Voters set to decide on gay marriage in four states

Tue Oct 9, 2012 2:31pm EDT
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By Edith Honan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When Nathan Meyer calls voters who are undecided about same-sex marriage, he talks about his parents' marriage and how he sees it as a model for what he hopes to have -- before he mentions that he and his boyfriend plan to one day wed.

Meyer, 30, a high school English teacher from the St. Paul suburb of Roseville, is part of a team of volunteers who aim to reach 1 million Minnesota voters before the state votes on November 6 on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

"All people get married for the same reasons. And my parents and their marriage, that's common ground for people," Meyer said.

He said he's been surprised at how many people are willing to have such a personal conversation with a stranger on the telephone. While some people hang up on him, most calls last 10 minutes, some have stretched to 20 minutes or longer.

Ballot initiatives banning the legal recognition of same-sex marriage have succeeded in 31 states, and no state has ever approved same-sex marriage by popular vote. In this year's November 6 election, advocates of same-sex marriage hope to change that.

Maine - which rejected gay marriage in a referendum in 2009 by 53 to 47 percent - could become the first state to legalize same-sex marriage solely by popular vote. In Washington and Maryland, where the state legislatures passed laws expanding marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples earlier this year, citizens will vote on whether to let the laws stand.

Meanwhile, defenders of traditional marriage hope Minnesota will become the latest state to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman - effectively banning same-sex marriages.

Six states, as well as the District of Columbia, have expanded marriage rights to include same-sex couples. In Massachusetts, Iowa and Connecticut, the laws followed court rulings that found same-sex couples could not be denied the right to marry. Legislatures brought on the change in Vermont, New York and New Hampshire. (For a graphic on marriage laws, see:   Continued...

A voter arrives at a polling location to vote in Portland, Maine November 3, 2009. Among the issues on the ballot is an effort to repeal Maine's gay marriage law, which was adopted last spring by the Legislature. REUTERS/Joel Page