Voters in Texas
and Maine rendered a split verdict Tuesday on gay rights.
Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a
constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage,
making their state the 19th to take that step. In
Maine, however, voters rejected a conservative-backed
proposal to repeal the state's new gay rights law.
The contest in Texas was lopsided; near-complete
returns showed the marriage ban supported by about 76%
of voters. Like every other state except
Massachusetts, Texas didn't permit same-sex marriages
previously, but the constitutional amendment was
touted as an extra guard against future court rulings.
"Texans know that marriage is between a man and
a woman, and children deserve both a mom and a dad.
They don't need a Ph.D. or a degree in anything else
to teach them that," said Kelly Shackelford of Texans
for Marriage, a group that favored the ban.
Gay rights leaders were dismayed by the outcome
but vowed to continue a state-by-state battle for
recognition of same-sex unions. "The fight for
fairness isn't over, and we won't give up," said Joe
Solmonese, president of the gay rights group Human
Rights Campaign. "These amendments are part of a
long-standing effort by the extreme right to eliminate
any legal recognition for gay people and our families."
In Maine, voters spurned a measure placed on the
ballot by a church-backed conservative coalition that
would have repealed a gay rights law approved by
lawmakers earlier this year. The lawmakers expanded
the state's human rights act to outlaw discrimination based
on sexual orientation, a step already taken by the
five other New England states.
In near-complete returns, about 55% of voters
were opposing repeal of the new law, which is broadly
worded to protect transsexuals and transvestites as
well as gays and lesbians. "This is such a much-needed
victory for our national community, because we've
experienced so many losses," said Matt Foreman,
executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian
Task Force. "We've got to press forward on
nondiscrimination protection and not let marriage continue
to swamp the movement."
Meanwhile, New Jersey voters approved a proposal
to have an elected lieutenant governor who would take
over if a sitting governor leaves office early. The
measure was a response to the gay sex scandal that
drove former governor James McGreevey from office and
installed senate president Richard Codey as acting
governor even as he retained his senate duties. New
Jersey has been one of eight states with no lieutenant