Well, 2013 was a helluva year for legal recognition of relationships, wasn’t it? We doubled the population living in American states with marriage equality, and also learned that Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black are an item.
How could 2014 possibly top such major milestones in human history? Here’s what to expect:
Marriage starts in Illinois. Currently, weddings are slated to begin on June 1. But that could change if lawmakers are able to nudge up the start date. Expect to see some very grand ceremonies with Lake Michigan as backdrop, with Governor Pat Quinn officiating.
Ballot battles in Ohio. This one’s likely to set off an internal battle. We have two LGBT organizations in Ohio (Freedom Ohio and Equality Ohio), each with different points of view about going back to the ballot. Voters passed a constitutional ban in 2004, and polling this time around shows opinion very very close, pro and con. Freedom Ohio is charging ahead with a ballot measure to overturn the ban, but Equality Ohio is a bit more cautious. There was a bit of a fuss a few months ago when FO announced that it had the backing of national groups, and then the major national groups were like, “Wait, what? No you don’t!”
Voting in Oregon. Oregon United for Marriage is taking a page from the success of other states, heading the to the ballot following several years of public eduction and outreach. Opinion looks good: Public Policy Polling had us up 54 to 40 percent a year ago, a significant increase in support from years past. The numbers are likely to look even better today.
A tough fight in Indiana. Antigay groups are pushing hard for a constitutional marriage ban in Indiana, but changing the state constitution is a gradual process. They’ll need to bring it up for a vote in the legislature before they can put it before voters. Public support for the ban is waning, but it could still pass.
Outreach and education in tipping-point states: Evan Wolfson’s Freedom to Marry is stepping up education in the states where it’s most needed. Conversations like these are far more productive before a ballot campaign than after, so it’s the best way to get a good bang for our fundraising buck. Look for a ramp-up in educational outreach in states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Alaska, North Carolina, Michigan and southern states as part of the “Light up the Map” campaign.
Lawsuits, lawsuits, lawsuits. There’s ongoing litigation in a batch of states right now: Utah, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Louisiana and more. Expect to hear news just about every week about one case or another advancing to a hearing, a briefing or a ruling. The outcomes of court cases are even harder to predict than ballot measures, particularly since we don’t know exactly what the impact will be of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Prop 8 and DOMA. But in the past, courts have responded well to the argument that banning marriage is a deprivation of constitutional rights, and the Supremes decision will only accelerate this trend. The wheels of justice are slow, but will likely bring us more good news in 2014.
Marriage in England and Wales. Starting in March, British gays will be able to wed. Hey Sir Ian McKellen, we are seeing someone but would totally drop him for you.
Goodbye, NOM. Could this finally be the year the National Organization for Marriage disbands? Maybe. Their finances are shaky, with donors rapidly fleeing the sinking ship. Fred Karger, bless his heart, is still inspecting Maggie and Brian’s every evil move. And as the pace of equality picks up, so does their rate of failure. There are a few diehards who will never throw in the towel, but even Maggie has read the writing on the wall and retreated rhetorically, at least– when was the last time you saw her pop up on cable news?