This year, marriage equality won four unprecedented victories in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington. For years, organizations like the so-called National Organization for Marriage have bragged that equality always loses at the ballot box. This year we took that talking point away once and for all. Here’s how:
1. The President supported marriage equality — and was re-elected for it.
In 2008, President Bush was firmly opposed to any measure of equality. This year, President Obama’s support for marriage equality led many Americans to take a fresh look.
2. Faith coalitions were on our side.
In 2008, our opponents talked like they had a monopoly on faith. This year, the prominent voices of pro-equality faith leaders like Reverend Delman Coates and organizations like Catholics for Marriage Equality made a huge difference.
3. Americans’ opinions evolved.
In 2008, a Pew poll found that 38 percent of Americans supported marriage equality, while 49 percent were opposed. This year, 16 national polls have found that a majority of Americans are now in favor of equality.
4. The next generation stood up.
In 2008, older Americans’ staunch opposition to marriage equality still dominated. This year, four years’ worth of new young voters came out for equality in a big way.
5. Our opponents lost their momentum and relied on tired arguments.
In 2008, California voters responded to emotionally charged anti-equality advertisements claiming gay marriage would be taught in school. This year, our adversaries ran the same ads, but voters rolled their eyes.
6. Businesses made the case for equality.
In 2008, a few trailblazing companies like Google and Levi’s weighed in against Prop 8, but most others didn’t yet realize what the issue had to do with them. This year, huge coalitions of consumer-facing brands like General Mills, Starbucks, Amazon and Nike took courageous stands against discrimination.
7. Our opponents’ money is drying up.
In 2008, our adversaries — joined by the Mormon Church — spent $40 million towards victory in California alone. This year, the opponents of equality only spent $11 million across four states; the Mormon Church left the arena and the Catholic Church attempted to fill the void. Our side was able to outspend them 3 to 1.
8. Pro-equality messaging broke through.
In 2008, the supporters of Proposition 8 convinced voters that the family was under attack. This year, marriage equality advocates won the battle by framing these debates around family, commitment, equality and freedom.
9. Partisan lines broke down.
In 2008, few if any Republicans wanted to approach the marriage issue. This year, young Republicans supported equality in record numbers. Major GOP donors like Paul Singer, party leaders like Ken Mehlman, and elected officials like NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, advocated and donated to express their support as well.
10. We outworked our adversaries.
In 2008, our opponents swamped us with cash and grassroots footwork. This year, our supporters included national civil rights organizations like the NAACP, and pro-equality coalitions in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington consisted of hundreds of congregations, businesses and civic organizations. Every single one of them came prepared to win.
President, Human Rights Campaign (HRC)