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Same-Sex Marriage on Ballots Across the Country

by Lillian Ewing, published
Photo: Richard Sennott

Four states have same-sex marriage on ballots this election, with voters in those states nearly split evenly on the issue. Citizens in Maryland, Washington, Maine, and Minnesota will choose whether or not to recognize same-sex marriage on Election Day. President Obama has weighed in on the issue and publicly stated his support of same-sex marriage. The national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, Marc Solomon, noted the importance of the president's support and its potential impact on the outcome of the initiatives on Election Day.

Maryland Question 6

Question 6 is actually a referendum and aims to keep same-sex marriage legal. The Maryland General Assembly passed the initial same-sex marriage bill in February by a narrow margin, and now voters will have to decide whether to uphold the existing law. Governor O-Malley and the legislature support the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which has redefined marriage to include same-sex couples.

The likelihood of the referendum being upheld is impacted in part by a high constituency of African American voters, who have traditionally opposed same-sex marriage (51 percent according to national Pew Research Center poll in July). Nearly 30 percent of the voting population is African American, compared to 13 percent nationally.

The NAACP has supported the president’s endorsement of the right to same-sex marriage, which could increase the likelihood of the ballot measure passing. However, some African American voters have changed their opinion in recent weeks, according to a Baltimore Sun poll which currently shows the outlook as evenly split.

Washington Referendum 74

Like Maryland, same-sex marriage is legal in Washington State. The passage of Referendum 74 would uphold same-sex marriage. President Obama's press secretary, Paul Ball, stated, "Washington's same-sex marriage law would treat all Washington couples equally, and that is why the president supports a vote to approve Referendum 74." The bill was narrowly passed in Washington's House, 55 to 43, and Senate, 28 to 21. According to the ACLU, the latest polls reveal an approval rating of 49 percent.

Minnesota Amendment One

In Minnesota, the ballot initiative is actually an amendment to the state's constitution that would barr same-sex marriage and define marriage as only between a man and a woman. President Obama's Minnesota campaign issued a statement opposing the state’s proposed amendment to the Constitution:

“That’s what the Minnesota ballot initiative would do – it would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples – and that’s why the President does not support it.”

Even with the Obama campaign's opposition to the state constitutional amendment, a recent poll found 48 percent of likely voters support the constitutional amendment, while 47 percent oppose it.

Maine Question 1

In Maine, the group Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and other organizations mobilized voters to put an initiative in support of same-sex marriage on the November ballot. Supporters, encouraged by the campaign work of Mainers United for Marriage, delivered over 105,000 petition signatures for the citizen’s initiative to the Secretary of the State, double the number of necessary signatures.

A poll by the Maine People’s Resource Center found 58.2% of registered voters supported same-sex marriage between March 31 and April 2, 2012, and a September 2012 Public Policy Polling survey shows similar results, with 52% of Maine voters supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage. Maine has emerged as the state, from among the battle ground states including Maine, Washington, and Minnesota, as the most likely to pass a bill authorizing the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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