On November 6, 2012, voters in four states – Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington – were asked to weigh in directly on the issue of same-sex marriages. For up to the minute updates on the results of these ballot measures, visit the Huffington Post’s excellent maps and data. Voters throughout the nation on Tuesday voted to expand access to marriage rights in the states and reject draconian measures to narrowly define civil marriage. Specifically, voters in Maine are the first in the nation to demand recognition of marriage equality by popular vote alone.
The road in Maine has been a bumpy one but, apparently, you can get there from here. The Boston Globe reports that Maine voters have approved a ballot initiative recognizing the rights of same-sex couples to marry has passed with a small but healthy margin. Only three years ago, voters in Maine went to the polls and voted by equal margins to reject a bill passed by the State Legislature that would have recognized marriage equality. For Maine specific ballot results, click here.
In Maryland, voters were asked to vote on Question 6, which would establish that Maryland officially recognizes the right of same-sex couples to marry. In 2011, the Civil Marriage Protection Act was introduced in the State Legislature to officially recognize same-sex marriage. The bill was approved by the Maryland Senate and the House of Delegates, but was amended so that it would not officially take effect until after voters had an opportunity to weight in on November 6, 2012. Voters appear to support the law and marriage equality in Maryland by solid margins. For Maryland specific ballot results, click here.
In Washington State, Governor Chris Gregoire signed a voter-approved marriage equality bill into law in February, granting same-sex couples the same rights to marriage as opposite-sex couples. The law was set to go into effect in June, 2012, but opponents of same-sex marriage obtained enough signatures to place a referendum on the new law on the November 6, 2012, ballot. In Washington State, while votes continue to be counted, it appears as though Referendum 74 will pass, and same-sex marriages will be recognized. For Washington State specific ballot results, click here.
Finally, in Minnesota, voters were asked to vote on a ballot initiative to amend their state constitution to ban recognition of same-sex marriages. Minnesota voters appear to have rejected the ballot measure with a slim majority. Now that is Minnesota nice! While the law in Minnesota still does not provide recognition of same-sex relationships, a constitutional amendment would have made the march toward marriage equality nearly impossible at the state level. For Minnesota specific ballot results, click here.
The legal implication of Tuesday’s vote cannot be overstated. It is a victory not only for the LGBTQ individuals, couples, and families who live in those states, but also a victory for fairness and access to equal justice everywhere. The map of the United States becomes only slightly less hostile to same-sex couples and families, whose access to basic justice – the right to inherit, the right to parent, the right to equal taxation, the right to protect a child or spouse, the right to divorce peacefully, the right to enforce child and other support obligations, and to care for a child or spouse in need – has been expanded nonetheless.
VAUGHN-MARTEL LAW is a boutique Boston law firm specializing in family creation and protection for the LGBTQ community. Our attorneys assist couples and families of all types in estate planning and asset protection, adoption and reproductive law, marriage and divorce, and courtroom advocacy.