It was a historic night for supporters of marriage equality, where advocates are headed for success in four of four ballot measures.
Marriage equality was approved by Maine and Maryland voters on Tuesday — the first and second states in the country to do so — the Portland Press-Herald and NBC, respectively, reported Tuesday night. Minnesota voters followed in a similar path, with the Associated Press reporting early Wednesday that the state rejected a constitutional ban on same-sex couples marrying there. A final vote on a referendum in Washington was headed toward approval with more than half of the ballots counted, and the campaign for the referendum's approval claiming victory on Wednesday afternoon.
The vote in Maine came just three years after voters there rejected a referendum on marriage equality.
Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said of the Maine win, "This is a landmark election for marriage equality and we will forever look back at this year as a critical turning point in the movement for full citizenship for LGBT people. Voters in Maine came to the common-sense conclusion that all people deserve the ability to make loving, lifelong commitments through marriage."
Freedom to Marry National Campaign Director Marc Solomon said, "Today, a majority in Maine voted in favor of loving and committed same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry."
“We congratulate Mainers United for Marriage Campaign Director Matt McTighe for the extraordinary effort he has run, as well as all the coalition partners, and particularly Equality Maine and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, for their steadfast commitment to this fight."
Maryland voters affirmed a law passed by the legislature and signed by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley earlier this year. It was the first state to approve marriage equality the first time it went before voters.
Josh Levin, the campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, said of tonight's win, “Fairness and equality under the law won tonight. We’re sure to feel the ripples of this monumental victory across the country for years to come.”
Griffin said of the Maryland win, "Today the marriage equality map expands to Maryland, giving thousands more loving couples the opportunity to make lifelong commitments through marriage. ... It is the momentum reflected in poll after poll that shows a growing majority for marriage equality across the country."
He added, "Governor O'Malley has been a champion of this issue and deserves the appreciation of all fair-minded Americans. His leadership, along with groups like the NAACP, have shown that at the end of the day human dignity wins out and that in this country we can have no second-class citizens or second-class marriages."
Minnesota was the first state to reject a constitutional marriage amendment since Arizona rejected an amendment in 2006 that would have banned same-sex couples from marrying or entering into civil unions. Voters in Arizona, however, followed up by passing an amendment in 2008 solely focused on banning same-sex couples from marrying.
Thalia Zepatos, director of public engagement at Freedom to Marry and a key adviser to Minnesotans United for All Families, said in a statement, “Today Minnesotans affirmed that marriage matters for their gay and lesbian neighbors and friends, as for all of us, and refused to slam the door on marriage in the state constitution. Now loving and committed couples in Minnesota will be able to work to achieve their dream of crossing the threshold, respected equally under the law.”
Rea Carey, the executive director at the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force said of the Minnesota vote, "This landmark victory is yet another example of the national momentum toward treating all families fairly. Congratulations to Minnesota for recognizing and affirming our common humanity by rejecting this unnecessary and unfair amendment."
A referendum vote on a marriage equality law in Washington also took place on Tuesday and was leading 51.8 percent to 48.2 percent with nearly 2 million votes counted in the state. Because the state is a mail-only voting state, all the ballots are mailed and ballots remained to be counted.
Washington United for Marriage campaign manager Zach Silk said in a statement, "We have run the numbers every which way, and we can now confidently say that we have won. This is an historic day for Washington, an historic day for our country and, most of all, for families across the state who have dreamed of this day and the wedding celebrations to come."
With 60 percent of the vote counted, the campaign reported that the referendum already has the support of 65 percent of King County and is "performing well in key Eastern Washington counties. Simply put, it's now impossible for opponents to overcome the 52-48% spread for R74."