Gay rights activists in Arkansas, Arizona, California, and Florida used their last day of campaigning before Election Day to urge voters to choose equal rights. How did they fare? Poll results going into the election show it’s going to be a close call across the board.
Florida: Amendment 2
Florida’s requirement to garner 60% of the vote in order to amend the constitution might be the measure’s downfall. Amendment 2, placed on the ballot by a citizen petition drive, may not be able to reach the 60% majority needed. According to the most recent Mason-Dixon poll, 55% of likely Florida voters support the amendment, 35% are against it, and 10% are undecided.
The amendment’s language may hurt its chances as well. While restricting marriage to one man and one woman, the amendment also states that “no other legal union that is treated as marriage or ‘the substantial equivalent thereof’ shall be valid or recognized.” The amendment could eradicate domestic partnerships and civil unions that are offered in cities and counties through the state. WFTS TV, an ABC affiliate in the Tampa Bay area, says it could also affect roommate arrangements that involve benefits or have some legal standing.
Arizona: Proposition 102
In 2006, Arizona became the first state to reject a same-sex marriage ban; the defeat was blamed on its restrictive language. That proposal would have also banned domestic partnerships, which could have affected gay and straight unmarried cohabitants, including senior citizens. Following that election, 60% of those who voted against the measure said they felt it infringed on people’s rights. The current proposition addresses only marriage, not domestic partnerships.
An Arizona State University and KAET TV poll in September showed that 49% of likely voters would support Proposition 102 and 42% would oppose it, with 9% undecided.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain, Arizona’s senior senator, said he opposes a marriage ban in the federal constitution and believes in states’ rights in choosing whether to allow same-sex marriage. McCain spokeswoman Ivette Barajas told the Associated Press that the senator supports Proposition 102 because he “has always held the position that marriage is between one man and one woman.”
California: Proposition 8
The nation is watching to see if the most populous — and notoriously blue — state will vote again to ban same-sex marriage. After $73 million in contributions, Hollywood endorsements, arrests, violence, and a fight for visibility on both sides, the state’s proposed constitutional marriage ban is in a dead heat. The ballot initiative was in response to the California supreme court’s May 15 ruling that banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
A November 1 Survey USA poll showed that half of likely California voters would vote against the marriage ban. An October 31 Field Poll had 49% of voters rejecting the proposition and 44% supporting it. The poll numbers have fluctuated significantly since the ballot measure was introduced in June. Polls have shown as many as 55% of voters opposed to Proposition 8, but the numbers have evened out in recent weeks.
Arkansas: Act 1
While the state saw a lopsided vote to ban same-sex marriage in 2006, this initiative, which would prevent gay parents from adopting children, is likely to fail. According to the latest University of Arkansas poll, 55% of registered voters oppose the measure, while 38% support it. Seven percent are undecided.
The ballot initiative bars anyone “cohabitating outside of a valid marriage” from adopting children or taking in foster children. Arkansas governor Mike Beebe once said he supported adoption restrictions, but he changed his mind because of the lack of foster homes, according to the Associated Press. Officials with the Arkansas Family Council, which has been pushing for the ban, said if the measure fails, they will go to the state legislature to seek a ban, a move they found unsuccessful in 2007.
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