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Jun 27, 2011: Will New York Marriage Spread to Other States?
We did it! New York Marriages can start in less than a month. That success gives us new leverage in the 44 states that have yet to enact marriage equality. We also won victories this week in Wisconsin and Maryland, but gay couples in Illinois are just discovered a dangerous new civil unions loophole. And phony anti-gay polls could skew voting in Minnesota.
This was the scene outside the Stonewall Inn late Friday night, when the legislature finally voted for marriage equality. The law takes effect in late July, and will affect an estimated 42,000 couples raising 14,000 children.
Meanwhile, President Obama has shown zero leadership on marriage. At a fundraiser in New York just hours before the vote, Obama avoided an endorsement of marriage equality, and said that it was up to the states to decide. That despite fourteen separate rulings by the Supreme Court that marriage is a fundamental federal right.
This vote means big changes for LGBT couples in New York, including joint filing of state income taxes, inheritance rights, better access to health care, wrongful death benefits, parenting rights -- just to name a few.
And it pushes ahead momentum in other states.
So, how did this happen? A combination of factors.
Governor Andrew Cuomo was instrumental in making this possible. He organized the different activist groups, so that they would work together instead of in contradiction. He also helped raise huge amounts of money to lobby lawmakers. Our side was also able to broker agreements regarding religious exemptions with legislators who were still on the fence.
These are strategies that will work in other states struggling with marriage, such as Maryland and Rhode Island.
Repercussions are also being felt in France, where marchers demanded renewed action this week after politicians there rejected marriage equality.
But not every state is like New York. The anti-gay industry is promising to spend millions to defeat politicians who support marriage equality, which is why it's important to continue pursuing cases in court, where decisions are more insulated from misleading ballot initiatives.
Anti-gay groups have already pledged $2 million dollars to unseat our allies in the New York legislature. That may seem like a lot, but don't forget -- we can raise a lot of money, too.
The bigger threat is pure misinformation. This week, anti-gay groups circulated a phony poll in Minnesota that they claimed as proof that Minnesotans oppose equality.
The only problem: the poll used misleading questions, an unreliable sample, and a biased firm. It's propaganda, not real data.
We saw a similar tactic in New York. On Tuesday, the National Organization for Marriage released a phony poll of their own, showing public support for discrimination. That survey had the same problems: a tiny sample size, a skewed demographic, a biased firm, and misleading questions.
They can cook the polls all they want -- but it doesn't change the fact that we're winning.
Now our attention's needed in states like Illinois, where civil unions were signed into law this spring. That law was supposed to provide all the state benefits of marriage, but the Illinois Department of Revenue ruled this week that they will not still allow same-sex couples to file jointly.
There's also serious trouble in Rhode Island, where there's been no action on that state's civil unions bill. The legislative session could end in just a few days, leaving LGBT couples with no protection at all.
But there's good news in Wisconsin, where a judge ruled that the state's domestic partnership registry is legal. And in Maryland, a court ruled that couples married outside the state could not be compelled to testify against each other. That case was argued by the ACLU and Lambda Legal.
Those are the headlines, visit us at MarriageNewsWatch.com for more on all these stories and more.
We'll see you next week.
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