Whatever else happened this Election Day, marriage equality passed another important milestone. Maine became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage at the ballot box. Maryland voters approved a similar measure.
The issue of legalization was also on the ballot in Washington state. Voters in Minnesota were asked to approve a ban. Those results will come in later.
For now, Maine and Maryland follow six states and Washington, D.C., in making marriage legal for gay couples, though in all previous cases this was achieved through court decisions and legislation.
The vote in Maine reverses a losing streak for supporters of referendums on same-sex marriage. The issue has been on the ballot more than 30 times across the U.S. In all those cases, voters either blocked ballot initiatives allowing legalization, reversed legislation that made it legal, or approved amendments to state constitutions defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
President Barack Obama, who carried Maine and Maryland, made his much-delayed endorsement of same-sex marriage this year.
According to preliminary exit polls in Maryland, about three-fourths of those who backed ballot measure also said they supported Obama. More than 50 percent of opponents backed Mitt Romney. Not surprisingly, the young were most likely to back the measure. Gay couples will be able to wed in the state starting Jan. 1
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