While we’re waiting on the final word about the presidential election, here are some other results you might find of interest:
- 2020 has been a good year for LGBTQ candidates. In Oklahoma, Mauree Turner will be the first non-binary member of the state House of Representatives. Turner, who is Muslim, won the seat easily, defeating Republican Kelly Barlean with 71% of the vote. In Delaware, Sarah McBride, who is transgender, won a seat in the state Senate. McBride will be the highest-ranking transgender elected official in the United States. In Georgia, Kim Jackson became that state’s first openly lesbian member of the state Senate. (LGBTQ candidates did well in other parts of the country. You can read about these victories here.)
- Two states had abortion-related referenda questions on their ballots. In Louisiana, voters approved a measure to amend the state constitution to explicitly state that it does not contain any right to abortion and that public funding of abortion is banned. The measure passed easily, 62% to 38%. In Colorado, voters rejected a measure that would have banned abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy. It failed, with 59% in opposition. State abortion measure are important: If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the issue will revert to state legislatures.
- In Washington state, voters approved Referendum 90, which will require the state’s public school districts to teach sexual health education. The measure states that schools may choose a curriculum from several options or create their own. If a school chooses to draft its own, officials must submit it to the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
- Nevada voters added protection for marriage equality to the state constitution. The measure passed with 62 percent; it makes Nevada the first state to protect that right in its constitution. This type of protection could become important if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Obergefell v. Hodges, the five-year-old ruling declaring marriage equality a right under the U.S. Constitution. If that happens, the matter will revert to the states.
- Arizona voters approved Proposition 208, a measure designed to boost public school spending in the state. The measure will impose an additional 3.5 percent tax on single people who earn more than $250,000 annually and couples who earn more than $500,000 with the funds dedicated for public schools. The final tally was 52% for to 48% against. The vote marks another victory for public education advocates in the state. In 2008, they rolled back a private school voucher expansion through a ballot referendum.
Issues like LGBTQ rights, reproductive freedom and public education are closely connected to religious freedom and church-state separation. Many of the people who attack these things do so based on fundamentalist religious beliefs. While religious freedom gives everyone the right to believe as they choose about these social issues, it also guarantees that our shared secular laws are not based on religious beliefs and that one person’s religion is not used to harm others. That’s what we fight for every day at AU. If you agree that this is important work, I hope you’ll join us.