Winning More States: How marriage moved forward in 8 states this week

As the summer draws to a close and we enter fall, the campaign to win marriage nation-wide hasn't slowed down at all. Coming off of June's historic victories at the Supreme Court, marriage supporters are working harder than ever in more states than ever in an effort to win marriage in more states and grow public support for marriage. Here's a look at how marriage has moved forward in eight key states this month!


Last week in Tucson and Phoenix, launch events were held for Why Marriage Matters Arizona, a new public education campaign that's getting the conversation started about the freedom to marry across the state of Arizona. Led by Equality Arizona, the ACLU of Arizona, Freedom to Marry, and the Human Rights Campaign, the campaign seeks to grow support for marriage in the state. Arizonans who support marriage for same-sex couples in their state can sign the pledge to support all families HERE

The new website for Why Marriage Matters Arizona highlights more than a half-dozen families who need the freedom to marry in their home state. One of the couples, Karen Bailey and Nelda Majors, spoke at the launch event in Phoenix about their 55 years together as a couple. In their profile on the WMM AZ website, they explain how they are raising two children together, and how marriage would impact their family. They said, "Being able to marry in Arizona would legally solidify our rights as a family. ... We want to help fight for our rights as a family in Arizona. We hope one day that Arizona will realize that diversity is a great thing for a state to have and that equality should be available for all of their citizens. We are a loving family and believe that everyone deserves the right to live their lives in a committed, legal relationship with the person that they love. We don’t want anything special, just equality."


With a special legislative session confirmed for October 28, the freedom to marry is in sight in the Aloha State. Governor Neil Abercrombie, a strong supporter of the freedom to marry, will convene the state legislature next month to finally pass a bill protecting all families in Hawaii. 

Over the next few weeks, it will be critical for all Hawaii residents who support marriage to raise their voices and call their legislators asking them to pass the marriage bill. Hawaii United for Marriage, the coalition encouraging support for the bill, has an easy tool set up on their website that allows HI residents to easily place calls to their representatives. Don't miss the tool HERE


Marriage supporters continue speaking out for why the freedom to marry simply cannot wait in the state of Illinois. At the beginning of this month, Robert Smith lost his partner, Steven Hynes, to cancer, and the couple was not able to marry in their home state before Steven passed away. They had a civil union, but Robert knows that a civil union is not a marriage. Illinois Unites for Marriage, the coalition working to pass a marriage bill in the state this year, released a new video featuring Robert speaking out. Watch:

Robert and Steven's story is a tragic reminder that across the country, real people's lives are behind these conversations about legislation and litigation in favor of marriage. Real couples need the freedom to marry in the state where they live. And real families are hurt when the freedom to marry is denied or states refuse to respect the marriages of same-sex couples.


In Indiana, the Hoosier community is banding together in opposition to an amendment that would ban any and all protections for same-sex couples and their families. 

A new poll released on September 24 shows that a majority of Indiana voters oppose efforts to amend the Indiana constitution to address marriage for same-sex couples, with 64 percent saying they oppose amending the constitution. This even includes 57 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of people who identified themselves as "very conservative." Megan Robertson, Campaign Manager for Freedom Indiana, a coalition working to reject HJR-6, championed the poll results today. She said: "The message from these results is clear: Hoosiers overwhelmingly support some legal recognition for same-sex couples, and they oppose amending the Indiana Constitution to address the issue of same-sex marriage and rights. We’re working every day to reach out across the state and let folks know that this amendment will rewrite our Constitution to remove protections for certain Hoosiers and send the wrong message about our state. This is the opposite of Hoosier hospitality."

Last week, Freedom to Marry also sponsored a successful dollar-for-dollar matching gift challenge supporting Freedom Indiana.

New Jersey

It's been a big month in New Jersey, where supporters of the freedom to marry have picked up four new legislators who have committed to overturning Governor Chris Christie's veto of the marriage bill from 2012. Two Democrats - Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo and Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera - have voiced their support, and two Republicans - Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon - have also newly expressed that they will vote for the marriage bill. 

The Asbury Park Press reported on the development last week, saying, "The days of Gov. Chris Christie and Republican lawmakers moving in lockstep may be coming to an end, with two GOP members of the Assembly, including Monmouth County’s Declan O’Scanlon, saying they will vote for a marriage-equality bill against the governor’s wishes. ... O’Scanlon said there are likely to be more crossover votes."

New Jersey United for Marriage, the coalition working to pass the freedom to marry once and for all in New Jersey by overturning Gov. Christie's veto, celebrated last week, saying, "New Jersey is ready for marriage equality — and today, we’re three crucial votes closer to making the freedom to marry law in New Jersey once and for all."

New Mexico

The New Mexico Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments about the freedom to marry on October 23. The case will hopefully offer a decisive ruling declaring the freedom to marry across the state. Since August, eight New Mexico counties have already extended the freedom to marry to same-sex couples: Bernalillo County, Santa Fe County, Taos County, Doña Ana County, San Miguel County, Los Alamos County, Grant County, and Valencia County. Some counties began issuing marriage licences after being ordered by district courts, and in others, county clerks followed the lead of these rulings and acted independently. The decisions ordering the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples are based on the gender-neutral language in the state's marriage law.

In the meantime, NM Attorney General Gary King, who has previously explained that no law in New Mexico expressly prohibits same-sex couples from marrying, has issued an additional statement about marriage. He said, "The issue of same sex marriage has enveloped New Mexicans in recent weeks. Clearly, there are cultural, religious, political, and legal concerns that deserve consideration in any discussion of the issue. However, as Attorney General for the State of New Mexico, the legal aspects of this important issue are front and center for me. The extremely knowledgeable and capable staff attorneys in my Office, who have been diligently researching applicable law on the subject, also recognize that same sex marriage is an issue that affects the social fabric of our society. Because the issue is that important, I intend to proceed deliberately and as swiftly as possible to help move it through the legal process toward resolution."

AG King also explained why the freedom to marry should not be decided in New Mexico by a popular vote: "Some people, including the governor, say that the issue of whether same sex couples should be afforded the same rights as everyone else in our state must be decided by the voters. I urge the reader to consider the following: The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863; The 19th Amendment (Women’s Suffrage) in 1920; the Civil Rights Act of 1964;---none of which were voted upon by the general electorate."


Why Marriage Matters Ohio, a public education campaign about the freedom to marry, launched earlier this month, and in the past few weeks, it has begun a robust conversation about why marriage matters to same-sex couples and their families in Ohio. The campaign, headed up by the Equality Ohio Education Fund, Freedom to Marry, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Ohio, launched with simultaneous events in Cleaveland, Columbus, and Cincinatti. Ohio residents who support marriage for same-sex couples can take the pledge to stand up for all Ohio families HERE

The brand new website for Why Marriage Matters Ohio launched this month, too, and nearly a dozen Ohio families have shared their moving stories and photos with the campaign. One family, Siobhan and Maritza Nelson, live in Reynoldsburg, OH with their son Mars. "I fell in love the moment I saw Maritza," Siobhan explains in the profile. "Within two minutes of speaking to her, I knew that she was always going to be in my life. We hope that Ohio will one day do the right thing and recognize marriage equality, but nothing in state or federal law can change our commitment to one another." 


Last week, Oregon United for Marriage surpassed the 85,000 mark on its signature collection drive. The "Oregon Say I Do" initiative is collecting signatures in order to ensure that an nitiative to repeal the state's anti-marriage constitutional amendment and replace it with the freedom to marry can make it on the 2014 ballot. 

Across the state, Oregonians are coming together in favor of the freedom to marry. A great new piece in The Oregon Mail Tribune from a father with a lesbian daughter and a non-gay son, poignantly makes the case. The piece reads: "I want the same freedoms for my daughter — and for all Oregonians — that I want for my son. Some people ask me, 'Why couldn't your daughter just register for a domestic partnership if she finds someone she loves and is committed to?' The answer is simple. Freedom applies to everyone. Marriage is the recognized way many people in our society choose to express their commitment. My wife and I had that freedom. Our son had that freedom. Why shouldn't our daughter and everyone else have that freedom as well?"