Winning More States: How 6 key states moved marriage forward this week

It's been a big week for the freedom to marry as the playing field of states working to pass marriage laws and defeat anti-gay initiatives widens more broadly than ever. In five key states working to win marriage, we moved things forward with huge leaps - and in one state, marriage supporters took steps to defeat an anti-gay constitutional amendment. Here are some of this week's highlights on how we moved forward:

New Jersey

The biggest national news story on the freedom to marry this week, of course, was Monday's huge victory in New Jersey! Just hours after the freedom to marry took effect in the Garden State and same-sex couples across the state began marrying, Gov. Chris Christie announced that his administration would be dropping their appeal in the marriage case. With that announcement - since the September ruling declaring the freedom to marry in NJ no longer had an opponent - New Jersey became the 14th state where same-sex couples can marry. 

Check out six happy couples celebrating in New Jersey HERE, and to fuel the fight, you can give to the Win More States Fund.

Illinois

Yesterday, thousands of marriage supporters in Illinois joined together in Springfield for the March for Marriage Equality! With the Illinois legislature currently in veto session, these marriage supporters are urging IL officials that Illinois can't wait for the freedom to marry. Lots of politicians and marriage supporters attended the march, including Secretary of State Jesse White, Senator Dick Durbin, Republican State Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka, and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. All of these elected officials spoke spoke, with Sec. White saying, "I'm here in support of this wonderful effort ... go forth with your efforts to bring about justice" and Gov. Quinn adding, "We need love to pass a marriage equality bill into law. And I'll sign it as quickly as possible!" Illinois Unites for Marriage is continuing to work hard to urge legislators to vote on the marriage bill. 

Oregon

Oregon has seen huge momentum in the last week. Last Thursday, state officials in Oregon issued a decision stating that Oregon would begin respecting the legal out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples. The decision is a step forward for same-sex couples in Oregon - but it also contributes to the already-confusing patchwork of federal and state laws and legal opinions that same-sex couples across the United States must navigate to protect their families and live their lives. No one should have to cross a state border to marry the person they love. The only surefire way for same-sex couples and their families to enjoy all of the protections and responsibilities of marriage - and be able to declare their love and commitment in the state where they live - is by overturning the constitutional amendment in the state and extending the freedom to marry to all couples.

Last week, three professional sports teams - the Portland Timbers soccer team, the Portland Thorns soccer team, and the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team - endorsed the campaign to win marriage at the ballot in Oregon. It marks the first time that an NBA team has officially endorsed a marriage ballot measure, and it sends a great message in the state: That Oregon is ready for marriage. Two other huge players in the state - Adidas International and Nike - also endorsed the ballot measure. 

Hawaii

Next week, the Hawaii legislature will come together for a special session, ordered by Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, for the purpose of passing the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. Hawaii United for Marriage has been doing great work to ramp up support for marriage in Hawaii and urge the legislature to take action. This week, the first hearing for the Hawaii marriage bill was officially scheduled - the House will host a hearing on Monday, October 28.

On Monday, Hawaii United for Marriage will organize a Lobby Day rallying hundreds of marriage supporters in Hawaii to come together You can contact your legislator HERE to urge them to vote in favor of the freedom to marry. 

New Mexico

On Wednesday, October 23, the New Mexico Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the freedom to marry, in preparation of issuing a decisive ruling on whether same-sex couples are allowed to marry across the state. Over 1,400 same-sex couples have already applied for marriage licenses in New Mexico since the end of this summer, when seven New Mexico counties began issuing marriage licenses over a two-week period. The Court is expected to rule in the next few days on whether same-sex couples can marry. The photo above shows all of the plaintiff couples involved in the lawsuit on a bus to arrive at the Supreme Court together this morning. 

Indiana

This week, the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce announced their strong opposition to HJ-R 6, the proposed constitutional amendment in Indiana that would permanently ban all protections for same-sex couples and their families. Leaders from the Indy Chamber also published a great op-ed about why they oppose HJ-R 6, saying: "HJR-6 will ultimately insert discriminatory language directly into our state constitution, making our state one that accepts only some, not all. That is why the Indy Chamber opposes HJR-6 and will work in partnership with fellow advocates to defeat the amendment. As a voice for the business community, including a membership of nearly 3,000 business representing 235,000 employees throughout the Indianapolis region, we believe it is in the best interest of our economy to defeat this proposed amendment which will inhibit employers’ efforts to attract an emerging generation of talent." Read the op-ed here, and learn more about Freedom Indiana, the coalition in the state working to defeat HJ-R 6.