According to state exit polls, the women’s vote determined the positive outcome of the marriage-equality ballot measures in Maine, Maryland, and Washington state. In addition, women in Minnesota drove the vote that struck down a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriages.
If only men had voted, marriage equality would have been defeated in all four states. In Maine, 61 percent of women voted in favor of same-sex marriage but only 47 percent of men, for a gaping 14 percent gender gap. In Washington, marriages equality was approved by 57 percent of women and only 49 percent of men, an 8 percent gender gap. That gap tightened just a bit in Maryland, where 55 percent of women voters affirmed a state law allowing same-sex couples to obtain civil marriage licenses but only 48 percent of men did so, for a 7 percent gender gap.
Minnesota had a 10 percent gender gap, with 56 percent of women voting against the same-sex marriage ban and 46 percent of men, a 10 percent gender gap.
“Women on the average want change more than men and are sick and tired of discrimination that has hurt them,” says Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “These trends in voting and attitudes on issues have been apparent since the 1970s and are increasingly becoming more visible, larger and decisively impactful. Gender gaps exist on a whole host of issues, including equality, abortion, family planning, social security, Medicaid, Medicare and environmental issues. Women, on the average, typically favor programs to further equality, provide health care and protect the environment more than men.
Photo of Maryland marriage equality rally from Flickr user mdfriendofhillary under license from Creative Commons 2.0