appear to be creating the right of same-sex marriage. They join six other states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa, and New York) for a new total of nine states, plus the District of Columbia, where gay and lesbian couples may now marry.
(The vote has not yet been officially announced in Washington state, but is expected to come soon.)
These new states will be the first to create marriage equality through a popular vote, rather than through judicial or legislative action. Three states, including our own Massachusetts, as well as Connecticut and Iowa, have judicially-created gay marriage. The other three states, Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York, have legislatively-created gay marriage.
No doubt popular support for gay marriage equality is growing. I continue to hope that family law scholar Joanna Grossman was right when, early this year, she optimistically foresaw, as her article title itself (following link) suggested, "the beginning of the end of the anti-same sex movement." Indeed, another hopeful sign, from yesterday, was that Minnesota's voters rejected the ballot initiative there which called for a state constitutional amendment limiting marriage to the traditional, heterosexual marriage between a man and a woman.
I fear, however, that I may also be right in my own more pessimistic response that although progress is real, it is likely to continue to be rather slow. (Here I am reminded of one of my favorite George Orwell quotes: "Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing.") Just as there will be a few states moving in the direction of equality, I believe there will continue to be, for many years, a large majority of states where social conservatives stubbornly refuse to recognize gay marriage. After all, we're still only up to 9 states plus D.C.. That leaves 41 states without gay marriage, many of which already have bans on gay marriages. And of course we are still living with the federal statute (the Defense of Marriage Act).
Stay tuned. The U.S. Supreme Court will surely weigh in soon on at least some of the issues presented by the laws for and against gay marriage.
For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.