California’s proposition 8 has attracted so much attention in my state, I had no idea that three other states had anti-gay rights measures on their ballots too. I stumbled across the information on the NCLR’s website while researching something else. Still, why was I not surprised that one of the states was Florida? The other two were Arizona and Arkansas.
A little background: Since 1996’s Federal Defense of Marriage Act, 40 states in the U.S. have banned same-sex marriage in their states, either by legislation or by amendment to their state constitution.
Arizona voters declined a few years ago to change their state constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage. They’ll have another chance this fall with proposition 102. The state already has a law forbidding same-sex marriage (several states do have both, double-dips of homophobia).
Arkansas voters will have the chance to nix all adoptions by unmarried people, and since the state has a DOMA, that means no gay people will be able to adopt children.
Florida already has the most draconian laws against LGBT rights—including banning same-sex couples from adoption—and voters have the chance to pass comprehensive hateful legislation. Prop 2 affects all unmarried couples, gay and straight, dismantling civil unions and domestic partnerships and denying couples the most basic of rights, like making hospital visits and medical decisions. Do I even need to editorialize on this proposition?
I think states like Arkansas and Florida are using language that includes all couples, gay and straight, to avoid court decisions like the ones by Connecticut and California’s Supreme Court. The high court of each of these states rejected laws that created a separate but equal logic in parceling out rights to queers; this was their rationale for granting the right to marry to same-sex couples.
These laws are so absurdly restrictive, impinging equally on gays and straights, only a great surge of homophobia could carry them to passage.
I don’t know if that’s a hopeful or resigned assessment of what to expect from voters.