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Same-Sex Marriage Approved

November 7, 2012 permalink

In yesterday's American election, voters in Maine and Maryland and apparently Washington approved same-sex marriage while voters in Minnesota failed to approve a constitutional amendment to thwart future legislative efforts to allow same-sex marriage.



Gay Marriage Gets First Ballot Wins

Americans for the first time approved gay marriage at the ballot box on Tuesday, pointing to changing attitudes on the divisive issue.

In Maine and Maryland, voters approved ballot initiatives to begin allowing same-sex unions. Those wins mark a first for a cause that had previously been rejected by voters in more than 30 states, including as recently as 2009 in Maine.

And in Minnesota, where gay marriage is already not allowed, voters declined to back an initiative that would enshrine in the state's constitution a definition of marriage permitting only a union between a man and woman.

In Washington state, where voters also weighed an initiative to legalize gay marriage, the vote count was expected to stretch on for days. With half of the vote counted as of 3 a.m. Eastern time, nearly 52% supported the idea.

In Maine, campaigners for same-sex marriage said the win marked a turning point for their cause. "We made history here tonight and showed that voters can change their minds," said Matt McTighe, the campaign director of Mainers United for Marriage. "That will serve as something of a signal to other states who have lost marriage fights before at ballot boxes. You can change those minds."

In Maine, with 73% of the votes counted at 3 a.m. Eastern, more than 53% of the voters supported the gay-marriage initiative, the first time gay-rights groups have brought the issue to the ballot on their own terms. Although the Associated Press called the vote, opponents of the Maine measure didn't immediately concede, saying they were waiting on results from outlying areas of the state.

In Maryland, with 98% of the votes counted, nearly 52% supported gay marriage. "We're sure to feel the ripples of this monumental victory across the country for years to come," said Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality.

And in Minnesota, 51% of the votes were against a gay-marriage ban in the state's constitution as of 3 a.m. Eastern. Supporters of the amendment said it was needed to prevent courts or legislatures from changing state law in the future. In May, a similar amendment passed in North Carolina with 61% voter support.

The strategy that worked in Minnesota involved "sparking authentic conversations, and making sure you start early" said Richard Carlbom, the campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Families, which opposed the amendment.

Opponents of same-sex marriage said winning at the ballot box in strongly Democratic states like Maine doesn't prove a shift in national opinion on the issue. "Winning on your own turf is not a turning point," said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. "The only thing this says is that in deep blue states, gay-marriage advocates can win—barely."

In Washington, the result of a close race may not be known until the end of the week. The state has a mail-in voting system, with ballots expected to arrive over the next few days, so likely only 60% of the vote would be counted by Tuesday night, according to the Washington Secretary of State's office.

Six states plus the District of Columbia already had allowed gay marriage, but in those cases the unions were sanctioned by lawmakers or by courts, not popular votes. Maine's ballot initiative, called Question 1, stands out as the first time proponents have brought the issue to a popular vote on their own. Voters in Maryland and Washington decided whether to overturn gay-marriage laws passed by their state legislatures.

Gay-rights groups say they were emboldened to take their cause back to the ballot box by research showing American attitudes reached a turning point. A national poll by The Wall Street Journal/NBC News in March found 49% favored gay marriage, and 40% opposed it. In 2009, in the same poll found only 41% supported gay marriage, and 49% opposed it.

The wins at the ballot box, along with those in courts and legislatures, show "irrefutable momentum in favor of the freedom to marry," said Evan Wolfson, founder of national gay-rights group Freedom to Marry. "We are going to continue winning over more hearts and minds, forging the majority we have already built and continuing to win more states."

In campaigns, opponents have emphasized the benefits of traditional definitions of marriage for families and the impact of same-sex marriage on religious liberties in states that have already passed it.

In Maryland, the ballot language of the so-called Civil Marriage Protection Act anticipated some of the arguments raised by opponents of gay marriage, saying the law as passed by the legislature "protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs."

Exit polls indicated that race wasn't a deciding factor on the issue in Maryland. While some black churches publicly opposed gay marriage, exit polls found black voters were split on the issue, according to the Associated Press. White Marylanders were slightly more likely to vote in favor of gay marriage.

The Maryland initiative's largest base of support came among voters under the age of 29, the Associated Press reported.

A version of this article appeared November 7, 2012, on page A17 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Gay Marriage Gets First Ballot Wins.

Source: Wall Street Journal

At least America ended its obsession with Bronco Bama vs Mitt Romney (mp4).

Addendum: Walter Olson (mp3) analyzes the outcome. He finds an unexpected trend that prosperous Republican suburbs voting for Romney also supported same-sex marriage. In the inner cities voting for Obama, there was stronger opposition to same-sex marriage. Looked at in terms of Republican vs Democrat, it is hard to explain. Mr Olson does not mention that the child protection and adoption system moves children from the poor to the rich. In these terms it is easy to explain the pattern. Voters losing children oppose same-sex marriage (and adoption), those receiving children support it.