SEATTLE -- Election Day 2012 will go down as a historic day for the gay-rights movement. Same-sex marriage is leading in Washington, and scored victories in Maine, Maryland and Minnesota. Plus, an openly gay candidate, Tammy Baldwin, was elected to the U.S. Senate for the first time.
From the moment the sun rose, gay-marriage supporters knew Tuesday could be a game-changing day.
"Washington's hopefully going to make history," said Sam Wilson, who woke up early to wave "Approve R74" signs from an I-5 overpass, along with several other supporters.
They shared the bridge with R74 opponents, competing for honks and thumbs of approval.
At Kaladi Brothers Coffee on Capitol Hill, which shares space with an action center for the same-sex marriage group, there was a blend of hope and anxiety Tuesday morning.
"Fingers crossed," said one employee as she brewed coffee for customers.
They realize, heading into the day, no state has ever voted for gay marriage, while 32 had rejected it.
Knowing it would be close, gay-rights volunteers hit the streets all day Tuesday, knocking on doors to make sure all potential supporters had turned in their ballots.
For volunteer Rod Maplestone, it's different than canvassing for a candidate. It feels more like he is campaigning for himself.
"Most people who get married don't have to ask the whole state if they can do that," he said. "They just get the permission of their parents and family and friends."
State Sen. Ed Murray, who is openly gay, dropped by the action center Tuesday morning. For him, it's a campaign that started in the 1990s, when Washington lawmakers passed the Defense of Marriage Act.
"To realize that my fellow legislators would deny me a right by legislative action, it was a pretty depressing moment in my career -- and actually, in my life," Murray said.
But gradually, he saw opinions change.
"I've watched people who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, this year change their minds and vote for marriage equality," he said.
Still, a good part of the population remains opposed to same-sex marriage. Jerry and Ruth Gibbs, who have been married nearly 51 years, spend several hours waving "Reject R74' signs from an I-5 overpass Tuesday.
"Marriage has a definition and that definition is a man and a woman," Ruth said. "There's no need to redefine that."
It is an argument that frustrates Kim Colaprete and Chavi Hohm, two women who are partners in business and in life.
"From my standpoint, love is the most important thing and that's what marriage is all about," Colaprete said.
Together for 15 years, marriage is now entering their conversation.
"Chavi and I are definitely commited to being married if this passes," Colaprete said. "Whether we're going to have the $20,000 wedding to go with it is another question."
At the election-night results party, plenty of couples were discussing marriage. Reanna Scott and Kim Justice plan to get married next August, no matter what happens with R74.
And Brian Oberdan and Loui Love, together for a year, were also discussing wedding plans. Love was kicked out of his home at the age of 16 because he is gay. He was homeless for some time, but now shares a home with Oberdan.
"We keep every single flower, from the first flower I gave him to the first flower he gave me," Oberdan said. "We keep it in a basket for one day for that flower girl to walk down the aisle to give to us."
Love gently kissed his boyfriend on the head as he spoke.
In the crowded hotel ballroom, the weight of history built until shortly after the polls closed and the results began to come in. With a slight lead -- 52 percent voting yes -- after the first round of votes were counted, they could not declare victory, but the mood in the room felt victorious with cheering, hugging and plenty of crying.
"We're getting married, baby, can you believe it?" one man said to his partner. "We did it!"
With victories in Maine and Maryland announced Tuesday night, they knew the losing streak was over. A winning streak had begun.
The party then moved from the hotel to Capitol Hill, where gay-marriage supporters danced in the streets. One man embraced his friend while holding a sign that read, 'We made history."
It was their way of thanking the voters who said yes to their proposal.
If same-sex marriage does officially pass in Washington, marriage licenses could be issues beginning Dec. 6.