We Win the Jackpot! Maryland, Maine, Iowa, Washington State, Minnesota
If tonight proves anything, it’s that American voters have definitely, decidedly and determinedly rejected the religious right on the subject of same-sex marriage.
Adding to the big victory in Maine, where voters reversed themselves and approved same-sex marriage was the vote in Maryland.
The Free State’s Democratic (and practicing Roman Catholic) governor, Martin O’Malley, had taken a determined stand on the issue. He helped pull it through the State Legislature in Annapolis, but anti-gay groups forced the issue on the ballot.
Several black pastors came out against same-sex marriage. The controversy even reached into the National Football League. When one black state legislator rebuked a player for the Baltimore Ravens, he was slapped down in the media, social media and just about everywhere else before he beat a hasty retreat.
Now, the Washington Post has called the vote for marriage equality. This marks the southernmost state (not counting the neighboring District of Columbia) to approve of same-sex marriage.
"It takes away the talking points that anti-marriage activists use day in and day out: that this issue can’t win at the ballot box," Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Coalition, told the Post.
Brian Brown, the president of the National Organization for Marriage, fought hard for his side here and in Maryland. But instead of conceding that the electorate nationally has changed, he blamed parochial politics.
"The big difference is that we are in four deep-blue states," he told the Post.
Mirroring what apparently happened in Maine, the densely populated suburban and relatively well-off Montgomery County went heavily for the measure, countering more conservative rural areas. Neither the Post nor the Baltimore Sun gave reports on the vote in Baltimore, by far the state’s largest city.
The vote became a de facto referendum on attitudes in the African-American community. Many black pastors were fierce in their denunciations but it apparently had little effect on parishioners. The fact that President Barak Obama spoke forcefully for marriage equality effectively blunted the anti-gay message in the black community.
"We were well outspent," said the Rev. Derek McCoy, executive director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance.
Meanwhile, in another significant victory for our side, the Human Rights Campaign has sent out an email claiming victory in Iowa.
Voters there were deciding whether Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins would suffer the same fate as his colleagues in the last election. But voters apparently decided to keep him at his bench in the state’s highest court.
Anti-gay forces marshaled against Wiggins because of his forceful decision to allow same-sex marriage in the Hawkeye State. Civic groups were unanimous in deriding the recall election as a dangerous interference in the constitutional theory of separation of powers and an independent judiciary.
In the end, most Iowans seemed to agree. Iowa thus looks secure to be the only state not along a seacoast to have legalized same-sex marriage.
As of this writing, pollsters are predicting that Washington State will pass its own same-sex marriage referendum. And Minnesota appears to have defied expectations and defeated an amendment to the state’s constitution banning same-sex marriage.
The American electorate has spoken. Whether the GOP will listen or be relegated to minority status remains to be seen. The Democratic Party platform came out for same-sex marriage. The GOP’s rejected any form of legalized partnership for same-sex couples.
Pundits predicted that the issue wold become a millstone around the Democratic Party’s collective neck and would bring out social conservatives in droves for the GOP.
The pundits were wrong (as they so frequently are). The GOP, meanwhile, continues to be in thrall to the "Moral Majority" religious Right that propelled Ronald Reagan to the presidency. A few voices in the GOP wilderness, such as Meaghan McCain, the daughter of the last failed GOP nominee for president, have been trying to get the party to move to where the American electorate has already gone on the issue. But the party seems to be continuing its ride along the river called Denial.