PORTLAND, Maine — Elated by their first ballot victories — in four states — advocates of same-sex marriage rights plan to push legislatures in half a dozen more states toward legalization as they also press their cause in federal courts.
They are also preparing for what they hope will be another milestone: the electoral reversal of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as solely between a man and a woman, in Oregon in 2014.
Nine states and Washington, D.C., have legalized same-sex marriage. Now rights campaigners see the potential for legislative gains in Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Rhode Island and Minnesota, where they beat back a restrictive amendment last Tuesday, and New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in February.
A rapid shift in public opinion is bolstering their cause as more people grow used to the idea of same-sex marriage and become acquainted with openly gay people and couples.
The most ardent opponents of same-sex marriage, led by evangelical Christians and the Roman Catholic Church, say they do not believe that the national tide has shifted against them.