Top 10 Moments for Marriage in 2012
December 13, 2012
Like 2011, 2012 was a year of triumph and transformation for the freedom to marry and our campaign.
We heard the president give a heartfelt and personal explanation of the conversations that had changed his mind and led him to embrace the freedom to marry. We saw the Democratic Party enact a freedom to marry plank in the party platform -- and then win elections all across the country. We went 4 for 4 in marriage-related ballot-measures in November, and grew the number of marriage states from 6 to 9 in one night. And we ended the year with the Supreme Court's announcement that it will hear two marriage cases that could restore the freedom to marry in California and overturn the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and end federal marriage discrimination against legally married gay couples. The clock is now ticking on the urgency of turning our 2012 momentum into the next wave of wins that can help create the climate that maximizes our chances of winning in the Supreme Court.
While already at work on the wins we want in 2013, let's savor and take inspiration from Freedom to Marry's top ten marriage moments in 2012.
10. Big Steps Around the World
In June, Denmark became the eleventh country in the world to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, joining the ranks of the Netherlands, Argentina, Canada, South Africa, and more. This month, Mexico's Supreme Court handed down a unanimous ruling in favor of the freedom to marry. Counting countries like the US that are part of the way there, gay couples can share in the freedom to marry in 14 countries on 4 continents, with others such as the United Kingdom, France, and New Zealand all likely to move in 2013.
9. National Polls Surge as America Builds Majority
This year a CNN poll found that 54% of Americans support the freedom to marry - literally double where it was in 1996 when we first won the freedom to marry in the Hawaii trial and Congress passed the so-called Defense of Marriage Act now being challenged in the Supreme Court. The same CNN poll shows that 73% of voters aged 18-34 support the freedom to marry, compared with only 24% opposed. 61% of moderates and 59% of non-white voters also favor the freedom to marry.
8. Republicans Speak Out for Marriage
In July Freedom to Marry launched Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, a campaign to elevate the voices of young Republicans, libertarians, and other conservative supporters. As conservatives talk to their gay friends and neighbors, and in the media, they show that marriage should not be a partisan question, and create space for more progress with decision-makers across the political spectrum.
7. Historic Support from Businesses for Marriage
This election cycle, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, and his wife, MacKenzie, donated $2.5 million - the largest single contribution ever - to Washington United for Marriage's campaign, showing the progress we've made in adding business support to labor's longstanding embrace of the freedom to marry. Microsoft founder Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer, and General Mills CEO Ken Powell also contributed hefty sums to Washington and Minnesota, while hedge fund leaders Paul Singer, Dan Loeb, Cliff Asness, Seth Klarman and David Tepper continued to make leadership investments. Starbucks, T-Mobile, Alaska Airlines, Thomson Reuters, REI, and Nike were just a handful of other companies to endorse marriage or come out against marriage discrimination in the states this year.
6. The Opposition's Fundraising Sinks, As Their Numbers Dwindle
The year saw funding decline among anti-marriage advocates and organizations, including most significantly the so-called National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which raised only $6.2 million in 2011, down from the $9.1 million raised in 2010 - and 75% of that total came from just two mega-donors. NOM exists to serve as a shell for shadowy anti-gay funders, but in its efforts to prevent the freedom to marry in Maine, Maryland, and Washington, to write marriage discrimination in Minnesota's constitution, and to oust Iowa justices who had voted in favor of marriage, was only able to generate about a third of what our side raised.
5. Opponents Fail in Bid to Repeal Freedom to Marry in New Hampshire
After Republicans took control of the New Hampshire Legislature in 2010, opponents put an anti-marriage bill through the House Judiciary Committee in an attempt to take away marriage in the state, where it had passed in 2009 and has retained popular support. We fought back and the repeal bill was overwhelmingly defeated by a two-thirds majority vote, with a majority of Republicans voting to uphold the freedom to marry. Only seven Republicans in the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted for the freedom to marry law in 2009; this year, more than 100 voted to protect the existing law.
4. Democrats Approve Freedom to Marry Plank in Party Platform
In February, Freedom to Marry launched "Democrats: Say I Do," a groundbreaking campaign to add a freedom to marry plank to the official 2012 Democratic Party platform. The campaign included draft plank language, a petition, and a letter to the platform drafting committee referencing the party's tradition of standing up for fairness and freedom for all Americans. The campaign took off quickly with support from House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and received endorsements from dozens of U.S. Senators and Representatives, co-chairs of President Obama's reelection campaign, state attorney generals, state chairs of the Democratic Party, current and former chairs of the DNC, and over 40,000 Americans. In September the Democratic Party officially became the first major American political party to include the freedom to marry in its Platform - and went on to win the presidency and most other races on Election Day.
3. Supreme Court Announces Intent to Rule on DOMA, Prop 8
This month, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear arguments in two marriage cases: Hollingsworth v. Perry, the challenge to Proposition 8, which stripped away the freedom to marry in California, and United States v. Windsor, a challenge to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which creates a gay exception to the ordinary way in which the federal government respects lawful marriages such as that of Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer. By June 2013, the Supreme Court may hand down rulings that restore the freedom to marry in California and end federal discrimination against the marriages celebrated by same-sex couples in the nine states (along with the District of Columbia) that have the freedom to marry. With the clock ticking, we need to maximize our chances of winning by racking up more state victories and making as strong a case in the court of public opinion as the lawyers will make in the court of law.
2. Obama Becomes First Freedom to Marry President
President Obama's heartfelt and personal story of his journey toward supporting the freedom to marry reverberated around the world this May, making him the Messenger-in-Chief for the freedom to marry. The President explained how learning about the lives of gay people he knows as well as conversations with First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters, Malia and Sasha, about the kids' classmates with gay parents had helped change his mind. Like many people who come to support marriage, he cited the love and commitment he sees among same-sex couples and the Golden Rule of treating others the same way he would want to be treated. The president's moral leadership marked a turning point and spurred others to think anew and come out in strong support of the freedom to marry. It also helped deliver him reelection, showing that doing the right thing was also the right thing politically.
1. Election Night Brings Historic Victories for Marriage
The 2012 election delivered resounding victories, including first-ever wins at the ballot in Maine, Maryland, and Washington, bringing the total number of states where same-sex couples can share in the freedom to marry to nine (plus the District of Columbia) and taking away our opponents' last talking point that we could not win a popular vote. Minnesotans also made history with the first vote against a constitutional amendment that would have excluded same-sex couples from marriage. Not only did we win more states, but Americans also reelected the candidate for president who supported the freedom to marry. Far from hurting President Obama, his support for marriage galvanized his base and delivered a turnout carrying him to victory. The tremendous wins of Election Day showed irrefutable momentum, encouraging more elected officials, judges, and justices to support the freedom to marry in 2013. We will add to that momentum, showing the Supreme Court that doing the right thing on marriage will stand the test of time and be true to where the American people are.
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