Openly-gay senator Tammy Baldwin

The state of Maine has become the first-ever state in the US to legalise gay marriage on the basis of a popular vote.

At the time of writing, around 54% of voters in that state had said yes to same-sex marriage, reversing a 2009 referendum that banned it.

Maine was followed by the state of Maryland, which also voted to allow same-sex couples to marry. Around 52% of citizens there backed marriage equality.

“When the history books are written, 2012 will be remembered as the year when LGBT Americans won decisively at the ballot box,” commented Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.

“The dreams of millions of fair-minded Americans were realised as discrimination crumbled and equality prevailed,” he said.

Results on the issue in referenda in two other states, Washington and Minnesota, have yet to be announced.

The election night saw other victories for America’s LGBT community. Chief among these was the re-election of President Obama, the first president to publicly support same-sex marriage.

Another milestone was celebrated as Democrat Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin became the first openly-gay person to be elected to the US Senate.

“For LGBT youth who aspire to public service, we have shattered a glass by sending Tammy Baldwin to the Senate and increasing the number openly LGB members of Congress,” said Griffin.

“In the Senate we have at least three new marriage equality supporters who proudly declared their support for marriage for gay and lesbian couples on the campaign trail,” he added.

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