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Same-sex marriage: How much has public opinion really changed?

August 17, 2011 |  2:28 pm

Samesex
Polls consistently show increased support for same-sex marriage, but the question that hasn't been determined is whether that support translates into proportionate votes at the ballot box. States that have same-sex marriage now have accomplished it either through the Legislature or the courts, not through popular vote.

Gay rights advocates in Maine are betting that things have changed enough to make it worth trying. That's a bold move in a state where voters overturned legislation passed in 2009 to allow the marriages. Still, the Maine secretary of state approved ballot language allowing the advocates to go forward with their petitions to put the measure before voters in November 2012, the Kennebec Journal reported Wednesday.

That means people would vote on the measure in the same election in which they're voting for president, which should mean higher voter turnout. It's unclear how that would affect the measure's chances. Polls show 55% of Maine voters supporting same-sex marriage as long as clergymen are guaranteed the right not to perform such weddings -- something they're pretty much guaranteed anyway under the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

There are reports that the gay rights group Basic Rights Oregon is thinking of a similar move in that state, which has a constitutional ban against same-sex marriage, as California does.

Could the country be looking at same-sex marriage via popular demand?

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--Karin Klein

 Photo credit: Leonardo Munoz / EPA

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