For the first time in history, voters have chosen to legalize same-sex marriage on the ballot. Gay rights advocates are already celebrating this development as a critical victory and a turning point in the fight for marriage equality.
Since the late ’90s, a total of 32 states have held votes on same-sex marriage, and each time, voters have opposed the measure. For opponents of same-sex marriage, this string of victories has been a crucial talking point. As Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, the nation’s leading group opposing gay marriage, said in a press release this summer: “The American people know in their heart what marriage is, and they have expressed that in the form of over 70 million votes cast in 32 consecutive state elections to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
But on Tuesday night, voters in Maine and Maryland chose to legalize gay marriage, according to exit polls and early returns. In Minnesota and Washington, the results were not yet clear as of this writing.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, an organization that has long advocated for same-sex marriage, spent more than $5 million in support of gay marriage in these states.
An interesting sidebar to the Maryland victory was that only six of 24 jurisdictions in Maryland had a majority for passage of Proposition 6. It just so happens that those six (five counties and one city) are among the seven largest in the state:
Even in the seventh jurisdiction (PG County), it appears that Prop. 6 only failed by just over 4,000 votes (166,001 for vs.170,078 against) (from the Maryland State Board of Elections site, I can’t tell if the totals are interim or final, but they are near final if not final).