I've now received five separate first-hand accounts of people who thought a vote FOR Initiated Act 1 was a vote AGAINST discrimination against homosexuals. Sorry, guys.
But .... I also readily acknowledge that voting confusion cuts both ways. There's not much ground to argue against the outcome of this election on account of ballot confusion. (Particularly since exit polling showed the strong influence of evangelical and rural voters in the outcome.) The vote was uniform statewide. EXCEPT:
Pulaski and Washington and Searcy counties voted solidly against the act. The homophobes will argue that Pulaski and Washington are full of pointy-headed liberals. More about that later. But Searcy, 2,158 to 1,852 AGAINST? Its state representatives in recent years have included a Baptist preacher, Roy Ragland, who was a prominent member of the anti-gay faction in the legislature. Can anybody explain?
I would like to think the Pulaski and Washington votes reflect a higher degree of information about the act thanks to more media exposure, along with more progressive outlooks. I probably kid myself.
But take a look at the precinct votes in Pulaski County. Pulaski Heights Presbyterian, the mother church of liberal voting in Arkansas, voted down the act, of course, 2,271 to 537. That's 81 to 19 percent against, if you're counting. (Iconoclast: what about Fayetteville? Can you top that?) Let's just call PH Presby the Cathedral of the Arkansas Times. That vote was far stronger than even my precinct's vote for Obama, 2044 to 821.
But the act was also beaten in diverse areas of the county. At Lakewood, in North Little Rock, it was 943 to 552 against. At Chenal Valley Baptist, it was 576 to 484 against. At Pleasant Valley Christian, another major poll in Republican-friendly WLR, it was 1,264 to 898 against. And what about black neighborhoods? Strong black voter support passed the gay marriage ban in California. But black LR voting precincts opposed Act 1 uniformly, if by smaller margins than in many white precincts. It was, for example, 611 to 468 against at Bullock Temple at 15th and Park, the biggest black voting precinct. Move to the suburbs and things changed. It was approved in Sherwood and also in Maumelle --by 1,212 to 1,205 at First Christian and 1,575 to 1,337 at First Methodist.
Moral: In times of loss, it is a comfort to be surrounded by friends.