A huge victory in Oklahoma this week, with yet another marriage ban declared unconstitutional. Now comes the appeal, in the same federal circuit as the Utah case. We’ll take a look at what to expect. Plus, more progress across the country, from Indiana to Texas to Idaho and Georgia.
We’ve won another major victory. This time it’s Oklahoma, where a federal court ruled that banning marriage equality is unconstitutional. As in other states, the court rejected the state’s arguments about encouraging responsible procreation.
For now, the decision is stayed, pending appeal to the 10th circuit. That’s the same circuit as Utah, which is also appealing a pro-equality ruling. The Utah case is moving very quickly, so it will probably be heard before Oklahoma’s appeal. Or the cases could be consolidated.
There’s also a new lawsuit to consider in Utah. The state had previously announced that it would not recognize the marriage licenses that it issued. Now the ACLU has now announced its plan to sue the state, forcing it to recognize those licenses.
And there’s new polling data in Utah. A Salt Lake Tribune Poll shows public opinion for and against equality tied at 48 percent. This reflects a slow but steady climb in support dating back over two decades of data.
Meanwhile, there are several additional states facing major decisions in the coming weeks. We’re just one week away from a hearing in AFER’s federal lawsuit in Virginia. Ohio has appealed a ruling that required the state to recognize marriages on death certificates. And a lawsuit in Texas will move ahead after a judge declined to consolidate it with two other cases. The next hearing in that case is in February.
There’s also a lawsuit in Idaho. Last week, State Attorney General Lawrence Wasden asked the court to dismiss the suit. Also last week, Idaho lawmakers approved a rule that would require married LGBT couples to file separate tax forms.
We heard testimony on a marriage ban last week in Indiana, and we could see a vote any day now. Lawmakers are expected to pass the ban, which would send it to voters for approval in November.
And organizers in Georgia have unveiled a marriage equality plan. Public support is relatively low, 32 to 60 percent in the last poll. So the plan calls for a three-to-five year, ten million dollar public education campaign. Currently, Georgia Equality is fundraising for an initial “Why Marriage Matters” outreach project.
New polls show a dramatic shift in public opinion following marriage equality in Utah. But that’s hasn’t stopped the Supreme Court from blocking weddings — for now. We have new details about cases in Arizona, Missouri, and West Virginia. Plus, legislators introduce a new marriage ban in Indiana, but with fewer backers than expected.
Marriage equality is now on hold in Utah, but public support continues to rise. The US Supreme Court ruled that marriages must halt while the case makes its way through the appeals process. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals will receive briefs over the next few weeks, and then hear oral argument possibly as soon as March.
In the mean time, organizers are preparing to bolster their defense of last month’s pro-equality ruling. The National Center for Lesbian Rights has just joined the Utah case as a co-counsel. NCLR has successfully litigated numerous marriage suits, including the case that brought marriage equality to California in 2008.
It’s been about two years since we had an opinion poll in Utah on this issue. But a new survey shows a dramatic increase in public support, with 41 percent favoring marriage, 24 percent for civil unions, and just 31 percent opposed to any relationship recognition.
Arizona could be the next state to make marriage news. There’s a new lawsuit there, and Attorney Shawn Aiken is seeking a trial on the merits. That means providing testimony and evidence in the 10th circuit, just as AFER did in the 9th circuit with the Prop 8 case.
Legislators in Indiana have introduced a long-expected constitutional marriage ban. Although the bill has lost supporters since its last vote, it’s likely to pass and head to voters this fall.
There’s a new lawsuit in Missouri, but this time it’s from anti-gay groups. They’re suing the state over a policy that recognizes out-of-state licenses for tax purposes. Missouri’s tax laws are complicated: they’re tied to the federal government, which recognizes licenses. But the state also prohibits relationship recognition. Now it’s up to a judge to reconcile that contradiction.
Expect major news in several cases over the next few weeks. We have a conference this week in West Virginia, where three couples are suing for the freedom to marry. AFER’s case against Virginia’s marriage ban will get a hearing on January 30. And a case against Michigan’s marriage ban has a hearing coming up on February 25.
We end the year with big marriage wins in Utah and New Mexico. But those victories could still be overturned. We’ll have the latest on attempts to undo marriage in those states. We’ve also seen some major steps towards equality in Oregon, Ohio, Florida, Arkansas and Illinois. Plus, AFER has date for a hearing in its Virginia case.
Well Christmas came a little early this year, with marriage equality in Utah and New Mexico. This brings the total number of states with marriage to 18. Nearly 40% of Americans now live in a state where LGBT couples can marry.
During just the first week of marriage in Utah, clerks issued over twelve thousand marriage licenses. But this win isn’t final yet. Although state’s request for an emergency stay was denied by both the district court and an appellate court, they’re now working on an appeal to the US Supreme Court. We’re expecting that filing any day now.
As you might expect, polling in Utah is pretty grim. For now, most residents oppose relationship recognition. But as in every other state, support is steadily on the rise.
Public opinion is a bit stronger in New Mexico, where the state Supreme Court ruled this month in favor of marriage equality. And a slim majority of residents favored the freedom to marry in the most recent survey. But anti-equality activists have vowed to pursue a constitutional ban on marriage. It’s possible they could be successful, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on the situation there.
We had a few other victories over the holidays. A judge in Illinois has ruled that all couples facing terminal illness can marry immediately. Previously, they would have had to wait until the official start of marriage equality this summer. And a judge in Ohio ruled that the state must recognize marriages from out of state on death certificates. That narrow ruling could lead to further litigation to completely undo the state’s marriage ban.
The ACLU has filed a new lawsuit in Oregon. This is the second federal suit in Oregon, and the ALCU will seek to have them both combined. Organizers will also attempt to overturn the state’s marriage ban at the ballot box this November.
Equality Florida is working on a lawsuit as well, though they haven’t filed it yet. The group’s goal is to bring full marriage equality to the state by 2016.
A suit in Nevada has been slightly delayed. The next briefing deadline in Sevcik v Sandoval was just pushed back one month, to January 20. A judge in Arkansas has rejected a motion to dismiss a lawsuit there, so that suit will move ahead. And we have a hearing scheduled in AFER’s case against Virginia’s marriage ban. That’s scheduled for January 30.
We have a major setback this week in Australia, but there’s still a glimmer of hope. Marriage equality hearings are coming up in two unlikely states: Arkansas and Texas. An Oregon ballot measure passes a major hurdle, and organizers launch a new public outreach campaign on the east coast.
Well, it’s not the news we wanted. An Australian court has ruled that individual territories cannot enact marriage equality legislation. That ruling effectively nullifies the over two dozen marriages that happened in the Australian Capitol Territory last week.
But the good news is that the High Court of Australia also laid out a roadmap for enacting full federal marriage equality. According to the court, Parliament has the authority to allow gay couples to wed. That means that organizers can now put pressure on federal officials to bring marriage equality to a vote.
Meanwhile, England has set an official date for the start of marriage equality. Weddings in England and Wales can begin on March 29. So you’ve got about three months to plan your big British wedding.
Here in the states, the number of marriage equality lawsuits awaiting a decision continues to grow. Last week a judge in Arkansas held a hearing to determine whether he should dismiss a suit against the state’s marriage ban. Couples have also requested an injunction that would allow them to marry out-of-state to obtain recognition in Arkansas. There’s no timeline for a ruling there. It could come any day, or we could have a wait of several months.
A court in Texas has agreed to hear a suit against that state’s marriage ban. The hearing’s scheduled for February, so 2014 is already shaping up to be a very busy year for marriage.
Much of next year’s attention is likely to go to Oregon, where a repeal of the state’s marriage ban will go to voters. Last week, organizers announced that they’d gathered the required number of signatures to place the repeal on the ballot. Polling in Oregon is generally favorable, with a steady increase in support over the last few years. The most recent Public Policy Polling numbers are a year old, and show 54% support marriage equality to 40% opposed.
And finally this week, Pennsylvania has kicked off an education campaign to grow public support for marriage. The state has multiple lawsuits awaiting a ruling, so Freedom to Marry and the ACLU are capitalizing on the attention with a “Why Marriage Matters” campaign. Polling in Pennsylvania is not great. A Public Policy Polling Survey from May showed 45% support to 47% opposed. The next major legal milestone is a trial starting on June 9, so there’s lots of time to shift public opinion between now and then.
As of this weekend, marriage equality has suddenly come to Australia — but there’s a catch. In fact, there are a lot of catches. Courts in Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and Utah could all be the first to rule on marriage in a post-DOMA world. And an equality lawsuit in Louisiana got knocked down, but not out.
The first week of marriage equality has gone pretty smoothly. A few dozen couples married on the first day, and there’s been a steady stream of weddings since then. The University of Hawaii estimates that marriage will bring in $217 million over the next three years.
But State Rep Bob McDermott’s lawsuit to end the marriages continues to be a concern. He’ll have a hearing in mid-January.
Meanwhile, there are some questions over another lawsuit, Jackson v. Abercrombie. That suit was filed months ago by equality organizers seeking to force the state to legalize marriage. Now that it’s actually happened, the court has asked the plaintiffs to either end the suit or prove why it should continue.
It’s unclear how the two lawsuits might affect each other, if at all. If McDermott is successful in stopping marriage equality, Jackson v. Abercrombie could be an effective means to re-instating it.
You might remember several months ago when a clerk in Pennsylvania started issuing marriage licenses. The state eventually ordered the clerk, D. Bruce Hanes, to stop after he issued nearly 200. Now he’s appealed to the state Supreme Court in an attempt to resume issuing those licenses. There’s no timeline for a ruling there, but a decision could be coming quite soon.
Or we might first get a ruling a Utah. A judge there heard arguments in a federal suit against that state’s marriage ban. As usual, lawyers defending the ban claimed that it would promote heterosexual procreation, but couldn’t explain how. The judge expects to rule sometime in January.
A lawsuit in Louisiana hit a snag last week. A judge there dismissed a challenge to the marriage ban on a technicality, ruling that the couples couldn’t sue the state Attorney General. They plan to amend the ruling with a new defendant this week.
And finally this week, marriage equality is suddenly legal in Australia — but just in one small part, and possibly for just a few days. The Australian Capital Territory passed a marriage equality bill several weeks ago. It’s been challenged in court, but it’ll go into effect this weekend before the court can issue a ruling. So for at least the next few days, Australian couples will be able to marry, as long as they registered a month in advance.
It’s been a busy week, with marriage bills just days away from becoming laws in Illinois and Hawaii. By the end of 2013, the percentage of the population living in states that have passed marriage bills will have doubled in just one year. So, what’s next? Believe it or not, Kentucky, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Montana have all shown signs of progress this week.
Last week the Illinois House passed the marriage bill by a 61 to 54 vote. And now Governor Pat Quinn has set a date: he’ll sign it into law on November 20th. Currently, marriage is slated to start in Illinois on June first, 2014.
But State Senator Don Harmon has filed an amendment to an unrelated bill that could push up the date to as early as February. The legislature won’t have an opportunity to vote on his proposal until February 4th, so we’ll need to check back in then.
And a marriage bill also passed the House and Senate in Hawaii last week. It’s not a done deal yet: legislators will need to vote again on some amended language. But it’s unlikely that the bill will get hung up on those re-votes, and could head to the Governor’s desk later this week.
But even then, some hurdles may remain. Opponents of marriage equality have vowed to file a court challenge in Hawaii. They claim that a 1998 constitutional amendment only allows the legislature to prohibit marriage equality, not enact it. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the situation there.
And there have been significant developments in several other states. The New Mexico Supreme Court is still mulling a lawsuit over marriage equality. But in the mean time, the state’s insurance regulator has ordered companies to provide married gay and lesbian couples with the same benefits provided to straight couples.
A lesbian couple in Kentucky has sued the state after its marriage ban prevented them from obtaining a divorce. Arkansas has approved wording for a ballot measure to overturn the state’s marriage ban, which could go before voters in 2016 at the earliest. Nebraska legislators held a hearing on relationship recognition, with state Senator Ernie Chambers pledging to introduce a civil unions bill in 2014.
A South Carolina survey shows support for marriage equality is still low, but rising very quickly. And a Montana survey shows support exceeding opposition for the first time.
And finally, last week marked the one-year anniversary of marriage equality in Maine. At that time, there were about 50 million Americans living in states with marriage equality. With the addition of several states since then, including Hawaii and Illinois, that number is over 113 million.
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