A Look Ahead: How we’ll move marriage forward in 2014
Jan 02, 2014 at 03:00 pm
2013 was an unprecedented year for the freedom to marry: We won marriage for same-sex couples in nine states (doubling the number of marriage states in one year); we celebrated two historic rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court, including one that dismantled the core of federal marriage discrimination; and we increased public support more than ever before.
2013 was a great year, and we've come so far - but we're not done yet. 2014 will be another big year for marriage as we work to fuel campaigns to win marriage this year, lay the groundwork for further momentum for future years, and fuel the conversation about why marriage matters for all families.
For more on the many states where litigation seeking the freedom to marry has been filed, check out Freedom to Marry's Litigation Resource.
Here's a look at seven of the states where marriage could move forward in 2014:
In Oregon, momentum continues for the campaign to win the freedom to marry at the ballot in the November 2014 election. Oregon United for Marriage is the coalition of civil rights organizations, faith institutions, and business leaders working to repeal an anti-marriage constitutional amendment and replacing it with the freedom to marry - and thousands of Oregonians have already joined in the fight.
The coalition has already collected over 118,000 signatures, which are required in order for the ballot initiative to qualify in Oregon. As we head into 2014, Oregon United for Marriage will continue collecting signatures for the ballot initiative and amplifying the fervent support for marriage in the state.
Learn more about Oregon United for Marriage HERE.
In December, the New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously declared that same-sex couples across the state of New Mexico have the freedom to marry, and that denying marriage to same-sex couples violates the New Mexico Constitution and the United States Constitution. The ruling came after months of same-sex couples legally marrying in more than 10 counties in the state.
Shortly after the ruling, which effectively made New Mexico the 17th state with the freedom to marry, marriage opponents vowed to introduce a constitutional amendment in the upcoming legislative session (which begins on January 20 and runs for 30 days) that would overturn the ruling and prohibit same-esx couples from marrying once again. That's why New Mexico Unites for Marriage, a coalition of businesses, local advocates and organizations, and faith leaders have promised to continue fighting until the freedom to marry is secured in New Mexico once and for all.
The Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico's largest newspaper, published an editorial after marriage opponents vowed to amend the constitution, writing, "The state Supreme Court has concluded that all people, no matter their sexual orientation, should be treated equally under the law when it comes to the right to marry. It’s time to recognize that and move on."
You can sign the petition to protect marriage for all New Mexico families HERE.
On December 20, same-sex couples in Utah celebrated an amazing end-of-year present when U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled in Kitchen v. Herbert that laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying in Utah were discriminatory and unconstitutional. His ruling immediately overturned marriage discrimination in Utah and allowed same-sex couples across the state to join together in the joys of marriage, and over the next two weeks, Utah officials tried again and again to issue a stay on the ruling, which would halt marriages and delay justice once again. All of the requests for a stay have been denied, and all families in Utah have been free to marry for nearly two weeks.
On Tuesday, the Utah Attorney General submitted a request to the United States Supreme Court requesting a stay on Judge Shelby's ruling. Justice Sonia Sotomayor called for a response due by noon tomorrorow, January 3.
Learn more about the Utah marriage lawsuit HERE.
The legislative session in Indiana begins on Monday, January 6, and one of the pieces of legislation on the docket is HJR-6, a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to permanently ban all protections for same-sex couples and their families in Indiana.
All last year, Freedom Indiana, the campaign working to defeat HJR-6, has been speaking out about the harmful amendment, and thousands across the state have mobilized to stand against the law. Most recently, a bipartisan group of mayors have formed Mayors for Freedom to speak out against HJR-6, and Freedom Indiana has struck up conversations with supporters through a letter-writing campaign to Indiana legisaltors.
Learn more about Freedom Indiana HERE.
Since this summer Why Marriage Matters Arizona has been up and running in Arizona, determined to fuel conversations about why same-sex couples need the freedom to marry across the state.
In 2014, the public education campaign will heighten and begin amplifying a broad cross-section of Arizonans who support freedom and support marriage for same-sex couples in the state. By highlighting stories of loving, committed couples and the people who support them, the public education campaign will work to increase public support for marriage in Arizona and create a climate that understands that same-sex couples want to marry for many of the same reasons that different-sex couples want to marry.
Check out the website for Why Marriage Matters Arizona.
This fall, a coalition of organizations in Pennsylvania came together to launch Why Marriage Matters PA, a public education campaign designed to heighten support for the freedom to marry across PA. Many lawsuits have been filed in Pennsylvania seeking the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, and programs like Why Marriage Matters PA will be critical for creating the climate that allows federal and state courts in PA to rule in favor of fairness for all families.
One of these lawsuits, Whitewood v. Wolf, is scheduled to begin hearing oral arguments in June 2014.
Ohio has already seen significant movement for marriage in the past few weeks - on December 23, federal judge Timothy Black ruled that Ohio must honor the legal out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples for the purpose of listing spouses on death certificates. The ruling is limited to death certificates, but the decision was written with sweeping declarations about why marriage matters in Ohio, and should be celebrated as a major win.
The judge wrote, "Once you get married lawfully in one state, another state cannot take your marriage away, because the right to remain married is properly recognized as a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution."
Meanwhile, Why Marriage Matters Ohio, a public education campaign dedicated to amplifying support for the freedom to marry in Ohio, has been working since the summer of 2013 to highlight same-sex couples, their families, and why they need marriage in Ohio.
In addition to these key states, many others - 19 in total - have pending litigation that seeks the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. Check out all of the states where litigation is pending HERE. Freedom to Marry's National Campaign Director Marc Solomon spoke with The Washington Blade about how to make sense of all of the lawsuits.
Marc Solomon said, "We really don’t know, and nobody knows, which case is going to be that case that gets to the Supreme Court, when it’s going to happen, if it’s going to happen next year, if it’s going to happen in five years. Basically, we are full-steam ahead with our ‘Roadmap to Victory’ to win more states, grow public support, get more unexpected allies, and demonstrate that the country is completely ready."
2014 will certainly be an exciting year for same-sex couples, their families, and everyone who supports the freedom to marry - let's keep it up!