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November 02, 2009

Races to watch on election night

>> LGBT rights: Danger in Maine

Maine - Winning the ballot referendum on Maine's new marriage law would provide a huge psychological boost to gay marriage advocates because it would mark the first time that a pro-gay marriage position has won a popular vote. But -- the final poll (conducted yesterday and Saturday) shows a disheartening slippage for No on 1 / retaining gay marriage. The Public Policy Institute results two weeks ago were a 48-48 tie; the final weekend results were 51-47 in favor of repealing the law. However, statistically the race remains too close to call, and which side runs the best get-out-the-vote operation on Tuesday will likely determine the outcome. Nate Silver remains quite optimistic.

Washington Referendum 71- In May, Washington state Governor Gregoire signed into law SB 5688, which essentially amended the domestic partnership law to add all of the rights and responsibilities of marriage which had not been part of the original DP package (e.g., certain adoption rights and pension and health benefits for public employees). R71 asks voters whether they want to allow the new law to go into effect or repeal it. Polls show that the full DP law is likely to be retained.

Kalamazoo, MI - Kalamazoo voters will decide whether an anti-discrimination ordinance enacted by the City Council that adds sexual orientation and gender identity protections will take effect or be repealed. The no campaign has centered on scare tactics about "the bathroom issue," ie whether MTFs will invade the privacy of other women using restrooms. The pro-ordinance forces have poured in more money than Kalamazoo has ever seen spent on a local election, reporting more than 10 times what the other side has spent, including $75,000 from NGLTF.

>> How much or how little you can expect from the Dems in Congress next year

New Jersey Governor and Virginia Governor - If Corzine can survive in NJ, Dems on Capitol Hill may feel a tiny bit safer voting with the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. Whatever happens Tuesday, there will be a lame duck session of the NJ legislature shortly after the election, during which New Jersey may well become the next state to allow gay marriage.  In Virginia, even though the state went narrowly for Obama in 2008 and has had Democratic governors since 2001, polls show the openly anti-gay Republican candidate, Robert McDonnell, far ahead. McDonnell has vowed to rescind the current executive order protecting gay state government employees from discrimination.

>> How far to the right you can expect Republicans in Congress to go next year

NY 23 - This is the race for a vacant seat in the House of Representatives in which right-wing purists drove the Republican Party nominee (Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava) out of the race, complaining that she was soft on abortion and gay rights. They endorsed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, and Hoffman became a cause celebre for the right. Scozzafava dropped out and endorsed Democrat Bill Owens. If Hoffman goes to Congress, the GOP purists will be ecstatic.

Individual candidates

Annise Parker hopes to make Houston the Full_email-290x300 biggest American city with an openly gay mayor. Now Houston's controller, she's won citywide offices six times.To win the top job in Houston, she's going to have surmount an anti-gay smear campaign, exemplified by the flyer to the right. Multiple candidates are running, so it is quite likely that no one will get a majority of votes. Hopefully Parker will finish first or second, and go into the Dec. 12 run-off election.

Steve Shannon is running for Attorney General of Virginia.  In this race the concern is not so much for electing Mr. Shannon as for not electing his opponent, Kenneth Cuccinelli, who told a  reporter that he believed that homosexual acts are "intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law-based country it's appropriate to have policies that reflect that."

Campaign Photo 31 Simone Bell (left), a community educator in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office in Atlanta, is running for a seat in the Georgia state House. If she wins, she will become the first out African-American lesbian ever elected to any state legislature.

Mark Kleinschmidt, an openly gay public interest lawyer who specializes in representing defendants on death row, is running for Mayor of Chapel Hill, NC. A weekend poll shows him trailing Matt Czajkowski by only 1 per cent.

Steve Kornell - A longtime advocate of anti-bullying legislation, Kornell is a school social worker who would be the first openly gay person on the St. Petersburg, Fla., City Council.

Sandra Kurt, an lgbt community leader, is running for City Council in Akron OH, and also facing hateful attacks.  One flyer implores voters not "to place the 8th Ward City Council seat in the hands of a political activist with a clear agenda to create ... social disorganization." 

Charles Pugh (right), a former television and radio  journalist, is running foPicture-33r a City Council seat that would make him Detroit's first openly gay elected official.

Progressive therapist/blogger Gordon Smith is running for City Council in Asheville, NC, and has reached out for lgbt support by promising to press for domestic partner benefits for city employees.

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