When citizens in Maryland, Maine, Washington, and Minnesota go to the polls in November, they will be confronted with ballot initiatives that speak to the central question of what marriage is.

In Minnesota, voters will consider whether to amend their state constitution to preserve the definition of marriage between one man and one woman consistent with state statutory law. Voters in Maryland and Washington will weigh referenda asking whether they wish to ratify same-sex marriage measures adopted by their state legislatures and signed into law earlier this year. In Maine, voters will consider a ballot initiative to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and render gender-neutral any terms in the state’s laws relating to marital and familial relationships.

To date, the voters of 32 states have weighed in on these new questions about marriage’s definition, and in each, they have chosen to protect marriage as the union of husband and wife. The most recent to do so was North Carolina, whose citizens voted 61 percent to 39 percent to adopt a constitutional amendment affirming the traditional definition of marriage.

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