Voters in Five U.S. Cities to Decide Gay Rights Issues Tuesday:
November 4, 2001 7:03 AM   Subscribe

Voters in Five U.S. Cities to Decide Gay Rights Issues Tuesday: Out of the closet and onto the ballot! Traverse City, Kalamazoo, and Huntington Woods in Michigan, Miami Beach, Houston, and a lawsuit in Maryland.
posted by Carol Anne (23 comments total)
The Houston Chronicle link above now doesn't work! Let's try this one:
Voters split on same-sex benefits, support light rail.
posted by Carol Anne at 7:10 AM on November 4, 2001

Huntington Woods is just a hoot 'n holler from me, so I read the link with interest. However, reading the Q & A, I can't really see what the ordinance would change if it passed.
posted by Oriole Adams at 7:28 AM on November 4, 2001

"'Yes' vote shows that city embraces tolerance and won't stand for untruths." Comment on Huntington Woods, Michigan's referendum on gay rights ordinance. "The ordinance, passed unanimously by the Huntington Woods City Commission this April but subject to a referendum on Nov. 6, gives homosexuals the same legal protections afforded other minorities. Just as the ordinance prohibits, for example, an employer located in Huntington Woods from firing an employee because he is African-American, so too does it prohibit the employer from firing the employee because he is gay."
posted by Carol Anne at 8:06 AM on November 4, 2001

"gay rights foes." i like that i'm automatically a danger because i like kissin' boys. silly.
posted by patricking at 9:32 AM on November 4, 2001

Isn't it funny how people get to vote on rights? Seems "all men are created equal" doesn't exactly measure up when the populace is suddenly allowed to choose who gets rights and who doesn't.

I'm so glad I get to be considered a second-class citizen.
posted by benjh at 11:06 AM on November 4, 2001

benjh: State legislators and city leaders can also strip away any previous gay rights laws. Why? The Supreme Court doesn't really care much about gay rights at the moment, or at least can be said to be very much lagging in that dept. According to one of the articles posted above, from the Washington Post, "In 1993, voters amended the Cincinnati city charter to prohibit gay rights policies. A federal appeals court upheld that measure, and the Supreme Court declined to review the case." Referenda and initiatives results, having the force of law, are subject to judicial review and have been struck down, but the Cincinnati case is typical.
posted by raysmj at 11:17 AM on November 4, 2001

I've lived in both Traverse City and Kalamazoo. I can assure you that Traverse City, while it is a great place to vacation, is a small town dominated by Christians who do not like anything that is decidedly un-Christian. Kalamazoo is a college town, it's more open-minded but it still has quite a good bit of that Midwestern Christian ethic running through its bones. You may recall that Traverse City was the place where the City Council launched a "community unity" campaign using a logo that had colorful rainbow stripes, without realizing that this image had other widespread connotations. Stickers were passed out and places on snowplows, police cars, etc. and many people (notably the Christian population) got incredibly upset and demanded that the stickers be removed.

And if that doesn't convince you that the majority of the people in Traverse City are close-minded, consider what happened to me in 1997 when I got fired from my job because my coworkers didn't like my personal web site. I was living in Traverse City at the time.
posted by camworld at 11:23 AM on November 4, 2001

There is a mayoral race in Cincinnati this week, and one of the guys running, Courtis Fuller, is a full proponant of removing Issue 3 from our minds forever. He's even pushing for a way to skirt the who referendum thing, saying that the rights of the voters do not allow them to vote for rights. (Curiously, he is a Baptist minister himself, but a very level headed guy.)

And of course the Supreme Court doesn't care about Gay Rights, it's being run amok by conservatives at the moment. (YES! I'm still bitter over Bush v. Gore, and I don't care if it has been a year, I'll continue to be bitter.)
posted by benjh at 1:07 PM on November 4, 2001

Side Note: Gay rights foes in Kalamazoo and Traverse City are using the Cincinnati ballot language, hoping it will shield them from legal challenges.

This actually could come to kick them in the ass. Say it doesn't hold up to legal challenges. Then we have a sticky wicket of a precedant, and would possibly allow Cincinnati's law to come under a renewed judicial challenge.
posted by benjh at 1:10 PM on November 4, 2001

Whenever I read about people believing that gay rights bills mean "special rights", I always wonder what they're thinking about. Better interest rates on their loans? Better tables in restaurants? Red carpets and confetti whenever they walk out their doors?

I always thought that I lived in a fairly liberal neck of the woods (Connecticut), but when a lesbian couple I knew went looking for an apartment they were asked questions about "sleeping in the same room" that appalled me. I don't know if I should be mad or heartsick (both, I think) that there are people who would deny another human being shelter and employment (not to mention insurance and legal benefits) because of who they choose to love.
posted by kittyloop at 1:23 PM on November 4, 2001

sometimes you can't even choose who you love. i hate that word: "choose". I'm sick and tired of the word choose.

this is still one of my favorite doonesbury strips.
posted by benjh at 3:33 PM on November 4, 2001

i'm not lashing out at kittyloop, don't think i am... just a quirk of me, sorry... :-)
posted by benjh at 3:35 PM on November 4, 2001

The contract that settled the recent Minnesota state workers strike includes domestic partner benefits and now may not be ratified because of state house republicans objections.
posted by chrismc at 3:57 PM on November 4, 2001

It's okay benjh, I almost deleted the word "choose". Believe me, I have fallen in love with at least one person I would have "chosen" not to. : )
posted by kittyloop at 4:03 PM on November 4, 2001

From the Human Rights Campaign website, a list of the 123 State & Local Governments That Offer Domestic Partner Health Benefits at present.
posted by Carol Anne at 4:13 PM on November 4, 2001

At the risk of hijacking this thread, let me respond to some of the comments above. I have no problem with homosexuals (or any other sexual persuasion), but don't we already have anti-discrimination laws on the books? And, if we pass new ones, aren't we kind of saying that the rights of a gay person are worth more than those of another minority?
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 5:02 PM on November 4, 2001

What most of these proposed new laws actually do is to add language to city charters, etc. which makes includes sexual minorities (or at least homosexuals) into the current list of protected minority groups. Extra protection is not afforded to gays by these laws, they simply recognise that they are discriminated against because of their status as other minorities are, and outlaws those acts.

Occasionally referenda will be written in such a way as to make it clear that the effect of a "pro" vote will be that the words "sexual orientation" (or similar designators) are added to the anti-discriminatory portion of the city's laws. In the cases that a whole new segment is added to the books, that shouldn't be taken as "more" protection, but simply a new law that levels the playing fields.
posted by Dreama at 5:17 PM on November 4, 2001

No, we don't have anti-discrimination laws on the books which are good enough. Technically, in many, many, many places, it is perfectly legal to discriminate against GLBT persons in employment, housing, and more.

But even these protections don't go far enough. Inheritance rights, Social Security, all of these things are important, but not decided by people but their representatives.
posted by benjh at 5:38 PM on November 4, 2001

Just to expand on the link chrismc posted above, the State of Minnesota is in danger of shutting down for the third time this year, just because fundie Republican legislators in the State House are going to refuse to approve a union contract that includes benefits for same-sex domestic partners. Drivers License stations will be closed, hunting seasons shortened or cancelled, state parks shut, law enforcement cut back, and more--all because Minnesota's Taliban have to grandstand for their bible-thumping constituents out in Gopher Prairie.
posted by gimonca at 7:06 PM on November 4, 2001

There is a very simple solution to the problem. Make it federal law. Easier said than done, but damn if Bush wouldn't look bad - as if he hasn't looked bad since last November.
posted by pooldemon at 1:27 AM on November 5, 2001

My mind's been swimming with a billion "punching Chad" punchlines.
posted by crasspastor at 1:55 AM on November 5, 2001

"Gay cuisine -- is it tops? We'll be back!"
posted by straight at 12:15 PM on November 5, 2001

There is a very simple solution to the problem. Make it federal law.

Excellent idea, but it won't happen while John Ashcroft is Attorney General.
posted by Carol Anne at 2:36 PM on November 5, 2001

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