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This election may finally bring a win for marriage
Four states face marriage questions on the ballot in the upcoming November 6 election.
While that is nothing new for national elections, especially during presidential election years, this time the marriage equality side stands to win at least one of them.
With the exception of Arizona in 2006, that has never happened before--and voters passed the Arizona ban amendment on a second try, two years later.
There are currently 31 states, including Ohio, with constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, all of which were approved by voters. Many of these are in the South. But only one has been passed since 2008. That was North Carolina’s last spring, just after President Barack Obama expressed support for same-sex marriage.
The NAACP also has expressed their support for same-sex marriage, meaning that the African American community may be changing on the issue. Previously, conservative groups were known to use black church opposition to same-sex marriage to try to create alliances with African American voters.
Next month, voters in Maine, Maryland, Washington state and Minnesota face marriage questions. All four are at the very least moderate if not left-leaning states.
Of the four, though, only Minnesota is voting on a marriage ban amendment. The other three are voting on the extension of marriage rights.
The most advanced of these is a Maine measre to enact full marriage equality with a voter initiative. A full marriage law passed the legislature in 2009, but was vetoed by voters on a 53-47 percent vote. This year, however, marriage equality advocates have been more organized and have had almost three years to speak to voters.
Recent polls show about 56% in favor of the measure, 36% opposed and 7% undecided. Even with a tendency of advance polls to show about 7% greater support for marriage than the actual Election Day results, this puts the Maine marriage initiative ahead.
Maryland passed a same-sex marriage law in February, but an anti-gay petition drive forced it onto the ballot. But support for same-sex marriage in the state, especially among black voters, rose once Obama came out in support of it. With an African American population almost 2˝ times the national average, the support of the nation’s first black president and the NAACP, observers are hopeful.
In Washington, legislators also passed a marriage law early this year, and again, opponents forced a referendum.
Voters in Washington approved domestic partner benefits three years ago, and observers are not sure if that means they will be more likely to support full marriage equality, or are more prone to accept the argument that marriage is not necessary since most of the benefits are already in place.
Pushing for marriage are a large number of major corporations in the area, including Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon. The latter’s founder, Jeff Bezos, and his wife donated $2.5 million to the effort to pass full same-sex marriage.
However, the Catholic church is being more vocal in opposing marriage equality in this election in Washington than they are in Maine.
Minnesota’s ban amendment, however, will likely pass. In September, 48 percent of voters polled were in favor of the ban and 47 percent against it. Adding in that 7% pro-gay lean of polls over actual election results shows that the ban amendment might pass widely.
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