Maryland joined Maine in making history on Election Night, affirming gay marriage by a popular vote. As The Los Angeles Times reports, Maryland’s referendum to uphold the law held a sizable lead with about 80 percent of precincts reporting, putting the state on track to become the first below the Mason-Dixon line to legalize marriage equality.
"Today the marriage equality map expands to Maryland, giving thousands more loving couples the opportunity to make lifelong commitments through marriage," Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin said in an email statement. "This is a milestone night for the simple truth that when Americans are presented with the real lives of their friends and neighbors, they have no choice but to vote for their equality. It is the momentum reflected in poll after poll that shows a growing majority for marriage equality across the country."
In March, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the same-sex marriage bill into law. But just two months later, officials with the Maryland Marriage Alliance -- a coalition of groups working to preserve the traditional definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman -- had reportedly collected more than 113,000 signatures from opponents, far exceeding the necessary 56,000 signatures to force the law to a referendum.
In recent days, a Washington Post poll found that likely voters favored the law 52 percent to 43 percent, but a subsequent Baltimore Sun poll was less certain, finding support for same-sex marriage in the state at a near-even split.
In other big wins for marriage equality, Maine also legalized gay marriage on Tuesday and Washington made it official on November 7, due to the state's mail-in voting system, which required a bit more time for an official tally to be determined. In Minnesota, voters shot down a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as a union only between a man and a woman.