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Gender Gap Decisive in Marriage Equality Ballot Measures
Women's votes, according to state exit polls, determined the historic outcome of the 2012 marriage equality ballot measures, which were approved for the first time by general election votes in three states: Maine, Maryland, and Washington state. In Minnesota, voters struck down a proposed state constitutional amendment "to recognize marriage only between one man and one woman." Decisive and large gender gaps emerged in exits polls in all four states with women voting in solid majorities in favor of marriage equality and men opposing, albeit with weaker majorities.
"Women are always cast as the more conservative sex," commented Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority. "Nothing could be further from the truth. Women on the average want change more than men and are sick and tired of discrimination that has hurt them."
If only men had voted, marriage equality would have been defeated in all four states. In Maine, Question 1 was "Should the state issue marriage licenses to same sex couples?" 61% of women in Maine voted yes and only 47% of men did for a whopping 14% gender gap. In Washington, State Ballot Measure 74, a law allowing same sex couples to marry was approved with 57% of women voting to do so and only 49% of men, an 8% gender gap. When Maryland voters approved Question 6, voters affirmed a state law allowing same sex couples to obtain a civil marriage license with 55% of women voting yes and only 48% of men doing so, for a 7% gender gap. Meanwhile in Minnesota, 56% of women and only 46% of men voted no on the state constitutional amendment to only recognize marriages between one man and one woman making a 10% gender gap.
"These trends in voting and attitudes on issues have been apparent since the 1970s but are now increasingly becoming more visible, larger, and decisive," said Smeal. "They exist not only on so-called social issues but also economic issues with women favoring social security, Medicaid, and Medicare issues more than men as well as environmental issues."