With the United States Supreme Court poised to hear oral arguments in the Edith Windsor and Proposition 8 cases next month, and a flurry of activity related to marriage equality in various states, where do things stand today?
Marriage Equality Update In Five States
There is legislation pending in five states that will change the marriage equality landscape in the United States.
1. The Rhode Island General Assembly passed a full marriage equality bill 51-19. The state Senate is now considering the legislation, where the state Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed opposes marriage equality. If the measure passes, Governor Lincoln Chafee (I-RI) has said that he will sign the bill.
2. The Illinois State Senate passed their marriage equality bill on Valentines Day, and the legislation was sent to the state General Assembly. Marriage equality proponents are optimistic that it will pass in the lower House easily. Governor Pat Quinn (D-IL) supports marriage equality and will sign the legislation.
3. The state Senate in Colorado passed a Civil Unions bill by a vote of 21-14, and Governor John Hickenlooper (D-CO) has pledged his support and will sign the bill. The General Assembly will now consider the legislation, which is remarkable considering that Colorado has a Constitutional same-sex marriage ban.
4. Republicans in the Wyoming House of Representatives introduced HB 169 to extend marriage equality to all residents. The Wyoming House Corporations Committee killed the legislation by a vote of 5-4. The same committee passed HB 168 by a 7-2 vote, that would allow LGBT citizens to register as domestic partners. The “equality state” is a little behind the times, but it’s better than nothing.
5. A bill was introduced in the Texas House of Representatives to enact marriage equality (House Bill 1300), while a similar measure to implement Civil Unions was introduced in the state Senate (Senate Bill 480). Texas has a Constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage. Gov. Rick Perry’s spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said, “The governor fully agrees with Texas voters, who made clear in 2005 that they believe marriage should remain between a man and a woman.”
I did not include Texas and Wyoming under “legislation pending” on the map above. I have to read the Wyoming legislation to see if it provides any tangible benefits before classifying the bill as a game changer. I am very doubtful that the marriage equality bills will get a hearing in Texas, and have seen no evidence that there is broad support in the state legislature.
Marriage Equality StatesCurrently 9 states and the District of Columbia have full marriage equality. The marriage equality states are:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New York
Civil Union and Expanded Domestic Partnership StatesThere are 9 states that allow Civil Unions, or have expanded Domestic Partnerships - wherein the states officially recognize same-sex relationships.
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
I have to be optimistic that the Supreme Court might change the marriage equality landscape in a positive direction this year. Regardless, getting the states to act is much more difficult. As Bette Davis said in All About Eve “fasten your seatbelts, It's going to be a bumpy night.”
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