Monday, October 21, 2013

Marriage Equality Starts In New Jersey; Christie Drops Appeal

As expected, marriage equality reached New Jersey at 12:01am this morning and soon afterwards U.S. Senator-elect Cory Booker officiated his first marriage as Mayor of Newark, the state's largest city.

Interestingly, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced a few hours later that he had decided to drop his administration's appeal of the September 26 ruling that is being implemented today to the New Jersey Supreme Court, thus removing any ambiguity about the future status of marriage equality in the Garden State.

Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry released a statement making it clear that his organization is not willing to stop at the 14 states (and Washington, DC) that now have marriage equality:
"At long last, the freedom to marry is now permanently law of the land in New Jersey. The marriages of loving, committed couples throughout the Garden State, combined with Governor Christie's withdrawal of his appeal, is joyous news to New Jerseyans, both gay and non-gay. The momentum continues to build nationwide and we are working hard to deliver victories in Hawaii, Illinois and New Mexico yet in 2013."
And Chad Griffin of Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT rights group in the country, emailed supporters reminding them of their goal to reach 50 marriage equality states within 5 years of this year's Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Windsor and listed the states that they are focused on in the foreseeable future:
  • In Hawaii, we've sent three senior field organizers to work with the Hawaii United for Marriage campaign, and we're expecting a vote in the legislature any day now.
  • In Illinois, we have invested more than $255,000 in the legislative marriage campaign. Nine HRC organizers are on the ground working to generate constituent contacts and secure a favorable House vote for the marriage equality bill, which has already passed in the Senate.
  • In New Mexico, we have hired two field organizers to mobilize support as a marriage equality lawsuit is pending before the State Supreme Court.
  • In New Jersey, we have deployed four field organizers and a senior field organizer to partner with the New Jersey United for Marriage campaign following Governor Christie's appeal of a pro-marriage trial court decision and his veto of the marriage equality bill.
  • In Oregon, HRC is part of the governing board of the Oregon United for Marriage campaign that seeks to replace the state's existing marriage amendment with full marriage equality. HRC is also funding the campaign's faith director and has deployed a senior field organizer to be part of the campaign.
  • In Indiana, HRC is fighting alongside the bipartisan coalition Freedom Indiana to defeat an anti-marriage constitutional amendment.
  • In Arizona and Ohio, we helped launch educational campaigns with the aim of repealing and replacing the states' "Defense of Marriage" Amendments at the ballot in 2016.
Only time will tell what will happen next. What do YOU think? Will there be 50 states with marriage equality within 5 years?

I think it is possible, but I would probably give it until 2020. In order to do so one would need a ruling from the United States Supreme Court recognizing that the freedom to marry explicitly includes the right to marry someone of the same-sex. In order for that to happen within the next five years it is likely one needs to reach a majority of states (twenty-six) that have marriage equality as well as a majority of Supreme Court justices (five) that would endorse the concept. That would almost certainly require at least one (if not more) Republican-appointed justices to retire.

What do you think?

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