Politics

November 7, 2012

Gay-marriage backers end losing streak, look ahead

For the first-time ever, voters in three states approved same-sex marriage Tuesday. Can supporters now make in-roads elsewhere in the country?

The Associated Press

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Ellie MacCallum, left, of Windham, receives a kiss from her partner, Judy Eycleshymer, right, after they learned same sex marriage had passed while at the Mainers United for Marriage party at the Holiday Inn by the Bay Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

People celebrate after learning same sex marriage had passed at the Mainers United for Marriage party at the Holiday Inn by the Bay Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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He noted that if the high court struck down Prop 8, that would immediately add California — with its 37 million residents — to the list of states allowing same-sex marriage.

Had the four measures lost, said Evan Wolfson, justices might have been reluctant to wade in on the side of gay marriage. Now, he said, they could do so "knowing that their support will stand the test of time and, indeed, be true to where the American people already are."

The chairman of the leading advocacy group opposing same-sex marriage, John Eastman of the National Organization for Marriage, said it was possible that the referendum results might nudge the high court toward a ruling favoring gay marriage. But Eastman said it also was possible the justices would decide to let the political process play out a bit longer at the state level before intervening.

The National Organization for Marriage's president, Brian Brown, expressed disappointment at the unprecedented losses for gay marriage opponents, who were outspent by at least 3-to-1 in the four referendum states — all of them won easily by President Barack Obama..

The results "reflect the political and funding advantages our opponents enjoyed in these very liberal states," Brown said. "Our opponents and some in the media will attempt to portray the election results as a changing point in how Americans view gay marriage, but that is not the case."

For the gay-rights movement, the celebration extended far beyond the groundbreaking ballot measures.

In Wisconsin, veteran congresswoman Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate. At least five other openly gay Democrats were elected to House seats, while Kyrsten Sinema — vying to be the first openly bisexual member of Congress — was locked in a too-close-to-call race in Arizona.

In Iowa, gay-marriage opponents failed on two counts. They lost a bid to oust one of the state Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of gay marriage in 2009, and they were unable to take control of the state Senate, where Democratic Majority Leader Michael Gronstal has blocked a proposed amendment to overturn that ruling.

More broadly, gay-rights leaders celebrated the re-election of Obama, who had frustrated them early in his term with his sometimes cautious stances. Over the past two years, he's become a hero of the movement — playing a key role last year in enabling gays to serve openly in the military and this year becoming the first sitting president to endorse same sex-marriage.

Among the next agenda items at the federal level is the proposed Employment Nondiscrimination Act, which would protect gays and transgender people from workplace discrimination.

The gay-rights momentum even extended overseas. Spain's top court upheld the legality of the country's gay marriage law on Tuesday, and French President Francois Hollande's Cabinet was pushing ahead Wednesday with a controversial bill that could see gay marriage legalized early next year.

 

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