OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Supporters of gay marriage in Washington state said they were in a “very strong position” Tuesday night, with early returns showing voters narrowly approving same-sex marriage in the state after residents gave similar measures the go-ahead in Maryland and Maine.
ST. PAUL – Minnesota on Tuesday became the first state to reject a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
Because a state law remains on the books, the vote does not automatically allow same-sex weddings. However, with a newly elected Democratic-Farmer-Labor-controlled Legislature and a DFL governor, the subject is bound to be debated when lawmakers take office in January.
Minnesota’s rejection of the gay marriage ban was just one piece of a big night for gay activists and their allies nationwide. In Maine and Maryland, voters legalized gay marriage; in Washington, a measure to the same was leading. The wins were a resounding reversal of a 32-state winning streak for gay marriage opponents.
Maine’s referendum on same-sex marriage marked the first time that gay-rights supporters put the issue to a popular vote. They collected enough signatures over the summer to schedule the vote, hoping to reverse the outcome of a 2009 referendum that quashed a gay-marriage law enacted by the Legislature.
In both Maryland and Washington, gay-marriage laws were approved by lawmakers and signed by the governors earlier this year, but opponents gathered enough signatures to challenge the laws.
In Minnesota, the question was whether the state would join 30 others in placing a ban on gay marriage in its constitution. Even if the ban is defeated, same-sex marriage would remain illegal in Minnesota under statute.
Heading into the election, gay marriage was legal in six states and the District of Columbia — in each case the result of legislation or court orders, not by a vote of the people.