Adam Polaski

Do We Prioritize Some State Marriage Battles Over Others?

Filed By Adam Polaski | February 12, 2012 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: marriage, marriage equality, New Jersey, New York, Washington State, Williams Institute

washingtonplates.jpgOn Wednesday, I was browsing the Internet in between my classes, and I saw the awesome news that the Washington State House of Reps had passed a marriage equality bill to pass onto Gov. Christine Gregoire. It was the first I'd heard about any progress in the state's marriage equality campaign - I'd read about it back in August, but had not seen any movement on it in the past few months. Later that night, I went to The Huffington Post to find the news release, and it was no longer even on the front page. I had similar difficulty finding the information elsewhere, and when I told my friends the good news, few already knew that a seventh state was almost certainly going to pass marriage equality.

I'd say I'm a pretty tuned-in news reader, especially with regard to LGBT legislative developments and cultural moments. But the news in Washington - and, similarly, the imminent vote and potential veto of marriage equality in New Jersey - has pretty much flown right under my radar.

The media coverage and public understanding of the Washington state and New Jersey pushes for marriage equality stand in stark contrast to the battle from last summer in New York. We got up-to-the-minute news on every last conversation on the marriage equality bill from Albany, and when the bill finally did pass, the country went positively wild. You would have had to go out of your way to be left in the dark about New York's new marriage law.

I understand that New York is one of the largest, most populous states in the country and that for many people, marriage equality's passage there represents a new surge in the marriage equality movement - a momentum that would be challenging to overcome. But the marriage decisions in Washington and New Jersey are also important and should be celebrated as huge steps forward, too. In a country where more than 30 states explicitly ban same-sex marriage, every state that decides to move away from discrimination is significant.

After all, the Washington decision can potentially help out around 19,000 same-sex couples and thousands of other, non-coupled members of the LGBT community (according to the Williams Institute). And marriage equality in New Jersey, if it passes, could serve nearly 17,000 same-sex couples. That amount of momentum or progress shouldn't be yawned about.

Has anyone else noticed the public and media being underwhelmed by Washington's marriage equality bill? Or is the amount of attention and discussion about the bill appropriate?

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