Maine voters committed themselves to the cause of progress Tuesday night when they reversed a 2009 referendum in which same-sex marriage was defeated. Six states and the District of Columbia now wave the rainbow flag when it comes to marriage equality.
Three years ago, the initiative failed narrowly. Fifty-three percent of Mainers said no to a bill passed by state lawmakers that would have allowed gays and lesbians to marry legally.
Emboldened by the defeat, supporters of same-sex marriage, led mainly by Mainers United for Marriage, campaigned to convince voters of the justice of their cause. Members of the opposition opened their wallets wide in the ensuing battle, but as Tuesday night’s results show, their efforts were not enough.
Gay rights advocates were confident they could succeed this time around because of the large numbers of young people they expected to turn out for the presidential election who were likely to support their cause.
Below, see the pain experienced by same-sex marriage supporters during their defeat three years ago.
Carroll Conley, spokesman for Protect Marriage Maine, said that support for traditional marriage had eroded in rural communities in the southern part of the state. As the numbers shaped up, he said “it was not what we expected.”
Before today, no state had approved gay marriage through a popular vote, rather than a court decision or legislative act. Three other states — Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota — also had same-sex marriage questions on the ballot in Tuesday’s election.