President Barack Obama on Thursday
endorsed referendums in Maryland, Maine and Washington state which
would legalize gay marriage.
The endorsements were issued through
the state branches of the president's re-election campaign.
“While the president does not weigh
in on every single ballot measure in every state, the president
believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and
respect,” Paul Bell, press secretary for the campaign in
Washington, said in a statement.
“Washington's same-sex marriage law
would treat all Washington couples equally, and that is why the
president supports a vote on Referendum 74.”
Lawmakers in Washington and Maryland
approved laws legalizing marriage equality. Opponents in both states
gathered sufficient signatures to put the laws on the ballot.
Supporters in Maine are returning the
issue to the ballot box after voters in 2009 narrowly repealed a
marriage law approved by lawmakers with a “people's veto.” If
approved on November 6, Maine would become the first state to
legalize gay nuptials by referendum.
In May, Obama became the first sitting
president to endorse marriage rights for gay couples. The following
month, he spoke out against a proposed amendment to the Minnesota
Constitution which would define marriage as a heterosexual union.
“President Obama continues to be a
transitional leader for LGBT equality,” said Chad Griffin,
president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest
gay rights advocate. “The president's historic announcement of his
support for marriage equality earlier this year sent a powerful
message, particularly to LGBT youth, that no one's hope of achieving
the American dream should be curtailed simply because of who they
are. In Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington, we enter the
final weeks of this hard-fought campaign knowing that the President
of the United States joins our entire community in supporting their
efforts to ensure that all people are treated with dignity and