WASHINGTON — Prominent state elections on Nov. 5 offered mixed results for pro-life and marriage candidates, leading advocates to underscore the importance of pro-life education and work.

In New Jersey, Republican Gov. Chris Christie won his re-election campaign despite criticism for his pro-life viewpoints and his opposition to state legislation to redefine marriage to accommodate same-sex couples.

Even though the state has a large Democratic majority, Christie won with a comfortable majority of the vote, and he gained votes among women, Hispanics, younger voters and blacks.

The governor had faced criticism for his defense of marriage as a union of one man and one woman. In addition, his support of pro-life policies came under attack from state Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, who charged that he “is vehemently anti-choice” and should not lead the “blue state” of New Jersey.

National Organization for Marriage (NOM)'s president, Brian Brown, commended Christie for his strong support “of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” and he challenged the idea that these views cannot win elections.

“Election after election has shown that voters across America, including in deep blue states, support traditional marriage by a significantly higher margin than they support the GOP,” Brown said in the Nov. 6 statement.

The Virginia gubernatorial race ended in a narrow loss for the pro-life Republican candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, who is known for his strong opposition to abortion in addition to his opposition to redefining marriage.

In an article analyzing the election and Cuccinelli’s loss, Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake of The Washington Post claimed that “Virginia isn’t for social conservatives” and that more than half of Virginian voters thought that “Cuccinelli’s position on issues was ‘too conservative.’”

Brown disputed this analysis, pointing to Christie as an example of success in taking “principled stances on social issues, such as preserving marriage and protecting life.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, also dismissed the idea that Cuccinelli’s close loss was due to his pro-life beliefs, saying in a Nov. 6 statement that the problem was one of messaging.

“[Democratic candidate] Terry McAuliffe spent well over $5 million on misleading attack ads about Ken Cuccinelli and the fictitious ‘war on women,’” Dannenfelser said. “Attacks on Cuccinelli were left unanswered or answered too late, and the negative message stuck.”

She warned that the 2014 midterm elections will see pro-life candidates demonized and called pro-life supporters to “aggressively expose the other side’s extremism and penchant for putting women and children at risk through their abortion policies.”

Also on Nov. 5, members of the Illinois House of Representatives voted 61-54 to redefine marriage within the state to apply to same-sex couples. The vote follows the state Senate’s February decision to redefine marriage. The bill will now await the signature of Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who has pledged to sign the legislation.

Brown said that the decision is “disappointing but not surprising.”

“The losers will be the people of Illinois, who will see that redefining marriage will unleash a torrent of harassment toward those who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” he said.

Brown added, “Once the law goes into effect in June of next year, we will see individuals, businesses and religious groups sued, fined, brought up on charges of discrimination and punished simply for holding true to the traditional view of marriage.”