Google+ Hangout celebrates marriage in NJ and looks ahead to what’s next for marriage

Today, October 25, 2013, Freedom to Marry's Director of State Campaigns, Richard Carlbom, joined a panel of experts and people touched by the freedom to marry in New Jersey for a Google + Hangout moderated by Chris Geidner, Legal Editor for Buzzfeed. In the discussion, the panel - which also included a Red Bank, NJ couple, Ashley Jestat and Gabriela Giuliani, who shared their story with Freedom to Marry this year; GLAAD's Director of News, Ross Murray; Garden State Equality's Shannon Cuttle; Hayley Gorenberg of Lamda Legal; and Dr. Jay Michaelson of Political Research Associates.

Ashley and Gabriela, who joined together in civil union in June 2013 and shared their story with Freedom to Marry this fall, brought a personal face to the panel, which centered on this week's big news out of New Jersey: Gov. Christie dropped his appeal of the marriage ruling, making New Jersey the 14th state where same-sex couples can marry.

"We're very happy we united in civil union back in June - obviously, our family knows that marriage enhances the emotional and social status of our relationship, so they were very excited that New Jersey allowed us to enter into a legal marriage," Gabriela said. "It's amazing to be on this side of history. So many things have happened that are hurtful to society as a whole, so it's great to see that New Jersey has gotten this issue right."

Ashley added, "I'm so excited to be a part of this state, and I knew that this would happen eventually - we didn't want to run off to another state. We stood our ground, and now we're looking forward to solidifying everything soon." 

Richard also outlined how Freedom to Marry and other marriage supporters are moving the country forward, toward the freedom to marry nationwide. He explained:

In Arizona and Ohio, we've launcehd Why Marriage Matters campaigns, which we hope will lay the groundwork for 2016 ballot initiatives in those states. Soon, we're going to be considering launching similar Why Marriage Matters campaigns in states like Colorado, Michigan, Nevada. We have an opportunity over the next two years to lay that groundwork to ensure that by the end of 2016, we win in more states. Oregon is on the ballot in 2014, and we're incredibly ahead of schedule there, doing incredibly well. And then we're going to be working on public education campaigns in these litigation states, like Pennsylvania and Virginia. We really have an opportunity to create a climate in these states for positive litigation to happen. 

Every state that we add as a freedom to marry state adds to that national roadmap that we have at Freedom to Marry: our goal is to increase popular support to above 60% by the end of 2016, our goal is to increase the number of states that are freedom to marry states by the end of 2016. And now that we're at 14, there are still 36 states to fight for. If we all work hard and our movement stays focused, we could be at 16 or 17 states by the end of the year. 

Learn more about the freedom to marry in New Jersey HERE.