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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, June 24, 2024

Golden State voters appear to have passed Prop 8

    A California referendum known as Proposition 8 is projected to be approved, effectively banning same-sex marriage in the Golden State.
    The ban is the most publicized of four similar measures that were up for a vote across the country. Arizona and Florida also banned same-sex marriage, while Arkansas now prohibits "unmarried sexual partners" from adopting children.
    With 99 percent of California precincts reporting yesterday, 52 percent of voters in the relatively liberal state said yes to Proposition 8, while 48 percent voted no. The numbers in Arizona, Florida and Arkansas were not as close.
    A number of gay-rights supporters filed lawsuits yesterday, arguing that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
    Members of the LGBT community see the expected passage of the proposition as a blow to equal rights progress.
    "I think that it's a shame to see any type of discrimination written into state constitutions. I see these measures as taking away from people's equal rights," Tufts' LGBT Director Tom Bourdon told the Daily.
    Bourdon underscored health-care access, tax benefits and child-rearing as some of the rights available to those with a legal marriage contract, which same-sex couples in California, Arizona and Florida will not be able to achieve as a result of the vote.
    "For whatever reason, more than 50 percent of the voters have decided that marriage is something that should not be given to residents in those states," Bourdon said.
    According to the group Equality California, an organization against Proposition 8, there remain three to four million absentee and provisional ballots that could change the outcome of the vote.
    "It's possible that there's more to come on this proposition," Bourdon said, despite the fact that most major news sources have projected the referendum's passage.
    As for why the proposition would be approved in what is normally a liberal state, Bourdon blames negative campaign ads.
    "I think part of the reason is there are many misconceptions out there as far as how same-sex marriage would affect people who are against [it]," he said, adding that "fear tactics" and the victimization of little children in commercials may have contributed to these misconceptions.
    Ryan Heman, a Tufts Community Union (TCU) senator and former LGBT community representative to the Senate, also pointed to an overwhelmingly well-funded campaign, "Yes on 8, Protect Marriage," which received extensive donations from, among other groups, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
    Heman said that those who raised money in support of Proposition 8 had "a whole lot more money" than those against it.
    Bourdon echoed this sentiment. "I'm really not sure, but of course it's possible that the extensive efforts against same-sex marriage could have swayed people to vote against it who might not have initially cared one way or the other," he said.
    Some political analysts have attributed the proposition's passage to high voter turnout among Obama supporters.
    According to CNN's exit polls, 70 percent of black voters in California, a demographic that overwhelmingly supported Obama, supported the proposition.
    Heman said he had been forewarned of this possibility.
    "They've been saying it for months, that it was either Barack Obama or Proposition 8. And we got Obama," he said.
    Heman remains optimistic about the future of equal rights.
    "[The vote] still shows that people are increasingly coming in favor of queer rights," he said, pointing to the closeness of the results.

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