Statement by GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios on 2009 Election Results in Maine, Washington and Kalamazoo, Mich.
November 4, 2009, New York, NY – The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) today called on the nation's media to focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and couples in covering the results and aftermath of yesterday’s votes in Maine, Washington state and Kalamazoo, Mich.
In Maine, voters eliminated the state’s marriage equality law, which was passed by the state legislature and signed by Gov. John Baldacci earlier this year.
“We are disappointed and disheartened by results in Maine, where we saw marriage equality eliminated for loving and committed couples," said Jarrett Barrios, President of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). “It’s wrong to take basic rights and protections away from neighbors, friends and co-workers who just want the same opportunity to care for their loved ones and families. It’s wrong, unfair and, frankly, un-American. Many Mainers voted that responsibility and commitment should continue to be respected and protected, but a slim majority wrested away the basic protections of marriage from couples and their families. Opponents campaigned on fear and misinformation leaving those loving and committed gay and lesbian couples- and our allies- back to square one: forced to lead lives without the needed protections that marriage affords. We must commit to sharing more stories on the truth about our lives and families to ensure the legal protections of marriage for all loving, committed couples.”
In Kalamazoo, Mich., voters approved a nondiscrimination ordinance that covers sexual orientation and gender identity and prevents gay and transgender people from being fired from their jobs for being openly gay or transgender.
“In Kalamazoo, Mich., fairness prevailed. Voters sent a message that all hardworking people should be treated fairly and have the chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families without fear of being fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance.”
“The tireless commitment of state and local campaigns in support of LGBT equality led by Protect Maine Equality, One Kalamazoo and Washington Families Standing Together, along with hundreds of volunteers as well as representatives from national organizations, opened many more doors for our community as we continue to work toward full equality.”
In Washington state, first-day election returns on Referendum 71 showed that a majority of voters are backing the state’s expanded domestic partnership law. Full results are not yet known because ballots did not have to be received by Election Day, only postmarked by Election Day.
“We are encouraged by these early results that Washington voters support advancing important legal protections to all Washingtonians,” continued Barrios.
GLAAD assisted local organizations on the ground in Washington, Kalamazoo, Michigan and Maine with media trainings to share stories of gay and transgender people – and their allies – with fellow community members and through local media outreach campaigns. GLAAD has been on the ground in Washington state to assist Washington Families Standing Together field reporter inquiries, help local LGBT couples and allies share their stories in the media, organize press conferences, promote letters to the editors, and spread the word about the importance of approving Referendum 71.
“We urge media reporting on these election results to highlight the stories of the hardworking individuals and loving and committed couples impacted by these decisions.”