Heads up Illinois, Hawaii, New Jersey and Oregon. Marriage equality may be coming your way and soon. Freedom to Marry, the advocacy group that has been at the forefront of the marriage battle, has unveiled a new strategy that targets those four states as the best chances for marriage equality in 2013 and 2014. The plan, called Roadmap to Victory, aims by 2016 to make marriage equality legal for the majority of Americans and push public support to marriage equality to 60%.
“The key to winning is, as it has always been, that when we get to the Supreme Court with the next marriage cases, we go with more states and more support creating the climate for the justices then to do the right thing,” says Freedom to Marry founder Evan Wolfson.
The strategy will vary among the states. Illinois, Hawaii and New Jersey will be battles fought in the legislature. In Oregon, a ballot measure will be introduced to overturn the state’s ban on marriage equality, to which Freedom to Marry has committed $250,000. In the meantime, advocates will be priming for battles in six more states in 2015 and 2016: “some combination” of Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Meanwhile, the battle in the courts is expanding. The ACLU has announced that it will be filing legal challenges in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and (in conjunction with Lambda Legal) Virginia.
In response, opponents of marriage equality are whistling past the graveyard. ”They’re hugely overplaying their hand,” said Thomas Peters, a spokesman for the National Organization for Marriage. ”These are states where gay marriage advocates have been saying for months, if not years, that gay marriage is inevitable and they’ve made no progress.”
Of course, the same could have been said for Minnesota, Rhode Island or any of the other states that approved marriage equality this spring. Or perhaps NOM didn’t notice.