Backer of Maryland's same-sex marriage effort announces 'roadmap' for national push

Freedom to Marry plan to bring marriage support above 60 percent by 2016

  • Freedom to Marry, a national organization that helped bankroll Maryland's effort to pass same-sex marriage, has now plotted out a $3 million national plan to bring gay unions to more states.
Freedom to Marry, a national organization that helped bankroll… (Photo by AFP/Getty Images )
July 09, 2013|By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun

A prominent gay rights organization that helped bankroll Maryland's effort to pass same-sex marriage last year announced on Tuesday a new $3 million plan to push for such unions in several more states in the next three years.

The group, Freedom to Marry, said its "Roadmap to Victory: Finishing the Job" is aimed at taking advantage of the "irrefutable momentum" created by victories in states like Maryland but also in the U.S. Supreme Court last month.

The court overturned a key provision of the law banning federal recognition of same-sex marriages in states where it is already legal, including Maryland.

The group's goals are clear: By 2016, they want to ensure a majority of Americans live in states where same-sex marriage is legal; push public support for such unions beyond 60 percent; and bring about an "end to federal marriage discrimination" by winning a full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which the Supreme Court only partially dismantled.

The group has played a key role in pushing the nation to its current status, where 13 states and Washington, D.C., allow same-sex marriage. Underlying its new plan is the notion that new cases brought before the Supreme Court will help the effort just as grassroots attempts to change individual states' laws grow in number.

"This past year has brought our campaign galvanizing gains: winning seven states, solidifying and diversifying a national majority, and delivering a powerful blow to federal marriage discrimination in the Supreme Court," wrote founder and president Evan Wolfson in a statement Tuesday. "This irrefutable momentum confirms that the national strategy we have pursued is the strategy that will bring us to nationwide victory, and that full victory is within reach -- within years, not decades."

Freedom to Marry is considered one of the country's most important gay advocacy groups, and contributed $115,000 to the effort to pass same-sex marriage in Maryland last year -- effectively helping to bankroll its passage.

The group thinks it can help win four more states by 2014 -- Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon. By 2016, it thinks it can win some of the following states: Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Part of its effort will be geared toward filing "strategic lawsuits" that capitalize on the Supreme Court's ruling.

The group is not the first to announce a new state-by-state same-sex marriage push following the Supreme Court's ruling. 

Late last month, the American Civil Liberties Union, which has also played a large role in pushing for same-sex marriage in Maryland, announced it has a $10 million "war chest" that it will use in the effort.

On Tuesday, the ACLU announced it was focusing its efforts first on lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina.

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