Tuesday, November 24, 2009



The Wall Las Memorias Project

November 19, 2009

Keith Malone, (323) 514-3282

Eastside World AIDS Day Observance

Honors the Memory of AIDS Activist & MTV’s

The Real World’ Star Pedro Zamora

With Zamora’s sister and niece in attendance, organizers of the event will launch a

campaign to ask the U.S. Postal Service to honor Zamora’s legacy with a stamp.

WHAT The late Pedro Zamora, AIDS activist and star in the third season of

MTV’s “The Real World: San Francisco” series will be posthumously

honored and his name will be etched on the granite panels of the AIDS

monument at Lincoln Park on the eastside of Los Angeles.

As part of the evening’s ceremony, attendees will be asked to launch a

petition drive to honor Zamora’s legacy with a stamp.

His name will be unveiled along with other names that have been

added recently. They join more than 400 names that already grace the

granite panels of Las Memorias, a 9,000 square-foot monument.

More than 500 individuals, including partners and spouses, parents,

children and others who lost loved ones to AIDS will attend the

evening’s ceremonies which include a mix of spirituality and faith,

education and prevention, and advocacy.

WHO Attending:

Pedro Zamora’s sister, Mily Zamora and her daughter

California State Senator Gilbert Cedillo

Jonathan Murray, creator of “The Real World” (MTV)

Anticipated: Members of the cast of “Pedro,” a biopic of Zamora’s life

which aired April 1 on MTV, MTV Tr3s, mtvU and Logo.

Richard Zaldivar, founder and executive director, The Wall Las


WHEN Tuesday, December 1, 2008, beginning at 7 p.m.

WHERE Lincoln Park at 3540 Mission Road in Lincoln Heights. The monument

is located directly across from the DMV offices and next to Plaza de la


ETC. The Wall Las Memorias Project (www.thewalllasmemoriasproject.org)

is dedicated to promoting wellness and preventing illness among

Latino populations affected by HIV/AIDS by using the inspiration of

The AIDS Monument as a catalyst for social change.

# # #

Thursday, November 19, 2009


November 20, 2009

According to the cliché, those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it. LAvander Los Angeles seeks to educate the queer community on its own history so we can learn from past mistakes and continue to build on the successes of our pioneers in order to secure a brighter tomorrow. One of the great heroes of the movement on whose shoulders many of us stand is the Rev. Troy Perry, founder of Metropolitan Community Church.

On Wednesday, November 18, 2009, California Faith for Equality and Roots of Equality co-hosted "A Night with Rev. Troy Perry." 25 people gathered to hear the legendary hero who married his first gay couple in 1969 and tried to sue the state of California for its recognition -- only to be laughed at and dismissed by the courts back then. No one is laughing now. Rev. Troy Perry also fasted to raise money to help defeat the Briggs Initiative -- and won! As one of the co-founders of Christopher Street West Gay Pride Parade, Troy wanted to make sure LGBT people were visible and once and for all assert that closets are for clothes! Now retired, Troy still finds time to be grand marshal at Pride parades and continues the struggle for equality and social justice.

Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong, ordained with the Metropolitan Community Church and Interfaith Organizer for California Faith for Equality, asked Troy what advise he would give young people today. He responded by saying, "Young people need to stick with the movement and not just give up after one or two losses." Indeed, after Prop 8 in California and Question 1 in Maine (as well as 31 states total with discriminatory marriage/family policies), it would be easy to feel discouraged and leave the movement, but Troy, having founded MCC 41 years ago (a year before the Stonewall Riots in New York), is a living testament to the power of faith and patience. He also encouraged the LGBT community to make sure people of faith are on the forefront of this movement. This is the work that California Faith for Equality continues to embark in.

Monday, November 9, 2009


From the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle

November 3rd 2009

This week, I attended two of the California Faith for Equality statewide demonstrations for equal rights in California. Orange County’s service had about 80 people present and San Diego had about 50 people for a lunchtime “60 Minutes for Equality” service. North San Diego County had over 100 people meeting on Monday evening, one of the largest gatherings in the region. I commend California Faith for Equality and her partners for this demonstration of clergy and lay opposition to the current status quo. Like it or not, clergy continue to be the gatekeepers of marriage in California, Maine and every other state in the union. The LGBT community and those who advocate for equal rights, if they have not realized this fact by now, may see the defeat of equal rights in Maine as a wake up call to engage more deeply with the religious dimensions to marriage. Until recently, the religious dimension has been strategically avoided by the equality camp. Maine has changed that.

One of the marks of a healthy marriage is tenacity and good communication. This past year has been difficult for us in California where a slim majority of the electorate stripped the constitutional rights of LGBT citizens and to limited future state sanctioned marriages between a man and a woman. In spite of this blow, the LGBT community and our allies have shown remarkable tenacity in continuing to engage voters who disagree with us. Tenacity and good communication! Equality California, one of the leading statewide movements for LGBT rights has for example continued to have over 600,0000 conversations this year and hired twenty full time field managers. They in turn train thousands of volunteers to go door by door to “Yes on 8” voters to present another story and to show the disparity in rights. This process is to be commended, as it is about engaging in deeper conversations where we are discovering meaning and community in this new engagement with one another. Much of the experience we gained in California last year was utilized in Maine and Washington, where the rights of fellow Americans are being stripped away yet again by the Roman Catholic Church’s leadership and funding. Not only are the constitutional rights of fellow Americans under threat, but the freedom of religious leaders to respond pastorally and liturgically to same gender couples continues to be compromised. 6,000 clergy in California are, (from our interpretation of scripture, from a pastoral and justice perspective), unable to function fully as pastors to all members of our congregations, even when the vast majority of our membership are willing to celebrate sacramental marriages with same gender couples. Some of us feel torn between our official role as agents of the state in officiating at weddings and being pastors to all our people, including the LGBT community. To discriminate, as enforced by the Department of Public Health’s current policy not to grant marriage licenses to same gender couples, runs contrary to many of our religious convictions of serving an inclusive faith community where all God’s children are welcomed and where the sacraments are open, (as in my Episcopal tradition), to all the baptized.

Some of us are now refusing to sign any state marriage licenses until we can sign licenses for all whom we discern to be called by God into a sacramental marriage. Others are continuing to bless and celebrate marriages of couples who come to us. Where the California electorate is almost evenly divided on this issue, the religious community cannot be forced to follow the edicts of a state department that is advocating the theological and political views of the slim majority. Either civil marriage is open to all couples, (as is the case in some states, in most European countries, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa) or there needs to be a religious exemption clause that will allow the 6,000 clergy here in California to respond to the call of God and define marriage as our faith communities allow. Historically, the church defined and controlled marriage until the civil role of registering marriages was taken over by the state. Throughout this state control, the Roman Catholic Church for centuries has delineated civil and sacramental marriage. When the state dissolves a marriage in divorce, there is a portion of that contract that the Roman Catholic Church claims the state has no jurisdiction over. Hence there is a need for a process of annulment to dissolve the marriage. The Roman Catholic Church has set a precedent, and 6,000 clergy representing mainstream churches, the Jewish community and other faith traditions should learn from this tradition and apply it to our current dilemma. Historically, there is a part of the sacrament of marriage that the state does not control, that is claimed by the authority of the faith community and God alone.

Roman Catholics tenaciously hold the right to use this privilege for their own interpretation of marriage, but will they allow clergy and congregations who might share some of the similar views of what makes a sacramental marriage to do the same? In other words, can we continue to bless and sanctify same gender marriages within our faith traditions even thought they are not recognized by the Department of Heath? Can a state employee who has not professional theological or religious credential tell 6,000 clergy in California their marriages are not “sacramentally” valid?

I recently married a couple who were legally married in California but did not have a religious ceremony. They told me they did not feel “married”. They wanted a ceremony where they could demonstrate their love and commitment in front of friends and family and they wanted a religious leader there to perform the ceremony. We planned a sacramental marriage, and even though it was not a legal service (no state forms to sign), for everyone present. This was an actual marriage and in the eyes of the community present, Aaron and Rusty moved from being a partnered couple to being married.

One of the ways forward and avoid the 50/50 popular vote “standoff” that we will soon find ourselves in may be for the religious and state communities to come to terms with the complexity of this issue and to develop an agreed simple solution. The constitution should allow for all responsible adult citizens to marry the person they love and want to spend the rest of their lives with. The state will remain responsible for the registration of all marriages through the existing licensing process. The religious community should also be allowed to define marriage as they understand it and not be forced to do something which is contrary to that understanding. Even though the larger Christian church has no agreed definition of marriage (or divorce), there is agreement that the state should not use its civil authority to impose the theological and political views of a slim majority upon everyone.

Shannon Minter, the attorney who argued the case for same gender marriages before the Supreme Court would invite us all to appeal to our consciences and to invite those couples who are currently denied their full civil rights to indeed live as if we were married. More and more couples in California and other states, as a common act of conscience and in defiance of a great social injustice, (often portrayed with a religious mask of orthodoxy) will come to us seeking God’s blessing and the blessing of the friends and community. We cannot be totally defined by a department of state, or by the will of the slim majority. Freedom of conscience and freedom of religion is core values in our democracy and the pillars of church and state must always stand apart.

Dr. Margaret Farley, a Roman Catholic ethicist from Yale in her book “Just Love” gives us some insights into what a new and inclusive ethic for marriage might look like. She creates a 21st century model of what it means to live in and to bless a “sacramental marriage” that is built upon her Roman Catholic background and broader Christian experience. Her model applies to heterosexuals principally, but is inclusive of same gender couples.

Principle 1: Self determination –is an affirmation by each partner of what it means to be a person rather than “scooping you into my agenda”. This demands the ethic of mutual respect for persons as ends in themselves and not to harm them “unjustly”) Farley has worked in difficult contexts like Africa where gender inequality is one of the major reasons for the increase of HIV infection in women. Her context is compelling as she notes this principle has been dangerously absent in many heterosexual relationships.

Principle 2: Respect for the autonomy of the other –ensuring the free consent of sexual partners. This should include truth telling and promise keeping.

Principle 3: Equality of Power which ensures the protection of the vulnerability of the other to allow for possibilities of growth.

Principle 4: Commitment –an enduring love in which each person can learn to be faithful and hope-full.

Principle 5: Fruitfulness, which in traditional Roman Catholic teaching was focused solely on reproduction of children. Farley expands this model to talk about both the creation of children and the possibility of being called in a “fruitful” sacramental relationship the care of other people’s children. How do we create institutions that create safety and security for future generations? For Farley, non procreative relationships for heterosexual and same gender couples can be fruitful and therefore sacramental.

Farley is one ethicist who is struggling with traditional church teaching and the possibilities a new ethic for sacramental marriage. Her emerging framework is both challenging to heterosexuals who seek to live out sacramental marriages and to same gender couples who may be called to the same holy lives. Dare the state or the church tell us that we should not affirm and bless them on their journeys? She also challenges us to think more deeply about what makes a marriage successful, like tenacity and good communication as I addressed earlier. Love can help a married coupled but it is often not enough to sustain the challenges faced by two human beings. She challenges us to inject the concept of justice into our ethic of marriage as a more stable and helpful concept. Equality in marriage is not only something we should wish for the LGBT community, but equality may be an essential antidote to breaking the contemporary pattern of one in two American marriages failing. Most clergy see our work to connect all people with one another and to affirm our inclusion in a mysterious creation, that we believe has meaning purpose and we experience that more clearly in deep loving relationships. The struggle for marriage equality for LGBT people is connected to this larger search for meaning and love and to discover helpful ethical frameworks that hold people and families together. To attempt to exclude us or prevent us from fulfilling this vocation with, LGBT couples, our faith communities, families and allies, I believe is to do a great disservice to this higher calling.


Rev. Canon Albert Ogle is Vice President for National Affairs with Integrity and serves on the California Council of Churches Impact Board. He serves as clergy in St. Paul’s Cathedral San Diego and works for Equality California.


A report from CFE's Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong:

Between 80-100 people gathered at Church of the Foothills Disciples of
Christ/United Church of Christ for a time of prayer/reflection/and
inspiration to keep the faith for equality. Religious leaders and secular
activists and organizers came together for an evening of support and sharing
of incredible stories of courage and overcoming discrimination and pain.

Beth Severson and the Unison Interfaith Choir of Orange County made a debut
performance, singing "For Good" from Wicked, The Musical, and "One Power--"
a song reminding us of our common humanity. There was also a point when
Misha Houser shared a moving Gaelic song, encouraging us to draw from the
light of the candles and chalice into our hearts to warm our spirit and
illuminate our path.

Some of the comments from the evening include:
"I know one day soon we are going to have marriage equality and look back on
events like tonight and remember how they brought our community together."

"It was a joy to come out singing for marriage equality, something very dear
to my heart!"

"It was a beautiful service."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Two interesting quotes on the same sex marriage vote in Maine

“ Lets get the government OUT of marriage. Civil unions for all, and marriages as defined by your religious organization. Who would have thought that trying to keep the government in something would be such a "Conservative" ideal. ”

“ People voting on the issue of gay marriage are not voting against homosexuality, they are voting in favor of time-in-memorial tradition that falls into the most basic category of preservation of the species (reproduction). ”

MAINE: Bishop 'grieved' over defeat of same-gender marriage law


By Mary Frances Schjonberg, November 04, 2009

Episcopal Diocese of Maine Bishop Stephen T. Lane said Nov. 3 that he joins the "many Episcopalians [who] are deeply grieved" by Maine voters' rejection of that state's same-gender marriage law.
At 1 a.m. Nov. 4, with 87 percent of the state's precincts reporting, 52.8 percent of Mainers had voted to repeal the law, versus 47.2 percent who voted to keep it, according to the Portland, Maine, Press Herald newspaper.

In a statement posted on the diocese's website, Lane said that many faithful Episcopalians "had hoped that they and their families might enjoy the recognition and protections afforded heterosexual couples."

"The rejection of the law also feels like rejection of them as persons. I join in their grief that the right of same-gender couples to enter into a lifelong, monogamous marriage has been denied," he continued. "At the same time I know there are other faithful Episcopalians who are thankful about the election results. I understand that this matter has been a matter of conscience for them."

In April, Lane had submitted testimony in favor of the then-proposed law during a legislative hearing. Maine Governor John Baldacci signed the law in May, but it never took effect because of a petition drive that succeeded in placing the question on the fall general election ballot.

Lane said in his statement that after the governor signed the law he began work on a set of guidelines for clergy to use with legal same-gender marriage. "These guidelines will not be distributed," he said. "However, I will continue to work with a small group to consider the ways we may support the faithful, monogamous relationships of faithful gay and lesbian Episcopalians."

During the Episcopal church's July 8-17 General Convention in Anaheim, California, deputies and bishops passed Resolution C056 calling for the development of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships to be considered at the next meeting of convention in 2015. Meanwhile, the resolution said, "bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church."

In Anaheim, Lane had sponsored Resolution B012 which asked for that permission. That resolution was melded with others and the original C056.

The Episcopal Church in Maine will continue to welcome to all people, Lane said in his statement, and "we will continue to strive for justice and peace among all people."

"Whether you are saddened or thankful, please know that you remain in my prayers," he added.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

CFE's Rev. Susan Russell on KNBC-4

The Reverend Canon Susan Russell, a member of California Faith for Equality's Sponsoring Committee, was featured on the KNBC-4 5:00 news hour, responding to the marriage equality vote in Maine.


For immediate release - November 4th, 2009


"Today we share the sadness of the people of Maine who narrowly lost a chance to affirm equality for all, by taking away the right to marry from same sex couples. We condemn the use of lies and fear tactics used to manipulate the true issues of this race. Maine is the 31st state to block same sex marriage through a public referendum. It is tragic when Americans vote to take away the rights of their fellow Americans. We need to recalibrate our moral compass to reflect the true American values of liberty and justice for all, not just some,” said Samuel M. Chu, a Presbyterian pastor and Interim Executive Director of California Faith for Equality.

“Yesterday the forces of fear and hatred won in Maine. The religious right wing has once again written their theology into the state constitution,” said, Rabbi Denise Eger, President of the Southern California Board of Rabbis and founding board member of California Faith for Equality (CFE). “As a rabbi, I speak out against their manipulation of our civic rights and responsibilities. As a rabbi whose faith demands inclusion, I will not allow their Christian right wing theology to affect my ability to practice my faith. This is a travesty for Maine and for our country. "

The Reverend Dr. Neil Thomas, Sr. Pastor of Metropolitan Community Church, Los Angeles and President of the Board of CFE echoed, “Today I grieve with the same sex couples in Maine that voters succumbed to the lies and the rhetoric that, once again used faith language to deny equal rights to all of God's people. It is a sad reality that fundamentalism, specifically fundamentalist Christianity, has distorted the values and life of Jesus who, in his ministry sided with the poor, the disenfranchised and those who were a minority. While we know that today is a sad day for justice and full equality in Maine, our country and the world, CFE will continue to raise its religious voice in support of those on the margins and follow the precepts of all faith systems that preach justice, love, hope and equality.”

The Reverend Canon Susan Russell, a priest at All Saints Church, Pasadena and immediate past President of Integrity USA, a gay advocacy group in the Episcopal Church, said, "I'm surprised I can still be disappointed by those who are willing to legislate away the civil rights of other Americans. Thank God we didn't have referendums in 1954 or Brown v Board of Education would have been toast."

Pastor Chu concluded, "We are reminded today that change is always hard fought and incremental. We have lots of work to do. We must learn to embrace and engage people who are different. We must embrace the teaching of our faith traditions and love our neighbors as ourselves. We must not take away the same rights we hold dear, from other minority groups because they are different than we are. We must embrace ‘the other’, ‘the stranger at the gate’. It is truly time for love and compassion to overcome fear and hatred. We will not rest until all families, all children, all human beings have theopportunity to be recognized as equal."

California Faith for Equality is a network of over 6000 faith and religious clergy and lay leaders who support equality.


From the New York Times................

November 5, 2009
News Analysis
Loss in Maine Sets Back Gay-Marriage Drive
They had far more money, ground troops and political support, and geography was on their side, given that New England has been more accepting of same-sex marriage than any other region of the country. Yet gay-rights advocates suffered a crushing loss in Maine when voters decided Tuesday to repeal the state’s new law allowing gays and lesbians to wed, setting back a movement that had made remarkable progress nationally this year.

Maine became the 31st state to block same-sex marriage through a public referendum, a result that will force supporters to rethink their national strategy at a crucial time for the movement. With 84 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday, the repeal proposal had 53 percent of the vote, even though polls had indicated the race was a dead heat.

This year three other states — Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont — joined Massachusetts and Connecticut in allowing same-sex marriage, but only through court rulings and legislative action. Maine, with its libertarian leanings, had seemed to offer an excellent chance of reversing the long national trend of voters rejecting marriage equality at the ballot box.

Some said the loss was a sign that the state-by-state approach favored by the largest gay-rights groups had failed and that the focus should move to reversing the federal ban on same-sex marriage, which Congress can reverse without voter approval. Others argued that the defeat only reinforced the need to keep winning grassroots support.

Evan Wolfson, executive director of the national gay-rights group Freedom to Marry, said the loss in Maine underscores "the fact that we need to continue those conversations and make ourselves visible as families in communities."

He added, "It shows we have just not done it long enough and deep enough, even in a place like Maine.”

But Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, the conservative Christian group that is leading the charge against same-sex marriage around the country, read the outcome differently.

"It interrupts the story line that is being manufactured, that suggests the culture has shifted on gay marriage and the fight is over,” she said. “Maine is one of the most secular states in the nation, it’s socially liberal, they had a three-year head start to build their organization and they outspent us two to one. If they can’t win there, it really does tell you the majority of Americans are not on board with this gay marriage thing."

The next battlefields are New Jersey and New York, whose Democratic governors were pressing lawmakers to pass same-sex marriage bills by the end of the year, and California, where voters approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage last November. Gay-rights groups there will likely seek a ballot measure reversing the ban by 2012; a federal lawsuit challenging the prohibition is scheduled to go to trial in January, and is expected to make its way to the Supreme Court.

Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton on gay issues, said such federal litigation was the best hope for advancing same-sex marriage at this point.

"The state-by-state strategy that looked clever a few years ago has run its course," he said. "The states that were easy to get have been gotten."

In New Jersey, Gov. Jon Corzine’s loss on Tuesday to Christopher Christie, a Republican who opposes same-sex marriage, dealt another potential blow to the movement. Mr. Christie has vowed to veto any same-sex marriage bill that reaches his desk; however, Mr. Corzine could still sign a same-sex marriage bill into law if the legislature approves it before January.

The city council in Washington, D.C., also appears poised to pass a same-sex marriage law, although opponents are seeking a referendum that would ask voters to ban it.
A more long-term, complex question is whether gay-rights supporters can reverse the constitutional bans on same-sex marriage in some 30 states that have enacted them since 2000. The outcome in Maine reinforces voters’ reluctance to endorse it, which national polls echo, too, though the gap is narrowing. And supporters acknowledge they would much rather avoid ballot questions.

"They tend to marginalize the group that is being targeted and inflame people’s passions in a way that is at best divisive and at worst terribly cruel," said Jennifer C. Pizer, marriage project director for Lambda Legal, an advocacy group based in Los Angeles. "Our founders did not intend to allow a majority to take basic rights from a minority."

Still, a group in Oregon announced Monday that it would seek a repeal of that state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, perhaps as soon as 2012. Oregon voters approved the ban in 2004, and gay-rights groups have been quietly building support for a repeal.
But in general, supporters are more likely to focus on states with statutory bans on gay marriage, which legislatures can reverse without voter approval. One such state is Washington, where preliminary returns in this year’s election showed voters approving an expansion of a domestic partnership law that would give gay couples more of the state-granted rights that married couples get. "The effort there has been a steady building of support in the legislature," Ms. Pizer said. "It’s unclear when they will ascertain there’s enough public support to change the marriage law, but it’s been a gradual process that will continue."

Opponents of same-sex marriage, led by the National Organization for Marriage, which contributed more than $1 million to the Maine repeal effort, said the outcome there should make lawmakers in other states nervous about endorsing same-sex marriage.

"We’re already hearing in both New York and New Jersey that they are noticing what’s happening here," Ms. Gallagher said. "Do other politicians really want to enter this particular culture war given all the stuff they are going to have to defend in the next election?"
The National Organization for Marriage is seeking to recruit two million opponents of same-sex marriage to "deploy wherever is necessary," Ms. Gallagher said, and provide a steady stream of donations. After New York and New Jersey, she said, the organization will look for other states in which to push constitutional bans.

A state ethics commission in Maine is investigating whether Ms. Gallagher’s group violated the state’s campaign finance laws by failing to disclose its donors, and Ms. Pizer, of Lambda Legal, said that if the commission finds a violation occurred, gay-rights groups will use it as ammunition in the national same-sex marriage movement.

She said gay-rights supporters would also have to hone their strategy for fighting the claim that legalizing same-sex marriage would lead to children learning about it at school. Leaders of the repeal effort in Maine used that claim successfully, as did those in California last year.
"Sadly and unsurprisingly there’s a consistent theme that somehow gay people are a threat to children," Ms. Pizer said. "And it’s hard to prove one’s nonthreatening, honest humanity with a soundbite. You prove it through relationships, and relationships take time."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Unite the Fight Highlights Mormon Marriage Supporter

At Keeping the Faith - Los Angeles yesterday evening, Mormon marriage supporter Douglas Hunter reflected on the year since the passage of Prop 8:

It has been a year of hope in that for the first time many in the Mormon community who support marriage equality have expressed their views and begun to develop a community. Even if many are fearful of speaking publicly, let it be known today that there are thousands of Mormons in California who do support marriage equality.

For the full text of Douglas's speech, visit Unite the Fight.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Keeping the Faith Kicks Off in North San Diego County


To Maine, Washington State and Kalamazoo,

With Love,

Keeping the Faith North San Diego County.

Six Tests for Equality and Fairness

November 2, 2009

Editorial from the NY Times

Political battles this fall in six different parts of the country could have a profound impact on whether the United States will extend the promise of equal rights to those who are not allowed to marry simply because they are the same sex as their partner.

Three jurisdictions — New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia — seem tantalizingly close to securing legislative approval for measures ending the hurtful and unjustifiable exclusion of same-sex couples from civil marriage. But in Maine, Washington State and Kalamazoo, Mich., voters are being asked on Tuesday to strip away vital rights and protections.

The dominant Election Day battleground is Maine. Last fall, forces of the religious right backed a successful ballot measure that overruled California’s top court by banning same-sex marriage. Now those forces are trying for another mean-spirited victory with Maine’s Question 1, which, if approved, would block the legalization of same-sex marriage passed by the State Legislature and signed by Gov. John Baldacci in May. With the outcome likely to be close, a heavy turnout by voters committed to tolerance and justice is crucial.

Washington State has yet to approve same-sex marriage. But it took a positive step last May when Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill that granted gay and lesbian couples the state-provided benefits that married heterosexual couples have, like the right to use sick leave to care for a partner. Voters should affirm this progress by voting yes on Referendum 71.

A third initiative, in Kalamazoo, has the potential to overturn a measure unanimously approved by the City Commission barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations. Fair-minded voters should respond by voting yes to uphold the antidiscrimination law.

Following the election, attention will shift to New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia, which stand a realistic chance of joining the jurisdictions where same-sex marriages are allowed.

The New York situation is particularly frustrating. Gov. David Paterson strongly supports granting same-sex couples the freedom to marry, and the State Assembly has twice passed a bill to do so. But the overdue measure has been in limbo because the Democrats who control the State Senate’s calendar keep dawdling over scheduling a recorded vote on the floor.

We do not have a precise head count. But we suspect that once the bill got to the floor, a majority of the Senate’s 62 members would recognize that same-sex marriage is a fundamental civil right. Continuing to delay a vote shows disrespect for New York citizens injured by the status quo. The time for a vote is right now.

In New Jersey, support has been building for a measure allowing same-sex marriages. Legislators should pass it during the upcoming lame-duck session. Gov. Jon Corzine has said he would sign the law.

In the District of Columbia, the City Council seems ready to approve a local law legalizing same-sex marriage in the shadow of the Capitol dome. That might prompt a Congressional attempt to tamper with home rule. But the fact that Congress has let stand a recent D.C. law recognizing same-sex marriages legally performed elsewhere gives hope that such meddling can be avoided.