Even though same-sex marriage isn’t directly on the ballot today, there are several races flying well under the radar that will affect the rights of gays to marry in California, Iowa, and New Hampshire that bear watching tonight.
In New Hampshire, the legislature, which narrowly passed a same-sex marriage law last year, is likely to be taken over by Republicans who are eager to repeal the law. The only thing standing in their way would be the veto pen of governor John Lynch, a Democrat, who is narrowly leading in the polls. If Lynch is defeated, it means the likely forthcoming end to same-sex marriage in New Hampshire, so keep an eye on this election.
In Iowa, all of the press has gone to the effort by right-wing forces to kick out three of the judges who ruled for marriage equality in 2009. It will obviously be disheartening if these good judges are removed from office, but this will not affect their ruling. What could undo marriage equality in Iowa is one of two things. First, if the state legislature switches from Democratic to Republican control. Polls at the state level are not out there (that I could find) but several Iowa bloggers seem to think that the Senate is likely to remain Democratic. Still, keep an eye on this and check the Iowa newspapers to find out for sure. Of more concern is the ballot question asking voters if they wish to call a constitutional convention. Iowa votes on this issue every 10 years, and normally they fail by large margins. If this wins (and right wing forces are pushing for passage), then a convention could be held this year which would advance an anti-marriage amendment, passable by simple majority. Given that this is the quickest and most likely way the same-sex marriage in Iowa could be ended, I am very surprised that this has gotten no national coverage in gay or mainstream press.
Finally, California. The key races there are for governor and attorney general, the latter being most important. Currently, Proposition 8 is on the legal ropes – a big reason why is that the Attorney General has chosen to simply not defend the law. Because of this, there is a good possibility that the federal appeals court will rule that Prop 8 supporters do not have grounds to defend the law (only the state can defend the law) and Prop 8 will be history. If the Republican candidate, Steve Cooley, wins the Attorney General election in California, he has stated that he will defend Prop 8 – which would give that unjust law a new lease on life. His Democratic opponent, Kamala Harris, would not defend Prop 8. In other words, the future of Proposition 8 is quite dependent on this (relatively) obscure race, which has gotten no national coverage. Polls showed the two candidates nearly tied.
So, if you are concerned about same-sex marriage in America, keep an eye on results tonight from the New Hampshire governor’s race, the Iowa Constitutional Convention ballot question, and the California Attorney General’s race.