2012-NOV: Accelerating steps toward
marriage (SSM) etc.
Part 3: Minnesota Constitutional amendment
Conclusions about referendums in Maine,
Maryland, and Washington State.
We use the acronym "SSM" throughout this section to represent "same-sex marriage"
We use the acronym "LGBT" to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. The acronym "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
See also the previous essay describing events during 2012-NOV, Part 2
2012-NOV-06: Minnesotans voted on Constitutional Amendment 1:
If it had passed, it would have written discrimination into the state constitution by prohibiting loving, committed same-sex couples from marrying. It would have placed same-sex marriage beyond the ability of the legislature or court system to implement. However, unlike this year's stealth amendment in North Carolina, Minnesota's amendment would have left an option open for the legislature to at least create same-sex civil unions.
Amendment 1's question asked: "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?"
The amendment failed.
- With 99% of the votes counted, the amendment was failing: 48% in favor, 51% against, for a margin of 3 percentage points. 1
- On NOV-07, with 99.9% of the precincts reporting, 47.66% voted in favor, while 52.34% had voted against the amendment. 2
- On NOV-09, with all precincts reporting, 47.46% had voted in favor, while 52.54% had voted against the amendment. The margin is 5 percentage points. 3
- Final certification of the vote will be made by the Minnesota Secretary of State at about the end of November.
Before election day in 2012, there had been over two dozen similar attempts in other states to write discrimination against LGBs into their state's constitution. All of them had succeeded -- some by very large margins. However, this amendment failed! Minnesota has become the very first of over two dozen states to reject a constitutional amendment intended to ban same-sex marriage.
SSM remains banned by the state marriage law. However the Legislature could change this at any time. With a Democratic governor, a Democrat-controlled legislature, and a policy in the platform of the national Democratic party in favor of same-sex marriage, the stage is set for the legalization of SSM after the lawmakers take office in 2012-JAN, but only if the politicians care about marriage equality and are willing to take on a controversial topic. 4
Conclusions about the referendums legalizing SSM in Maine, Maryland, & Washington State:
In mid-2012, Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage -- the main national group opposing same-sex marriage SSM --issued a press release stating:
"The American people know in their heart what marriage is, and they have expressed that in the form of over 70 million votes cast in 32 consecutive state elections to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman." 5
This statement contains a strong element of truth. The vast majority of American adults are heterosexuals for whom marriage to a person of the opposite gender is the only possible option. To them personally, marriage means the union of one woman and one man. However, that is not the question that was decided in Maine, Maryland, and Washington. It is not the question in the remaining 40 states for whom SSM will be actively debated in the future. In those 43 states the question will also involve two sexual minorities:
- The homosexual minority for whom marriage with a person of the same gender is the only possible option, and
- The bisexual minority for whom marriage with a man or a woman are both feasible, but marriage to a person of the opposite sex is often currently preferred because it is far less problematic.
The day after election day, Brian Brown stated on his blog:
"Obviously we are very disappointed in losing four tough election battles by narrow margins. We knew long ago that we faced a difficult political landscape with the four marriage battles occurring in four of the deepest-blue states in America. ..."
"Our opponents and some in the media will attempt to portray the election results as a changing point in how Americans view gay marriage, but that is not the case. Americans remain strongly in favor of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The election results reflect the political and funding advantages our opponents enjoyed in these very liberal states.
Though we are disappointed over these losses, we remain faithful to our mission and committed to the cause of preserving marriage as God designed it. [Restricting] Marriage [to the union of one man and one woman] is a true and just cause, and we will never abandon the field of battle just because we experienced a setback. There is much work to do, and we begin that process now." 6
On the evening of election day 2012, Maine was the first of the three states where it became obvious that SSM had be legalized by public vote.
- Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign -- one of the main national groups advocating for SSM -- issued a press release saying:
"This is a landmark election for marriage equality and we will forever look back at this year as a critical turning point in the movement for full citizenship for LGBT people. Voters in Maine came to the common-sense conclusion that all people deserve the ability to make loving, lifelong commitments through marriage." 5
- Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry -- another group advocating marriage equality -- said in a press release:
"Today, a majority in Maine voted in favor of loving and committed same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry. Now the commitment gay and lesbian couples have made in life will be respected equally under the law, celebrated before their loved ones, and called what it is: marriage. ... It’s hard to overstate the national significance of this vote. For years, our opponents have argued that we could not win a majority vote at the ballot. Today, Maine voters proved them wrong, standing up for the Golden Rule, and for freedom for all Mainers." 5
The next day:
The results in all four states were surprisingly similar: on the order of 51% to 48% in favor of SSM for a margin of about 3 percentage points.
In comparison, referendums during 2008 in California and during 2009 in Maine terminated SSMs in their states with approximately a 5 percentage point margin in the opposite direction.
The swing of 8 percentage points in four years resembles the results from public opinion polls, which have averaged 1 to 2 percentage points per year shift in favor of more support and less opposition. It also resembles the rate of change in support of interracial marriage during the second half of the 20th century. We suspect that similar cultural changes, like:
- Equal opportunity for women which has been partly won in recent decades,
- Universal suffrage, and allowing deaf couples to marry in the early 20th century, and
- Allowing African American couples to marry after the Civil War
proceeded equally slowly.
It is quite possible that social and religious conservatives will mount referendums in future years with even higher funding and more fear-based TV ads in an attempt to revert to marriage inequality in some or all of these states. But with acceptance of SSM rising nationally about 1 to 2 percentage points a year and opposition dropping by about the same amount, implementing their long-term goals looks truly hopeless.
This topic continues in Part 4
These information sources were used to prepare & update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- David Badash, "Attempt To Ban Gay Marriage In Minnesota Constitution Fails," The New Civil Rights Movement, 2012-NOV-07, at: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/
- "Maine Same-Sex Marriage Question, Question 1 (2012)," Ballotpedia, as on 2012-NOV-08, PM, at: http://ballotpedia.org/
- "Results for Constitutional Amendments," Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State, 2012-NOV-09, at: http://electionresults.sos.state.mn.us/
- Don Davis, "Minnesota voters reject marriage amendment," Duluth News Tribune, 2012-NOV-08, at: http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/
- Lila Shapiro, "Gay Marriage Victory In Maine, Maryland; Minnesota Votes Down 'Traditional' Amendment," Huffington Post, 2012-NOV-07, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
- "National Organization for Marriage: We Are Not Defeated in Our Fight for Traditional Marriage." National Organization for Marriage, 2012-NOV-07, at: http://www.nomblog.com/
- Edith Honan, "Maryland, Maine, Washington approve gay marriage," Reuters, 2012-NOV-07, at: http://www.reuters.com/
- "Obama cries in campaign staff thanks video," Sky.com, 2012-NOV-09, at: http://news.sky.com/
- Cava Sieckowski, "Mitt Romney Campaign Aides Had Credit Cards Canceled Late On Election Night," Huffington Post, 2012-NOV-09, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
- "What The 2012 Election Would Have Looked Like Without Universal Suffrage," BuzzFeed Politics, 2012-NOV-09, at: http://www.buzzfeed.com/
- Ryan Foley, "Gay marriage likely sticking around in Iowa after votes on state senate, justice retention," Associated Press, 2012-NOV-07, at: http://www.therepublic.com/
How you got here:
Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2012-NOV-05
Latest update: 2012-NOV-11
Author: B.A. Robinson