Gay marriage won approval from voters in Maine and Maryland, according to the Associated Press, the first time same-sex unions have been endorsed at the ballot box in the U.S.

A similar measure was on the ballot in Washington, where results were still being tallied.

The votes in Maine and Maryland yesterday illustrate shifting attitudes over extending full legal recognition to homosexual relationships, which remains politically divisive even as it gains broader public support. The election put an end to more than a decade of defeat for advocates of same-sex marriage, which had been rejected by voters in every state where it appeared.

“This is a very big victory for those who support same-sex marriage,” said David Masci, a senior researcher with the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in Washington. “To have voters in two states side with same-sex marriage proponents would have been very unlikely just four years ago.”

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