Though ballot initiatives to ban marriage rights for same-sex couples drove conservatives to the polls in 2004, ensuring the reelection of President George W. Bush, a new study shows that initiatives to enact marriage equality in three states drove liberal voters to the polls, contributing to President Barack Obama's reelection in 2012.
Same-sex marriage mobilized Obama supporters to show up to vote on Election Day, Stony Brook University professor Jeremiah J. Garretson, writes in Political Research Quarterly.
The study, published in February, shows that votes on marriage equality in recent years has mobilized more left-leaning voters than conservatives. According to Gay City News, a combined 288,000 additional voters who favored marriage equality were motivated to vote on Election Day in 2012 because of the ballot initiatives in Washington, Maine, Minnesota, and Maryland. Still, Obama won with wider margins in those states than the ballot initiatives won. For example, Obama won the vote in Washington State by 14 percentage points while the ballot initiative to institute marriage equality won by six points. The initiatives in Maine, Maryland, and Washington were to establish marriage equality; the one in Minnesota, which was defeated, was to ban same-sex marriage.
"It used to be that all the energy was on the antimarriage side, but over the course of the decade enthusiasm shifted toward those in favor of extending marriage to same-sex couples," New York University professor Patrick Egan told Gay City News. "It became an advantage."