Queerty -Picking The States Where Marriage Equality Will Happen Next

Picking The States Where Marriage Equality Will Happen Next

Heads up Illinois, Hawaii, New Jersey and Oregon. Marriage equality may be coming your way and soon. Freedom to Marry, the advocacy group that has been at the forefront of the marriage battle, has unveiled a new strategy that targets those four states as the best chances for marriage equality in 2013 and 2014. The plan, called Roadmap to Victory, aims by 2016 to make marriage equality legal for the majority of Americans and push public support to marriage equality to 60%.

“The key to winning is, as it has always been, that when we get to the Supreme Court with the next marriage cases, we go with more states and more support creating the climate for the justices then to do the right thing,” says Freedom to Marry founder Evan Wolfson.
The strategy will vary among the states. Illinois, Hawaii and New Jersey will be battles fought in the legislature. In Oregon, a ballot measure will be introduced to overturn the state’s ban on marriage equality, to which Freedom to Marry has committed $250,000. In the meantime, advocates will be priming for battles in six more states in 2015 and 2016: “some combination” of Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Meanwhile, the battle in the courts is expanding. The ACLU has announced that it will be filing legal challenges in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and (in conjunction with Lambda Legal) Virginia.
In response, opponents of marriage equality are whistling past the graveyard. ”They’re hugely overplaying their hand,” said Thomas Peters, a spokesman for the National Organization for Marriage. ”These are states where gay marriage advocates have been saying for months, if not years, that gay marriage is inevitable and they’ve made no progress.”
Of course, the same could have been said for Minnesota, Rhode Island or any of the other states that approved marriage equality this spring. Or perhaps NOM didn’t notice.
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ON: JUL 10, 2013




CBS News – ACLU & Lamda Legal File Lawsuit On Behalf of Couples In IL For Gay Marriage Ban

ACLU lawsuit challenges Ill. gay marriage ban
In this June 1, 2011 file photo, Janean Watkins, left, and Lakeesha Harris embrace after being the first in line to obtain a civil union license from the Cook County Office of Vital Records in Chicago. They are among more than two dozen same-sex couples filing lawsuits Wednesday, May 30, 2012, challenging the constitutionality of Illinoisâ marriage laws. Advocates for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and Lambda Legal are each filing a lawsuit on behalf of the couples. Their goal is to make same-sex marriage legal. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File) (M. Spencer Green)
CHICAGO — More than two dozen gay and lesbian couples filed lawsuits Wednesday arguing that it’s unconstitutional for Illinois to deny them the right to marry, a move advocates hope will lead to legalized same-sex marriage.

The two lawsuits — backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the New York-based Lambda Legal — include couples from the Chicago area, Bloomington and Marion. Both challenge a state law that defines marriage as between a man and woman, arguing that the Illinois Constitution guarantees the right for same-sex couples to marry under due process and equality clauses.

Legislation to eliminate language that prohibits gay marriage is pending, but a vote isn’t expected before the session is scheduled to end this week. And although Illinois enacted same-sex civil unions last year, the couples in the lawsuits said the limited rights and protections make them feel like second-class citizens.

Lambda Legal’s lawsuit, which has 16 couples, includes Chicagoans Patrick Bova and Jim Darby. They’ve been together for 48 years and hope to marry by their 50th anniversary. They entered into a civil union last year, but said they want their relationship to be recognized in the same way as their heterosexual friends.

“I have bought so many toasters for so many weddings,” Darby joked Wednesday at a news conference. “I want someone to buy me a toaster.”

It’s unclear how Illinois will handle the legal process, but attorneys are ready to take the case to the state Supreme Court. The defendant named in the case, Cook County Clerk David Orr, is personally in favor of gay marriage, as is Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.

Messages left for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who would represent Orr, were not immediately returned Wednesday.

The 25 couples in both lawsuits tried to apply for marriage licenses in Cook County, but were denied. A spokeswoman said Orr was out of the country and had not seen the lawsuit, but issued a statement on his behalf.

“The time is long past due for the State of Illinois to allow County Clerks to issue marriage licenses to couples who want to make that commitment,” he said. “I hope this lawsuit clears the last hurdle to achieving equal marriage rights for all.”

Currently, the District of Columbia and six states — Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont — have legalized gay marriage. Courts decided for gay marriage in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa. A lawsuit challenging an Iowa law that barred gay marriage prompted the Iowa Supreme Court to legalize it in 2009.

Lambda Legal, a national legal organization that advocates for the civil rights of homosexuals, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV, filed the Iowa lawsuit in 2005, and advocates say the time for Illinois is now.

Recent nationwide polls show public support for same-sex marriage has steadily increased. President Barack Obama said earlier this month that he endorsed gay marriage, and Quinn has stepped up his public support.

“We’ve waited long enough,” said John Knight, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Project of the ACLU of Illinois.

Illinois’ civil unions give same-sex couples some, but not all, of the same legal rights and protections as marriage, such as the power to decide medical treatment for a partner and to inherit a partner’s property. When that law was approved last year, opponents — including some religious and conservative groups — said it was a step toward gay marriage.

“The courts shouldn’t mandate it. Nobody should mandate homosexual marriage,” said Colleen Nolen, the Illinois director of the conservative Concerned Women for America.

The Chicago-based Thomas More Society, a public interest law firm that opposes gay marriage, said the lawsuits would not hold up in court under the constitutional arguments. Executive director Peter Breen said only a handful of states have succeeded in doing so.

“Going around the will of the people is not the right way to change an institution that has thousands of years of history and is sound in its reasons for existing,” Breen said.

Lambda Legal and the ACLU share the same goal of legalization, but decided to pursue separate lawsuits because the groups have different missions. The lawsuits also slightly differ in legal reasoning.

Plaintiffs in the ACLU lawsuit, which includes nine couples, are Chicago police detective Tanya Lazaro and systems analyst Elizabeth Matos. The women, who’ve been together 15 years and have two children, reject the notion of a civil union.

“It’s not the same thing as a marriage. We want our relationship, our love and our commitment we’ve shown for 15 years to be recognized like everybody else’s,” Lazaro said. “When you’re growing up, you don’t dream of civil unions.”

Associated Press writer Erin Gartner contributed to this report.