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Opposition Shrinks in NJ


By Matt Baume

Marriage equality turns one week old in New Jersey. And before the year is over, we could gain marriage in New Mexico, Illinois, and Hawaii. Plus, there’s a new lawsuit in Tennessee and progress in Nevada.

AFER’s attorneys filed a brief in the Virginia marriage case last week. Just like DOMA, the brief argues, Virginia’s marriage ban “demeans” same-sex couples, “places [them] in an unstable position,” “humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples,” and “instructs all … persons with whom same-sex couples interact … that their [relationship] is less worthy than the [relationships] of others.”

We’ve made it through the first week of marriage equality in New Jersey, and a new survey shows strong public support. The Rutgers-Eagleton data show 61 percent of voters favor marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Opposition has dipped to 27 percent, its lowest point yet.

We’re also making progress in New Mexico, where the state Supreme Court heard arguments regarding marriage equality. This is in response to several counties that either chose or were ordered to begin issuing licenses. At the hearing, the justices skeptical of claims that banning marriage encourages procreation, and questioning whether a ban could have a rational basis.

The court hasn’t announced when they’ll issue a ruling, but so far they’ve moved quickly in the case.

In Illinois, organizers are pushing lawmakers to bring up a marriage bill in the veto session that started last week. The session is now on hold and will resume on November 3rd. A new survey in Illinois shows 52 percent support marriage with 40 percent opposed.

Meanwhile, legislators in Hawaii are taking a more pro-active role, with a hearing on a marriage bill scheduled for Monday, the 28th. If the bill passes, marriages could begin as early as November 18th. A survey by the Honolulu Civil Beat shows opinion split, with support and opposition both at 44 percent.

There’s a brand new lawsuit in Tennessee. Four couples, working with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, have sued the state over its marriage ban.

A lawsuit in West Virginia has slowed a bit, with a judge granting a clerk’s request for an additional two months to file briefs.

And Lambda Legal has filed a brief in a lawsuit against Nevada’s marriage ban. The next step there is a reply from the state, which is due next month.

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