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The Next Marriage Moment Starts in New Jersey – But We're Not Done Yet!

James Esseks,
Director, LGBTQ & HIV Project,
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October 21, 2013

Today same-sex couples start marrying in New Jersey, thanks to Lambda Legal's fabulous court victory. We're thrilled to see New Jersey become the 14th marriage state for same-sex couples!

But New Jersey is likely just the start of this next marriage moment.

On our march towards the freedom to marry all across America, we've had several "marriage moments" – times when the country has taken a big leap forward towards greater equality for same-sex couples. Brace yourselves for another one over the next few weeks – starting with today's news that New Jersey is officially the next state to allow same-sex couples to marry, and with opportunities for several other states to take that step as well!

Here's what is happening on the marriage front over the next few weeks that may get us as many as three additional marriage states:

  • New Mexico: The New Mexico Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Wednesday, October 23, in our case seeking the freedom to marry for all New Mexicans. The ACLU and the National Center for Lesbian Rights represent six same-sex couples in the case in which we succeeded in getting an emergency order allowing Jen Roper and Angelique Newman to marry before Jen's terminal brain cancer made that impossible. A decision could come at any point after the argument, and I'm betting it will be quick.
  • Hawaii: The governor of Hawaii has called the legislature into a special session, starting Monday, October 28, to take up a freedom to marry bill. The ACLU of Hawaii, which has brought its decades of experience in the state legislature to this effort, has taken a lead role in a coalition of state and national partners pushing for the bill. We are quite hopeful about passage.
  • Illinois: After coming close to passing a marriage bill last spring, we are pushing for the House to take up the bill again in its "veto" session that starts on October 22 and could run through November 7. The ACLU of Illinois, much like our team in Hawaii, is using its long-standing experience and connections in the state legislature to pull together the votes we need, and has hired noted Republican lobbyists to bring bi-partisan support to this issue of basic American fairness. We are also pursuing marriage through state court litigation, so that if the legislature doesn't pass the bill, we will win the freedom to marry through the courts.

At the end of this next moment, we could have 17 marriage states (plus DC). A year ago, we had six plus DC – that's simply astounding progress in a short time. These changes didn't happen on their own. They are the result of tremendous and long-standing work in the courts, in state legislatures, at the ballot, and in the court of public opinion. The ACLU is proud to have contributed significantly to each of these campaigns, and we are working hard to keep the momentum going through our Out for Freedom campaign.

We'll keep you posted on how this moment evolves. Meanwhile, thanks for your support, which has made all of this possible.

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