Gay rights advocates have a new arena in which to battle for marriage equality: state ballots.
November‘s general election features same-sex marriage referenda on state ballots in Washington State, Maine, Minnesota and Maryland.
While public opinion on marriage equality has been moving rapidly from con to pro, same-sex marriage has never been approved in the more than 30 state elections in which some incarnation of gay marriage has been up for a vote.
The polling looks better this time – in both Minnesota and Maine, recent public opinion surveys show slight leads for the marriage equality side.
This issue is bound to gather more traction in the three month run-up to the election. Along with changes in public opinion, what is different in these votes, particularly in Minnesota and Washington state, is the degree to which large corporations and business leaders have lined up behind marriage equality. For example, executives of Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon.com and General Mills, have endorsed the gay marriage side and given money to the pro-gay marriage side of the debate.
A victory or two in these states would be tangible evidence that same-sex marriage is becoming more accepted. An election is always a more concrete barometer of motivated public opinion than telephone public opinion surveys.