Editors' Note:Evan Wolfson is founder and Executive Director of Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide. In 2004, TIME magazine named Evan one of the "100 most influential people in the world."
It's been a whirlwind year in the movement for the freedom to marry. 2010 saw the beginning of marriages in locations as diverse as Washington, D.C., Argentina, and Iceland. At Freedom to Marry, we compiled this list of the Top Ten Moments for Marriage in 2010.
10. President Obama moves in the right direction on the journey to marriage
At a October 27th meeting with progressive bloggers, President Obama signaled that he, like President Clinton before him, is making progress on his personal journey to supporting the freedom to marry. A question from AmericaBlog's Joe Sudbay prompted President Obama to talk about couples and say, "Attitudes evolve, including mine."
9. Illinois enacts civil union, en route to the freedom to marry
In November, Illinois took steps toward marriage when, after heart-wrenching speeches about loving and committed gay and lesbian couples, legislators passed a civil union bill. Governor Pat Quinn has pledged to sign the bill and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley immediately called for the next step: marriage.
8. Marriage supporters outnumber opponents at every stop of the Summer Tour for Marriage
The so-called "National Organization for Marriage" (NOM) launched a 23-city Summer for Marriage tour of rallies to promote anti-gay discrimination. Freedom to Marry led national and state groups in responding, going head-to-head with NOM in every city, bringing out more people, putting forward more stories, and showing America what being FOR marriage is really all about.
7. Essence Magazine does its first feature on the wedding of a same-sex couple
In October, Essence Magazine shared with its readers the story of Aisha and Danielle, a beautiful African-American lesbian couple who married in Washington, D.C. this year. It was the first time the magazine had done a feature on a same-sex couple. The comments from readers were overwhelmingly positive - a testament to the importance of personal stories about why marriage matters.
6. Victory in federal challenges to so-called "DOMA"
Over the summer, District Court Judge Joseph Tauro found that the federal government's refusal to honor the marriages of same-sex couples under the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" is unconstitutional. "[Because] animus alone cannot constitute a legitimate government interest, this court finds that DOMA lacks a rational basis to support it," said the Nixon-appointee in cases brought by GLAD and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, now on appeal to the federal First Circuit.
5. Pro-marriage governors elected in California, New York, Maryland, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New Hampshire
While the mid-term elections brought a mixed bag of results as Americans agonized over the economy, gubernatorial candidates who openly supported the freedom to marry - including some who ran on a promise to pass a marriage bill in their state and others facing opposition from the likes of NOM - were elected across the country from Rhode Island to California.
4. The freedom to marry comes to Latin America
The freedom to marry came to both Mexico City and Argentina this year - a breathtaking advance in two nations with strong religious roots. The Mexico Supreme Court affirmed the law, and with a foothold for the freedom to marry in Latin America, alongside 2010 wins in Portugal and Iceland, gay and lesbian couples can now marry in 12 countries on 4 continents - up from zero a decade ago.
3. Federal court finds California's Proposition 8 unconstitutional
Chief Judge Vaughn Walker struck down California's Proposition 8 as unconstitutional, finding that "the essence of the right to marry is freedom to join in marriage with the person of one's choice." The anti-gay opponents are again shown to have no good reason for excluding committed couples from marriage. Even with the case itself on appeal before the Ninth Circuit, the authoritative opinion based on powerful evidence and former Bush Solicitor-General Ted Olson and Republican party chief Ken Mehlman as unlikely voices for the freedom to marry continue to have a powerful impact. While the appellate court deliberates, the outgoing and incoming governors and attorneys general of California agreed with Judge Walker that Prop 8 must fall.
2. Gay and lesbian couples begin marrying in our Nation's Capital
Special Bonus: The new and improved Freedom to Marry campaign
To fill the gaps, meet the challenges, and seize the opportunities to win marriage nationwide, Freedom to Marry spent 2010 ramping up and reinventing itself to be the national campaign the movement needs to get the job done. Freedom to Marry added capacity in communications, field, messaging and research, and new media; prepared to roll out a national public education campaign; and worked to increase support for the work of key frontline partners to further the national strategy, Freedom to Marry's Roadmap to Victory, which calls for work to win more states, grow and diversify the majority for marriage, and tackle federal marriage discrimination. Working together in this campaign, we can make 2011, like 2010, another winning year for the freedom to marry.