In a move that shows the shift in public opinion, voters in Maine and Maryland approved measures giving gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry by decisive results. Early returns in Washington State also show that voters there have passed a same-sex marriage initiative. With these victories, opponents will no longer be able to argue that the movement for marriage equality is something imposed by radical judges and legislators, who are out of touch with the popular will.
In Minnesota, meanwhile, voters rejected a ballot measure that would have enshrined the state’s existing ban on same-sex marriage in the State Constitution. In Wisconsin, voters elected a Democratic House member, Tammy Baldwin, to the United States Senate, making her the first openly gay person ever elected to the chamber.
In Iowa, voters decided to retain a State Supreme Court justice, David Wiggins, rejecting a campaign by the State Republican Party and other conservative forces to oust him because of his participation in the court’s unani(mous ruling in 2009 allowing same-sex-marriage on equal protection grounds.
Justice Wiggins’s retention, like Florida’s vote to retain three State Supreme Court justices singled out by the State Republican Party and others on the right, was a victory for judicial independence. It was also a remarkable turnaround from two years ago, when three other Iowa justices who joined in the 2009 ruling were defeated for retention, after groups opposing same-sex marriage campaigned against them. Predictions that President Obama would be politically damaged by his support for same-sex marriage did not come to pass. Instead, by standing up for equality, he energized his base and retained the broad coalition that won him a second term.
Even before these victories, the principle of fairness for gay people and their families has been gaining force in courts and statehouses. Half of Americans believe their states should recognize marriages of same-sex couples.
There is still much work to do to secure the freedom to marry in every jurisdiction and end the odious Defense of Marriage Act that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages performed in places where it is legal. It is a moment for the opponents of civil rights for all Americans — including Congressional Republicans, who are still defending the marriage act in court — to decide whether they want to continue to stand against justice to court a dwindling share of voters.
Original article on The New York Times