Maine Families Denied Protections in Marriage Vote

by HRC Staff

Voters in WA likely to approve Ref 71 NY-23 rejects extremism.

Washington - Today the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, expressed profound sadness and anger at the passage of Question 1 in Maine. Question 1 was a referendum vetoing the state's law recognizing same-sex marriages. Also in last night's election results, voters in Washington are headed for approval of Referendum 71, an initiative to approve the state's domestic partnership law. And in New York's 23rd Congressional District, voters rejected the anti-gay extremist positions of Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, instead electing Democrat Bill Owens.

"Although we lost our battle in Maine, we will not allow the lies and hate-the foundation on which our opponents built their campaign-to break our spirits. We are on the right side of history and we will continue this fight," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "I am angry. But more importantly, I am determined that with the anger I feel today from this outcome in Maine, we'll rise ever stronger to demand equal treatment under the law and equal respect for our relationships in Maine, California, New Jersey, and every state of the Union.

Maine was poised to become the fifth state in the United States to recognize same-sex marriage in May 2009, after the measure was passed by the state Senate and House of Representatives and signed into law by Governor John Baldacci. The issue was placed on the statewide ballot after opponents to marriage equality submitted sufficient signatures for a people's veto referendum.

"This law did not threaten families rather it was an historic step that strengthened Maine families. For enacting this law, we owe a debt of gratitude to Maine legislators and Governor Baldacci. And for giving their best to protect it at the ballot, we thank the incredibly talented and dedicated staff and volunteers who brought life to the No on 1 campaign."

In the state of Washington, a bill to expand domestic partner benefits was passed in May 2009 and signed into law by Governor Christine Gregoire. The measure was placed on the ballot after opponents collected enough signatures to qualify for a referendum. The law provides state-registered same-sex and senior domestic partners with the same state-level benefits that married couples enjoy. Voters in Washington appear to have approved the new law by passing the initiative.

"Although we are bitterly disappointed at the loss in Maine, we are also able to see what appears to be a silver lining in Washington where the people of that state joined together and have likely voiced a 'yes' for equality. Their votes will ensure that state-registered domestic partners will be fully protected under the law," said Solmonese.

In New York, Democrat Bill Owens was elected to represent the 23rd Congressional District of that state. The race took a dramatic turn when the Republican candidate state assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, a supporter of marriage equality endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign PAC, withdrew from the race in the face of blistering attacks by Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, his backers in the Club for Growth and many within the conservative wing of the Republican Party. The National Organization for Marriage endorsed Hoffman and conducted an independent expenditure campaign on his behalf.

After the withdrawal of Scozzafava, and her subsequent endorsement of Owens, HRC worked to mobilize support for Owens through e-mail and phone calls to its more than 1,000 members and supporters in the 23rd Congressional District.

"The voters in New York's 23rd Congressional District stood up and rejected bigotry," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese."Voters sent a clear signal of who they want to represent them and defeated the extreme positions held by Doug Hoffman.We salute tonight's victory in New York."

The Human Rights Campaign contributed significant resources to these three campaigns, in addition to other targeted races across the country.

MAINE: HRC played a key role in efforts to defeat Question 1:

WASHINGTON: HRC played an important role in the passage of Referendum 71:

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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