June 4, 2012
By Matt Baume
Another major blow to the Defense of Marriage Act, and twenty-five couples sue for marriage in Illinois. Strong poll numbers in Washington as we get closer to a vote on marriage equality, but our lead in Maryland is just eight points. And Australia’s most populous state takes a stand for gay and lesbian families.
The top story this week is a huge ruling in Boston. The First Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The unanimous opinion, written by a Republican-appointed judge, found no adequate justification for the anti-gay law. Now that ruling may be revisited at the First Circuit, or at the Supreme Court of the United States. We’ll find out more about the next steps in the case in the coming weeks.
This comes on the heels of a ruling a week earlier in California that also found DOMA to violate the Constitution.
And litigation over marriage continues to expand, with Lambda Legal and the ACLU filing a new lawsuit in Illinois. The plaintiffs are 25 couples who were denied marriage licenses. And although Illinois has civil unions, the lawsuit claims that the state constitution requires that all couples — gay, lesbian, and straight — have equal access to marriage. In fact, a new report from Equality Illinois documents that couples with civil unions have had ongoing problems filing their taxes, getting health care, and adopting.
Across the country in Washington, a new poll shows significant progress. Fifty-four percent of voters approve of that state’s new marriage equality law, with only 33 percent opposed. This represents a significant shift from the last poll in February, when the law was supported by 50% of voters and opposed by 46. Before the law can go into effect, voters will need to weigh in this November.
Maryland will face a similar referendum on its new marriage equality law. This week anti-equality activists submitted enough signatures to place the measure on the November ballot. Polling in Maryland is encouraging, with an April survey showing 51% supporting equality to 43 against. But that’s a margin of just eight points, which could easily change.
And finally this week, Australia made some progress on marriage. A legislative council in New South Wales passed a motion to support marriage equality by 22 to 16. New South Wales is Australia’s most populous state. Meanwhile, two competing marriage equality bills continue to work their way through Parliament.