In a major shift in America's culture wars, advocates of gay marriage won in at least three states Tuesday, as voters in Maine and Maryland voted in legal recognition of same-sex marriage, while Minnesotans shot down a proposed amendment to the state constitution to define marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. Voters in the state of Washington also had an initiative to legalize same-sex marriage on their ballots Proposition 74, and as of Wednesday afternoon the tallied votes were showing a slight lead in favor of the measure.
Maine and Maryland became the first states to adopt same-sex marriage by popular vote. In Maine it was a reversal of a decision rendered by the voters just three years ago, when they voted in November of 2009 to repeal a same-sex marriage law approved by the legislature and signed by the governor earlier that year. This time, proponents of the change led by Mainers United for Marriage bypassed the legislature and appealed directly to the voters by petitioning to get the issue on the ballot as Question 1 in Tuesday's election. Unofficial results, based on 89 percent of the votes counted, showed 53 percent of voters in support of the change and 47 percent opposed by Wednesday afternoon.
In Maryland, Governor Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, pushed a same-sex marriage law through the state legislature, but opponents petitioned to have the matter decided by voters in a referendum. It appeared on the ballot as Question 6. With votes from 97 percent of the precincts counted, 52 percent approved of the change to the state's marriage law.
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Photo of supporters of Washington's Proposition 74 cheering during an election watch party: AP Images