The Coming Gay Electoral Watershed

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 6 2012 12:09 PM

The Coming Gay Electoral Watershed

Charles Murray has tweeted his experience from the polls. He's a voter in Maryland. The only real suspense there concerns the gay marriage ballot initiative, which -- thanks to surging black support -- is widely expected to pass.

So I stared at MD's gay marriage prop, greatly conflicted between strategic objections and gay friends in loving relationships, and then said "What the hell," and voted yes. The gay couples I know behave as the Jonathan Rauch's of the world said they would. So I gave up.
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The presidential election has sucked all the oxygen out of the room, but come Wednesday, you should expect this to be one of the themes that mattered. Voters in Maryland, Washington, Maine, and Minnesota are all voting on gay marriage measures. In the first three states they're voting on legalization; in Minnesota, they're voting on a ban. Whichever state legalizes gay marriage by popular vote today will be the first to do so, breaking an eight-year streak. By 10 p.m. or so, it should be clear whether or not Richard Tisei has won a House seat in eastern Massachusetts. If he does it, he'll be the first-ever elected gay Republican congressman. And later in the evening -- if it's that early -- we'll know whether Rep. Tammy Baldwin has become the first openly gay senator. The potential for a lot of heartbreak here, but for anyone who remembers Prop 8 in 2008, passing hours after the state's liberals celebrated an Obama win, it's one hell of a reversal.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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