Winning Equality from Coast to Coast
From Maine To Washington:
Who is advancing Marriage Equality and what it means for Oregon
Today, equality advocates in Maine announced plans to put a freedom to marry measure on the November ballot. It’s clear that our country is inching closer to a tipping point of public support for the freedom to marry.
It’s exciting to be on the brink of momentous change. With each state victory, with each increase in national polling numbers, we build a climate that empowers elected officials, judges and voters to embrace the freedom to marry.
It’s also a bit hard to keep track of what’s happening where! To get a sense of where the key battles are, what impact they will have in Oregon, here is a breakdown of the key states:
States Looking to pass or protect marriage equality in 2012:
Unlike Oregon, Maine does not have a constitutional amendment restricting marriage to one man, one woman. In 2009, Maine’s governor signed into law marriage equality legislation that had been overwhelmingly approved by the Maine Senate and House. Anti-equality forces then gathered the signatures needed to refer it to the November 2009 ballot, and spent millions of dollars on scare tactics that convinced voters to overturn the legislation. Pro-equality advocates just announced that they’ve gathered the signatures needed to bring marriage equality back to the ballot in November 2012.
Washington has anti-marriage legislation, but not a constitutional amendment, to overturn. This means they can win the freedom to marry through a vote of the legislature, which is less difficult and less costly than a statewide vote. Recently, Governor Christine Gregoire announced that she will introduce a marriage bill in the upcoming legislative session. Anti-equality forces have promised to refer any successful marriage legislation for a public vote in November 2012.
New Jersey currently has civil unions, but they’ve been found to be insufficient to comply with a ruling from their state Supreme Court which said same-sex couples are entitled to equal rights and protections under the law. The New Jersey legislature is currently working to muster the votes needed to pass marriage equality legislation by a margin that could withstand an expected veto from Governor Chris Christie.
States Fighting Anti-Marriage Measures in 2012
In 2011, the state legislature approved a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. Before it can go into effect, the constitutional amendment must be approved by voters and will appear on the statewide ballot in May 2012.
Minnesotans face an anti-marriage constitutional amendment on the November 2012 ballot as a result of legislative referral during the 2011 legislative session.
What does this mean for Oregon?
Progress in other states is important to us here, because it isn’t enough to win marriage in Oregon. We must also overturn DOMA at the national level. DOMA prevents same sex couples (even in states with marriage equality) from accessing any federal marriage rights. Winning at the federal level will not extend the freedom to marry to Oregon couples until we change our state laws, and winning in Oregon will not provide Oregon couples with any federal recognition until DOMA is gone. We must do both.
We’ve seen monumental progress right here in our own state. Over the last three years, our education campaign led to a double-digit increase in support for marriage equality in Oregon. We heard overwhelmingly from our supporters this past fall that you want us to continue and deepen that education work.
That is why we are traveling to communities across Oregon in 2012. Today, support for the freedom to marry is at a dead heat around the state—from Portland to Pendleton, from Beaverton to Bend. One person at a time, one conversation at a time, we will build a majority for marriage in Oregon.
You can help by having conversations with the people in your life about why marriage matters to all caring and committed couples. We will win marriage equality in Oregon – and throughout America – one heart, one community, one state at a time.