Yesterday, voters in Maine, Washington, and Maryland voted to legalize same-sex marriage, and voters in in Minnesota rejected a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between one man and one woman.
Same sex marriage is already legal in six states and the District of Columbia via legislative action. However, the issue of marriage equality was defeated on state ballots 32 times, every single time it was put before the public, until yesterday. Minnesota became the first state to vote against a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage, and Maine, Maryland, and Washington (most likely, final results pending) became the first states to legalize same-sex marriage via the ballot.
"This is a landmark election for marriage equality and we will forever look back at this year as a critical turning point in the movement for full citizenship for LGBT people," Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin he said in a press release on Tuesday night.
Freedom to Marry's national campaign director, Marc Solomon, echoed Griffin's sentiment in a press release: "It's hard to overstate the national significance of this vote. For years, our opponents have argued that we could not win a majority vote at the ballot."
This sweeping victory for marriage equality reflects the shift towards acceptance of marriage equality and LGBT rights demonstrated in recent polls.
Looking to the future, Griffin said: "Tonight we celebrate, but tomorrow morning we get up and get back to work so that the victories we hail tonight are felt everywhere across this great country. Too many people are denied the ability to marry. Too many people go to their jobs without workplace protections. Too many young people go to bed at night and stare at the ceiling, sleeplessly wondering what awaits them the next day at school or at church or in their own home. Thanks to all the hard work in achieving tonight's victories, we finally have momentum on our side and we will not rest until the promise of equal justice under the law is realized for every single person living in every single corner of this vast country."
Media Resources: Huffington Post 11/07/2012; HRC 11/07/2012; Freedom to Marry 11/07/2012
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .