Missouri Voters Amend their State Constitution to Add Discrimination
"Fundamental Human Rights Should Never be up for Popular Vote"
Washington, DC -- Tonight, early returns indicate that voters in Missouri have approved by a margin of approximately 65% to 35% an amendment to their state constitution which prohibits the recognition of same sex marriages. The campaign against the amendment was waged by Constitutional Defense League, which raised $450,000 in just two and one-half months, airing television ads and fielding scores of volunteers across the state. Other progressive groups in Missouri, including the ACLU of Missouri and Planned Parenthood, also fought against the measure. The state's major papers--St. Louis Post, St. Louis Business Journal, Kansas City Star, Columbia Missourian, and Springfield News Leader--and the mayors of St. Louis and Kansas City all opposed the amendment. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force conducted field training in St. Louis in May, and contributed $25,500 to fight the amendment. The Human Rights Campaign also made significant contributions and provided four field staff to the campaign.
Statement by Matt Foreman, Executive Director
"While we are saddened by the vote, we are not surprised. Fundamental human rights should never be up for popular vote. Our founding fathers recognized this reality and enshrined our basic freedoms in the United States Constitution. Missouri's own past highlights the enduring value of the federal Constitution: until overturned by various United States Supreme Court decisions, Missouri law prohibited interracial marriage, criminalized abortion, and supported segregated schools.
Every gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender American owes a debt of gratitude to The Constitutional Defense League and its campaign manager Doug Gray for waging the largest campaign that our community has ever had in Missouri. Because of their work, newspapers across the state and hundreds of clergy came out in opposition to the amendment. Moreover, they accomplished so much with limited resources and in the face of a campaign marked by lies, distortions, fear-mongering, and threats of violence.
The good news is that more then one third of Missouri voters rejected this mean-spirited, un-American attack. Moreover, today's vote means that for every vote cast by a gay Missourian, another 6 non- gay people stood up for us. That is the truly inspiring story in this vote. (According to exit polls conducted over many years, approximately 5% of voters identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual.)
It is important for all gay Americans -- especially our heroes in Missouri and all of our people who are right now fighting similar, ugly measures across the country -- to recognize that a primary goal of the right in launching these attacks is to demoralize, drain, and fracture our communities.
We -- not the forces of intolerance -- must define victory. We win when our community builds its infrastructure, educates thousands of voters about our rights, comes out stronger, and is ready to fight harder and better. That is certainly the situation in Missouri and we urge all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Missourians and our allies to give their wholehearted support to PROMO (Personal Rights of Missourians), Missouri's statewide LGBT civil rights organization, which will carry the fight into the future.
The fight goes on. We know it and they know it: we are on the right and winning side of history and ultimately we will prevail."
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has committed to contributing $500,000 in cash grants to organizations fighting the anti-marriage amendment fights this fall. To make a contribution to this campaign (every dollar of which will go to the states), "Save Our States" campaign at http://www.TheTaskForce.org/sos
For more information on the struggle for marriage equality, go to the Task Force Marriage information Resource Center at http://www.TheTaskForce.org/marriagecenter
Join the Task Force for a Night to Create Change at http://www.thetaskforce.org/events/parties.cfm
Founded in 1973, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is the oldest national organization working to eliminate prejudice, violence and injustice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people at the local, state and national level.