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Gay marriage has been on the ballot in many states across the country, but yesterday Maine and Maryland became the latest states to approve it.
The ballot measures in both states asked voters to affirmatively approve marriage for gay and lesbian couples. A similar measure appeared on ballots in Washington state, where votes were still being counted this morning.
It now appears that gay marriage will be legal in at least two (if not all three) of the above-mentioned states. But it's the way those states went about doing it that makes the votes historic.
Until now, the states that allow same-sex marriage have done so through the legal system rather than turning to the public in an election.
Connecticut, Iowa, and Massachusetts legalized gay marriage through the court system and altered their laws to meet court requirements. New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont's same-sex marriage laws were passed by state legislatures.
Tuesday's election marked the first time that voters approved a ballot measure that affirmatively gives same-sex couples the right to marry.
Proponents of gay marriage claim this shows a shift in public opinion over the past few years about the rights of gay and lesbian couples, reports Reuters.
That analysis does seem to be supported by Maine's history with gay rights. In 2009, 53% of Maine voters opposed gay marriage, while 47% supported it. But this year, the numbers flipped: 53% of voters supported the new measure, while 47% voted against it, according to preliminary results.
Those results seem to show that opinions have shifted significantly in just three years.
In another state, Minnesota, voters rejected a constitutional amendment that sought to ban gay marriage. Same-sex marriage supporters chalked that up as a show of support for marriage equality in their state, reports CNN.
While the vote doesn't mean gay and lesbian couples can legally marry in Minnesota, it does make it a more likely possibility down the road.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.