Maine and Michigan cities vote for gay rights

Voters in Westbrook, Maine, and Ypsilanti, Mich., on Tuesday voted in
favor of keeping gay-inclusive antidiscrimination laws on the books. 
In Westbrook, 51% of the voters supported a law passed by the city
council in June. Meanwhile, in Ypsilanti, 61% of the voters supported a
pro-gay bill passed by the city council in 1998. It is the second time
the antidiscrimination law has received support from Ypsilanti voters.
Equal rights for gay men and lesbians was a big loser in Nevada,
however, where voters overwhelmingly supported a constitutional
amendment to define marriage as only that between a man and a woman.
Results were not in at press time regarding a ballot initiative in
Tacoma, Wash., regarding a gay rights bill there.

While it appeared clear at 10 p.m. Pacific Time that the Republican
Party would maintain control of the House of Representatives, control
of the Senate was still up in the air. And the Senate race in Missouri,
between Democratic senator Jean Carnahan--who was appointed to the seat
two years ago when her husband was elected posthumously, and Republican
Jim Talent--is among those that is being watched the closest. That's
because the Missouri race is a special election, and if Talent wins he
will take office on November 12, when Congress reconvenes. If that were
to happen, the Republicans would take control of Senate for about eight
weeks, regardless of whether the Democrats win control in the next
Congress. According to Senate Republican leader Trent Lott, the GOP
will take immediate advantage of any shift in leadership, no matter how
short, by putting President Bush's agenda immediately into play. What
this means for gay and lesbian Americans, among other things, is
movement on conservative judicial nominations that have until now been
delayed by Democrats. Several of those nominees, including Michael
McConnell, who has nominated to be on the 10th circuit court of
appeals, have been labeled as antigay by national gay activists.

Throwing another wrench into the issue of control of the post-election
Congress is the announcement earlier this week by Minnesota governor
Jesse Ventura that Dean Barkley, an independent, would be the temporary
successor to former senator Paul Wellstone, who was killed last month
in a plane crash. The Barkley appointment shifts the Senate make-up to
48 Democrats, 48 Republicans, and 2 independents. Independent Jim
Jeffords of Vermont sides with the Democrats, currently giving the edge
to that party. Barkley, who has described himself as a fiscal
conservative and a libertarian, has not announced which party he would
side with.

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