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Marriage equality moves forward

Win or lose in November, the presidential race may not be the race to watch. For the first time ever, there are possible, even probable, victories for marriage equality across the nation — with four states voting on same-sex marriage, things are finally looking up for the good guys.

Despite the six fabulous states that already recognize same-sex marriage, all 28 times the question of whether or not to ban marriage equality in individual states was placed on the ballot, marriage equality lost. From California to Maine and Hawaii to Nevada, the anti-gay groups have been well organized and well funded.

But they’re losing ground, and we’re gaining on them.

In Washington the legislature passed a marriage equality bill with the support of Republicans and a very sympathetic governor. But anti-gay groups gathered enough signatures to challenge the law and put it on November’s ballot.  In doing so, the group raised a mere $5,000 a month and racked up more than $100,000 in legal fees and other bills. In contrast, marriage equality proponents have collected more than $2 million in donations and recent polls show marriage equality leading by double digits.

Likewise in Maine, after the state legislature legalized gay marriage in 2009, the issue was challenged on the ballot and lost. But marriage equality proponents are back. Only 35 percent of likely voters said they would oppose same-sex marriage and nearly 60 percent voiced support for equality.

In Maryland, the battle is slightly closer and polling data doesn’t show a clear leader in the race. But Obama’s recent coming out in support of marriage equality is helping shift opinions in the state, particularly among minority voters. For the first time ever, more than half of black Marylanders said they would support gay marriage, a jump of 20 percent from surveys taken before Obama’s interview.

Minnesota voters will be facing the question of whether or not to change the state constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Every other state facing this question has voted to exclude gay and lesbian couples from rights and recognition. But with a traditionally liberal history and a Democratic-leaning populous, Minnesota could become the first state to defeat the bigoted measure. A recent poll indicated 48 percent of Minnesotans oppose the anti-gay initiative and only 43 percent support it. Just six months ago, those positions were reversed.

With their time and resources limited, marriage equality opponents are stretching themselves thin this election cycle and whether we have a Romney presidency or another four years of Obama, there’s plenty to look forward to this fall.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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