Marriage Marches On

National Update On Marriage EqualitySomething’s definitely happening out there. The march of marriage equality seems to have gone into hyper-drive. Marriage laws enacted in Washington and Maryland. Another court knocked down a key part of the federal DOMA. Marriage-equality passed by New Jersey’s legislature, and, of course, the Ninth Circuit’s Prop 8 ruling just one month ago.

Now we can’t break out all the champagne yet: none of these recent victories is solid. At least not yet. In Washington and Maryland, popular votes on marriage equality loom in November. New Jersey’s governor, staking his personal claim to the wrong side of history, vetoed the equality legislation. The Ninth Circuit’s ruling is back on appeal. What’s more, states like Minnesota and North Carolina face ballot measures to put marriage in equality in their state constitutions.

All these developments make for an incredibly complicated, fast-changing political and social landscape. And, a few days ago, in what turned out to be a case of excellent timing, Horizons hosted a sterling panel discussion for a “National Update on Marriage Equality” as the opening event of our 2012 “Philanthropy Series.”  

The 120-plus attendees heard:

  • Freedom to Marry’s Thalia Zepatos lay out the latest insights from unprecedented research on what leads people to vote against our equality
  • Lee Swislow of GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders) describe evolving litigation against DOMA and public-education campaigns in Maine, where activists are fighting to win back the right to marry at the ballot box in November
  • Paul DiDonato of the Proteus Fund sketch the remarkable work of a national consortium known as the Civil Marriage Collaborative, which pools funds from many foundations to make carefully vetted, strategic grants in key states
  • NCLR’s inimitable Kate Kendell talk about what lies ahead

The “CMC,” as it’s known, has been stunningly successful, investing more than $14 million in states in recent years. Year in and year out, its grants are often the single largest ones received by state-based groups leading the marriage fight.

Horizons has been a proud member of the CMC since 2006, with our participation made possible by a unique “Civil Marriage Donor Circle.” Members of the donor circle make significant contributions for the work of the CMC and, in return, participate in periodic – and very intimate – learning sessions with leaders of the marriage movement from around the country. (If you’d like information about the donor circle, please contact me or Deb Stallings.)

At the event last week, Kate Kendell spoke movingly – as she so often does – about the privilege that LGBT people today have of being witnesses to our own liberation. It really is a privilege that few get to experience.

I’d add to Kate’s words: we’re not only fortunate to be witnesses to our liberation – all of us, by giving or other ways of contributing, get to be the architects of that liberation as well. And that is thrilling.

To find out more about our presenters and the organizations they represent visit:

Freedom to Marry:

Proteus Fund: