In the wake of the Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Prop H8, the push is on for marriage equality across the United States. With the dismissal of Prop H8, same-sex marriage is now legal, again, in California that brings the total to 13 states where gay and lesbian couples can marry, in addition to the District of Columbia. So, who’s next?
States that could see marriage equality this year:
Illinois: Marriage equality almost passed the Legislature this past spring, but a Democratic state representative tearfully told his colleagues that he didn’t have the votes so he would give them time to talk it over with constituents.
Now, same-sex marriage advocates are saying that the next try will probably come this October, when lawmakers gather for a short session, and they believe the SCOTUS rulings, particularly the one extending federal benefits to gay spouses, could make the difference.
New Jersey: Though Governor Chris Christie, a potential GOP presidential candidate for 2016, vetoed a same-sex marriage bill last year, and said again last week that he’d veto another one, believes the majority should vote on the rights of the minority and wants to “let the people decide.”
But Democrats in the Legislature are considering whether or not to try to override another Christie veto, though they could also put marriage equality to the popular vote this fall. Most polls say it would pass easily.
And there’s also a path through the court system; New Jersey has civil unions, but seven same-sex couples are arguing that those don’t comply with a 2006 state Supreme Court ruling that gay and straight couples should have equal rights. A hearing is expected in August which could pave the way for equality.
Hawaii: Fear that Hawaii would become the first state to allow same-sex marriage led Republicans to write the Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed by President Bill Clinton and stood from 1996 until the Supreme Court struck it down last week.
Current Governor Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, supports marriage equality, and bills to authorize it have been introduced in the state House and Senate.
Hawaii has had civil unions since January 2012.
Advocates for marriage equality are pushing in Hawaii federal court, too, though many believe Hawaii lawmakers will act “much sooner than later.”
And then we have next year … and so on ….
Oregon: It’s one of 29 states with a constitutional ban on gay marriage, and it could easily be the first state where voters repeal such a ban. Marriage equality advocates are eying the November 2014 election and need 116,000 signatures to get on the ballot.
Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Ohio: Voters could be asked as early as November 2014 to overturn the constitutional ban, but advocates must decide whether to wait for 2016, a presidential election year, when turnout will be higher.
Nevada: The earliest gay marriage could get on the ballot is 2016, Rouse said, because of a quirk in a state law requiring two votes in the Legislature with a general election sandwiched in between.
New Mexico: It’s complicated. A court case could be decided as early as next year. The Legislature could act, too, but bills both to enact and prohibit gay marriage have gone nowhere so far, and Governor Susana Martinez opposes equality.
Still, the march goes on, and the tide is on our side.