President Obama's second term is tonight's big news, but this election could eventually be remembered more for its gay equality milestones than its presidential results. Same-sex marriage was approved in two states, a ban will likely be struck down in another, and Tammy Baldwin became America's first openly gay senator. 2008 wasn't such a great year for gay rights, with California's Prop. 8 outlawing gay marriage in the state. This year, we've witnessed a big about-face, with two states making history by simultaneously becoming the first to pass gay marriage by popular vote. Let's run down all the important results for gay issues:
Wisconsin's Senate race
The contenders: Tommy Thompson (Rep) vs. Tammy Baldwin (Dem)
The results: Tammy Baldwin marks one of tonight's milestones as Wisconsin has elected her the first openly gay senator, something which she acknowledged in her victory speech. But Baldwin's sexuality was de-emphasized during the campaign. Jesse McKinley of the New York Times reported that "gay groups have been surprisingly low-key about their public support." The Guardian reported that Baldwin said that her orientation "almost never comes up" in a race that's "been flat out on economic issues." Today, Emily Heil at the Washington Post explained that voters weren't that conscious of the fact that Baldwin was making history. Fox News called the election for Baldwin just before 10:00p.m.
Maryland's Question 6
The measure: A yes vote would legalize same-sex marriage in the state.
The results: This one was a nail-biter, but Maryland voters edged out a slight victory for gay marriage. "With 32 percent of precincts reporting after 10 p.m., supporters of allowing same sex marriage in Maryland held a slim lead with about 51 percent of the vote," AP updated close to 11:00 p.m. Politco called it shortly after 11:30 p.m.
Maine's Question 1
The measure: A yes vote would legalize same-sex marriage in the state, repealing a 2009 referendum that struck down a law to legalize gay marriage.
The results: Maine approved this measure 55-to-45, joining Maryland to become the first crop of states to approve gay marriage by popular votes. "It’s time, and I think a lot has happened in the last three years," 57-year-old Portland resident Alison Smith, presumably a yes-voter, told the Boston Globe's Martine Powers. "More people understand that this is a fundamental question of equality." AP called the election at midnight.
Minnesota's Amendment 1
The measure: A yes vote would amend the state's constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
The results: Most voters are choosing "no" on this measure, and since the proposal needs 50 percent of the vote to pass, votes to abstain essentially function as no votes. That means gay marriage will most likely not be illegalized in the state. The AP noted opponents to the measure holding a lead in early results. Minnesota Vikings kicker and World of Warcraft's biggest jock advocate Chris Kluwe tweeted the results coming in with 46.8 percent of votes counted, hoping that the no vote maintains its lead.
Washington state's Referendum 74
The measure: A yes vote would approve a law passed earlier this year to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.
The results: We don't know the results for this election yet, since Washington is a vote by mail state and results could take up to a week to tabulate. But there's a good chance it'll pass, according to Public Policy Polling. Meaning tonight's LGBT wins would only be further compounded.