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We had some great victories for marriage equality this November, with three states voting to legalize it and a fourth voting down a constitutional ban. Furthermore, the Supreme Court is likely to hear a case on marriage equality in the next couple of years. However, we shouldn't give up the fight for equality on the state level. To this end, I did an analysis of the path to legalization in every state Obama won this year, and divided them into three categories below the fold.

Top Targets represent our best chances for legalization and are places where we should push for legalization in the next couple of years. Reach Targets are places where legalization is very possible within the decade, but there are nevertheless substantial barriers to passage. Long Term Targets are places where there are institutional barriers to passage that are unfortunately probably insurmountable before 2020 without a Supreme Court ruling, although the way public opinion has been going on this issue, who knows.

(Continue reading below the fold.)

Top Targets:

Illinois: Illinois just passed civil unions last year, and Democrats just picked up supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature. Furthermore, Gov. Pat Quinn is supportive. This should easily be a top target for equality proponents this year. The biggest potential obstacle is probably house speaker Mike Madigan.

Oregon: Oregon has a constitutional ban on same sex marriage, but also has a provision for signature-referred constitutional amendments and a pretty liberal electorate, not to mention a Democratic legislature and governor. Their neighbors to the north just passed marriage equality.

Michigan: Similar situation to Oregon, blue-leaning state and there's a constitutional ban, but we can put up constitutional amendments with signatures. Michigan is probably slightly less socially liberal than Oregon, though, and they have a Republican secretary of state, which could be a problem if she wanted to mess with the ballot language.

Colorado: Same as Michigan and Oregon, there's a constitutional ban, but a provision for signature-referred constitutional amendments. Colorado has a Republican secretary of state that is particularly hackish, but is probably more socially libertarian than Michigan. We'll at the very least get civil unions, since Democrats tried to pass it last year but were thwarted when the Republican house speaker refused to bring it to the floor. The incoming Democratic House speaker is openly gay, and Democrats now have both chambers and the governorship.

Nevada: Similar situation to Colorado. Constitutional ban, but signature referred amendments. They already have civil unions. They do have a Democratic secretary of state.

Delaware: Democratic state with strong Democratic legislative majorities and a supportive Democratic governor who has supported taking up marriage equality next year. The arithmetic's relatively simple.

California: I realize the Prop 8 trial is still pending, but we don't need to wait for a Supreme Court that may or may not come down on their side to give California's same-sex couples the security and respect they deserve.

Hawaii: Hawaii just passed civil unions and has a supportive governor. There's been some opposition from old school conservadems in the legislature (in Hawaii, pretty much everyone runs as a Democrat because the Republican party is a joke), but there's been enough turnover in recent years that it should be doable with a push. Hawaii has no provision for signature referred initiatives, so this would have to go through the legislature. (h/t to former Hawaii resident Skaje for his take on the Hawaii legislature).

Reach Targets:

Minnesota: The fundamentals would seem to be good here: We just turned back an attempted constitutional ban, have a supportive governor, and just took over the legislature. However, a lot of the Democrats are from areas that voted for the ban and all referendums are legislatively referred, so passage will be hard. There's a good chance we can get civil unions, though.

Rohde Island: This one should be a cakewalk on paper, with a supportive governor, Democratic legislative supermajoirites and a widely supportive public. However, there are a lot of powerful bigots in the state senate blocking equality. We tried to primary a bunch of them this year, but despite a lot of close calls, we were only successful against one or two, unfortunately.

New Mexico: New Mexico has Republican governor, but it has a Democratic legislature, and legislatively referred referrenda, so there is definitely a path to passage here. I'm not familiar enough with the internal dynamics of the the New Mexico legislature to know just how likely it is to pass the legislature, and the statewide vote would be a battle (although a very winnable), but there's definitely a path to the ballot box. If we can't get marriage equality, we can probably get civil unions.

New Jersey: The biggest obstacle here is Chris Christie. There's a good chance that he's running for president in 2016, so he wouldn't want to sign marriage equality. If we beat him in 2013, we can probably get it, if we don't, we probably can't until he's gone.

Ohio: Ohio has signature referred constitutional amendments, but I'm not at all convinced the Ohio electorate would pass such a referendum yet. Also, they have a Republican Secretary of State who's shown he's very willing to use ballot language to kill measures he doesn't like, like the independent redistricting commission. Still, it's worth a shot.

Long Term Targets:

Virginia: Virginia is bluing, but they have a constitutional ban and no provision for signature-referred amendments. Furthermore, they have a pretty nasty Republican gerrymander in the state assembly and state elections in odd numbered years, which makes our hopes of taking back the Virginia legislature this decade somewhat dim.

Pennsylvania: Strong Republican legislative gerrymanders, no provision for signature-referred initiatives.

Wisconsin: This one pains me as a Wisconsinite, but we have a constitutional ban, a strong Republican state assembly gerrymander, and any constitutional amendment requires us to hold both chambers of the legislature for two consecutive sessions.

Florida: Florida a constitutional ban, and while they do have signature referred constitutional amendments, they require a 60 percent supermajority of voters to pass, which is probably too high a hurdle for this decade.

Well, there you have it. Hope you guys enjoyed, and let's go win some of these!

Originally posted to BeloitDem on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 02:17 PM PST.

Also republished by Land of Lincoln Kos, Kossacks for Marriage Equality, Anglican Kossacks, and Daily Kos.

Poll

Which state is most like to legalize marriage equality by 2014?

15%996 votes
18%1196 votes
1%80 votes
7%468 votes
1%109 votes
9%609 votes
42%2724 votes
2%145 votes

| 6335 votes | Vote | Results

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