Tonight Maine lives up to its state motto “Dirigo”, or “I Lead” by becoming the first state in the nation to pass a marriage equality law by citizens’ initiative.

Question 1 has passed by a vote of 54 to 46. Just prior to election day, support for Question 1 had polled at only 52%, according to Public Policy Polling.

“Tonight, here in Maine, we proved that voters can change their hearts and minds if we tell our stories and give our fellow citizens a personal connection to the countless families whose lives are impacted by this debate,” said Matt McTighe, Yes on Question 1 campaign manager.

Maine is now the seventh state where same-sex couples can marry, joining Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont plus Washington, D.C..

Maryland and Washington also hope to join the marriage equality club tonight. Both states have marriage equality referenda on their ballots. While it’s too early to call those races, both show positive signs of passing.

Maine has a proud history of tenacity in its pursuit of civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. In November 2005, after several rounds of legislative action and ballot measures stretching over 12 years, Mainers voted to uphold their LGBT non-discrimination law by a margin of more than 10 percent.

So when the 2009 marriage equality bill signed into law by Governor Baldacci was narrowly rejected by the electorate on a referendum vote, pro-equality forces doubled down and immediately began the groundwork leading to tonight’s victory.

During the Yes on Question 1 campaign, pro-equality volunteers filled 8,500 shifts; knocked on 290,000 doors; made 1,110,000 phone calls; and had 275,000 conversations while 22,000 donors made 25,236 donations.