With Hawaii and Illinois soon to join the list, that makes 16 states
legalizing same-sex marriage. Proposed ballot measures in several more
states, plus another federal court case, could accelerate the
By Brad Knickerbocker
The United States is moving steadily toward accepting same-sex
marriage. But is that trend inexorable?
One by one, states are legalizing gay marriage. Delaware, Minnesota,
and Rhode Island joined the list this year. Hawaii and Illinois soon
will bring the number to 16 states, plus the District of Columbia.
U.S. Supreme Court decisions this year voiding part of the 1996
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and effectively doing the same to
California’s Prop. 8 ban on same-sex marriage no doubt have
accelerated movement in that direction.
Oregon is likely to have the subject on a ballot measure next year;
Michigan, Ohio, and Arizona may as well.
Until now, ballot measures on the subject have tended to affirm
marriages under state law as limited to one man and one woman. But
polls in many states — as they do nationally — now show majority
approval of gay marriage, or at least opposition to state
constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. That includes Pennsylvania,
Indiana, Nevada, Ohio, Colorado, Arizona, Michigan, and Oregon,
according to this Monitor survey of 11 gay marriage battleground
“The more people are winning, the more people are stepping up and
wanting to become involved and move forward after,” Evan Wolfson,
founder and president of Freedom to Marry, told Time. “The more we
make it real — the more places gay people share in the freedom to
marry — the more people see with their own eyes families helped and no
“They used to say you could only win in the coast, not in the
heartland,” Mr. Wolfson said. “But we’ve won in Minnesota and Iowa.
With Illinois, we have 37 percent of American people living in a
freedom-to-marry state, including states in the heartland with more to
The next federal court case could come in deeply conservative Idaho,
where four couples (all women) are suing the state in federal court to
challenge laws banning same-sex marriage and denying recognition to
same-sex couples who married in other states.
Sue Latta and Traci Ehlers, Lori and Sharene Watsen, Shelia Robertson
and Andrea Altmayer, and Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson filed the
lawsuit in Boise’s U.S. District Court on Friday.
“Idaho’s exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and refusal to
respect existing marriages undermines the plaintiff couples’ ability
to achieve their life goals and dreams, disadvantages them
financially, and denies them ‘dignity and status of immense import,’”
the women wrote in their lawsuit.
“Further, they and their children are stigmatized and relegated to a
second-class status by being barred from marriage.”
In the Idaho lawsuit, the women note that they are allowed to file
joint federal tax returns just as any married couple may, but that
they are prohibited from joint tax filing status in Idaho, forcing
them to file separately here.
They also note that they lack the right in Idaho to make decisions for
an ill or incapacitated spouse, the right to recognition as a legal
parent, and a host of other rights and responsibilities otherwise
afforded to married couples in the state.
The Hawaii House of Representatives passed a special session bill on
Friday night legalizing gay marriage, setting up a final approval by
the state Senate before it’s sent to Gov. Neil Abercrombie for his
The Senate passed an earlier version last week.
“I commend the House of Representatives for taking this historic vote
to move justice and equality forward,” Gov. Abercrombie said in a
statement after the House vote. “After more than 50 hours of public
testimony from thousands of testifiers on both sides of the issue,
evaluating dozens of amendments, and deliberating procedures through
hours of floor debates, the House passed this significant bill, which
directly creates a balance between marriage equity for same-sex
couples and protects our First Amendment freedoms for religious