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March 13, 2013

Jive 5: Five State Updates - Moving Toward Marriage Equality

Marriage Equality Data Map March 2013 jiveinthe415.com


Whatever you choose to call it - gay marriage, a civil union, same-sex marriage, or marriage equality - civil union legislation is moving forward in Colorado, and marriage equality is poised to advance in Illinois.

This is the “state” of marriage equality today in Colorado, Texas, Illinois, Rhode Island and Minnesota.


1. Colorado

The Colorado state House of Representatives passed their Civil Unions bill yesterday 39-26, and the legislation now heads to Governor John Hickenlooper’s desk for his signature.

Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels notes:

A bill allowing same-sex couples to form civil unions is on its way to the governor for his signature, but gay-rights activists say they won't stop until they get true equality, which is marriage.
The Colorado House on Tuesday passed the bill 39-26 despite protests from Republicans that the bill faces legal challenges because it doesn't offer religious exemptions.
"We won't get to debate this again here, but we will debate this in a court of law," said Rep. Lori Saine, R-Dacono.
The passage marks the first time in three years the bill has made it through the House, which was controlled by Republicans in the two previous sessions.
Speaker Mark Ferrandino, a gay Denver Democrat who has carried the bill each year, said Senate Bill 11 is about love, family and equality under the law.
"This wasn't a choice. This is who I am. This is who we are," he said of being gay. "We need to make laws in our society that respect everyone equally."
After the vote, the five gay lawmakers in the House and the three gay lawmakers in the Senate lauded those who decades ago took up the fight for equality or were forced to live in the shadows.
"Today is really a memorial, remembering those who were shamed because they were gay or had AIDS," said Sen. Lucia Guzman, D-Denver.
Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, who has sponsored the civil-unions bill for three years, said its passage is the high point of a decades-long struggle.
"Yet we're not there yet. I don't want anyone to think that we somehow reached the peak," Steadman said. "Civil unions are not marriage. They are something that are separate and distinct and lesser and unequal, and that really is not good enough."

2. Texas

In the 83rd regular session of the Texas state legislature that convened in January 2013, there were 4 bills introduced related to marriage equality. Equality Texas summarizes the legislation as follows:

Repeal of the Discriminatory Texas Marriage Amendment
SJR 29: Proposing a constitutional amendment to repeal the constitutional provision providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage.
Primary Author: Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso)
Relationship Recognition
HB 1300: To permit same-gender couples in Texas the freedom to marry. Primary Author: Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth)
Repeal of the Discriminatory Texas Marriage Amendment
HJR 77: Proposing a constitutional amendment to repeal the constitutional provision providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage.
Primary Author: Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas)
Repeal of the Discriminatory Texas Marriage Amendment
HJR 78: Proposing a constitutional amendment to repeal the constitutional provision providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage.
Primary Author: Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston)

3. Rhode Island

The Rhode Island House of Representatives passed marriage equality legislation, and the bill awaits action in the state Senate. According to the Associated Press:

As debate over gay marriage in Rhode Island simmers, lawmakers say the results could turn on an exemption in the bill that allows religious organizations to decide whether they will perform or recognize gay marriages.
The bill, passed by the House, states that religious institutions may set their own rules for who is eligible to marry within their faith and specifies that no religious leader can be forced to officiate at any marriage ceremony.
While ministers already cannot be forced to marry anyone, the exemption helped smooth the bill’s passage in the House.
But same-sex marriage opponents want to go further by inserting a broad religious exemption allowing religious organizations like churches, hospitals and schools — or private businesses — to ignore the law and decide for themselves whether they want to extend benefits and rights to married gay couples.
Such a broad exemption would prevent lawsuits against businesses such as caterers and florists that refuse to provide services at a gay wedding.

4. Illinois

The Illinois state House of Representatives will vote any day now, on legislation to extend full marriage equality, to all residents in the state.

Windy City Times  reporter Kate Sosin writes:

With a final vote on legalizing same-sex marriage possible any day now, activists on both sides of the issue are turning up pressure on undecided lawmakers.
A House vote on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act has been predicted as early as this week, with advocates stating that a mid-week vote appeared most likely. Next week is also possible, although LGBT leaders said they want to see a vote as soon as possible.
The constituents of undecided lawmakers have been inundated with calls in recent days, and prominent supporters for the bill have been turning up pressure.
If the bill passes in the House, it is expected to become law. Gov. Pat Quinn strongly supports the measure and has vowed to sign it into law. He drove home that message in a statement released to supporters March 11.
"Marriage equality is coming to Illinois — and if we all do our part, we can pass this historic legislation as soon as this week," Quinn wrote.

5. Minnesota

In the North Star state of Minnesota, the state Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-3 in favor of their marriage equality legislation, which will now advance to the full Senate for consideration.

Minnesotans United issued a statement related to the bill:

By a vote of 5 to 3, the Minnesota State Senate Judiciary Committee today voted to send legislation that would ensure that same-sex couples have the freedom to marry on to the Minnesota Senate floor for a full vote.
Senate File 925, authored by Senator Scott Dibble and co-authored by Senators John Marty, Branden Petersen, Tony Lourey and Terri Bonoff, would remove limitations on marriage for same-sex couples from Minnesota state law, while also protecting the important religious freedoms of clergy and faith institutions to practice their religious beliefs free from government interference or persecution.
Senator Dibble said, “I am overjoyed that my colleagues who serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of this bill today. Senate File 925 simply protects religious liberties and extends basic freedoms to thousands of Minnesotans who have waited too long to be granted the same opportunities and responsibilities that come with citizenship. I am confident that when this legislation comes to the floor of the Minnesota Senate for a full vote, it will pass with bipartisan support, because the values that unite us as Minnesotans are far more important than those that divide us.”



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