Maryland and Maine voters on Tuesday approved same-sex marriage, marking the first time marriage rights have been extended to same-sex couples by popular vote.
The approval was a watershed moment for gay rights activists because while same-sex unions have been legalized in six states and the District of Columbia by lawmakers or courts, voters until Tuesday had consistently rejected the issue. Voters in more than 30 states have approved constitutional bans on gay marriage.
“It’s enormous. We have truly made history,” said Brian Ellner, head of the pro-gay marriage group The Four. “Having the first states approve marriage by a popular vote changes the narrative and sends an important message to the Supreme Court.”
In Maryland, the gay-marriage measure passed 52 percent to 48 percent, with 93 percent of precincts reporting. In Maine, it was leading by 54 percent to 46 percent, with more than 62 percent of precincts reporting. And in Washington, it was leading by 52 percent to 48 percent, with 61 percent of precincts reporting.