The Struggle for Civil Marriage for Same Sex Couples

As we await the New York Senate's action on the bill to provide civil marriage to same sex couples, we need to remind ourselves of the journey we've been on. The struggle to win rights and protections for same sex couples has been a rollercoaster of wins and losses, including on November 3rd the most recent defeat in Maine and the most recent victory in Washington (where voters upheld the Washington law passed earlier expanding legal protections for domestic partners to include all rights and protections held by married couples, with the exception of the word “marriage”). While there have been many setbacks along the way, the trajectory is strongly positive. In 2000, for example, no state extended the freedom to marry to same sex couples and only two – with 0.6% of the U.S. population – offered any recognition of same sex couples. Today, five states have marriage equality and another ten offer other forms of relationship recognition. These 15 states contain 37% of the U.S. population. The Civil Marriage Collaborative has supported state-based organizations fighting for same-sex marriage rights in every state where advances have been won. If we’ve learned anything along the way it’s that there is no quick and easy way to winning equality. Instead, it is perseverance – particularly when the going is the hardest – that pays huge dividends.