With the governor’s official signature today, Hawaii became the fifteenth state in the union to legalize same sex marriage. Ceremonies are set to begin there on December 2, 2013. Hawaii, already known as a destination for weddings may become even more popular in that capacity now that the doors are open to more potential brides and grooms.
Nine of the fifteen states where same sex marriage is legal have legalized it within just the past twelve months (as has the District of Columbia). Illinois is set to officially legalize it next week with their governor’s signature. More than a third of Americans now live in states where same sex marriage is legal. Recent polls suggest that the majority of Americans approve of legalizing same sex marriage. All of this suggests growing momentum in the battle to succeed in establishing full marriage equality nationwide.
Speculation about which state will be next to take the plunge continues. New Mexico, which is the only state with no law either banning or legalizing same sex marriage, is a likely candidate. A number of counties in the state have already begun issuing same sex marriage licenses. Nevada, Oregon, Colorado and Michigan are also likely to legalize same sex marriage soon with experts proposing that these states are all likely to push it through in early 2014.
While there have been many success, the most difficult opponents are yet to come. There are no states in the American south that have joined the ranks of those to legalize same sex unions and many of those states are expected to be holdouts for some time. Arkansas and Kentucky are believed to be the least “gay friendly” states and may present large obstacles to any efforts to establish marriage equality within their borders.
Analysts also suggest that states such as Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana may be especially difficult. The difficulties in many of those states say those states stem largely from particularly conservative existing legislation that prohibits same sex marriage.
The idea that there can be two legal statuses for marriage in this country long term though, seems unlikely. As David Crary of the Associated Press stated in an interview for PBS “We’re a very mobile country. People move from one state to another. Companies have branch offices in different states. So we’re making due with that split system now. I think — long-term, I don’t think it would last in perpetuity.”
By Michele Wessel