Gay marriage gets historic backing on Election 2012 ballots

Revelers display U.S. and gay pride flags as they celebrate early election returns favoring Washington state Referendum 74, which would legalize gay marriage, during a large impromptu street gathering in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, in the early hours of Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. For years, foes of same-sex marriage had a potent talking point: They'd won every time the issue went to a popular vote. That winning streak has now been shattered in a multi-state electoral sweep by gay marriage supporters. It's a historic tipping point likely to influence other states and possibly even the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Gay marriage rights were supported by popular vote on Tuesday in Maine and Maryland, and Washington state joined Wednesday afternoon, making it the first time gay men and lesbian rights were approved at the ballot box.

In Minnesota, voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage, marking another victory for gay rights advocates, even though gay marriage remains illegal in the state.

“When the history books are written, 2012 will be remembered as the year when [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] Americans won decisively at the ballot box,” said Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign. “The dreams of millions of fair-minded Americans were realized as discrimination crumbled and equality prevailed.”

HRC raised and contributed millions of dollars to advance marriage equality in all four states voting on gay marriage rights come Nov. 6. The group contributed at least $800,000 to advance marriage equality in Maine and $2.8 million in Maryland. The group also sent thousands of e-mails to supporters of marriage equality, as well as recruited hundreds of volunteers.

On Tuesday, 53 percent of voters in Maine voted in support of gay marriage versus 47 percent who voted against. In Maryland, the referendum question 6 allowing same-sex marriages passed 52 percent to 48 percent. And in Washington, about 52 percent of voters approved of same-sex marriage, versus 48 percent who voted against it.

In Minnesota, with 95 percent of precincts reporting, 51 percent of voters opposed the constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage.

The outcomes in Maine, Maryland and Washington broke a 32-state streak, dating back to 1998, in which gay marriage had been vetoed by voters. The decisions made across the four states could influence the U.S. Supreme Court, which soon will be considering the law that denies federal recognition to same-sex marriages.
Gay marriage has always been controversial, but Gallup, a polling group, found that national support for gay marriage has risen from 27 percent in 1996 to 50 percent in May 2012.

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