Even before President Obama announced his personal support for marriage equality, the political issue of gay marriage was going to be unavoidable this November. Gay marriage was already guaranteed to be part of the political discourse this cycle because it was already on the ballot in at least two states this November.
In Maine the group EqualityMaine gathered enough signatures to get their initiative, “An Act to Allow Marriage Licenses for Same-Sex Couple and Protect Religious Freedom,” on the November ballot. If approved by voters the initiative would overturn a previous 2009 ballot referendum that prevents a legislature approved same sex marriage law from going into effect. The 2009 measure was approved 52.75% yes to 47.25% no, but the hope is that growing acceptance and more favorable turnout demographics in a presidential election will result in a victory for marriage equality this year.
In Minnesota, on a mostly party line basis Republicans in the state legislature voted to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would ban same sex marriage. State law already prohibitions gay marriage in Minnesota, but the Republican came this is extra protection.
While those are the only two states the issue is already on the ballot, it is assumed several others will follow suit this cycle. For example, in Maryland the state legislature recently approved same sex marriage but it is wildly assumed opponents will gather enough signatures to put the law to a popular referendum this November. Similarly, in Washington State signatures are being gathered for a referendum to overturn the states new same sex marriage law.
Regardless whether or not Obama spoke out, marriage equality was already assured to be a political issue this November. Though now that Obama has personally come out in favor of it, the issue’s prominence should grow, making it easier for groups on both sides to nationalize these ballot measures.
The big question now that Obama official supports gay marriage is: what, if anything, will his campaign structure do about these measures going before the voters this election?