How Gay Marriage Broke Through the Voting Booth Barrier

Several states had made same-sex marriage legal but this election day saw historic breakthroughs: equality has been mandated by popular votes

  • Share
  • Read Later
Elaine Thompson / AP

Whitney Young, left, embraces her partner Marlena Blonsky as they listen to speeches at a party for proponents of Referendum 74 in Seattle, Nov. 6, 2012.

On Election Day, voters in Maine, Maryland, and (in a tight vote where mail ballots continue to be processed) Washington made history when they voted to allow same-sex couples to marry.These ballot measures were the first state-wide votes approving same-sex marriage, which had been enacted previously only through legislative or judicial actions. Minnesotans also changed gay politics: they were the first to reject a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. (Half the states have approved such amendments, which have almost always passed with easy majorities.)

Over the past 15 years, Americans have become steadily more supportive of marriage rights for gay couples. According to Gallup, exactly half the country now supports legalizing gay marriage. But it took years for popular opinion to change, so gay-marriage advocates fought most of their battles in courts and, later, legislatures. (The first state to legalize gay marriage was Massachusetts, whose Supreme Judicial Court ruled in 2004 that it is unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to gay couples. The Vermont legislature was the first to authorize gay marriage without being forced to do so by a court.)

(MORE: Ballot Initiatives Roundup: What Won and What Lost)

But in national politics, gay marriage has remained a delicate topic. President Obama declined to endorse equal marriage rights until May, as he was raising millions of dollars for the fall campaign. Some observers pointed out that gay men provide a disproportionate amount of funding for the Democratic Party. For his part, Obama told ABC’s Robin Roberts that his thinking had undergone an “evolution” on the issue of gay marriage partly because of discussions with his wife and children.

The wins on Nov. 6 will make it easier for future national politicians to support marriage equality. Popular votes provide durability in a way that executive orders, court rulings and legislative measures cannot. “It’s the single biggest talking point that anti-gay groups use in city halls, legislatures, Congress: you don’t have a popular vote,” says Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest gay-rights group in the world. “Taking that talking point away from them is important.”

One of Griffin’s most dedicated opponents agrees: Speaking on election night, Chip White, a spokesman for Preserve Marriage Washington—which opposes gay marriage—was mindful of history: “It would be the first time that the voters—the people—voted to redefine marriage,” he told me. “It’s always been judges and politicians who have imposed homosexual marriage.”

Judges began to “impose” gay marriage in 1993. That year, in a shocking decision for both sides, the Supreme Court of Hawaii—which had never even considered a gay-rights case—declared that officials who denied marriage licenses to gay couples were violating the state constitution. The justices asked for more debate in the legislature, and they ignited a battle for which neither side had prepared.

Five years later, Hawaii held the first U.S. vote on gay marriage. The gay side lost 2 to 1 even though HRC spent $1 million—a backbreaking amount for the Washington lobby, which struggled afterward. Their money couldn’t trump cheap, simple ads from the other side—one depicting a young boy reading with confusion from a book about two men raising a child. “If you don’t think homosexual marriage will affect you,” an announcer said, “how do you think it will affect your children?”

(MORE: Obama’s Gay Marriage Conundrum)

Another enormous failure came for the pro-gay side in 2008. That year, three states—Arizona, California, and Florida—voted to change their constitutions to make marriage available only to opposite-sex couples. In Florida—which has a large population of gay people in Miami and Orlando, both entertainment hubs—the amendment passed 62% to 38%. The defeat in California was so dispiriting that gays protested not just in that state but also in New York City, where streets had to be closed for the throngs. Nothing like those protests had happened since the assassination of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to any significant political office. (Killed along with Mayor George Moscone, Milk was a member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.)

The curious part for gay activists was that by the late ’00s, they had little problem raising money. In fact they didn’t know how to spend it all. By 2012, partly because of donations from gay donors, Wisconsin Representative Tammy Baldwin looked to be in a solid position to win one of that state’s U.S. Senate seats (she beat Tommy Thompson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services, by a comfortable 51-46 margin).

Still, marriage was always the most difficult problem. Previous strategies that had used ads to emphasize legal and judicial equality had failed to motivate voters. This year, the messaging changed. Evan Wolfson, 55, the Harvard-educated founder of the group Freedom to Marry, helped convince others in the gay-rights movement to use ads that featured loving couples and the importance of commitment. “We made a real connection on emotion,” he says. Also, all that gay money had allowed for a robust ground campaign. “We put a political campaign in place in Minnesota over a year ago,” says Wolfson, one of the most powerful gay-rights organizers in the country.

Later this month, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to consider various measures that would allow or deny gay marriage on a national level. The justices will spend most of their time writing about the legal and judicial aspects of each measure. But it may be important to some of them that popular majorities were willing to vote for marriage equality just a few weeks before. “After [Election Day], the gay marriage debate won’t be same,” says Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign. “We changed it.”

MORE: How the Gay-Marriage Victories Are (Slowly) Transforming the Notion of Family

48 comments
MikeSatterwhite
MikeSatterwhite

When you're sitting around your Thanksgiving meal saying grace, be sure to be thankful for the fact that if you're married in the United States, your marriage will be valid no matter where you go.  And no matter what state or country you took your wedding vows in, the federal and state governments will recognize and honor your union.

Unless you are gay of course.

I believe with the recent voter-approved same-gender marriage laws, comes an obligation for the federal government to recognize those unions as legitimate

Serve up a side of equality this Thanksgiving.  Sign and promote the petition linked to below.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/repeal-defense-marriage-act-doma/SyQNZXNM

Also, I encourage Republicans who support same-sex marriage to be vocal about your support, especially to your party leaders and lawmakers.

Among many other positive effects, federal recognition would allow soldiers to provide health benefits to their spouses and the children of their spouses, not to mention survivor benefits. It also gives automatic legal standing to same-gender couples, even in states that refuse to allow such marriages to take place.

dominicuscenturio
dominicuscenturio

@MikeSatterwhite  

Well,the laws have been manipulated to allow theses abominations to happen.

the law may recognize them,but i as an individual,do not.

i'll still spit at them when i pass them in the streets.

demej00
demej00

Gayness, the gene of choice.

historywatcher
historywatcher

Do not human beings have free will? Are they not free to exercise that freedom in beneficial or ultimately-destructive courses of action? Indeed, societies and individuals may pursue what they believe to be right for themselves or on behalf of others – after all, humanity does have moral autonomy (otherwise known as “the knowledge of good and evil”). But, here is the overarching caveat, as recorded in the Writings: “Do whatever your heart desires, whatever you want to do. But remember that God will judge you for everything you do.” Adonai does not force HIS will on any person; obedience must be voluntary and sincere. Judgement, however, is an unequivocal prospect.It should behoove any, then, who would have Hope for the future beyond this earthly ken, to establish what it is that Elohim countenances. Probe the Writings: they contain no blessing for homosexual behaviour in any of its manifestations. Nevertheless, for those who elect to follow their own moral compass, irrespective of Biblical censure, consider that your proceeding corresponds to the main religious tenet of a 20th-century arch-occultist who reveled in his reputation as “the wickedest man in the world”, this being: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”. Unfortunately for the followers of such a sentiment, the eventual outlook is quite a bleak one.It is late. The time left for choosing is fading away like the last rays of the setting sun. Choose wisely.

JamesSherwood
JamesSherwood like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@historywatcher very eloquent and completely idiotic

historywatcher
historywatcher

@JamesSherwood 

My dear fellow, this base and unworthy messenger is flattered by your praise, unoffended by your critique. But consider: If I declare, “I am a Fool for Christ!”, you might laugh at my expense. But if I turned and asked you, “And you, my friend, WHOSE Fool are You?”, please meditate on its import. The answer may well indicate who your ultimate paymaster will be.Again, choose wisely. (And here, the reference is not to your existing orientation, which may well be involuntary, but as to whether, if you come to believe that homosexuality incurs HaElohim’s displeasure, you choose to remain thus, and not seek the way out.) There IS hope.But, kindly bear with me in further foolishness:It is late in the evenof the long, lingering day.The shadows deepen,Opportunity fades away.Twilight softly enters,And the dark, dread night,Soon falls on watchersand watched alike.Shalom.

ibtlius
ibtlius

Funny....Every minority group is now trumpeting as they were the reason behind Obama's re-election.

Sad to see a US president can only get re-elected by dividing the country into voting blocs and shamlessly pandering to their demands.

We finally are a truly divided nation now.

kambozo
kambozo like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 6 Like

president must serve all groups of people not just white christian right wing

JoeHowardnc
JoeHowardnc like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

It completely amazes me that conservatives/republicans have evolved to a point where they want to control what takes place in your bedroom, but let corporations run uncheched with our politics, our economy, our nation and our health. When it is more important for Monsanto to be allowed to make adjustments to the food we all eat while keeping two people in love from being able to marry, then something is wrong with your values as a human being.

Conservatives/republicans, even one of you need to go to the mirror and take a long hard look. What you see staring back is hatred for your fellow human beings and makes you no different than a religious extremist from Pakistan. Please join your breathren in hating everyone not exactly like you and scream the virtues of being compassionate in your conservativism as the rest of the educated and intelligent world passes you by, spending their lives in the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.

How things have gone so wrong from the reagan Republicans I was so proud to be a member of is beyond me.

PlumbLine
PlumbLine like.author.displayName 1 Like

Luke 6:25......... Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep.

JoeHowardnc
JoeHowardnc like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 6 Like

Bill 7:26.....Stay out of people's personal relationships. Live your own life and do not tell other people how to love and who to love. When you think you know exactly the right answer for someone else's life, go look in the mirror and you will see exactly what the problem is that needs to be solved.

georgeolds
georgeolds like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 4 Like

@Heliconia

Those people "who value marriage only between a man and a woman" are perfectly free to do so. The struggle for equality isn't with/against THEM; it's with the government. Our marriages don't affect theirs (or yours) in any tangible way.

lj68
lj68

@georgeolds Oh, I don't know. If you look at some of the donor groups who oppose gay marriage, the fight is against them. These groups are national (National Organization for Marriage) and they go into states where gay marriage is on the ballot or in the case of Washington where bills have been passed, and cause a ruckus. 

georgeolds
georgeolds like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 5 Like

@ Heliconia,

MIGHT "respect" your p.o.v. if you could just explain HOW my marriage has devalued yours. You haven't lost any rights or freedoms. You haven't lost any of the 1,176 Federal "effects that flow from marriage" just because other couples now get exactly the same benefits you get.

I might "tolerate" your "values" if you could explain WHY you believe what you believe.

Let me make it clear - you ARE entitled to believe what you do. But if you want your values respected, it would be helpful if we knew why you hold those views. Merely saying "it devalues marriage" doesn't make it so.

Besides, how is asking for equal treatment before the law 'disrespect' you or your values?

MacdonaldBank
MacdonaldBank like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 6 Like

Being black or left-handed or being gay is just as natural. It is a sometimes rare occurrence to fall in Love and to hold that person in your heart and be loved in return ... it is something that should be celebrated! If it’s between two guys or two girls -- all the better. It takes even more courage to defend that LOVE!There is no scientific evidence to prove any of the cross related bogus elements of christianity and other religions. Our early human ancestors; on this earth … go back more than 6 million years … 5,996,000 years before the Greeks, Romans and the Jews. Christianity is basically a 2012 year old fictional cult. In the year 300 AD when Emperor Constantine, who to some was the first pope; went on to fabricate & market Christianity - a fantasy - which turned out to be one of the most hateful & evil concoctions ever perpetrated on the world. The evil writings in Leviticus 18:22 … against gays – depict: “P” … “priestly rules” & expanded by the pope; homophobes and religious frauds … to attack the gay community and never meant to apply to the public -- but to priests. Leviticus was written long after Moses -- 600BC.The pope and churches fully aware that Leviticus 18:22 applies to priests only … refuse to remove this stigma … maliciously persecuting gays. Kids are being bullied into suicide …!

kambozo
kambozo

Yes, human fabricated the story of bible. It is difficult to believe that god would hate gay, black ,white or any living being. Only human created false stories in bible and pass them on to their family.

johnh
johnh like.author.displayName 1 Like

@MacdonaldBank Our forefathers fought and sacrificed to build this great country of ours as a nation under God! These are the laws that this great nation of ours was founded on. You who believe that you can manipulate God's laws according to your twisted principles than you are only fooling yourselves and will have to answer when you face your maker. The evil is the fact that you feel good about killing babies when conceived or near birth, pushing to change the sanctity of marriage for your own selfish gains is appalling. You are no different than those you judge. Whats next? Marrying children because you love them, Human and animal unions, Your research is inaccurate and total BS.       

dominicuscenturio
dominicuscenturio

@johnh@MacdonaldBank 

 @raidx259  

The push for legalized pedophilia and zoophilia is already being mounted.

I regard homosexuals of either biological gender as less than human,and in rebellion against God.

Witness how they attack evangelists who go to their filthy rallies and try to minister to them.

Christians have been beaten and savaged by these animals,and the police have sided with the homosexuals.

In fact,some of the officers involved were gay as well,and ushered the Christians unceremoniously off the site,threatening them,and asking them ''why they brought their 'Jesus sh** with them,it's not wanted here!''

This from supposed officers of the law.

The homosexual taint is spreading.

JamesSherwood
JamesSherwood like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@johnh @MacdonaldBank Our forefathers believed in the life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  that all men are created equal.  that these truths are self evident.   that the church is separate from the state.  remember?  and your god reminded you to treat your neighbor as yourself and not live in judgement.  remember?  you are really incredibly forgetful ignorant unchristian and unamerican.

raidx259
raidx259

You got it John. In 2020 or 2024 I bet we'll be here arguing about the rights of pedophiles to marry children.

MacdonaldBank
MacdonaldBank like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

What a wonderful day for The Honourable President of the United States of America ... Barrack Obama!The Republican Party; have self-destructed -- on the grounds of homophobia & religious corruption!Someone left the door of the asylum ajar -- the religious extremists are loose & they are all in the Republican Party!Religion; is the biggest bully on the block!

ShamsAci
ShamsAci

What a strange world society it will turn when same sex marriages would become common around us and future generations!

         - A.R.Shams's Reflection - Press and Online Publications http//:arshamssreflection.blogspot.co.

Heliconia
Heliconia like.author.displayName 1 Like

But it devalues marriage from my point of view and many many others.   I ask you to respect this.   If you don't then it contradicts you principles of tolerance for other people's values.  That's is all I am saying.  I ask you to think about what you propose a little more.  Just a little bit of respect please I beg of you.  

JamesSherwood
JamesSherwood like.author.displayName 1 Like

@Heliconia we have tolerated your hate and abuse long enough. you have the right to remain silent.  use it.

lj68
lj68 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@Heliconia You reading this article devalues the article for me. I think they should force you off the internet so I can enjoy reading more articles. I don't care if you feel you have the same right to read these articles. I'm a computer science major. It's more important for me to be on the internet. 

msteel271
msteel271 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

@Heliconia Heliconia, you being allowed to buy a bagel devalues the deliciousness of bagels in my view. Look, that's just my view but I hold it very deeply and seriously. So, please, respect my view, and don't eat bagels anymore.  Just a little bit of respect, please.  Why make things so divisive when you could just stop eating bagels?

OneWorld
OneWorld like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

@Heliconia It devalues people, who can't get married. The value of marriage is in it's provided benefits for those who have mutual love for one another; by denying the recognition of love, you are devaluing  marriage.

Heliconia
Heliconia

Why get married?  Obviously doesn't mean anything anymore.  What about those people who value marriage only between a man and a woman.   They are being discriminated more.  Where is the respect for these people?  Conveniently forgotten this time.

lj68
lj68 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@Heliconia Because there are still benefits associated only with marriage that you cannot get just by living with each other. 

Piacevole
Piacevole like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

The people who "value marriage only between a man and a woman" are perfectly free to act on that value, and marry only someone of the opposite sex.

They aren't being discriminated against at all: for them, their rights and privileges are unchanged.

What they are no longer going to have is the ability to determine what OTHER people may or may not do in this respect.  Nobody is "forgetting" anything.

You've got yours.  Now other people get to have theirs.

AS
AS like.author.displayName 1 Like

In my psychology 101 textbook, "Discovering Psychology," gender and sexual orientation are discussed. The book covers possible causes of homosexuality as well as certain myths about gays and lesbians.

The book describes studies that have attempted to figure out the cause of homosexuality, particularly whether the cause is nature or nurture based. Studies found that there is likely a biological component. When studying brothers (identical twins, fraternal twins, and adoptive brothers), studies found that the closer two siblings were genetically, the more likely it was that if one was gay, both would be. On the other hand, there were many cases in which one identical twin was gay while the other was straight, suggesting that the environment plays a role, as well.

The cause of homosexuality is important to many people and can influence their perceptions of gays and lesbians. However, regardless of whether the cause is biological or environmental, gay and lesbian people exist. The reason behind it is not grounds for refusing equal treatment. 

The textbook also describes people's brains on love. When people are in love, the brain areas that are activated are the same as those activated by drugs, such as opiates and others that produce a euphoric sensation. Whether this sensation comes from loving someone of the same or opposite sex, love is the same as far as the brain is concerned.

The textbook also discuses certain other facts and studies that dispel many myths surrounding gay and lesbian citizens. Gays and lesbians can have any job, can be found in any socioeconomic level, and are involved in loving, committed relationships. Sexuality also does not have any bearing on raising well adjusted children, and parents' sexuality does not determine that of their children. Scientifically, there is no reason to believe that gays and lesbians are "less than" heterosexuals. Hopefully marriage opportunities will eventually reflect this in society.

dominicuscenturio
dominicuscenturio

@AS  

And your textbook was compiled after homosexuality was taken off the register as a m,ental ilness,thanks to the militant queer lobbies that paid to have EXACTLY THAT DONE.

In order to cause this socalled 

normalization ,to get people to accept their slimy perversions.

YOU ARE THE ONE READING PROPANDA,NOT US.

SteveAustin
SteveAustin like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

It's time for the federal government to recognize the legitimacy of same-sex marriage. Please sign the petition below, and share it with your friends and family.  

Also, Republicans who support same-sex marriage, it's essential that you speak up and make your views known to your lawmakers and political party leaders.Thank you very much.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/provide-level-economic-field-glbt-community-providing-federal-recognition-same-sex-marriages/VwK7rYqs

SteveAustin
SteveAustin like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

PS...don't forget to hit the "Promote" button to send a link to your twitter or facebook followers.

georgeolds
georgeolds like.author.displayName 1 Like

Subjecting SOME citizens' rights and freedoms to a popular vote is both an affront to the Constitution and an obscenity unworthy of America and its promises to all.

The rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness are supposed to be inalienable.

Good for Maine, Maryland and Washington. And shame on those who oppose what they presumably pledge allegiance to every day - namely, "Liberty and Justice for ALL".

lj68
lj68 like.author.displayName 1 Like

@georgeolds  In Washington it was actually a law  but special interest groups managed to get it on the ballot as a referendum because they were hoping enough people in Washington State wouldn't affirm it. They don't know Washington State at all.  I wish these groups would stop interfering in states. It costs a lot of money to do this nonsense.

Jorbear
Jorbear like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

People are beginning to realize that gay marriage has no effect on the "institution of marriage". Never ever has a gay couple getting married affected my and my husband's marriage. To each their own, this is supposed to be a free country, correct?

dominicuscenturio
dominicuscenturio

@Jorbear  

Sure,seems like here ...anything goes,huh?

Remember that when your son brings home a boyfriend,or your daughter wants to move in with her busty new squeeze.

You'll be singing a whole other tune when your kids turns perv on you,and you'll wonder why.

your own lack of moral backbone.

Jorbear
Jorbear

@dominicuscenturio If that were to happen, I'd love them just the same. You make it all about sex and that makes you cringe. Well, they cringe thinking about having sex with the opposite sex.

Did you ever ask yourself when you decided to be attracted to the opposite sex (assuming you are) rather than your same sex? I've been asking that question for years and no one has ever been able to answer it yet. Here's another, assuming you're attracted to the opposite sex, what would it take to make you attracted to your same sex? Again, another question I've asked for years and never had someone answer. They usually just start quoting scripture as if they feel that God didn't give them a brain to think on their own.

So, Dominicus, next time you see someone of the same sex take a good long look at them and try, just try to imagine having sex with them, and I bet you can't. Well, it's the same for gays, they are who they are, they are born as they are, and one thing I don't think you'd disagree with me on, GOD doesn't make mistakes.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,106 other followers