BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — “We have made history for marriage equality by winning our first victory at the ballot box,” Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin told The New York Times after voters bucked a national trend of defeat whenever the issue has been put to the popular vote.
While Maine and Maryland voters said yes to gay marriage, and with Washington State all but certain to follow once the final Referendum 74 votes are tallied, Minnesotans said no to an amendment that would have defined marriage as being solely between a man and a woman, The Huffington Post reports.
“We will forever look back at this year as a critical turning point in the movement for full citizenship for LGBT people," Griffin says in a press release.
Before Nov 6, court and legislative decisions led to the legalization of gay marriage in six states and Washington, DC. By contrast, voters in more than 30 states had rejected it.
Meanwhile, in another first, Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin becomes the first openly gay American senator after defeating popular former governor Tommy Thompson in a costly and hotly contested race.
"Now, I am well aware that I will have the honor of being Wisconsin's first woman senator. And I am well aware that I will be the first openly gay member," Baldwin said after claiming victory, New York Daily News reports. "But I didn't run to make history; I ran to make a difference."
"When the counting is done, it will be clear that we've reached a new record number of out members of Congress," Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund vice-president Denis Dison told BuzzFeed, with the reelections of representatives Jared Polis and David Cicilline and the elections of Sean Patrick Maloney and Mark Pocan.
In his own victory speech, Barack Obama, who became the first sitting president to say he supported same-sex marriage, said "It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or pool, abled, disabled, gay or straight. You can make it here in America if you’re willing to try."