Gay rights in
Maine and Texas reached a critical crossroads on Tuesday as
residents in each state headed to the voting booth.
Texans are deciding whether to pass an amendment
to their state constitution that will define marriage
as the union of one man and one woman. That
proposal is in addition to the state's 2003 Defense of
Marriage Act, which already bans same-sex marriage or civil
unions—even those recognized in other states.
In Maine gay rights groups are hopeful that they
will defeat a proposal brought by conservatives
to repeal a law that recently expanded the Maine
Human Rights Act to ban discrimination based on
sexual orientation in employment, housing, credit, public
accommodations, and education. The
act already prohibited discrimination based
on race, color, sex, disability, religion, ancestry,
and national origin.
In Texas a gay rights victory was far from
certain. Secretary of state Roger Williams predicted
higher-than-usual voter turnout for a constitutional
amendment election. He spent Monday urging voters to make
their voices count. "There is too much at stake to sit on
the sidelines," Williams said. "Constitutional
amendment elections are a vital part of our democracy
and play an important role in shaping our state's future."
Supporters and opponents of Proposition 2, the
same-sex marriage ban, waged a heated campaign battle
that escalated until Election Day.
The pro-Prop 2 group Texans for Marriage
launched a television ad over the weekend in the
Dallas–Fort Worth, Houston, and Austin markets called
"For God's Design." Its message was that the Bible states
that God intended for marriage to be between one man
and one woman. On Monday amendment supporters arranged
for recorded calls from Roman Catholic bishop John
Yanta of Amarillo to go out to more than 800,000 Texas
households, many of them Hispanic, urging a vote for the proposition.
Opponents argue that a constitutional ban is
merely a statement of discrimination against gays.
They also suggest that the proposed amendment is so
poorly drafted that it could endanger common-law or even
traditional marriages, depending on how a judge interprets