Despite the Maine news, not all election results were bad for the LGBT community this year: the people of Washington State voted 52.5 per- cent to approve Referendum 71, preserving expanded rights for registered domestic partners regardless of sexual orientation. This vote makes Washington the first state to approve rather than rescind an LGBT civil rights measure at the ballot box.
Referendum 71 asked voters to confirm the state’s domestic partnership law, which passed this past May and granted same-gender and senior domestic partners benefits previously given only to married couples. Seattle Democrat Senator Ed Murray, who spearheaded the effort to approve the referendum, told the Associated Press the outcome was “a great step forward for equality in Washington State.”“I’m relieved,”he added. “I was very concerned that if the voters had said no, it would have been a major setback for gay and lesbian families in Washington State.”
This victory was one of many the LGBT community saw on Election Day 2009. In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, openly gay Mark Kleinschmidt won the race for mayor. In Houston, Texas, out city controller Annise Parker won 31 per- cent of the vote and is heading to a December runoff for the mayor’s office. If Parker wins, Houston will be the largest U.S. city with an openly gay mayor and Parker will become the first openly lesbian mayor of any large city in the U.S. In Kalamazoo, Michigan, voters deemed it illegal to discriminate against LGBT people when it comes to hiring, housing and public accommodation. Elsewhere, Charles Pugh became the first openly gay member of the Detroit City Council, while out lesbian Sandra Kurt won office as the first openly LGBT member of the Akron, Ohio City Council.