By Alison Amyx, Senior Editor, Believe Out Loud
In a historic vote for LGBT equality, same-sex marriage was legalized by popular vote in Maine, Maryland, and Washington.
The victory in Maine is particularly sweet because voters rejected same-sex marriage in 2009. Advocates in the state have worked for three years to change public opinion in preparation for last night’s vote.
Christians played a critical role in this campaign as they came out in support of equality. Rev. Marvin Ellison, president of the Board of the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination, offered this reason for supporting Question 1 in Maine:
People of faith in every tradition highly value marriage and also want to strengthen all Maine families, including same-sex couples and their families. Our faith and values give us strong reason to support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
Voters in Washington passed Referendum 74, which upholds a February decision to legalize same-sex marriage. Reverend Rich Lang, pastor of the University Temple Methodist Church in Seattle, and his wife Cathy added their voices to the chorus of support for marriage equality in their state. Rev. Lang explains: "My shift came because I realized at the very core of my Christianity is the compassion God has shown me towards me."
In addition, Minnesota made history as the first state to reject an amendment banning gay marriage. Notably, a "Priest, Minster, and a Rabbi" worked with Minnesotans United for All Families to prove their support for marriage equality was no joke. Minnesota has a standing law against same-sex marriage, but last night’s decision ensures the prohibition will not enter the state’s constitution.
While historic, these votes for marriage equality are not surprising. As a recent study by Third Wave reports, support for gay marriage has risen 16 points since 2004, with “major shifts across every demographic group” confirming that people are simply changing their minds.
Same-sex marriage will now be legal in nine states and the District of Columbia. It has been banned in 39 states, and the Defense of Marriage Act prevents legally married same-sex couples from receiving the 1,138 benefits, rights and protections provided on the basis of marital status in Federal law.
Photo by Beatrice de Gea