Will Maine Voters Be First to Legalize Gay Marriage?

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These are the states, in chronological order, where voters have banned gay marriage at the ballot box: Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska, Nevada, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Kansas, Texas, Alabama, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, Arizona, California, Florida, and North Carolina.

These are the states, in chronological order, where voters have approved gay marriage at the ballot box: 0.

That’s hard to believe, right?

But it’s true: Every single time the question has been put to voters, they’ve rejected gay marriage. (The only places where gay marriages are legal are states where it’s been approved by the courts or the legislature.) Even liberal California rejected it in 2008.

This November, four states have the chance to change this: Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington will all be voting on initiatives to legalize gay marriage. And according to polls gathered by Molly Ball at the Atlantic, Maine is poised to most easily pass the bill, with 55 percent of those polled supporting the bill, and only 36 percent opposed. Maryland and Washington seem likely to pass it as well, while Minnesota is a bit tighter.

For Maine, it would be a chance at redemption. In 2009, the state legislature passed—and Governor Baldacci signed—a bill legalizing gay marriage. After being challenged, the voters repealed the bill at the ballot box, 53 percent to 47.

Fortunately, opinions are changing rapidly on the issue. Three years after that vote, support for gay marriage has reached a critical mass. In 2012, national support for gay marriage topped 50 percent for the first time in polls. In June, a CNN poll showed support at 54 percent. That’s only going to continue to increase as younger voters grow increasingly influential.

A few months from now, Maine has the chance to become the first state (or one of the first states, at least) to stand up for civil rights and approve gay marriage—and really show the rest of the U.S. the way life should be.