Delivering same-sex marriage's first ballot box victories and the first openly gay U.S. Senator-elect, the 2012 election could be remembered as a turning point for gay rights, some observers say.
Maine voters joined Maryland's in approving same-sex marriage, and the measure was leading in Washington state. In Minnesota, a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage was defeated.
Before Tuesday's votes, gay marriage lost all 32 times it appeared on a statewide ballot. Same-sex couples are allowed to wed in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., as a result of court or legislative action.
Meanwhile in Wisconsin, one of the 32 states that voted down gay marriage, Rep. Tammy Baldwin defeated former Gov. Tommy Thompson to become the first openly gay person elected to the Senate.
Here's what other media outlets are saying about Tuesday's results:
•, The Guardian said the issue's turnaround could be a turning point:
Going into election day, whenever the issue of gay marriage had been on the ballot in the US, it was batting a dreadful 0-32. This Tuesday night, it went 4-4, winning in a diversity of states Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington. Now, granted each of the states is blue, but what these wins indicate is that supporting equal rights for gays is no longer a political liability. The arc of civil rights for gay Americans is bending toward progress.
•, Progressive blog Talking Points Memo framed things similarly:
Tonight, Tammy Baldwin, an out gay woman, was elected to the Senate. Gay marriage won. And a President who openly came out in favor of gay marriage (something hard to imagine even a few years ago) was reelected. For LGBT rights, it's a game changing election.
Many advocates say the shift reflected last night started four years ago, as the head of one organization said in the Bangnor Daily News:
Rick Jacobs, founder and chairman of the Courage Campaign, said as of Tuesday, "the tide has turned" in favor of same-sex marriage since 2008, when California voters approved a measure known as Proposition 8 which amended its constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman.
•, Opponents countered that the states involved in this year's ballot measures aren't representative of the country as a whole. From the Los Angeles Times:
"These are really specific states," said Frank Schubert, a California consultant who ran the traditional-marriage campaigns in the four states. "The fact that an uber-liberal state like Maine or Washington might go for same sex marriage, it doesn't mean that the country has changed."
Whatever the long-term implications, same-sex marriage's success in 2012 is a political story sure to be studied for years to come. How did supporters do it? Slate says:
How same-sex marriage ballot initiatives turned around is all about the long game. The gay rights movement succeeded using one of the most sophisticated issue campaign operations ever deployed--and by making it stick with old-fashioned commitment, hard work, and face-to-face conversations.
Looking ahead, exit polls showed one of the fastest growing segments of the electorate is leaning toward gay marriage. From ABC News:
Nearly six-in-ten Latino voters (59%) said their state should legally recognize same-sex marriage while 32% said their state should not. But among all voters, about half (48%) favored legalization of gay marriage while nearly the same share said they would oppose it (47%).
— Compiled by Steve EarleyCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun