For Immediate Release
History-Making Night for Freedom to Marry In Ballot Fights, Obama Reelection, and State House Wins
NEW YORK - The freedom to marry won resounding victories in lat night’s election, including first-ever wins at the ballot as voters supported marriage for same-sex couples in Maine and Maryland. Minnesotans made history with the first vote against a constitutional amendment that would have excluded same-sex couples from marriage. In Washington, where ballots are still being counted, signs are strongly pointing to another imminent victory for the freedom to marry.
"Our huge, happy, and historic wave of wins last night signaled irrefutable momentum for the freedom to marry, with voters joining courts, legislatures, and the reelected president of the United States in moving the country toward the right side of history," said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. "The anti-gay opposition kept moving the goalposts and had as their last talking point that we could not win a popular vote on the freedom to marry. Last night, voters in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and, all signs suggest, Washington proved them wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong.”
“Not only did we win the freedom to marry in more states and at the ballot, but Americans also reelected the candidate for president who supports the freedom to marry, rejecting the anti-gay, anti-marriage candidate and party. With the possibility that the Supreme Court may consider a marriage case in the coming months, we are creating the climate that will enable more elected officials, judges, and even justices to embrace the freedom to marry, knowing that their support will stand the test of time and, indeed, be true to where the American people already are.”
In 2011-2012, Freedom to Marry raised and invested a total of $7 million into the four ballot states in the 2011-2012 cycle, including infusions of $4.6 million in cash to the campaigns, in-kind contributions of staff and expertise, and securing $2.4 million in funding for separate public education efforts. Freedom to Marry was the largest out-of-state funder of marriage work in three of the four battleground states, and is the largest funder of work to advance the freedom to marry in the nation. In addition to funding, Freedom to Marry's central support of marriage work in the states included political and messaging guidance, new media coordination, and strategic leadership.
In the presidential race, exit polling showed President Obama won with voters aged 18-29, 60% to 37%. And defying conventional wisdom, turnout of voters in that age bracket was up from 18% of the electorate in 2008 to 19% in 2012.
According to a May 2012 CNN/ORC survey, Americans overall support the freedom to marry by 54% to 42% but among voters 18 to 34, support is 73% to 24%. And among Democrats and Independent voters, support is 70% to 28% and 60% to 37%.
"Far from hurting President Obama, his support for the freedom to marry galvanized his base of younger voters and Democrats, as well as independents, delivering the turn-out that carried him to victory. The president's reelection further reflects and accelerates the momentum for marriage, which Freedom to Marry will transform into more victories in 2013."
Other election results also provided good news for the freedom to marry. Iowa and New Hampshire, two states where anti-gay forces have attempted to strip away the freedom to marry, saw crucial victories that will protect their freedom to marry laws. In New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan, a strong supporter of the freedom to marry, was elected governor, defeating anti-marriage candidate Ovide Lamontagne. In addition, both the New Hampshire House and Senate will have strong, pro-freedom to marry majorities. As a result, the freedom to marry is safe for the foreseeable future in New Hampshire.
In Iowa, anti-gay forces failed in their efforts to oust Justice David Wiggins, who joined the unanimous state supreme court ruling in favor of the freedom; voters this time repelled the attacks that had previously targeted three of the other justices. Additionally, Democrats retained narrow control of the Iowa state senate, 26-23, with Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal — who has vowed to stop any anti-marriage amendment — winning re-election. If they’d won back the chamber, Republicans had committed to advance an amendment that would undermine the marriage decision.
In Minnesota, in addition to defeat of the anti-marriage amendment, voters rejected lawmakers who advanced a constitutional amendment to the voters, returning both chambers of the MN State Legislature to Democratic control.
And in Colorado, following the blocking of a civil union law by the Republican-controlled House, voters elected Democrats to take control. This paves the way for approval of a civil union law in 2013.
In the US Senate, three supporters of the freedom to marry replace opponents: In Connecticut, Chris Murphy (D) was elected to replace Senator Joseph Lieberman; In Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren (D) defeated incumbent Scott Brown; In Maine, Angus King (I) was elected to replace Olympia Snowe. Additionally, in Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin (D), an openly lesbian candidate, won a hard-fought race against anti-freedom to marry former Gov. Tommy Thompson, to replace Herb Kohl.
Freedom to Marry is the gay and non-gay partnership working to win marriage equality nationwide. Headed by Evan Wolfson, one of America's leading civil rights advocates and lawyers, Freedom to Marry brings new resources and a renewed context of urgency and opportunity to this social justice movement.