Referendum 74, Question 6, Question 1—these are the legislative code names for gay marriage on three state ballots across the country, and tonight could be the very first time in American history that a state passes gay marriage by a popular vote. Here's what you need to know.
Wait, what? There's more to this vote than Romney and Obama?
Yes! There's really important stuff, like if those Republicans who said all those dumb things about rape are going to win. Puerto Rico voting for statehood. Or if people really like Michele Bachmann. And gay marria—
Hold on. I know gay people who are getting married already.
Did you go to their weddings? They're pretty awesome, and the New York Times likes them a lot ... maybe too much. But seriously, there are only six states (plus the District of Columbia) where same-sex couples have the freedom to marry.
Only six? I thought it was more.
Nope, just Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. There's also the long-standing Prop. 8 legal battle in California which looks like it's going to the Supreme Court. And there's this, by the Freedom to Marry organization, that outlines the civil unions and states which honor out-of-state same-sex marriages, and how they differ:
MD, NM, and RI explicitly respect out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples, while nine states now offer broad protections short of marriage. DE, HI, IL, NJ, and RI allow civil union, while CA, OR, NV, and WA offer broad domestic partnership. Four other states (CO, ME, MD, WI) have more limited domestic partnership.
This year legislatures in Maryland, New Jersey, and Washington passed bills giving same-sex couples the right to marry. Chris Christie struck that New Jersey initiative down with a veto, but the bills that weren't vetoed by Christie are up for a vote in Maryland and Washington. And there's a gay marriage measure in Maine, too.