Gay Marriage Battles Turn Back to States

With the justices' ruling on the Proposition 8 gay-marriage ban concerning only California, the path forward nationally on the issue remains winding—and may eventually lead back to the Supreme Court.
June 27, 2013
 

The Supreme Court's decisions Wednesday offered neither side in the debate over same-sex marriage a sweeping resolution. With the justices' ruling on the Proposition 8 gay-marriage ban concerning only California, the path forward nationally on the issue remains winding—and may eventually lead back to the Supreme Court.

Both sides say they are gearing up for more battles in individual states until the courts or Congress intervenes with a federal answer to a core question: Is there a federal right to marriage for same-sex couples?

Very few states remain undecided on gay marriage. Earlier this year, legislators in Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota decided to begin marrying same-sex couples, following ballot votes to legalize the practice last November in Maine, Maryland and Washington. In recent months, gay-rights advocates have been lobbying legislatures and governors in Illinois and New Jersey to adopt same-sex marriage this year, and expect to do so in Hawaii next year.

Such constitutional referendums are usually lengthy and costly. In Nevada, gay-rights advocates have begun the process to challenge their state's ban on the ballot no sooner than 2016. The first state to test a constitutional ban at the ballot may be Oregon, where gay-rights advocates have submitted preliminary paperwork to get the issue on the Nov. 2014 ballot. Oregon United for Marriage, which is leading the drive to get the issue put back on the ballot, thinks the campaign will cost them some $10 million.

After Nevada and Oregon, it isn't yet clear which states might be next in the ballot challenges.

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