Last night, there was a historic victory won. I’m not talking about President Barack Obama winning re-election, though he deserves a mention in this story as well. I’m talking about the ballot initiatives in Maine, Maryland and Wisconsin where citizens finally pulled together and recognized the importance of granting the right to marry to same-sex couples. Those victories represent the first time that Americans have voted to grant civil rights to same-sex couples, and they are a huge step forward in the battle to support families with same-sex parents.
Up until the 2012 election, every time a state granted marriage equality, it came in the form of judicial decision and legislative victory. The measures in Iowa and New York weren’t decided on the ballot during an election. A smaller group of representatives for the state came together and acknowledged that the LGBTQ community should have the same rights as everyone else. Those victories were wonderful and necessary and they advanced the cause that so many are supporting. But it’s hard to argue that there is something extremely significant about seeing this outcome from the citizens themselves.
In Maryland and Washington, voters were supporting laws already on the books to legalize same-sex marriage. They were simply affirming a decision that was already made. In Maine, citizens were actually voting to change their laws and make marriage a right for every adult couple who chooses it. This decision wasn’t sent down from a Judge and it wasn’t negotiated by a state legislator. It was ordinary human beings who went into the voting booth and recognized that we should all be able to marry whomever we choose, no matter the gender.
The support for same-sex marriage in this country is growing. In fact, we’re pretty positive that marriage equality is inevitable. The 2012 election is just another step on the road to equal rights. Another big moment in that journey came when President Obama became the first sitting President to voice his personal support for marriage equality. His announcement spurred national discourse and increased the momentum behind a movement that’s been gaining steam for years.
Last night, it felt like a lot of that hard work was finally paying off. There had been 32 ballot measures in the past to try to get same-sex couples the rights that every heterosexual couple takes for granted. All of those previous measures had failed. Last night, the tide officially turned and those who want to support families of every shape and size could see a bright and shiny future.
Right now in our country, plenty of same-sex couples are raising children. They’re doing so without the legal protection and tax benefits of heterosexual couples. They struggle to get family insurance and to protect their children in case something horrible should happen. They aren’t perfect families. They’re just like every other group of human beings, with complexities and faults. But they are loving families trying to raise happy, healthy children.
These families deserve our support. Last night, the citizens in three states decided to support these families. I can only hope that the rest of the country will follow suit soon.