Supporters of same-sex marriage score victories

Story posted November 7, 2012 in

By Shawn Christ and Jenny Kim

Maryland and Maine were projected to become the first states to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote yesterday, according to CNN.


As of 11:30 p.m., 51 percent of voters in Maryland voted in favor of allowing same-sex marriage, while 52 percent voted the same way in Maine. Maryland’s figures were based on 67 percent of the state’s total votes. Maine’s figures were based on 36 percent of the state’s total votes.


Maine, Maryland and Washington were the first states to ask voters whether marriage should be granted to gay and lesbian couples through referendums on ballots. The amendments would also ensure clergy the right refuse performing any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs.


Minnesota, which already has a law forbidding same sex marriage, presented voters with a different constitutional amendment. The amendment would define marriage in the Minnesota Constitution as between one man and one woman.


As of 11:30 p.m. yesterday, 51 percent of voters in Minnesota did not want to ban same-sex marriage, based on 28 percent of the state’s total votes.


If approved, Maryland’s amendment will take effect on Jan. 1, while Washington’s referendum could take effect next month if approved. Early figures based on 31 percent of Washington’s total votes showed that 54 percent of voters were not in favor of allowing same sex marriage.


Arielle Brown, a senior officer of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally (LGBTA) at Penn State, said the political progress of the gay community has been very slow recently.


“Same sex marriage should not even be an issue anymore,” Brown said. “We already dealt with civil rights and women rights. We treated African Americans as second class citizens, so why are we still treating people differently?”     


According to the organization’s website, LGBTA works to create an open, safe, and inclusive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students. They advocate eliminating homophobia and heterosexism at Penn State.


Opponents of the same-sex marriage amendments also expressed their concerns with the issue.


Dan Barkowiak, project manager for Pennsylvania for Marriage, said that the statewide coalition has been following same-sex legislation in other states because court cases could be used as precedence in Pennsylvania.


“The effects of the outcomes [of the referendums] can definitely impact what’s happening in Pennsylvania,” he said.


Barkowiak said that the organization works with individuals and groups who want to promote a marriage protection amendment for Pennsylvania.


“We feel marriage is best for the next generation,” he said about the organization. “It’s best for adults and bringing the two sexes together. We want to see that protected.”


Pennsylvania does have a current law regarding marriage, but Barkowiak said that judges would have to abide by a constitutional amendment if challenges to the law were brought up in court.  


Last March, Pennsylvania’s Committee of State Government was set to vote on a bill that would amend the state’s constitution regarding marriage. According to the proposed bill, marriage would be defined as “the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”


However, the vote was postponed and no new date has been set. In Pennsylvania, amendments need to be approved by the Committee of State Government before they are brought to the House of Representatives and Senate. If approved by a majority vote in two consecutive sessions, the bill would then be brought before voters on a ballot.


Barkowiak said that after Pennsylvania for Marriage’s many campaigns around the state, the organization has found that a majority of the state has strong support for marriage between a man and woman.


            “We do feel that [marriage] is worth protecting and worth pursuing,” he said.


            Barkowiak said that because of Pennsylvania’s amendment process, the earliest voters would see a same sex referendum on a ballot would be 2015.