Voters in all four states where questions about marriage equality appeared on the ballot unanimously chose fairness over discrimination on Tuesday. In a historic first, Maine voters approved a measure to legalized same-sex marriage just three years after a similar referendum took away the right of gay couples to marry.
Jubilant marriage equality supporters succeeded in breaking a long streak—more than 30 occasions in all—in which people in numerous states consistently voted against legalizing same-sex marriage and for constitutional amendments banning recognition of gay unions. Maine becomes the first state where voters chose to extend marriage equality where it was not already a pending law.
In Maryland and Washington, the state legislatures had passed bills legalizing same-sex marriage in February, but opponents had succeeded in garnering enough signatures to put the laws to a popular vote. In both states, voters ultimately approved the laws, bringing the number of states allowing same-sex marriage to nine: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.
Minnesotans were asked whether they wanted to amend their state constitution to ban recognition of gay and lesbian relationships, even though same-sex marriage is already illegal there. The measure was defeated by a margin of less than 4 percent.
“Minnesota is a prime example that we are experiencing a sea change in how Americans view their LGBT neighbors. With 30 states having voted to write discrimination into their constitutions, Minnesotans stood up and said, ‘not us,’ and more are sure to follow their lead,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement. HRC donated $1 million and recruited more than 1,100 volunteers to help defeat the measure.