By JOE HARRIS
In November, voters in four states will be asked to make permanent— more or less—their jurisdictions’ treatment of marriage equality (or reasonable facsimiles thereof). Ballot initiatives in Maryland and Washington will determine whether marriage equality laws signed this year will stay on the books. In Maine, voters will decide once and for all, they presume, whether to allow gay marriage back into the Pine Tree State (where it was already signed into law—and overturned at the ballot box—in 2009). And in Minnesota, a constitutional amendment would enshrine marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
The Maine Event
AUGUSTA, MAINE – In 2009, state lawmakers enacted marriage equality, but it was overturned in the voting booth. Supporters of ballot Question 1 want to reinstate same-sex marriage. Both they and their opponents criticized the wording of the ballot question (“Do you want to allow same-sex couples to marry?”) as being too simplistic. Although Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, has been silent about his position on the issue, in May he criticized the teachers’ union for endorsing it, and later vetoed the union’s pay bill. Polls suggest that most voters (58 percent) support the marriage equality referendum.
Freedom to Marry in the Free State?
ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND – Supporters hope to pass an initiative repealing the state’s Civil Marriage Protection Act, which was enacted earlier this year in support of marriage equality. Survey data shows strong support for same-sex marriage in Maryland.
The Veep, the General, and the Gays
ST PAUL, MINNESOTA – Although gay marriage isn’t legal there, Republican lawmakers and conservative activists support a constitutional amendment to prohibit it from ever rearing its head in the North Star State. The ballot measure asks, “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?” (Republicans want you to answer, “Yes.”)
The question’s opponents include former Vice President Walter Mondale (D-MN), Fortune 500 corporation (and Minnesota-based) General Mills, Thomson Reuters, Target, and U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).
Ever-Pink in the Evergreen State?
OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON- The state’s Referendum 74 would repeal the marriage equality law signed in February by Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Democrat. The referendum question asks voters to approve or reject the law, which “allows same-sex couples to marry, applies marriage laws without regard to gender, and specifies that laws using gender specific terms like husband and wife include same-sex spouses.”
The law also says that “After 2014, existing domestic partnerships are converted to marriages, except for seniors. It preserves the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform or recognize any marriage or accommodate wedding ceremonies. The bill does not affect licensing of religious organizations providing adoption, foster-care, or child placement.”
Major supporters of Washington state marriage equality include Amazon.com, Google, Microsoft, Nike, and Starbucks.