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Marriage is Coming to Illinois, but When?


By Matt Baume

Marriage equality is law in Illinois, but questions remain over when marriages can actually start. Virginia voters could have a chance to overturn that state’s marriage ban, and polling is surprisingly strong. Lawsuits advance this week in Pennsylvania and Tennessee, and there’s more bad news for the National Organization for Marriage.

Last week it was Hawaii, this week it was Illinois. Governor Pat Quinn signed the new marriage bill on Wednesday, with weddings scheduled to begin in June of 2014. And they could start even sooner: an amendment proposed by Senator Don Harmon would advance the start date to as soon as February.

Illinois has now moved from no recognition to civil unions in 2007 and now marriage just 6 years later.

And marriage is making strides in Virginia. Two Democratic lawmakers there have proposed bills to overturn the state’s constitutional marriage ban. The measures would have to pass the General Assembly two years in a row before going to voters, so the soonest we could see a vote would be November of 2016. For now, polling in Virginia is good, but not great — recent surveys show that so far public support has an advantage of just a few percentage points. But if support continues to grow at the rate is has for the past few years, we’d have a sizable majority by 2016.

We’re moving quickly towards a trial in Pennsylvania.  A federal judge there has denied motions to dismiss a lawsuit over the state’s marriage ban. Attorneys are now discussing a start date for a trial, so we could have a ruling in Pennsylvania quite soon.

A lawsuit in Tennessee is moving forward as well. Last week the National Center for Lesbian Rights asked the court to order the state to immediately recognize the plaintiffs’ marriages while the lawsuit is pending. According to NLCR, the couples can’t wait for a resolution before obtaining legal protections for their families.

A coalition of businesses in Portland has endorsed an effort to overturn Oregon’s marriage ban. A proposed constitutional amendment in Indiana may drop a ban on civil unions to focus just on banning marriage. That means it could be an extra two years before the measure can go before voters. A new study from the Williams Institute shows that legalizing marriage in New Mexico would bring in over 15 million dollars and benefit over 2,000 children. A lawsuit in Michigan will hear testimony from Mark Regnerus, author of a controversial study used by anti-gay activists. His testimony, scheduled for late February, should provide a unique opportunity to investigate the validity of his findings.

And finally, new tax filings from the National Organization for Marriage show that the organization ended last year with a deficit of one million dollars, which is a real shame.


  • 1. Stefan  |  November 25, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Illinois didn't pass civil unions until 2010 actually.

  • 2. Mike in Maryland  |  November 25, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Which means that in 2007, Illinois didn't have a civil unions law.

    The significance of 2007? That then becomes the question.

  • 3. ebohlman  |  November 25, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    I suspect that Matt was thinking of NJ, for which his timeline is correct.

  • 4. mnbob  |  November 25, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    I guess the rationale behind being anti-marriage equality is that it brings right-wing voters?

  • 5. Straight Ally #3008  |  November 25, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    I love, love, love the idea of Indiana's proposed marriage ban (didn't realize it was a civil union plus marriage ban, harder but not impossible to pass, see North Carolina) being delayed two years. One-two punch of putting it into a Presidential election year and giving more time for public opinion to shift in favor of equality. Furthermore, it will put the focus in 2014 on the ballot question in Oregon, where we have an advantage (although we must not be complacent). I hope NOM flushes a lot of money down the drain on that one.

  • 6. Straight Dave  |  November 25, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    What money?

  • 7. Straight Ally #3008  |  November 25, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    LOL! Well, whatever their five main donors can cough up this time around. 😉

  • 8. Stefan  |  November 26, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Pushing it back to 2016 would also make it more likely for other states to put the issue on the ballot for 2014, namely Colorado, Ohio, and Michigan.

  • 9. Zack12  |  November 26, 2013 at 6:44 am

    2016 is the best year for some of those measures.

  • 10. Valquiria  |  November 26, 2013 at 7:38 am

    Of those three states, Michigan is the only one that would vote for equality in 2014. Support is consistently above 55% — high enough to deliver a majority even among right-skewed midterm voters. But unless I'm mistaken, current plans are to hold a referendum in 2016. By then, Michigan might already have marriage equality as the result of a court ruling.

    Ohio would be a repeat of Maine 2010. Recent polling there shows support for equality at under 50%, and midterm voters are disproportionately old, white, and Republican. We would be fools to force a referendum in Ohio in 2014. It would only benefit the anti-gay orgs, which would raise loads of money and claim credit for the result. A battle in Ohio could prolong the existence of NOM by years. On the other hand, if we wait, Ohio will probably achieve equality through a court ruling well before the 2016 cycle.

    We should keep our powder dry in Colorado as well. Theoretically it should be favorable terrain, because it polls strongly for equality. But its off-year elections are dominated by gun nuts, anti-abortion zealots, and other demographics that tend to oppose equality. In 2016, it should be an easy victory.

  • 11. Valquiria  |  November 26, 2013 at 7:51 am

    By "Maine 2010", of course I mean "Maine 2009".

  • 12. Eric Koszyk  |  November 26, 2013 at 9:58 am

    One thing about Colorado that will help us —

    it has moved towards an all vote-by mail election system (it was first used 3 weeks ago) where every voter will get a ballot mailed to them (although voters can still vote at a polling center if they wish). Also, people can register to vote on election day.

    This will help us with a lot of our softer supporters.

  • 13. Mike in Baltimore  |  November 26, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    An advantage of a court ruling is that court rulings rarely include any religious sections, and are almost always strictly a 'go/no go' ruling on Marriage Equality.

    In most legislative actions on Marriage Equality, it is highly likely that religious sections will be included to 'keep/attempt to get additional' support for the underlying legislation.

    Citizen initiatives (in those states that allow them) are more a mixed bag (although usually tending more towards a 'relaxed' religious 'flavor').

    (In 2012, the vote on Marriage Equality in both Washington state and Maryland actually was a vote to uphold the legislative bills and to defeat the anti's trying to 'veto' the legislation. If the voters in either or both states had not backed the legislation, it would NOT have prohibited the legislature(s) from taking up the Marriage Equality issue in the future, but it would probably have set them back at least six to eight years, or even more, depending on the vote count.)

  • 14. grod  |  November 27, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Mike, six to eight years seems pessimistic. For instance. on November 6 2012, in a reversal of the vote three years earlier, Mainers approved marriage equality. The results were a reverse of those seen on the 2009 referendum, with 53 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed

  • 15. Mike in Baltimore  |  November 27, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Maryland went 5 years after the initial introduction of Marriage Equality and the state House of Delegates passing it until it became law.

    In 2011, the state House of Delegates didn't even vote on the measure, as it was determined that there was no support in committee. Almost all for the measure since 2008 have stated that their support is based on popular support in their home district. If the people didn't vote for Marriage Equality, then the state Senators and state House of Delegates would NOT have voted for Marriage Equality.

    It is MUCH easier (in Maryland), and takes MUCH less time (in Maryland) to influence a single state Senator or two, or a member of the state House of Delegates or two, to change their vote than it is to get a change in 1% or 2% of the electorate. And remember, the state Senator or Delegate claims that they will vote in the same manner as their constituents vote.

    What's one or two votes? The Marriage Equality law passed the state Senate by 3 votes, and by 5 votes in the state House. If 1 or 2 votes changed, that would have brought another 2 or 3 for each vote changed. Thus 1 changed vote could have meant 3 to 4 votes changed, and 2 changed votes could have meant 6 to 8 votes changed. Almost all the state Senators and Delegates vote in blocks, mainly due to how the district votes.

    In Maryland, the state is divided into 47 legislative districts, one state Senator per district, and three state Delegates per district, and all are voted on at the same time. It is an extremely unusual district that has three delegates (or even 1 or 2) who are politically and philosophically different than the state Senator.

    And Maryland and Maine, although states in the United States, are very different. It's like saying that Illinois has (or will have by June 1, 2014) Marriage Equality, therefore all contiguous states also have Marriage Equality. Last I heard, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Michigan do NOT. Only Iowa (Minnesota is NOT contiguous to Illinois). California and Washington state have Marriage Equality, but Oregon does NOT (along with Arizona, Nevada and Idaho, all contiguous to states with Marriage Equality). Maryland has Marriage Equality, but Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania (states that are contiguous with Maryland) do NOT. Only Delaware (and DC, although it's not a state, but a district).

    Oh, and I did NOT say it would have set back Marriage Equality by 6 to 8 years. Or did you skip the word "probably"? The word 'probably' is NOT defined the same as 'with certainty'.

  • 16. Dr. Z  |  November 26, 2013 at 9:58 am

    BTW, Oregon will be electing a governor and a senator in 2014, and it's quite possible that a marijuana legalization initiative will be on the ballot again, so turnout should be high.

  • 17. Straight Ally #3008  |  November 26, 2013 at 11:34 am

    While I really dislike linking marijuana legislation to same-sex marriage as if the former were on par as a civil rights issue, I find it hard to believe that the pro-pot crowd is anti-gay marriage.

  • 18. Dr. Z  |  November 26, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Youth vote.

  • 19. Rob  |  November 26, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    No pun intended, I'm sure.

  • 20. Dr. Z  |  November 26, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Certainly attendance at the victory party will be quite high too. 😀

  • 21. Eric Koszyk  |  November 26, 2013 at 7:19 am

    Judge in Illinois allows terminally ill woman to marry her partner before state law comes into effect:

  • 22. grod  |  November 27, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Judge T. Durkin's short injunctive text found here:

  • 23. Wynngard  |  November 26, 2013 at 8:54 am

    The Colombian newspaper El Espectador is reporting that the country's Constitutional Court is going to announce its ruling in a case over same-sex adoption. According to a leaked draft of the ruling, the Court will rule that same-sex couples are entitled to second-parent adoption rights. However, the draft also contains language that gives special status to opposite-sex couples due to their ability to reproduce.

    J. Lester Feder of Buzzfeed is worried that the Court will use this line of reasoning to deny same-sex couples the right to marry should the Court ever consider the issue of marriage equality (which is likely, since lower courts are currently disputing the validity of same-sex marriages that were granted after a vague Constitutional Court ruling that legalized same-sex "solemn unions").

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