States boost same-sex marriage fight
WA Gov. signed same-sex marriage into law on the same day the NJ Senate passed a bill recognizing it. NJ's bill was vetoed.
February 21st, 2012
04:59 PM ET

States boost same-sex marriage fight

By Michael Pearson, CNN

(CNN) - More than two decades ago, when the issue of same-sex marriage first broke into the national consciousness, a gay couple couldn't dream of getting married.

A decade ago, no state would allow it, and more than two-thirds of Americans opposed it, according to national polls.

Now, some 12% of Americans live in states that allow, or soon will allow, gay marriage. And polling, supporters say, suggest approval for same-sex marriage is on a quickening upward trend.

So is the debate over same-sex marriage finally nearing an end game?

With ballot fights in four or five states this year and court battles in a dozen states, supporters of gay marriage are hardly ready to declare victory.

But, they say, it's now it seems only a matter of time.

"We could see a nationwide victory as soon as one to two years. It could also take as much as 10 years," said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, which favors recognizing a right to marriage for gay couples.

Opponents, however, couldn't disagree more.

Citing the 31 states in which voters have approved measures defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown said he doesn't believe polls saying that a majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage.

"We've seen these false polls before. That hasn't changed," said Brown.

"The reality is that in these 31 states, everywhere we've had a vote, is that voters have said they believe marriage is an institution between a man and a woman," Brown said.

Currently, six states and the District of Columbia issue same-sex marriage licenses.

They are Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. None of those same-sex laws were approved by the electorate.

Lawmakers in Washington approved same-sex marriage last week, as did New Jersey lawmakers - although Gov. Chris Christie quickly vetoed that legislation.

Washington's law would go into effect in the summer unless challenged - which is likely, according to Jack Tweedie of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Maryland could join the list soon, if the state Senate approves a bill legalizing same-sex marriage and Gov. Martin O'Malley signs it, as he has promised to do.

A state Senate committee voted Tuesday to refer the bill to the full Senate, according to CNN affiliate WBAL.

Five other states - Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey and Rhode Island - allow civil unions that provide rights similar to marriage.

Legislation was introduced last week to allow same-sex marriages in Illinois, and holdover bills from 2011 remain technically active in Hawaii and Minnesota, Tweedie said. It's unclear whether any will see significant action, he said.

An effort is also under way to put a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage on the November ballot in Maine, where voters previously overturned a 2009 state law authorizing same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, voters in Minnesota and North Carolina will consider proposals in November to ban gay marriage in those states. New Hampshire lawmakers may also consider a repeal of its same-sex marriage law, according to the National Organization for Marriage.

Voters will likely also get a chance to endorse or reject Washington's new law, as well as the legislation in Maryland, if it is passed.

Finally, lawsuits seeking to expand civil unions or turn back laws banning same-sex marriages are working through the courts in at least 12 states, according to the National Organization for Marriage, including Hawaii, Minnesota and California - a pivotal battleground.

In California, a federal appeals court recently ruled against a voter-passed referendum that outlawed same-sex marriage. It said such a ban was unconstitutional and singled out gays and lesbians for discrimination. The case appears to be eventually headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Brown said Democratic legislatures - not voters - have been behind most of the recent action on same-sex marriage. Upcoming ballot initiatives will give voters an opportunity to refute the polling, and Brown says they will.

"What you will see is that there will be a vote in states representing all the different regions of this country and people are going to have the chance to say, emphatically, 'No'," Brown said.

Same-sex marriage became a national issue in 1993, after the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that a ban on same-sex marriages violated the state constitution.

In 1996, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage solely as a union of a man and a woman and said states did not have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

At that time, 68% of Americans opposed same-sex marriage, with just 27% in favor, according to polling by Gallup. By May 2011, the lines had crossed, with 53% of Americans in favor and 45% opposed, according to the organization.

In November, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported a more divided public - 46% in favor of same-sex marriages and 44% opposed.

But Pew also said the uptick in support seems to be gaining steam, having jumped 9 percentage points in two years.

Despite Brown's belief that the polling is invalid, the dramatic change in attitude reported by the polls encourages Wolfson.

"There's no question that with so many Americans having changed their minds and opened their hearts as they've heard the stories of real couples and thought about why marriage matters, we now have tremendous momentum towards ending marriage discrimination," he said.

"That said, there will be ups and downs and there will be bumps as well as advances, and that's the story of any civil rights movement."

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Filed under: Family • Politics • Sexual orientation
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. matt

    No one is judging. just letting you know what will happen to you in the after life for the sin. read genesis chapter 19 verse 12 "the book of sodom and gamora" to understand

    February 23, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Lenna

      I understand why you believe this Matt but God is accepting of his children and he forgives them.

      March 12, 2012 at 4:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. GayWithoutPermission

    As a confident lesbian I say "Who Really Flippin Cares What Anyone Has To Say!"
    The economy is still hell. Gas prices cost a arm and a leg. Murderers. Rapist. Thieves. And you pathetic people are worried about 2 alike people in love who simply want to hold hands together forever to try and conquer this cruel world.
    Its sad and I feel sorry for anybody who opposes on love.
    Only thing the opposers don't realize is WE ARE NOT ASKING OR WANTING ANYONES APPROVAL! But we will fight for our rights.
    You can't stop us from living together or anything.
    You can keep your stupid little piece of paper that says we are married.
    And to the people who support us. Thank you.
    And to the religious over doers. GOD said this and GOD said that.
    Welp GOD also said. "Thou Shall Not Judge"
    I mean like really. Its just not that serious.
    And to the person who spelled tragedy with a "j"..... wow... your opinion definitely doesn't count.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  3. matt

    our country founded on christianity clearly states in the bible that gay marriage is a sin. if anyone is confused about what god intended for them all you have to do is look between your legs..... where does the insanity stop. if its ok for 2 men to be married whats to say its wrong for a man to marry his dog or his sister?? just as taboo and dead wrong as 2 men laying together and being married. there will always be places that will not tolerate this in america,these will be safe havens for christians and american families with core values. what will eventually happen is people will move to live in traditional america while these states that allow these sins to take place will suffer with lose of revenue while tax payers look for sacred ground

    February 23, 2012 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
    • LoveOverThis

      I believe Romans 13 fully sums up the message of the law quite clearly: "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

      March 2, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Andy

    I now live in Canada, which has legalized Gay Marriage. As much as I dislike the Conservative Harper Government, they have fixed the Divorce Act to allow for Gay Divorce for spouses who are both non-Canadian residents. Canada has not gone to hell. We have been leading the G7 during the economic downturn in fact! So if the fundamentalists want to make exotic claims, I am going to say legalizing gay marriage is good for business, heck it will probably create jobs and at the very least it is good for tourism!

    February 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Disgusted with my Country

    OMFG Why on earth is this such a big deal, I mean like it's not like they wanna murder you or are asking you to join in with their life let them get on with their's andstop trying to dictate

    February 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Catmandew

    Gay marriage gosh I think that is a church issue not a state one. As far as rights go the blacks,gays hispanics and just about anybody that aint white say they arent treated fairly! So let everyone vote and see gays want to walk around and where it on their shoulder and get treated better than the rest of us just like blacks do it aint right

    February 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      Where do you get your marriage license? It won't be issued by a church, but by the Government. So this is not just a church issue. As for the vote, marriage is a RIGHT not a privilege (see Loving v. Virginia) and how about we vote on your right to freedom of speech next?

      February 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Nothing new here

    I really don't care if grown adults want to be in polygamy marriages.
    As long as these people are of legal age, and legal status in this country, then Uncle Sam needs to leave well enough alone.
    And stop wasting my tax money on all this "sin legislation".

    February 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nothing new here

    The government should not be deciding what legal, consenting ADULTS do in their private lives.
    The only thing that the government should do is issue "civil union" licenses (preferably at little or no cost to the taxpayers).

    February 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. huwie

    Well, its seems this Brian Brown figure doesn't quite understand the difference between a right and a privilege. You don't get to vote on rights. If that were the case, does he really think the Civil RIGHTS act would have ever passed? Equal opportunity is a right, and it's an embarrassment on America that to this day gay marriage is not legal.

    February 22, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  10. Richard T. Nolan

    We began our slow march toward marriage equality as 1955 college freshmen at age 18. We'll be 75 in May, celebrate the 3rd anniversary of our2009 legal CT marriage in June, and in September our 57th anniversary as a couple. Now retired in Pompano Beach, FL, we are but domestic partners. Our MD dared to say recently that he thinks we have at least another 10 years of life, which means that by our deaths we just might have journeyed from the closet of the 1950s to federal recognition of our marriage! In a sense, this has been a rapid evolution.

    February 22, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. s

    Get a real life, look around the work many countries have gay marriage and the world hasn't gone to hell, maybe your the one who should be in hell, you probably cheat on your wife. Marriage is no longer a honor MORON

    February 22, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Ayu

      I have 2 advantages that give me a more eciobtjve point of view.1. I am a lawyer, I understand laws change2. Although born raised in US I lived 7yrs in Spain, studied law and became lawyer in Spain and US. This allowed me to see that religion, law language are cultural and historical products. People born to Arab parents speak Arabic and believe in Mohamed, people born in US speak Engli and believe in Christ, in China Religion law are cultural historical not eciobtjve like Physics.

      April 18, 2012 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
  12. AMERICA 1st

    Gay marriage dishonors true marriage. Its fast becoming a national trajedy and worldwide embarrassment!

    February 22, 2012 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
    • durundal

      hahaha keep telling yourself that – every village needs an i d i o t

      February 22, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • ru4rl

      AMERICA 1st – Please explain how gay marriage dishonors true marriage?

      February 22, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • dionysusBeer

      Straight people ALREADY dishonor marriage. Newt Gingrich has been married three times, divorce is at around 50%, some husbands beat their wives, etc. The real tragedy is that people actually listen to hypocritical fundamentalists who constantly hate and deny others equal treatment under the law.

      February 22, 2012 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Oh no AMERICA 1st, are you afraid of the big scary mean old men over there laughing at you? And tragedy, really? 9/11 was a tragedy, the housing crisis is a tragedy. Gay marriage is just allowing everyone to be equal under the law. If you have a problem with equality, then maybe you think black people shouldn't be allowed to drink from the same water fountain as you. Or women shouldn't be allowed to vote? Get over yourself.

      February 22, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
      • Tristin

        Everything I know and believe comes from my etharionslip with Christ and belief in God the father not some secularism that a lot of people believe, my heritage did not hold on to me to make me believe there way. I believe in God creator of heaven and earth and in His son Jesus Christ and the Holy Bible is my life line that I live by, I am not perfect and I still make mistakes but my faith and belief stand solid!! I will continue to believe my pastor over ignorance any day!!

        April 17, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      A tragedy is when one person believes that they can dictate to another whom they can, and cannot love.

      February 22, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • RealisticCatholic

      You're spelling is a national TRAGEDY and worldwide embarrassment!

      February 22, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Emmy Skaddittle

      I live in a state that has gay marriage and It hasn't affect my marriage at all.

      February 22, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
      • Catholic

        We catholics follow the Holy Church mandates and stand against the wicked ways of the sodomites and lesbians.

        February 22, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
      • HawaiiGuest


        And having a certain faith gives you the right to dictate your morality to others? Self-righteous idiocy like yours needs to be stomped out. Here's a little bit of information you may not be comfortable with. Not everyone thinks like you. Not everyone is a hateful, hypocritical, lip service catholic intent on creating a theological utopia for only your religion.

        February 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      you not being able to spell is a tragedy.

      February 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • rafly

      True marriage??? u mean like Newt Gingrich marriage??? or John Edward Marriage? Or Bill CLinton Marriage???
      If you have a dick, it doesnt mean u are a man, takes more than just having a dick to be a man.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |