Same-sex marriage won at the ballot box in Maine and Maryland, and it may very well pass in Washington and a ban looked headed to defeat in Minnesota. With the victory of Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, becoming the first openly gay person elected to the Senate, this was the best election night so far for the LGBT movement.

“When the history books are written, 2012 will be remembered as the year when LGBT Americans won decisively at the ballot box,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin. “The dreams of millions of fair-minded Americans were realized as discrimination crumbled and equality prevailed.”

Other victories came in Iowa, where a Supreme Court judge who voted for same-sex marriage was returned to office.

President Obama’s victory came after he endorsed same-sex marriage — an issue that once was considered a liability but instead failed to become a talking point among his opponents in the campaign. In fact, it wasn’t even broached during the debates. According to HRC, Obama’s support among gays and lesbians jumped to 77%, up from 70% in 2008.

This election was far different from 2004, when a series of same-sex marriage bans passed across the country, and even from 2008, when California passed Proposition 8.

Minnesota’s apparent vote against a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage does not mean that gay nuptials are legal in that state, as it already is banned by state law. But it opens to door to be challenged in state courts, and certainly is a push back against the Catholic Church which had pushed the measure. Catholic leaders sent pleas to parishoners to vote for the measure, but even some parish priests refused to take a stand on the issue.