Parties Shift in Legislatures
November 17, 2000
By Will OBryan
In all of the noise generated by last weeks close presidential election, state
legislative races have not received much media attention. For Gays, however, these races
can be crucial, as state legislators are usually far busier than their federal
counterparts when it comes to crafting laws that affect Gays. Only five statesLouisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginiadid not have at least one
legislative house facing elections Nov. 7.
Before Nov. 7, both houses in 19 states had Democratic majorities. Today, that can be
said for only 17 states. The Democratic hold on both chambers was lost in Maine and
Missouri, where only one house in each state remains Democratic.
Republicans held majorities in both houses in 18 states. Since the general election,
that count has slipped to 17, too. Republicans lost their majority in the Arizona Senate.
In the remaining 16 states, either one house has partisan parity or the two chambers
are controlled by the two different partiesexcept for Nebraska, which has only one
legislative house that is filled with 50 independents.
With many legislative sessions scheduled to start in January, it is too soon to find
out exactly what these results will mean. Ron Passarelli of Arizonas statewide Gay
group Community Action Network said he is eager to find out. While Arizonas most
prominent Gay politician, State Rep. Steve May, is a Republican in the Arizona House and
someone Passarelli depends upon in the Legislature, he said he is hopeful about what his
group may accomplish since the Republicans lost control of the Senate.
"Were very pleased and we think weve got an opportunity for archaic
law repeal," Passarelli said, referring to Arizonas sodomy law, the repeal of
which has been his groups focus. He added that the election results have encouraged
them to work toward passage of an Arizona version of the Employment Non-Discrimination
Marcus Hearn of the New Hampshire Gay group Out and Equal did not wake up to
Passarellis rosy outcome on Nov. 8. The New Hampshire Senate tipped from an equal
number of Democrats and Republicans to Republican control, leaving both houses with a GOP
majority. As Americas political landscape evolves, however, Hearn takes the turn of
events in seeming stride.
"Almost all of our victories have come through Republican legislatures,"
Hearn said. "Its very much going to be wait and see. ä It makes it less likely
well be able to pass domestic partnership this yearthough not
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