Before Tuesday, no state had ever legalized same-sex marriage through a popular vote (although numerous states had voted to outlaw it). Today, not one but two states have voter-approved marriage equality laws on the books, and another state shot down a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. We still have a long way to go, not to mention a massive stink-bomb of a federal gay marriage ban to overturn, but in this latest round of love vs. hate, love won in a big way, and that’s something to celebrate. Read on to get the details on all the equality measures that made history last night…
Maine’s Question 1
What the measure said: “Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?”
What voters said: Yes! Marriage for all Mainers! This initiative passed with the support of 54 percent of Maine voters. It was just three years ago that Maine voted to overturn marriage equality legislation, so this is a huge win and an important indicator of how quickly opinions are changing in the state (and across the country).
What it all means: Maine is now one of eight states, plus the District of Columbia, which have legalized same-sex marriage, and the first to pass a law by bypassing the legislature and taking the issue straight to the voters.
Maryland’s Question 6
What the measure said: ”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.”
What voters said: Let’s change our name to Marry-land! The bill was supported by President Obama, who said passing it was “the right thing to do,” and 52 percent of Maryland voters agreed.
What it all means: Key provisions were included in this law to protect religious leaders from being required to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, but as far as the state government is concerned, Maryland residents may now legally marry and enjoy the civil benefits of making their union official.
Minnesota’s Amendment 1
What the measure said: ”Recognition of marriage solely between one man and one woman. 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?”
What voters said: Heeeellll no! Minnesota voters defeated this amendment, which sought to add a same-sex marriage ban to the state constitution, 51 percent to 49 percent.
What it all means: Unlike the victories in Maine and Maryland, Minnesota voters didn’t vote to allow gay marriage; they voted against not allowing it (have I reached my double negative quota for the day?). Same-sex marriage is still not legal in Minnesota, but the defeat of Amendment 1 means the door is open for marriage equality in the near future.
Washington’s Referendum 74
What the measure said: “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.”
What voters said: “Uuuuhhh probably yes!” While the bill is projected to pass, it’s still very close: currently the count is 52 percent yes, 48 percent no, but a few-hundred thousand ballots still need to be counted.
What it all means: If the bill passes (cross your fingers!), same-sex marriage will be legal in Washington, but it’s close enough that a recount and/or an appeal may be in the works.
UPDATE: Referendum 74 has passed! Looks like we’re four for four. Well done, America!