Taking the InitiativeNovember 6th, 2003
ALDF and other animal advocacy groups won a major victory on Election Day when Florida voters approved a ballot initiative that banned the use of “gestation crates” on pig farms in the state. The crates — tiny cages used to imprison pregnant sows for months at a time — are commonly found in factory farms throughout the country. Thanks to the success of the initiative, an amendment making the cages illegal is now part of the Florida constitution. The new law is the first measure ever enacted in the United States to bar inhumane confinement in a factory farm setting.
“The use of gestation crates is unconscionably cruel, and I am immensely pleased that the people of Florida have done something about it,” says ALDF founder and general counsel Joyce Tischler. “I just hope other states will follow in their footsteps.”
The ballot initiative was the product of a coalition that brought together several animal advocacy groups, including ALDF, the Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary and Floridians for Humane Farms. The wording of the initiative was developed and presented to the Florida Supreme Court by Holland & Knight, a law firm retained by ALDF. (In Florida, all initiatives have to be approved by the court in order to appear on state ballots.) After the state’s Supreme Court justices signed off on the initiative’s wording, volunteers worked to gather the 488,000 signatures needed to ensure that the measure would have a place on ballots in November.
When it came time to go to the polls, 55 percent of those voting on the initiative gave it thumbs up, adding up to more than 2.5 million yes votes.
There was more good news across the country, where other animal-friendly initiatives were also popular with voters:
- Arizona: A measure that would have expanded gambling at greyhound racetracks — thus providing new revenue for those who profit from the abusive sport — was defeated.
- Georgia: A newly passed amendment authorizes the creation of a spay/neuter license plate, which will channel much-needed funds to spay/neuter programs.
- Oklahoma: Voters chose to ban cockfighting in the state, making Louisiana and some counties in New Mexico the only places in the U.S. where this blood sport is still legal. Oklahoma voters also rejected a measure designed to make it harder for animal protection initiatives to get onto state ballots.
- West Virginia: Six counties voted to continue a ban on hunting on Sunday, the only day when hikers and campers can make use of area forestland without fear of being shot. All six counties decided not to lift the ban on Sunday hunting.