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Marriage Equality: 2012 in Review


By Matt Baume

Here we are at the end of 2012, and after a year of amazing progress we’re closer than ever to full federal marriage equality. Think about where we were a year ago with Prop 8, with DOMA, with marriage laws from state to state. So much has happened since then. So let’s do a quick year-in-review to get you caught up with the progress we made in 2012, and where we’re going to focus in 2013, including which states are the most likely to make headlines in the coming year.

January, 2012: we start the year off with new civil union laws in Delaware and Hawaii. Pro-equality governors waste no time in the new year, with Washington’s Christine Gregoire and Maryland’s Martin O’Malley introducing marriage legislation.

And then, a major victory in February: In AFER’s case to overturn Prop 8, The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rules that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. And within days, another federal court rules against the Defense of Marriage Act. In New Jersey, the legislature passes a marriage bill, but it’s vetoed by Governor Chris Christie. Governor Gregoire signs Washington’s marriage bill into law, but first it must undergo a referendum.

March. Dustin Lance Black’s play “8” has its Los Angeles Premiere with a star-studded cast. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signs a marriage bill into law — but it too must face a referendum. The New Hampshire legislature easily rejects a challenge to marriage equality, thanks in large part to a supermajority of pro-equality Republicans. And a ninth national survey shows a majority of Americans support the freedom to marry.

April. Lambda Legal files a new federal lawsuit against Nevada’s marriage ban. And a committee in Colorado passes a civil union bill that’s backed by an overwhelming majority of voters.

May: President Obama endorses the freedom to marry — the first sitting president to do so. DOMA is ruled unconstitutional by a federal district court in California. And then again by a second court — this time in a unanimous ruling by the First Circuit Court of Appeals, in a case brought by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. But the good news is tempered by North Carolina passing a law that bans marriage and civil unions. And at the last possible moment, Colorado Republicans kill the popular civil unions bill.

June: Lambda Legal and the ACLU file suit to win marriage in Illinois. Another court rules that DOMA is unconstitutional — this time it’s a federal district court in New York in another case brought by the ACLU. More surveys show support from a majority of Americans, bringing the total to 13.

In July, the Democratic National Committee hints that it may add marriage equality in the official party platform. Multiple DOMA cases get on the fast track to the Supreme Court, skipping the usual appeal process and petitioning directly to the highest court in the land.

August: more bad news for DOMA, with a judge in Connecticut issuing the fifth ruling of the year that the anti-gay law violates the constitution. A court in Hawaii upholds the state’s marriage ban.

In September, with the election just two months away, the Democratic National Committee finally puts marriage equality in the party platform.

As the Supreme Court convenes in October, another DOMA case advances. This time it’s the Second Circuit ruling that the law is unconstitutional, finding in favor of widow Edith Windsor and the ACLU.

And then: multiple major victories in the November election. Obama wins re-election after endorsing the freedom to marry. Voters support marriage equality it all four states where it was on the ballot. Tammy Baldwin becomes the first openly gay member of the Senate. We have the largest LGBT congressional caucus in history. But there’s still no word from the Supreme Court.

Lambda Legal appeals a wildly anti-gay ruling in a Nevada marriage case to the Ninth Circuit, which previously found Prop 8 to be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court announces they’ll hear two marriage cases — AFER’s case against Prop 8, and an ACLU case challenging DOMA. The stage is set for us to win marriage equality at a national level.

And by the end of the year, the play “8” has confirmed 340 readings across the globe. Over forty thousand people have seen the show performed live, and over 800,000 more have watched online. We’ve always known that telling our stories is one of the most effective ways to show people why the freedom to marry matters.

And as 2012 comes to a close, the number of polls showing a majority support the freedom to marry reaches a record high: twenty one national surveys.

2012 was an incredible year for marriage, and 2013 is likely to be even busier.

In the coming year, we could see legislative fights in Minnesota, Rhode Island, Illinois, and Delaware. The governors of all four states have pledged to sign marriage bills if they can make it through the legislature. Other states primed to make progress are Colorado, New Jersey, and Oregon. But we’re also facing an anti-gay constitutional amendment in Indiana.

We’ll have a special episode that focuses on all these states after the new year. In the mean time, subscribe here on YouTube to get weekly alerts about what’s happening and how you can help make a difference no matter where you are. And visit us over at to pledge your support for the case to overturn Proposition 8 once and for all.



  • 1. Rich  |  December 30, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Yesterday, we in the Great State of Maine, were witness to wonderful and celebratory marriages performed, for the first time in history, for gay couples from Portland to Bangor in their respective City Halls. The excitement was palpable and the news organizations covered it beautifully from Kittery to Fort Kent. Change can be a struggle for sure but yesterday affirmed everything that this country's Constitution and the right of the people to demand equality stands for. Now, the work is not done and 2013 can, once again, be a watershed year. Our opponents will scream "religious liberty is under attack" as a back/front door to thwart the state and federal rights of gay people. This is where our Constitution (and SCOTUS as the arbiters of justice) will, once again, realize its/their finest hour. We are at a threshold, people. This is no time to lose our focus. State marriage rights are important and growing; federal rights for every gay individual or couple is now in the spotlight. Let us make 2013 the year that each if us who is gay, finally came to realize, in real terms, that there are no more roadblocks to full inclusion in the United States of America.

    Happy New Year to everyone. It is a good time to be alive.

  • 2. Stefan  |  December 30, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Just beautiful Rich. I think I'm going to post what you wrote to Facebook if you don't mind!

  • 3. Rich  |  December 30, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Be my guest. I've never been more optimistic.

  • 4. Ian  |  December 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    November segement is flawed, it has an pic of NC where Maryland should be

  • 5. Seth From Maryland  |  December 31, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Rhode Island House Speaker to call for early vote on marriage equality:
    The Rhode Island General Assembly kicks off its 2013 session Tuesday, and the first big debate of the year is likely to center on same-sex marriage.

    House Speaker Gordon Fox (D-Providence), who is openly gay, said he will call for an early vote on the topic in his chamber, reported Associated Press.

  • 6. Seth From Maryland  |  December 31, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Last fall’s election saw marriage equality supporters gain seats in both the House and Senate, and advocates hope to build on victories around the nation by passing marriage legislation.

    The November elections reduced the number of Republicans serving in the state’s General Assembly to only 11 out of 113.

    In 2011, Fox dropped marriage legislation when it became apparent the Senate wouldn’t pass the bill. Instead, lawmakers approved civil unions for same-sex couples that offer many of the legal rights afforded to married couples.

    But within the first six months of the civil unions law taking effect, fewer than 50 couples took advantage of the new law.

    Rhode Island is currently the only state in New England that has not legalized same-sex marriage, although it does recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state, and treats those unions in the same manner as married heterosexual couples

  • 7. Seth From Maryland  |  December 31, 2012 at 10:49 am

  • 8. Seth From Maryland  |  January 1, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Maryland Rings in New Year With Marriage Equality:

  • 9. Seth From Maryland  |  January 1, 2013 at 8:58 am

    i am so proud an happy for my state, in feb my sister an her partner will finally get married, i want to thanks so many of you on here for help this happen , now lets go illiniois

  • 10. grod  |  January 1, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Seth – Illiniois seems like a real challenge in the next 8 days. Does that state have a ballot initiative process? G

  • 11. Seth From Maryland  |  January 1, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    it does but its so hard to get anything on the ballot , that many people dont even consider it a ballot referendum state, theres only one thing thats made it on ballot since it was created , and referendum is not even binding in illinois if one was to occur

  • 12. grod  |  January 2, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Seth: thanks. Illiniois business supports equality:

  • 13. davep  |  January 1, 2013 at 10:12 am

    It was great to wake up this morning to the start of a new year and see all of the internet and TV news stories about same sex marriages starting in Maryland just after midnight. I think it's going to be a good day. In fact, I think it's going to be a good year.

  • 14. Seth From Maryland  |  January 1, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Taiwan Legislature Holds First Hearing on Marriage Equality

    Taiwan is moving closer to allowing same-sex marriage but a judge has said proposed legislation may fall short of what is needed. The current proposal changes only articles 972, 973 and 980 of the Civil Code, altering the words from 'male' and 'female' to gender-neutral language.

    But Hsu Li-ying, from the Judicial Yuan's (Supreme Court) Juvenile and Family Department, said the new legislation 'may need to be more comprehensive'.

    However, speaking at Taiwan's first legislative hearing on legalizing gay and lesbian marriages Hsu made no alternative proposal. The hearing was attended by legislators, lawyers, gay rights activists and scholars.

  • 15. Seth From Maryland  |  January 1, 2013 at 9:36 am

    its good the conversation is starting there, this may turn out a to be really great year for equality

  • 16. Seth From Maryland  |  January 1, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    if anyone lives in illinois , as you know its time to call ur local repersatives. this is going to close, probally come down to the wire , let them know you support marriage equality and they should too

  • 17. Bill S.  |  January 1, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    A marriage equality bill will be introduced in the Rhode Island House of Representatives on Thursday.

  • 18. Seth From Maryland  |  January 1, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    just seen that, something tells me they now finaly have the votes RI to pass, marriage equality had a good year winning on the state leval in RI

  • 19. Bob  |  January 1, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    The measure raises tax rates on incomes over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples, a victory for Obama.

  • 20. grod  |  January 2, 2013 at 8:02 am

    Returning to Illinois potential vote, which Seth from Maryland drew to our attention above; as might be expected, the Catholic archbishop and his six ancillary bishops on Dec 30 issued a letter in opposition to civil marriage:…. Picked up by the Tribune. I've add this link so that you can be reminded of the argument of one of the main opposition groups. Equality Illinois hopefully is ready with the 'counter-arguments'.

  • 21. Johyn  |  January 2, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Consummation is not always a requirement for civil marriage in a prison setting. Fr. John A. Hardon said that intercourse with contraception does not consummate a marriage either. Don't see these specifically defined that way in civil law as dictated by catholic theology.

  • 22. Gregory in SLC  |  January 2, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Indeed! Besides, wasn't consummation introduced when women were considered by law men's property? I would mention also that if these Catholics determine consummation is necessary, even the Oxford Dictionary defines sexual intercourse as "between individuals". Again, those arguments against marriage equality can only be based in animus.

    Oxford Dictionary:

    Definition of consummate
    Pronunciation: /ˈkɒnsjʊmeɪt, -sə-/

    [with object]
    make (a marriage or relationship) complete by having sexual intercourse:
    his first wife refused to consummate their marriage
    complete (a transaction):
    the property sale is consummated

    Definition of sexual intercourse
    <a href="; target="_blank"&gt <a href="http://;…” target=”_blank”>;
    [mass noun]
    sexual contact between individuals involving penetration, especially the insertion of a man’s erect penis into a woman’s vagina, typically culminating in orgasm and the ejaculation of semen.

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