same sex marriage

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Washington domestic partnership law passing; Maine same-sex marriage law losing

rita_hibbardwebIt may be that if you call the union "marriage," it loses at the ballot box. Washington voters are appearing to approve a domestic partnership law that gives same-sex couples all the benefits of marriage without the label, while Maine voters are turning down a gay marriage law.

The Washington domestic partnership ballot measure was leading narrowly statewide as ballots were counted Tuesday night, the Seattle Times reports, and leading strongly in King County returns. The measure, a referendum on a law passed earlier this year by the Legislature, was doing well in the metropolitan Puget Sound area, and being rejected in the more rural areas of eastern Washington.

The Maine vote is widely considered a stinging defeat to gay marriage advocates, especially because it occurred in New England, which has been more receptive to other areas of the country to same-sex unions. It follows on the heels of a similar pattern in California, where voters overturned a gay marriage law at the ballot box last year.

The New York Times reports:

"With the repeal of the same-sex marriage law, Maine became the 31st state to reject same-sex marriage at the ballot box. Five other states — Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont — have legalized same-sex marriage, but only through court rulings and legislative action.

-- Rita Hibbard

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Oregon gay rights activists launch drive to legalize same-sex marriage

rita_hibbardwebAs Washington voters cast ballots in Tuesday's election on whether the state should preserve a same-sex domestic partnership law passed by the Legislature this year, Oregon gay rights activists today launched a campaign to make gay marriage legal in Oregon.

Basic Rights Oregon, the state’s largest gay rights group, intends to get an initiative on the ballot by 2012 that will ask voters to lift the constitutional ban on gay marriage passed by voters in 2004, The Oregonian reports.

The goal is "to allow same-sex couples to legally marry in this state," said Jeana Frazzini,  executive director of  Basic Rights Oregon "There is no substitute for the respect and dignity that comes with marriage."

But Basic Rights can expect fierce resistance from the Oregon Family Council, the church-backed group that successfully ran the Measure 36 campaign in 2004 to ban same-sex marriage in the state constitution, said Tim Nashif, the council's political director.

"We're going to fight it, and we'll fight it just as hard now as we did in 2004," he said. "I don't think Oregonians are going to overturn Measure 36," which defines marriage as a bond between only a man and a woman.

Oregon gay rights activists will be watching their neighbors in Washington, where voters are being asked to uphold the domestic partnership law passed by the Legislature this year by approving Referendum 71.

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'Gay studies' in the schools used to 'swift boat' the same-sex partnership and marriage debates in Washington and Maine

rita_hibbardwebWashington state isn’t the only state with a gay marriage or partnership issue on the ballot. In Maine, voters are deciding whether to repeal the state’s new same-sex marriage law. Supporters of the new law are hoping that gay couples there don’t lose the right to marry just six months after they gained it, just like they did in California last year.

As in Maine, voters in Washington are being asked whether they want to keep a new law on the books. The Washington law establishes a gay domestic partnership, the so-called “everything but marriage” law.

In Washington, the fight is getting down and dirty, and opponents of the gay domestic partnership law are now warning that if Ref. 71 is approved, it will lead to gay studies in public schools, KUOW reporter Austin Jenkins reports.

The Reject 71 campaign says the new law will allow public schools “to teach that gay marriage is normal and healthy whether parents approve or not."

But Rep. Jamie Pederson, a gay lawmaker who sponsored the domestic partnership bill in the House, says there is no language in the bill about schools. What gets taught in the classroom is up to local schoolboards, says Pedersen, who has four children with his partner.