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Four states from coast to coast delivered a body slam to the advocates of bigotry Tuesday, legalizing marriage equality in two states, making it likely in third and, in a fourth, knocking down another attempt to make marriage a matter only between a man and a woman.

By virtue of when the traditional media in the form of the Washington Post called the winner, Maryland became the first state to support marriage equality at the ballot box. Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley championed equality by signing it into law in March. But foes quickly gathered signatures on a referendum that became Question 6. By 52 percent to 48 percent, voters affirmed equality:

“Today the marriage equality map expands to Maryland, giving thousands more loving couples the opportunity to make lifelong commitments through marriage," said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin in a statement. "This is a milestone night for the simple truth that when Americans are presented with the real lives of their friends and neighbors, they have no choice but to vote for their equality.It is the momentum reflected in poll after poll that shows a growing majority for marriage equality across the country.
In Maine, where, in 2009, voters had nixed marriage equality, Tuesday they approved it by voting yes on Question 1 by 53 percent to 47 percent. Unlike the vote in Maryland, Mainers weren't choosing whether to support or reject a decision already made by the legislature but a decision they themselves had previously made at the ballot box:
The earliest gay and lesbian couples could marry will likely be early January. The Secretary of State's Office has 20 days to certify results, Gov. Paul LePage has 10 days to approve them, and after that, there's a constitutionally mandated 30-day waiting period for the law to take effect, according to the Secretary of State's Office.
In Minnesota, for the first time in any state, voters rejected a ballot initiative, Amendment 1, that would have added the North Star State to the long roster of states where marriage has been specifically excluded as an option for gays and lesbians. The constitutional amendment was beaten 52 percent to 48 percent:
"You dug down and fought for love, with love," Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak told hundreds of amendment opponents gathered at the RiverCentre in St. Paul late Tuesday night. "You understood compassion. This wound up being one of the most inspirational things that's ever happened in Minnesota. Minnesota is going to be the state that's going to show the country exactly what Minnesota values are all about."

An early and vocal opponent of the amendment, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said "Minnesota is better than this" and criticized the ballot initiative as the "wrong way to lead, the wrong way to govern."

In Washington, where the count on Measure 74 is still incomplete, support for marriage equality is running at 51.8 percent to 48.2 percent, and observers, including opponents, expect it to pass. That is approximately the percentage that voted against equality in Washington in 2009. The law would take effect on Dec. 6, rendering neutral the terms husband and wife:
Speaking to the crowd after returns were announced, an emotional [Democratic] Sen. Ed Murray, of Seattle, primary sponsor of Washington's same-sex-marriage legislation, said, "We celebrate tonight not the victory of one set of Washingtonians over another; instead, we celebrate the belief that all families should be treated fairly.

"We celebrate those who over the decades, despite scorn and discrimination, built this movement and made this day possible ... "

Everybody who has fought for this fundamental civil right since as far back as the mid-1970s knows a tough struggle lies ahead. But these four victories—four!—cannot but generate hope in the certain knowledge that eventually marriage equality will be the law of the entire land.

•••

10:38 AM PT: National Organization on Marriage lets us know that they will not be giving up their efforts keep bigotry on the books: "Though we are disappointed over these losses, we remain faithful to our mission and committed to the cause of preserving marriage as God designed it."

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 09:15 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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