. You must vote and encourage your friends to vote.
For additional information on efforts in Washington State and how you could help, see approvereferendum71.org.
For everyone else, those who are not registered voters, you can help by praying for those engaged in the work to defeat Question 1 in Maine and approve Referendum 71 in Washington State. You can also help by volunteering to work on the campaign in some way, or making donations to their efforts. Opportunities to help the voting efforts are provided on the websites cited.