Nov 09 2012

Same-Sex Marriage Wins Across US Signal Major Shift

Feature Stories | Published 9 Nov 2012, 10:47 am | Comments Off on Same-Sex Marriage Wins Across US Signal Major Shift -

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The LGBT community and its supporters have much to celebrate after voters took to the polls on Tuesday and passed a number of initiatives legalizing same-sex marriage. Voters in three states, Maine, Maryland, and Washington opted to recognize same-sex marriage at the state level. In Minnesota voters rejected amending the state constitution to redefine marriage to exist exclusively between men and women. Now a total of nine states and the District of Columbia legally honor gay marriage. This election’s unprecedented results are expected to boost the national fight for same-sex marriage.

However, the victories this week come after decades of struggle and outreach. In the last 20 years, 32 states have attempted to legalize same sex marriage, but most of those attempts have been unsuccessful. In fact, much effort has been expended in beating back right-wing Christian efforts to ban gay marriage. Earlier this year, North Carolina, in its primary elections, voted to approve a ban on same sex marriage. And, California’s high-profile Proposition 8, which defined marriage as being between a man and a woman, was passed by voters in 2008, and has put a stop to gay marriages in this state, pending an on-going court case.

While states have been tackling the issue of gay marriage, the federal government’s Department of Justice had previously defended the constitutionality of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) against court challenges. DOMA is the federal law that prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages. Under President Obama, the DOJ has found parts of DOMA to be unconstitutional, and at Obama’s request, Attorney General Holder has stated he would no longer defend those parts of the federal law in court. The DOJ released a statement last year criticizing DOMA as violating the equal protections provision of the 5th Amendment.

A recent poll revealed that 5% of voters in the 2012 election identified as gay. The LGBT community turnout for Obama was overwhelming – 77% of LGBT voters voted for Obama, compared to 23% for Mitt Romney.

GUEST: Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom To Marry, one of the organizations on the forefront of the fight for marriage equality – they spent upwards of $7 million dollars across the four states where marriage equality was on the ballot in 2012.

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