The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision that Citizens United applies with equal force to state and local elections could open the door even wider for corporations to play a significant role in the marriage-equality debate.
In the November election four states — Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington — will allow voters to decide whether their gay and lesbian citizens can marry. Corporations can now provide unlimited financial resources to support such initiatives, as well as the candidates who support or reject them, and ultimately influence the outcome.
Past ballot initiatives have shown that not all politics is local. National organizations and businesses have often outspent local groups by a large margin. In 2008 the California Prop 8 campaign shattered spending records for social-policy initiatives, and much of the $83 million poured in from national organizations. Likewise, in 2009 outside groups contributed millions of dollars to the successful repeal of Maine’s marriage-equality law. National groups have also sought to influence judicial elections.
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