The same-sex marriage debate has exploded back onto the national stage in a matter of days, exposing sharp divisions within and between the parties while offering a muddy portrait of where Americans stand on the issue.
Same-sex marriage bills advanced toward the governor's desk in three states since last week, with different results.
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat, signed her state's bill into law Monday. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, vetoed his state's proposal Friday. The same day, the Maryland House of Delegates narrowly approved same-sex marriage legislation -- it is expected to pass the Senate, and would then be assured the signature of Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley.
The burst of activity is occurring exclusively in states with Democrat-controlled legislatures. But even in the two states with Democratic governors, opponents of same-sex marriage are vowing to fight the bills at the ballot box.
"The people of Maryland do not support same-sex marriage," National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown said in a statement late Friday, vowing to bring the issue to referendum if the state legalizes gay marriage. The Maryland bill already had been watered down, a political necessity given the fact the bill died in the House last year -- among the add-ons was a provision preventing the law from going into effect until litigation related to a referendum is processed.
Similar referendum efforts are afoot in Washington.