Tag Archives: Illinois

After Illinois, Look West for the Next Same-Sex Marriage Battles

Celebrations at the Chicago Pride Parade in June 2013. Today, Illinois becomes the 16th state (plus Washington, D.C.) to legalize same-sex marriage.

When Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signs a same-sex marriage bill into law today, the Land of Lincoln will officially become the 16th state to grant recognition to same-sex spouses, just one week after Hawaii.

2013 has been a banner year for gay rights activists–in addition to the Supreme Court decisions striking down the federal Defense Of Marriage Act and permitting same-sex marriage in California, the movement has seen the legalization of same-sex marriage almost double at the state level. Nearly one year ago, when the Supreme Court first agreed to hear United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry, only nine states and the District of Columbia recognized same-sex marriage.

Of course, their work is still far from done. After Illinois, the focus will turn west toward New Mexico and Oregon.

Traditionally, states have legalized same-sex marriage through one of three ways: by referendum, through the state legislature, or via a ruling from the state’s judiciary.

New Mexico, the only state that has neither a constitution nor a state law explicitly addressing same-sex marriage, could become the 17th state to legalize such unions, thanks to the third route. Because of the state law’s silence on the matter, eight out of thirty-three counties began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples after the Windsor and Hollingsworth rulings–eventually prompting all thirty-three New Mexico county clerks to ask the state supreme court for clarification on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. The New Mexico Supreme Court heard oral argument in October 2013 and is expected to hand down a decision by the end of this year.

If the New Mexico Supreme Court rules in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, the state will join Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, California and New Jersey as having decided the issue through a judicial ruling.

Meanwhile, advocates in Oregon are planning to overturn the state constitution’s ban on same-sex marriage through a referendum. The coalition Oregon United For Marriage is in the process of collecting the 116,284 signatures required by next July in order to place the question on the ballot in November 2014. If it succeeds (as of today, it needs only 1,204 more names), there’s cause for optimism: a December 2012 poll showed that 54% of Oregon voters would support marriage equality, versus 40% who would vote against it. Though gay and lesbian couples cannot be legally married in Oregon just yet, the state announced in October 2013 that it would start recognizing valid same-sex marriages from other states.

Should a same-sex marriage initiative pass in Oregon, the state will join Washington, Maine and Maryland as having settled the issue by popular vote.

The Human Rights Campaign anticipates that 40% of Americans will live in a state with marriage equality by the end of 2014.

Greetings from the strangest Congressional election of 2012

U.S. Representative Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. of Illinois (son of the reverend) continues to stay in virtual hiding during high campaign season, as he has all summer and into the fall, but appears likely to win reelection anyway:

Since June, Mr. Jackson, a Democrat and the son of the civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson, has been on medical leave from Congress and has made no official appearances in the district that he represented since 1995, or anywhere else. His office has disclosed that he was treated at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for bipolar disorder and in recent weeks has been recovering at his home in Washington.

While the recorded call — an effort to talk directly to constituents, Mr. Jackson’s campaign said — was the first clear sign of Mr. Jackson’s involvement as Election Day approaches, few here were expecting a ramp-up of campaigning now. The possibility that Mr. Jackson might yet appear in person on the trail seems remote; recent news reports have suggested that Mr. Jackson might require additional inpatient treatment, and someone close to Mr. Jackson said on Saturday that he was likely to soon return to the Mayo Clinic.

“I am starting to heal,” Mr. Jackson says on the recording. “The good news is my health is improving, but my doctors tell me the road to recovery is a long one. For nearly 18 years I have served the people of the second district, I am anxious to return to work on your behalf, but at this time it is against medical advice, and while I will always give my all to my constituents, I ask for your continued patience as I work to get my health back.”

Even without a real campaign and despite recent revelations that federal authorities were investigating the possible misuse of campaign funds by Mr. Jackson, Mr. Jackson is likely to win re-election, political experts here say. Mr. Jackson is well known, particularly compared with his opponents (a Republican, an Independent and a write-in candidate), and the district leans firmly Democratic.