Just before Tuesday’s elections, a national gay-rights group sent its supporters in Maryland an e-mail listing an additional reason to go to the polls to approve same-sex marriage.
“Justice Anthony Kennedy is watching you,” the subject line said.
The country reelected a president who has “evolved” enough on the issue to support gay marriage. Wisconsin elected Democrat Tammy Baldwin, who will be the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate.
Iowa, which two years ago voted out three state supreme court justices who ruled that homosexuals must be allowed to marry in the state, reversed course. It retained a fourth justice who had joined in the decision after a spirited campaign to oust him.
Maryland, Maine and Washington became the first states to approve same-sex marriage through popular vote, rather than a decision of the legislature or the courts. Minnesota defeated an attempt to amend the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage, the first time such an attempt has failed at the ballot box.
“The justices obviously pay attention,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights organization.
But, with the court on the cusp of its most serious examination of the constitutional issues surrounding same-sex marriage, it is unclear what the justices heard.
They will soon sort through a half-dozen cases that raise the issue of same-sex relationships; the date for their private conference on whether to accept any has been rescheduled for Nov. 30.