Same-sex marriage initiatives will appear on ballots in four states on Nov. 6. Since 1998, no state has approved any of the ballot initiatives about same-sex marriage, but this year could be the first time voters change that.
Advocates for same-sex marriage in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington have received national support as voters prepare to decide the fate of the states’ same-sex marriage initiatives—from President Obama to California residents still fighting Proposition 8.
Here’s a look at what each state will be voting on, and where public opinion currently stands:
Maine: Question 1
The Maine legislature approved a bill to allow same-sex marriage in the state in 2009, but the law was overturned by voters before it went into effect that year. In January 2012, same-sex marriage supporters successfully submitted a petition to add same-sex marriage to the state’s ballot in November. So 2012 will mark the second time in four years that residents of Maine will vote on same-sex marriage.
The PAC supporting same-sex marriage in Maine raised nearly $1 million in the month of October.
A September PPP poll shows supporters of the initiative with a narrow edge over those who oppose legalizing same-sex marriage, 52% to 44%.
Maryland: Question 6
The Maryland House and Senate approved the Civil Marriage Protection Act in February, and it was signed on March 1 by Gov. Martin O’Malley. In July, the Maryland Marriage Alliance submitted over 100,000 signatures challenging the law and earning it a place on the ballot.
Maryland was the first state in the country to statutorily ban same-sex marriage under Section 2-201 of the Maryland Family Law Code in 1973. If voters approve the referendum in Maryland, whose polls close ahead of the other states voting on same-sex marriage initiatives, the Old Line State would become the first state where voters have approved same-sex marriage.
The most recent Washington Post poll found the majority of Maryland voters are in favor of upholding the state’s same-sex marriage law, 52% to 43%.
Minnesota: Amendment 1
Voters in Minnesota will be asked to vote on a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between one man and one woman. Minnesota currently does not recognize same-sex marriages, but passage of Amendment 1 would reinforce the ban by amending the state’s constitution. If passed, Minnesota would become the 32nd state in the country to have done so.
An October PPP poll shows Amendment 1 losing support among Minnesota voters. In September, voters said they would pass the amendment, 48-47, but the new poll shows now 46% of voters plan to support it, while 49% are opposed.
Washington: Referendum 74
Washington became the seventh state in the country to pass a law to legalize same-sex marriage. Gov. Christine Gregoire signed the law in February, and was quickly challenged by the conservative group Preserve Marriage Washington. The group submitted a petition with more than 200,000 signatures to put the law to vote on Nov. 6.
If Referendum 74 passes, same-sex marriage in Washington will become legal in December.
The campaign to approve R-74 has received support and donations from high-profile figures, such as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. Former Washington Gov. Dan Evans (R) also endorsed the referendum.
A recent local poll showed that the majority of voters in Washington support marriage equality, 55% to 40%.