Ballot measures legalizing same-sex marriage passed in Maryland and Maine Tuesday, marking the first time the practice became legal through a popular vote following unsuccessful attempts in 32 different states since 1998.
“For the first time, voters in Maine and Maryland voted to allow loving couples to make lifelong commitments through marriage – forever taking away the right-wing talking point that marriage equality couldn’t win on the ballot,” Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay-rights group, told the Associated Press.
Earlier this year, Barack Obama became the first sitting president to endorse the legalization of same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is currently legal in six states and the District of Columbia through laws passed by the legislature or court orders.
In late October, a poll conducted for The Baltimore Sun found that Maryland voters were evenly divided on whether to make same-sex marriage legal, with opposition rising in recent weeks despite the outspoken support of Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley and House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer. With 93 percent reported, 52 percent supported Maryland’s Question 6 legalizing same-sex marriage, according to The Baltimore Sun. Voters supported same-sex marriage in Maine 53 to 47 percent Tuesday.
At 1:14am, The Seattle Times reported that initial returns in Washington state showed Referendum 74 appearing to be winning approval. Ref. 74 would allow same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses in Washington as early as Dec. 6.