NEW YORK - Pro-marriage candidates won big across the nation. With the election of new governors in New York and Rhode Island, the re-election of Martin O'Malley in Maryland, and Mark Dayton's current lead in Minnesota, the leadership needed should be in place to pursue marriage legislation in all four states in 2011.
"Across the country, from New York to California, Americans cast their ballots for candidates who support marriage. A majority of the electorate supports the freedom to marry, and those fair-minded voters showed up at the polls and elected pro-marriage equality candidates, even in this otherwise tough political environment for progressive politicians. It is time for our elected officials to do the right thing and end government discrimination in marriage," said Evan Wolfson, Founder and Executive Director of Freedom to Marry. "Freedom to Marry's top priority in 2011 will be working to secure marriage legislation in Maryland, Minnesota, New York, and Rhode Island."
In New York, Democrat Andrew Cuomo won an overwhelming victory against Republican Carl Paladino, who came under fire in October for making anti-gay comments. Cuomo repeatedly pledged to pass a marriage bill, stating "I don't want to be the governor who just proposes marriage equality. I don't want to be the governor who lobbies for marriage equality. I don't want to be the governor who fights for marriage equality. I want to be the governor who signs the law that makes equality a reality in the state of New York." Additionally, Eric Schneiderman, a long-time supporter of the freedom to marry, was elected as New York's next Attorney General. New York came close to passing a marriage bill in 2009, and with strong leadership in place and majority support for the freedom to marry across the state, should finish the job in 2011.
In Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, the independent candidate for Governor who pledged to lead the charge in bringing the freedom to marry to Rhode Island, won his race. Also in Rhode Island, the openly-gay mayor of Providence, David Cicilline, won his Congressional bid. Cicilline, who will be the fourth openly gay member of Congress and is an ardent marriage supporter, vowed to support the effort to bring the freedom to marry to Rhode Island in 2011 and to fight federal marriage discrimination imposed by the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act."
In Maryland, Martin O'Malley, who pledged to sign a bill bringing the freedom to marry to the state, won his bid for reelection. Voters also reelected Attorney General, Douglas F. Gansler, who penned the important Attorney General's opinion concluding that Maryland should honor out-of-state marriages celebrated by same-sex couples, including those from next door in the District of Columbia.
In Minnesota, Democrat Mark Dayton, who campaigned in support of the freedom to marry, is leading against Republican Tom Emmer. Dayton's lead comes after a flood of funding for Emmer from anti-gay groups across the country, including the so-called National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which ran a series of ads in the state, and corporate funding from companies like Target. But the people of Minnesota appear to have rejected Emmer's anti-gay positions.
Despite spending a record sum of nearly two hundred million dollars on her campaign, anti-marriage equality candidate Meg Whitman lost her gubernatorial bid in California to Jerry Brown, who supports the freedom to marry. In New Hampshire, Governor John Lynch, who signed a freedom to marry bill last year, won his bid for reelection. And in D.C., all of the city council members who voted for marriage equality last year were reelected.
"The results of this election are a green light for continued advance on Freedom to Marry's Roadmap to Victory," Wolfson said. "With our growing dream team in place, Freedom to Marry is ready to lead the national effort to win more states in 2011, grow majority support for the freedom to marry, and fight federal marriage discrimination."
Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage -- and the responsibilities, protections, and commitment that marriage brings. Freedom to Marry is working to win marriage in more states, grow majority support for the freedom to marry, and end federal marriage discrimination.