Within the span of five days the supporters of marriage equality have moved forward in three very different jurisdictions in very different ways.
All of this progress is cause for massive celebration. Honestly I think the Iowa decision is the most impactful of the three, but I don't want to diminish anything that has happened. The question that has to be asked is what comes next.
We won in the Supreme Court of Iowa. This decision looks pretty solid in that the very earliest the other side could even try to get this on the ballot is 2014. As we know from Massachusetts, the longer marriage equality is a reality the more people are ok with it.
We won in the Legislature of Vermont. Technically we won twice in Vermont and only had to deal with the human speed bump that is Gov. Jim What's-His-Name. Our upcoming battle in Vermont will be to defend the seats of our supports. I would also like to see the Democrats who voted against us placed in the nastiest primary fights of their lives, but that's just the vindictive side talking. (No, seriously, if there is a better Democrat running against one of these bigots, let me know.)
We won in the City Council of Washington DC. Well, sort of. They have to vote again. Mayor Fenty has to sign it. He has not indicated if he will or not. Then, surely, the Congress of the United States, in the last remaining vestiges of "Taxation Without Representation," will take it upon themselves to review it. Same-sex couples in DC who still have to travel out of their home to get married now also will have to defend that right in front of people like Rep. John Barrow from Georgia. This supposed Democrat was a co-sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment.
So the conversation becomes, what comes next?
That conversation is already starting in the blogosphere. Fivethirtyeight.com has done a very deep examination of when, if present trends continue, we could see marriage equality coming to each state. Their data analysis, which has been pretty damn good on other topics, says Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Nevada, Washington, Alaska, New York and Oregon have the public support and demographics to enact marriage equality this year.
Basic Rights Oregon, an incredibly effective state-wide organization (wow, what's that like), jumped into the conversation with the idea of repealing Measure 36, the Constitutional Amendment preventing marriage equality in Oregon. I will never forget the day when Measure 36 went into effect. Shortly thereafter a friend of mine who lives in Oregon sent me a copy of the form that accompanied the refund of his marriage license fee. No one should have to read that.
The question posed by BRO is, are we ready to turn the corner and begin the process of repealing these horrible measures. The answer is simple - YES.
Our community, even in the wake of three bad pieces of legislation being passed by voters just five months ago needs this. We need to harness the excitement of the last five days - even the last five weeks if you include other wins that have come this spring and put together a smart, tested, effective plan in Oregon to repeal measure 36 and win one on the ballot.
The challenges that we will face, I believe, are more internal than external. Will the national organizations support this effort to the level needed? Will we, as a community, run a campaign that is set-up to win - involving media testing, voter targeting and a real field operation? Will we do the politics right and line up the support within organizations that should be allied to this effort - political parties, unions, places of worship, grass-top leaders, etc? I believe that BRO has the experience and the savvy to pull this off.
It looks, to me, that the data is there to make the electorate ripe for change. Coupled that with the leadership and campaign know-how that Basic Rights Oregon possesses and it's my vote that it's time to vote.
Crossposted at Bear's Left