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Election Day for Marriage: What’s at Stake

Selene Kaye,
Director, Liberty Division,
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November 5, 2012

America goes to the polls tomorrow, and as we all know, there is a great deal at stake – from ballot measures on an array of civil liberties issues, to congressional seats, to the make-up of state legislatures, and of course, the presidency.

What excites me most is the potential for this election to be a pivotal moment in the LGBT equality movement. Our opponents have used the ballot box to deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry in 32 states (in the six states and D.C., where gay and lesbian couples can marry, it was won through state legislatures and courts and was not challenged at the ballot). We have yet to win a popular vote on this question – but we are poised to turn that tide in any of four state elections tomorrow.

Maine, Maryland and/or Washington could be the first state(s) to expand the freedom to marry to same-sex couples through a popular vote; and Minnesota could be the first state to defeat a constitutional amendment excluding gay and lesbian couples from marriage.

Massive amounts of money have been poured into each of these states, on both sides of the issue, but what gives me hope that freedom and fairness will prevail is the outpouring of support that all four pro-marriage campaigns have seen, not just from donors and prominent endorsements, but also from tens of thousands of volunteers and supporters, and broad coalitions of clergy, businesses, communities of color, Democrats and Republicans, parents, teachers, and public officials.

We have seen national public opinion shift to majority support for the freedom to marry in the last couple of years, but some recent polls in the four states show our side with smaller leads than we had a few months ago. We have been prepared for these fights in a way we never have been before: we’ve anticipated the opposition’s negative advertising, and have been able to respond to and debunk every false claim they’ve made. But we’ve known all along that these were going to be tough – and extremely close – races.

The ACLU has been fighting for same-sex couples for decades, and we have been on the ground in all four states, alongside our coalition partners, committed to making 2012 the year that we break through at the ballot on marriage. If we win in even one of these states, it will mark a major turning point in this movement, and will show the rest of the country that voters are ready to take this step forward for all couples and families.

Every single vote will count tomorrow. If you live in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, or Washington, or know people who do, make sure you cast your vote tomorrow for freedom and tell your friends and family to do the same – your vote truly could make the difference. Don’t miss this chance to be a part of history.

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