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Equality Still Making Gains

Despite a setback in Maine, equality took steps forward in Michigan, Washington State and Florida.

This week citizens in Kalamazoo, MI upheld a city ordinance that includes sexual orientation and gender identity in its anti-discrimination laws. Anti-LGBT opponents launched a nasty, ugly campaign targeting and outing individual residents of the tight-knit community, distributing their photos and exploiting their lives as an attempted scare tactic. In the end these vile and irresponsible tactics may have backfired.

Citing a landslide victory, state House Judiciary Chairman Mark Meadows, a Democrat from East Lansing, announced the committee voted to send legislation to a full House vote that includes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. What’s more, just five years after adopting its anti-gay marriage amendment, Michigan House Speaker Pro Tem Pam Byrnes, a Democrat from Lyndon Township in Washtenaw County, announced she has introduced legislation to repeal the ban.

Today the Tampa City Council voted to include gender identity or expression protection in its anti-discrimination law. Voters in Washington State appear to be approving the state legislature’s expanded domestic partnerships by law comfortable margin, despite an off-year election with a more conservative electorate. This is probably due to the good work done in previous years to build support for domestic partnership rights.

The Kalamazoo and Washington State elections are particularly significant because they are the first time voters have approved LGBT rights at the ballot box in those states.

Though voters missed a chance to do the right thing in Maine, the cause of equality made other, subtler gains across the country. Voters in these elections rejected the insidious lies and attacks of anti-LGBT extremists and affirmed these protections for their fellow Americans.