ON TUESDAY, Americans in Maryland, Maine and Washington state voted by almost identical four-point margins to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples; in a fourth state, Minnesota, voters rejected a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, again by about the same margin. With those ballot victories for marriage equality, the first after a 14-year string of defeats in 32 states, it is now reasonable to imagine a day in the not-very-distant future when marriage for gay and lesbian couples across this country will be unexceptional, unencumbered and mostly unremarked upon.
Maryland, Maine and Washington will become the seventh, eighth and ninth states, in addition to the District of Columbia, to permit same-sex marriage. (California did also, but only briefly, in 2008.) In Maine’s case, Tuesday’s vote neatly reversed the outcome of a similar referendum just three years ago that annulled a marriage law passed by the state legislature. Other states, including ones that have voted against marriage equality, are likely to follow suit. The tide has turned.