Press

Major Ballot Victories in Michigan and Florida; Loss in Houston

Date: 
November 07, 2001

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people today woke to the news of winning five out of six GLBT-related ballot measures in yesterday's elections. On November 6, voters overwhelmingly supported the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people at the ballot box.

Three measures in Michigan cities — two to enact discriminatory city charter amendments and one to repeal a civil rights law — all were rejected by strong margins. Also, two favorable Miami Beach measures passed in Dade County, Florida to extend domestic partnership coverage to same sex employees. The last measure to be decided — a Houston, Texas city proposition to ban domestic partnership — unfortunately passed by a narrow margin.

The electoral results come as nearly 2,500 activists and organizers gathering in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the annual Creating Change conference, the premier national conference of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender movement.

"For years at Creating Change we have mourned repeated losses on anti-gay ballot measures. This year we are thrilled to celebrate victory in five of six. The message of the vast majority of voters was clear — they resoundingly rebuffed right wing extremists trying to impose their bigotry upon these communities," said NGLTF executive director Lorri L. Jean. "Our community is starting to turn the tide on the religious-based intolerance that has led to these measures."

The following summarizes the measures on the November 6 ballot:

Miami Beach, Florida

Voters in Miami Beach overwhelmingly approved two measures give domestic partnership benefits to the unmarried partners – both same-sex and opposite-sex – of Miami Beach city employees. Voters considered two ballot measures.

  • Measure 102 passed by a margin of 65.7 to 34.3 percent and will extend health care benefits to the domestic partners of all Miami Beach city workers.
  • Measure 115 passed by a margin of 68.5 to 31.5 percent and will extend pension benefits to the domestic partners of fire and police workers.

Jorge Mursuli, chair of SaveDade, commented on the victories: "Consistent grassroots organizing has an impact. Four years ago even our supporters were skeptical about our ability to succeed. Today, we have nearly 70 percent of the voters with us. It is a testament to our ability to organize. We are grateful to everyone, especially NGLTF, who has been consistently with us for so long."

The vote was historic since it was the first time since 1977 that voters anywhere in Dade County have considered a GLBT issue at the ballot box. The last was Anita Bryant's Save Our Children crusade when voters repealed of Dade County’s human rights ordinance. NGLTF field organizer Dan Hawes has been in Dade County for three weeks working with the Miami Beach Workplace Equality campaign on voter education and get out the vote efforts. NGLTF training director Dave Fleischer worked with Save Dade in early stages of the voter identification efforts.

Campaign contact: Miami Beach Workplace Equality, 305-751- 7283, savedade@savedade.org, www.savedade.org

Michigan

In three cities, voters supported the civil rights of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. Voters in Kalamazoo and Traverse City rejected discriminatory amendments their city charters that would have prohibited the city councils from enacting laws to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Huntington Woods voters preserved a previously-passed law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

  • Kalamazoo voters rejected a discriminatory charter amendment by a margin of 54 to 46 percent.
  • Traverse City voters rejected a discriminatory charter amendment by a margin of 58 to 42 percent.
  • Huntington Woods voters rejected a civil rights law repeal by a margin of 69 to 31 percent.

"This is a watershed moment for our community in Michigan," said Beth Bashert, president of Michigan Equality. "The help we got from NGLTF was crucial to our victory."

Campaign contact: Kalamazoo Against Discrimination, 616-388-3911, kalamazooagainstdiscrimination@hotmail.com, www.kzooagainstdiscrimination.org; Traverse City Campaign Against Discrimination, 231-883-1058, info@tccad2000.org, http://tccad2000.org; Huntington Woods, basherb@juno.com.

Houston, Texas

Houston voters approved City Proposition 2, an amendment to the City Charter that prohibits domestic partnership benefits for city employees.

  • City Proposition 2 passed by a margin of 52 to 48 percent and prohibits the extension of health care benefits to domestic partners of municipal workers.

This is the second time Houston voters decided a GLBT-related measure, the first being in 1985 when the local law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was repealed by a margin of 82 to18 percent. Tuesday1s vote represented more then a two-fold increase in support for GLBT people in Houston.

NGLTF director of training Dave Fleischer is working with Progressive Voters in Action who is coordinating the field portion of the campaign to defeat the anti-gay ballot measure. NGLTF is also working with People for a Fair Houston, which is handling the paid media voter contact portion of the campaign. NGLTF’s work is part of a training for campaign managers and organizers hailing from Washington, DC; Boston, MA; New York City; Louisville, KY; Lexington, KY; Santa Fe, NM; and Portland, OR.

Campaign contact: Progressive Voters in Action, 713-521-7161, http://www.votepva.org

NGLTF has prioritized work against anti-GLBT ballot measures as an important component of its work. The Task Force has assigned staff to work on these initiatives and has committed $100,000 to give grants to state and local campaigns. Already this year, NGLTF gave $10,000 to Kalamazoo Against Discrimination, $5,000 to Traverse City Campaign Against Discrimination, and $20,000 to Basic Rights Oregon, which expects to face an anti-GLBT ballot measure next year. Additional grants are pending as plans for 2002 measures become more solidified. The Task Force is the only national organization that provides electoral training in how to defeat anti-GLBT ballot initiatives.

Activists at the Creating Change conference, convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, will be attending more than 140 workshops, sessions, and trainings on a variety of issues. Several sessions will feature strategies and tactics for ballot measure work, including an all-day session on electoral organizing and a live precinct walking exercise on Saturday morning in Milwaukee. For more information about the Creating Change conference, visit www.creatingchange.org or call 414-273-2731.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.