Marriage Equality Wins Big at the Ballot!

Same-sex marriage has never won at the ballot box — until now!

Before Tuesday night, 32 states had used a popular vote to prevent same-sex couples from marrying.

Finally, though, Election Day 2012 broke that curse with wins in Maine, Maryland, Washington and Minnesota.

All of the ballot questions were slightly different. Below is what you need to know about each of these amazing victories.


Maine Approves Marriage Equality at the Ballot

Every single one of the four victories is important in its own right, but Maine’s victory is perhaps a standout.

Equality advocates were left dejected in Maine in 2008 when, despite the state’s legislature having passed a marriage equality bill, and all indications being that the bill would survive a public vote, a public veto on thelegislationsaw it defeated.

Yet, in an extraordinary turnaround, Mainers under the leadership ofEqualityMaine and theGay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)decided they would remedy that wrong and, without waiting for the legislature to pass another bill, would this year attempt to use Question 1 to recapture the rights that were so very nearly approved four years ago.

The ballot question read:

“Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?”

And, in a 53% to 47% victory, Maine voters said a resounding “Yes” on Tuesday night.

To emphasize that, Maine approved marriage equality not as a result of their legislators passing a bill, though many did support marriage equality, but because of grassroots efforts by the public based on the principle that approving marriage equality was simply the right thing to do.

Marriage equality will come into effect in Maine on December 7.


Marriage Equality Retained in Maryland

In 2011, Maryland’s marriage equality effort was defeated due to a failure of courage from the state’s General Assembly and a derisive campaign by groups like the National Organization for Marriage that attempted to pit African Americans and the religious against equality advocates.

Under the leadership of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Maryland legislators this year put to rest that failure and passed a bill that would allow same-sex marriage while emphasizing religious exemptions and rights.

Foes quickly moved to put the new law to the ballot, and so Question 6 was born.

The ballot language read:

“[The same-sex civil marriage referendum] establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.”

While at first it appeared that the scaremongering and derisive tactics may once again lead to a defeat in Maryland, a wild card re-energized supporters.

That wild card was President Obama’s statement of support for marriage equality made in the summer of this year.

This presented a new opportunity for African American voters and the religious who also supported marriage rights to come forward.

And come forward they did. Marriage equality was preserved at the ballot on Tuesday night 52% to 48%, making Maryland one of the first states to ever retain marriage equality at the ballot.

The law will take effect January 1.


Marriage Equality Retained in Washington

Washington’s legislature, in an effort championed by Governor Chris Gregoire, this year passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriages in the state.

The law was scheduled to take effect in June, however, gay marriage foes worked to block the law by triggering a referendum on the measure, whereby Referendum 74 was created.

The ballot language was as follows:

“This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry, preserve domestic partnerships only for seniors, and preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.”

It was always believed that of the handful of states where marriage equality was in question this year, Washington could buck the trend of defeats.

This is because in 2009, Washington became the first state in the U.S. to retain at the ballot an “everything but marriage” partnership law.

Washington voters didn’t disappoint on Election Night this year either, voting 52% to 48% to approve the law (based on current figures with 61 percent of precincts reporting).

The law is set to take effect on December 6.


Minnesota Constitutional Gay Marriage Ban Amendment Defeated

While this victory did not legalize gay marriage — there’s still a state level ban on same-sex couples marrying — it represents an important victory.

Michele Bachmann and other gay rights opponents had for years campaigned to institute aconstitutionalamendment codifying Minnesota’s same-sex marriage ban, but had been unable to to circumvent Democratic control in the state’s legislature.

However, with elections two years ago giving the Republicans in the state majority control, an amendment was forced through the legislature using lies about the need to protect marriage and children from activist judges and the homosexual agenda. Amendment 1 was born.

The amendment question read:

“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?

With the President and a number of high-profiled celebrities coming out against the amendment, and the Catholic church campaigning heavily for the measure, it became a closely contested race.

However, Minnesotans decided on Tuesday night to reject the ballot discrimination amendment, as it became known, voting 49% to 51% to reject the amendment.The amendment required at least a 50% affirmative vote to pass.

Minnesota is the first state to ever turn down the opportunity to enact a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

While opponents like Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage have already moved to brush off the victories in Maine and Maryland as liberal states promoting a liberal agenda, Minnesota’s qualified victory cannot be ignored quite so easily.

Maine, Maryland and Washington join six states and the District ofColumbia in allowing gay couples to legally marry. Those states include Massachusetts (2004), Connecticut (2008), Iowa (2009), Vermont (2009) New Hampshire (2010) andNew York (2011).

Congratulations to all equality advocates who helped to make Tuesday night one for the history books!


Related Reading:

Push to LegalizeGay Marriage in Ohio Begins

Amazon Founder Gives $2.5 Million toGay Marriage Effort

5 Lies Maryland’s New Anti-Gay Marriage Ad Uses

Image credit: Thinkstock.


Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

rene davis
irene davis5 years ago


Sandra L.
Sandra L6 years ago polygamist Winston Blackmore names wives court/6046205/story.html

Albert L.
Past Member 6 years ago

Sandra L.

That is actually information I have not heard. Do you happen to have any links to an article about that? I would really appreciate that. I want to make sure I have all the information.

And you could very well be correct that it will not start up again. And if so, then that could negate my argument in regards to Canada. But there are still those in Australia. I'm having more difficulty getting information from there. A couple of people that I have spoke to from there, were not even aware it was going on.

Sandra L.
Sandra L6 years ago

Actually Albert, since that one case that upheld our federal law banning polygamy they have closed the school in their community and put the man behind the case on trial for tax evasion so I suspect that no further attempts will be seen.

Albert L.
Past Member 6 years ago

Sandra L.
Forgive me if I misrepresented your words. that is not my intention.

I was merely stating the fact that this is something that polygamists have being trying to do in Canada and I have even stated that they have failed at this point in time.
I was placing your name in there not as someone that agrees with me but rather just as confirmation that these are real events that are happening today.

And yes, I completely concur with you that polygamy is currently banned in Canada. But, that does not mean that they have not been trying to change that recently, would you agree?

Sandra L.
Sandra L6 years ago

Albert, please don't misrepresent my words. Polygamy and pedophilia have no relationship to marriage equality. In Canada, polygamy is explicitly banned as per Section 293 of our Criminal Code.

Alan G.
Alan G6 years ago

Any accredited school should be fine, important to this discussion is the inclusion of a number of logic (informal primarily) and additionally some moral reasoning/ethics courses would be good.

If you are claiming to be a graduate then it is poor advertisement for them. Regardless of the issue involved, your grasp of logic even when it is spelled out for you is lacking. Conflating concepts and avoiding logical fallacies is pretty rudimentary. If you can interpret any of my previous posts as supporting your position then it might be more of a problem with reading comprehension, I'm not familiar with the methods of helping adults develop those skills.

Albert L.
Past Member 6 years ago

Alan G. Would a masters in Philosophy of religion and ethics at Talbot School of Theology work?

Alan G.
Alan G6 years ago

Albert L.

I spoon fed you some logic and you spit it out, perhaps you are incapable of digesting rational thought.

As I said before, when you achieve a degree in Philosophy (I'll settle for a BA this time) we can continue the discussion.