Gay marriage groups hope to turn focus from the ballot box

Despite the election day successes, gay marriage groups would like to focus on court and legislature battles

Topics: Marriage equality, 2012 Elections, Maine, DoMA, Washington, Minnesota, Gay Marriage, Maryland, , ,

Though Tuesday night was a big night for same-sex marriage, with three states legalizing it and one rejecting a constitutional ban, gay marriage advocates think there’s only so much that can – and should – be accomplished at the state level.

“Rights should not be put to a vote,” Evan Wolfson, the founder of Freedom to Marry, told the Wall Street Journal. “While we have now shown we can do it, it doesn’t mean that we should have to do it, and it doesn’t mean that it is easy to do.”

He added that “very few” states will be appealing as fronts to pursue more ballot measures, because of costs and the scale of organization needed.

Adam Umhoefer, the executive director of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, told the New York Times that the ballot measures wins were, as the Times put it, “the right outcomes in the wrong forums.”

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“Fundamental constitutional rights like marriage,” he said, “should never be subjected to a popular vote.”

But in some states, the Journal points out, it may be hard to rely on the courts or legislatures:

“Gay-marriage proponents face a difficult landscape. Over the last 15 years, some 30 states passed amendments to their constitutions that define marriage as between a man and a woman, making it impossible in most cases for state courts or legislatures to legalize gay marriage. Changing those laws would require new ballot initiatives in each state or action by the federal government or courts.”

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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