A look back at the same-sex marriage movement’s victory-filled year


Marchers carry a rainbow flag in the L.A. Pride Parade on June 8 in West Hollywood, Calif. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s historic decisions in two same-sex marriage cases, clearing the way for a string of legal victories for the movement.

In United States v. Windsor, the court struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act. That decision granted federal recognition to the couples and would arm about several federal justices with the legal basis to overturn state same-sex marriage bans over the following year. In Hollingsworth v. Perry, the court ruled that a group seeking to defend California’s same-sex marriage ban when officials wouldn’t had no grounds to do so. As a result, a lower court ruling finding that ban unconstitutional stood.

“There’s no question we have extraordinary momentum,” says Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, a same-sex marriage advocacy organization. “We actually had momentum building before the Supreme Court ruling.”

But in the past year, the pro-marriage movement has seen an acceleration of victories, including two this week. On Wednesday, a judge ruled against Indiana’s ban and the issue got its first appellate level ruling — this one on Utah’s ban — since the DOMA decision, moving it one step closer to a possible Supreme Court hearing.

“The courts are clearly reflecting the language and logic of the Supreme Court’s ruling,” Wolfson says. He now says he can envision a scenario in which the Supreme Court takes up the issue of same-sex marriage within a year or so, though ultimately that discretion and timing lies with the court alone.

Here’s a by-the-numbers look at how things have changed in the past year.

  • 19 states with legal same-sex marriage. That’s nearly doubled in the past year. Before the pair of rulings, just 10 states and the District of Columbia had legal same-sex marriage, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for such unions. Today, 19 states have legal same-sex marriages: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. (D.C., too.)
  • 80+ cases filed in every state, according to HRC and Lambda Legal, another pro-same-sex marriage advocacy group.
  • 22 consecutive victories (and no losses). Freedom to Marry, a same-sex marriage advocacy organization, counts 22 straight victories in state and federal court in the past year.
  • 12 states saw rulings in favor of same-sex marriage. Bans were struck down in 9 states, according to Freedom to Marry: Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. In Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, the rulings were more limited, though still supported the rights of same-sex couples. (In Pennsylvania and Oregon, judges struck down the marriage bans and the states chose not to challenge those decisions, thus making same-sex marriage legal there.)
  • 55 percent public support. The month Hollingsworth was filed in 2009, support for legal same-sex marriage was at 44 percent, according to a Gallup survey. A year later, a few months shy of the filing of Windsor, support was up to 44 percent. Last month, Gallup showed 55 percent support. Our own polling last month showed that in the states that banned gay marriage support was nearly as high at 53 percent.
  • 44 percent of the population living in states with legal same-sex marriage. That is up from 16 percent before last year’s dual rulings, according to HRC.
  • 8 states have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. They are: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada and Tennessee, according to Freedom to Marry.
  • 6 federal appellate courts have challenges of same-sex marriage bans before them. Wednesday’s ruling on Utah’s ban was the first to come from a federal appellate court since the DOMA decision and moves the issue a step closer to the Supreme Court.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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Niraj Chokshi · June 25