11 ways the freedom to marry triumphed on Election Day
Nov 08, 2012 at 07:30 pm
This week, the freedom to marry triumphed at the ballot box over and over again: We won marriage for same-sex couples in Maine, Maryland, and Washington. We blocked an anti-gay amendment in Minnesota. We reelected the first sitting president to fully and explicitly embrace the freedom to marry. And we continued to set the climate for a country where marriage for same-sex couples can be celebrated in every single state.
We know that some of the wrap-up - and what it all means for the future of the campaign to win marriage nationwide - can be tricky, so here's a break-down of the important ways that the freedom to marry won on Election Day:
1. President Barack Obama is reelected
President Barack Obama won his reelection bid, granting him a second term. In May, President Obama voiced his personal support for the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, making him the first sitting president to ever do so. In September, President Obama's party officially endorsed marriage for same-sex couples by adding a plank supporting the freedom to marry in the national Democratic Party Platform. President Obama's reelection makes him the first person to ever win a presidential election while running on a platform that strongly and explicitly supports ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. Americans also, notably, rejected the candidate and party that fiercely opposes the freedom to marry. With the potential for the Supreme Court to consider a marriage case in the coming months, we know that Obama's win will further help to create the climate that will enable more elected officials, judges, and even justices to embrace the freedom to marry, knowing that that their support is in line with a growing majority of Americans. Read more.
2. Maine wins the freedom to marry
Maine became the first state in the country to approve the freedom to marry for same-sex couples via a majority vote on a ballot measure. A majority of Mainers voted YES on Question 1, thanks in large part to the amazing work of Mainers United for Marriage, the coalition that has been working all year to win marriage. This marks the first time in the world that marriage advocates have ever successfully won a proactive ballot vote to win marriage. Same-sex couples will be able to marry in Maine at some point in next two months, which is yet to be determined. The earliest possible date is December 6, 2012, and the latest is January 6, 2013. Read more.
3. Maryland wins the freedom to marry
Maryland became the eighth state to win the freedom to marry when a majority of Marylanders voted FOR Question 6, which upheld the freedom to marry law that passed in the state legislature and was signed by Governor Martin O'Malley in March 2012. Maryland will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on January 1, 2013. Read more.
4. Minnesota blocks an anti-gay marriage amendment
Voters in Minnesota voted against adding an amendment that would have banned marriage for same-sex couples to the state constitution. Although Minnesota currently bans marriage for gay and lesbian couples by state statute, an amendment would have made it even more difficult for future generations of Minnesotans to someday share in the freedom to marry. Minnesotans United for All Families, the organization that worked to ask people to vote NO on the anti-gay amendment, did an amazing job on what amounts to one of the largest ballot initiative campaigns in the state's history. This victory makes Minnesota the first state to ever defeat an anti-marriage amendment! Additionally, voters rejected lawmakers who advanced a constitutional amendment to the voters. Read more.
5. Washington wins the freedom to marry
Yesterday, a majority of voters in Washington approved Referendum 74, the ballot measure that upholds the freedom to marry in the state, which was passed by the state legislature with bipartisan support and signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire in February. Thanks in large part to the work of Washington United for Marriage, the coalition working to approve Referendum 74, same-sex couples in Washington will be able to attain marriage licenses beginning in early December. Read more.
6. Iowa votes to retain Justice David Wiggins
Anti-gay forces failed in their efforts to oust Justice David Wiggins, who joined the unanimous ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court in favor of the freedom to marry. This election, voters repelled the vengeful, anti-gay attacks that had previously targeted three of the other justices. One Iowa, the group that worked to retain Wiggins, said, "With the retention of Justice Wiggins, we sent a strong message to Mr. Vander Plaats and his friends at the National Organization for Marriage: Iowans are proud of our state that values equal protection and all families." Read more.
7. New Hampshire elects pro-marriage governor and legislature
This year, anti-gay forces in New Hampshire have threatened to work toward stripping away the freedom to marry, but on Election Day, we saw crucial victories that will protect the marriage law in the state. Maggie Hassan, a strong supporter of the freedom to marry, was elected governor, defeating anti-marriage candidate Ovide Lamontagne. Both the New Hampshire House and Senate also now have strong, pro-marriage majorities, and as a result, the law is likely safe for the foreseeable future in New Hampshire. Read more.
8. Colorado elects Democratic legislature
Earlier this year, the House of Representatives in Colorado, controlled by the Republican party, blocked discussion of a law that could have granted civil union to same-sex couples in Colorado. This year, voters granted control to the Democrats in the house, paving the way for approval of a civil union law in 2013. Read more.
9. Iowa approves a Democratic majority in the state legislature
This year, anti-gay forces in Iowa have threatened to work toward stripping away the freedom to marry, but on Election Day, we saw several critical wins. Democrats retained narrow control of the state senate, 26-23, with Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal - who has promised to stop any anti-marriage amendment from passing - winning reelection. If Republicans had won back the chamber, they had committed to advancing an amendment that would have undermined the marriage decision. Read more.
10. Pro-marriage Senators replace opponents of the freedom to marry
Three new pro-marriage candidates won Senate races, replacing opponents of the freedom to marry. In Connecticut, Democrat Chris Murphy replaced Senator Joseph Lieberman. In Massachusetts, Democrat Elizabeth Warren defeated incumbent Scott Brown. In Maine, Independent Angus King was elected to replace Olympia Snowe. Other Senate races were secured by candidates supporting marriage for same-sex couples. In Hawaii, Mazie Hirono became the first Asian-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate, defeating Republican Linda Lingle, the former governor of HI who worked to oppose the freedom to marry and famously vetoed the state's civil union law. In New Mexico, Democrat Martin Heinrich was elected to succeed retiring Democrat Jeff Bingaman. In Wisconsin, Democrat Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay person ever elected to the U.S. Senate when she defeated former Gov. Thommy Thompson, who opposes the freedom to marry.
11. Respect for Marriage Act co-sponsors win reelection bids
All of the U.S. Senators who are co-sponsors for the Respect for Marriage Act, the bill that would overturn the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, won their reelection campaigns - CA's Sen. Feinstein, MD's Sen. Cardin, MN's Sen. Klobuchar, NJ's Sen. Menendez, NY's Sen. Gillibrand, OH's Sen. Brown, RI's Sen. Whitehouse, WA's Sen. Cantwell, and VT's Sen. Sanders. In the House of Representatives, several key incumbents who support the Respect for Marriage Act won reelection, including Rep. Jerrold Nadler from New York, FL Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, CO's Jared Polis (pictured), and RI's David Cicilline.