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Maryland and Maine Legalize Gay Marriage in Ballot Measures

UPDATED: In the first election since President Obama endorsed same-sex marriage, voters have shifted to embracing marriage equality.

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Today is a historic day for gay marriage as Maryland, Maine and Washington have become the first three states in the U.S. to pass gay marriage by voter referendum. 

In Maryland, the legalization of gay marriage passes by a margin of about 52 percent to 48 percent. In Maine, it passed 53 to 47. And in Washington, it's ahead 52 to 48 with votes still left to be counted.

The three join other states that have legalized gay marriage but without a popular vote. Other states have approved it through legislatures or judicial action, including Massachussets, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia.

The votes mark a sharp departure from ballot propositions in previous years on the issue of gay marriage. More than 30 states have voted for constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.

This time, in the first election since President Obama endorsed same-sex marriage, voters have shifted to embracing marriage equality.

In Minnesota, voters rejected a constitutional ban on gay marriage, meaning that supporters of gay marriage went 4-for-4 after years of losing on Election Day. Gay rights advocates also scored a big victory when Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay member of the Senate, winning a close race in Wisconsin.

"This is a landmark election for marriage equality and we will forever look back at this year as a critical turning point in the movement for full citizenship for LGBT people," said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin.

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