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#17 - New Mexico Closes Out A Transformative Year on Marriage!

James Esseks,
Director, LGBTQ & HIV Project,
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December 20, 2013

The New Mexico Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the state must allow same-sex couples the freedom to marry. The case that got us here (brought by the ACLU and the National Center for Lesbian Rights), involved six plaintiff couples, including Jen Roper and Angelique Neuman. The lawsuit allowed Jen and Angelique to get married last August, just a few months before Jen died of a brain tumor, and I have no doubt that Jen and Angelique’s story helped the court see the humanity of gay people and the principles of fairness enshrined in the state constitution.

With this ruling, the marriage stats for 2013 are simply mind-blowing:

  • On January 1, 2013, we had nine states plus DC with the freedom to marry. Now it’s 17 plus DC.
  • Fifteen percent of the US population lived in a marriage equality state last January. Now we’re up to 38 percent.
  • Public opinion polls now consistently show 55 percent or higher support nationwide for marriage for same-sex couples.

The ACLU helped create this progress by leading or assisting in legislative campaigns with our coalition partners in Hawaii, Illinois, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota. And by helping win court rulings covering New Jersey, New Mexico, and California. And we got rid of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in Edie Windsor’s case.

We will continue to drive this critical momentum forward, but we’re pushing into tough battles at the ballot box and in federal courts. We’ve got plans on both fronts.

In Oregon we’re part of a campaign to put the marriage issue to a vote of the people in November 2014. After that we’ll be focused on 2016, and we’re working to get on the ballot in Nevada and are exploring ballot campaigns in several other states with our state and national partners. On the litigation front, we have federal court marriage cases pending in Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Oregon.

The goal is to ensure that, by the time the United States Supreme Court gets the marriage issue again, it looks out from the bench and sees a country that’s ready for the freedom to marry. 2013 has gotten us so much closer to that point!

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