Gay-marriage momentum comes to a sudden halt after Illinois

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The goal of gay-marriage advocates is to have more than half of the U.S. population in states that have legalized such unions by the end of 2016.

“What we have to do — like other civil rights movements and social justice causes — is win a critical mass of states and a critical mass of public support, which together creates the climate for the Supreme Court to bring the country to national resolution,” Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, recently told The Associated Press.

In Oregon, gay-marriage supporters are working to put a measure on the 2014 ballot asking voters to repeal that state’s marriage amendment and legalize same-sex marriage instead.

To win in Oregon, the best campaign models probably are those that won last year in Maryland, Maine and Washington state, said Mr. Silva, whose grass-roots organization supported those campaigns.

Several key messages got across, “that marriage does matter: the word, the institution, the rights and benefits,” as well as “the recognition of family, commitment and the love that two people have for each other,” said Mr. Silva. “We were extraordinarily successful in those campaigns, and we look to repeat that in Oregon.”

In Republican-dominated Indiana, the situation is different, he said. There, gay-marriage activists are playing defense as lawmakers consider the second passage of a constitutional marriage amendment, which is necessary before it can be sent to voters.

“What we’re working on for early next year is to stop the legislature from passing it a second time,” Mr. Silva said.

Traditional-family advocates are preparing for action, too.

Despite Illinois’ approval of gay marriage, Indiana has a conservative political culture and “we haven’t followed Illinois’ cues since the Civil War,” Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute, said Tuesday.

The Republican leaders of both chambers of the General Assembly have committed to hearing the marriage amendment, and “we think strong majorities will again decide that the people should decide,” Mr. Smith said.

He noted that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, has been clear in his support for traditional man-woman marriage and for a popular referendum on an amendment.

On Tuesday, Indiana House Speaker Brian C. Bosma rejected a request to kill the proposed marriage amendment, saying it will be assigned to committee and will be dealt with like any other bill.

Supreme Court fallout

The state-by-state battle over gay marriage was set up by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in June striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Although gay-marriage supporters hailed the ruling as a victory, the high court declined to take the more ambitious step of invalidating all laws at the state level banning gay marriage. With many states unlikely to approve gay marriage by law or popular referendum for the foreseeable future, the Supreme Court decision meant the battle shifted to each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia to set their own policies.

In addition to Oregon, 27 states have constitutional amendments defining marriage only as the union of one man and one woman.

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About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.

Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...

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