Marriage equality: states to keep a hopeful eye on

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2013 has proven to be a historic time for marriage equality activists, with court victory after court victory contributing to a legal snowball effect that has made the case for marriage equality stronger than ever. With same-sex marriage officially law in fourteen states, with Hawaii and Illinois both waiting for signatures from Governor Abercrombie and Quinn respectively, analysts are making predictions as to which states are next.

New Mexico

Wording in the state’s constitution regarding equality has led to some asking the court if same-sex marriage is already legal by default; unlike every other state in the country, it is neither banned nor explicitly allowed. Oral arguments were heard in late October 2013 and a ruling is expected to be issued before the end of the year; in the meantime, eight of its thirty-three counties are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and nearly a thousand people have applied for licenses in the few months they’ve been able to.

Although two NM judges have upheld rulings in favor of marriage equality, giving proponents reason to hope that the state will be the seventeenth to enact same-sex marriage, but even if the NM Supreme Court rules for it, there could still be a challenge in the form of a constitutional ban, if some of the state’s Republicans have their way. State senator Bill Sharer, an anti-equality Republican, stated that “the issue will not be settled until the people speak,” according to “The Albuquerque Journal.”

Oregon

Although Oregon’s constitution bans same-sex marriages from being performed in-state, it does recognize such unions from other states. The group Oregon United for Marriage is working towards getting a revocation of the constitutional ban on the ballot in 2014; such a measure would have a good chance of passing, judging from the results of a late 2012 poll, which indicated that 54 percent of Oregonians would vote for marriage equality.

Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah

With various court cases and measures making their way through the legal systems, all six of those states could see changes for the better regarding marriage rights by 2016. Though the generally conservative Utah and the swing states Ohio and Pennsylvania are less likely to see results in as short a time as the more liberal West Coast states, there is still hope for progress. According to Wolfson, it used to be said that pro-equality legislation “could only win in the coast, not in the heartland,” but Iowa and Minnesota disproved that claim.

State by state, the battle for marriage equality is gaining ground faster than many activists dared dream.

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