Despite the loss in Maine, Dale Carpenter remains upbeat:

With close popular votes in two states in the last year, little prospect of additional anti-SSM state constitutional amendments, coming legislative action in more states and D.C., the first-ever electoral victory for civil unions in an election last night in Washington state, gay marriage completely secure in four of five states that still have it, and a federal marriage amendment in rigor mortis, the question is not really whether, but when and where next.

I think this is essential context. From my own perspective, working on this for two decades, I'm both heartsick at losing but also near delirious at the progress we have already made.

Remember: I was regarded as insane for proposing marriage equality in 1989. Twenty years' later, thanks to a massive new movement, it's law in five states and very nearly the law in California, where full state rights of marriage are now accorded gay citizens. The recent losses, moreover, were closer than any previous fights. We used to be losing by 2 -1; now we're losing by the narrowest 52 - 48 type margins. This is extraordinary progress - and the educational impact in which we have shifted the entire next generation to supporting equality has been profound.

We are winning. Remember that. Defeats are spurs to better strategy, not to despair. I know the pain. I feel it deep in my bones. But I also know the truth: this is the right thing to do and it is winning wherever fear surrenders to reason. Know hope. Which is not the same as optimism.