Anti-gay ballot initiatives in four
states have gay groups anxious as America goes to vote. With all
four anti-gay measures too close to call, gay groups are holding
their collective breath.
In California, Arizona and Florida
voters are being asked to restrict the definition of marriage to one
man and one woman, thereby banning gay couples from the institution.
And in Arkansas, a ballot measure seeks to eliminate the right of gay
couples from fostering or adopting children in the state.
“In almost every election, we hear
candidates talk about this particular election being the most
important of our lifetime,” Parent and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
(PFLAG) Director of Communications Steve Ralls said. “This time,
that may not be an exaggeration.”
All eyes, however, remain fixed on
California, where Proposition 8 aims to overturn a May Supreme Court
ruling that legalized gay marriage in the Golden State.
While it's not the first time voters
have been asked to add the definition of marriage into their state
constitution, it is the first time voters will decide on revoking gay
marriage where it has already been granted.
California's May-to-November gay
marriage campaign raised a staggering $70 million to decide the issue
– the most ever on a social issue.
Throughout the campaign, each side
motivated their base to donate more with over-the-top gloom-and-doom
For certain, gay marriage in California
will influence the rest of the nation. But conservatives against gay
marriage have held out an extreme apocalyptic view of gay marriage,
calling it an “epic battle for the sanctity of marriage.” Rev.
Jim Garlow, who has taken a leadership role in organizing the
anti-gay marriage religious forces in California, said gay marriage
would mean the “destruction of Western civilization.”
Then, it got really ugly.
Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific
Justice Institute, likened gay marriage to the reign of Hitler at a
boisterous Yes-On-8 rally.
“There was another time in history
when people, when the bell tolled,” Dacus said. “And the
question was whether or not they were going to hear it. The time was
during Nazi Germany with Adolf Hitler.”
Conservative radio talk-show host
Michael Savage told listeners of Savage Nation that “If
you're insane, hate the family, hate man and woman, hate your mother
and father, hate the Bible, hate the church, and hate the synagogue”
then you would favor gay marriage.
Florida's gay marriage amendment,
Amendment 2, is a broad amendment that seeks to strengthen the
state's existing laws against gay marriage.
“In Florida, four state laws already
prohibit gay men and lesbians from marrying their partners,” said
Rand Hoch, president of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council
“If our community and allies fail to vote down Amendment 2 on
election day, nothing changes.”
Gay activists in Arizona and Florida
have been more concerned about losing in California than their own
states which already prohibit gay marriage.
“I'm more concerned about California
than Florida, because so much is at stake. If voters do not reject
the referendum in California, losing will be a huge setback for GLBT
[gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender] couples across the country,”
Arizona's gay marriage ban seems more
likely to pass than Florida's, but voter rejection of a similar
measure in 2006 gives gay activists in Arizona some reason to hope.
Recently won rights that allow gay
couples to adopt and foster children in Arkansas also hang in the
Act 1 was placed on the ballot by The
Family Council Action Committee (FCAC) after the Arkansas Supreme
Court struck down a 1999 Child Welfare Agency Review Board rule that banned gay and lesbian couples from serving as foster parents, after
a prolonged seven-year battle.
The measure would outlaw unmarried
couples from adopting or fostering children – single people, living
alone, would be free from the restrictions. And while the initiative
bans both gay and straight couples, the FCAC's website lists banning
gay and lesbian couples from adoption as a goal of the law.
“[Act 1] is about two things. It's
about child welfare, first of all. Secondly, it is to blunt a
homosexual agenda that's at work in other states and that will be at
work in Arkansas unless we are proactive about doing something about
it,” FCAC Executive Director Jerry Cox told Fox16 News.
The organization's website expands on
the group's anti-gay rhetoric by saying, “Laws have been passed in
eight states that support the homosexual agenda when it comes to the
adoption or foster care of children. Arkansas has no law to prevent
homosexual adoption. Homosexuals are adopting children and this will
continue until a law is passed.”
“We're optimistic [about defeating
the gay adoption ban], but we're going to keep working very, very
hard,” Debbie Willhite, a spokeswoman for Arkansas Families First,
recently told Joe Solmonese on XM Radio's The Agenda. “We're
out there at the polls everyday, passing out literature, talking to
people about what it really means if this passes.”
What it really means is a possible
nationwide effort to ban gay couples from adoption, she said. “I
believe, if it passes here, it could become the next right-wing wedge
issue across the nation.”
Backing the FCAC in their effort to
forbid gay couples from adoption is James Dobson's Colorado-based
ministry Focus on the Family Action. The group has also donated
millions to the California effort to ban gay marriage.
“When one thinks of all the orphans
this man [James Dobson] could have fed with the money he has spent on
attacking gay families, it is hard to consider him a real Christian,”
said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen.
Today's vote boils down to an
emblematic referendum on the country's acceptance of gays and
lesbians. And to that end, the vote represents either the demise –
or possibly the acceleration – of the culture wars.
“PFLAG remains hopeful, and
cautiously optimistic, that the divisive, anti-family ballot measures
in California, Florida, Arizona and Arkansas will be defeated on
Tuesday,” Ralls said.