'Til Ballot Initiative Do Us Part: Marriage Equality, Religion and Civil Rights

Thursday, March 19, 2009
4:00 PM - 8:00 PM
WCL Room 603


On Election Day 2008, voters in Arizona, California and Florida passed ballot initiatives amending their state constitutions to recognize as civil marriages only unions between one man and one woman, joining 26 other states that already had passed similar amendments. Arkansas voters favored a ban on adoption and foster parenting by people "cohabitating outside a valid marriage," which proponents said was necessary to fight "the gay agenda." Some commentators pointed to exit polls and surveys purporting to show that African-Americans, Latinos/as, and adherents to conservative religious traditions supported these antigay initiatives at significantly higher rates than other communities. The media often quoted same-sex marriage opponents as citing the Bible as the basis for their votes. This conference brings together nationally prominent religious, media and legal figures to discuss key questions raised by these results, including: Were the exit polls and surveys showing a marked difference in support for marriage equality between white and of-color communities accurate? What explains that difference if, indeed, it exists? What else did the exit polls and survey results show that the media failed to report? What role should religion play in the debate around civil marriage rights for gay Americans? Why is implying an analogy between the gay rights and the African-American civil rights movements the source of tension? Can fair parallels be drawn between the antigay marriage bans and the anti-miscegenation laws struck down by 1967's Loving v. VA? And what do these election results teach us about the pros and cons of ballot initiatives as a means of amending state constitutions?

Presented by the Program on Law & Government

Students, Alumni, Faculty, Staff & General Public – no charge
(registration is required)


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