Both sides have fought expensive battles over whether to legalize gay marriage in the states of Maine, Maryland, Washington state and Minnesota. Each of the states are Democratic-leaning on the presidential level are are expected to go blue in that race. Polls show the battles tightening in all four, but there appear to be majorities supporting gay marriage in Maine and Maryland, where the state’s governor, Martin O’Malley, has helped finesse a strong campaign.
Gay marriage has been a subtext of the 2012 presidential campaign for the last six months, after President Barack Obama’s hand was forced on the issue by his vice president getting “ahead of his skis” on a Sunday morning talk show and declaring his own support for legalizing same-sex marriage.
Obama risked damaging his post-partisan brand, and ire from his liberal base, by staying silent on the issue, although some Democrats feared he could still turn off conservative voting demographics like Hispanic evangelicals with his open support for same-sex marriage in May.
A win at the ballot box would be historic for gay activists — and a loss would be a major setback ahead of two major U.S. Supreme Court decisions involving gay marriage. Conservatives are equally motivated, with the National Organization for Marriage mounting a strong campaign against the ballot initiatives in all four states.