Alex Blaze

States to Watch for Marriage and Civil Union Legislation

Filed By Alex Blaze | January 26, 2011 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay marriage, Hawaii, iowa, marriage, marriage equality, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, states, Wyoming

New legislative sessions started this week, and quite a few states are considering laws related to official recognition of same-sex couples.

marriage-protest.jpgIn Hawaii, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill to create civil unions (for both same- and opposite-sex couples) with the same rights as marriage, which is the same as a bill passed last year that was voted by the Republican governor. They have a Democratic governor now who says he supports the bill, so hopes are higher.

Iowa's House Judiciary Committee passed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex couples from marrying, as well as civil unions and domestic partnerships. The house is expected to pass the bill, but not the Democratically-controlled senate.

In Maryland, bills to legalize same-sex marriage were introduced in both the house and senate yesterday. The Baltimore Sun sums up the speechification on the bills with "using sweeping comparisons to the civil rights battles and generational shifts in attitude." That could be used to describe so much rhetoric in favor of same-sex marriage.

Bil posted earlier about the Wyoming house's proposed legislation to ban the recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages, and on Tuesday the state senate got through an initial vote on constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. It'll probably be passed in the senate, although the linked article says folks aren't so sure about the house.

Taken with New Hampshire's attempt to ban same-sex marriage (even though Republicans say it's not a priority, other people in the state think it's still on the agenda), and New York and Rhode Island, which could also pass bills to legalize same-sex marriage, and that's quite a few states to watch when it comes to couple recognition this year.

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Pennsylvania: The Senate will introduce a Civil Marriage Equality bill on Feb. 14th, in the same press conference the House will introduce a Civil Union bill. However, Pa house and senate and governor are republican, so nobody expects these bills to go anywhere.

Pa. has a law that bans same-sex marriage, but not a constitutional amendment.

There is a bill currently circulating the house to amend the Pa constitution for "one man one woman", currently the bill includes text to deny civil unions and domestic partners. Although there's already a law in place, people fear that it could be overturned in courts, hence the quest for a constitutional amendment.

Indiana has a potential amendment coming.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | January 27, 2011 10:35 AM

Indeed, Bil. Your and Alex's home state (though I'm not sure he still claims it!) has seen an earlier proposed amendment (SJR-7) get through the GOP-dominated state senate but fail to get a majority in committee in a House very narrowly controlled by the Democrats. With last November's elections reflecting GOP gains nationally, advocates hope that a new and more onerous measure will gain easy approval.

We all thought SJR-7 was bad enough, but at least its sponsors are on record as claiming it only applied to "activist judges", but left the legislature alone. They even went so far that this is as it SHOULD be in a representative democracy.

But now, without fanfare (or wanting any) the measure (SJR-13 and HJR-6) has been changed to wipe out any real possibility that the rapidly changing attitudes of national and Indiana voters could be reflected in Indiana's laws. The message still focuses only on "unelected activist judges".

Whether or not they will respond to valid questions as to why the change and why they won't entertain ANY modification to recognize the Indiana legislature's powers rights remains to be seen. Stay tuned.

I still vote in it, so I might as well still claim it. :)