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The Current Status of Marriage Equality – 5/5/09

Timothy Kincaid

May 5th, 2009
Green = marriage; Yellow = needs Governor signature

Green = marriage; Yellow = needs Governor signature

With marriage equality issues changing so very quickly, here’s where the current status stands (my apologies for any inaccuracies):

California – the State Supreme Court has until June 6 to announce whether Proposition 8 is constitutional and, if so, what impact it has on the 18,000 same-sex couples who married between June and November 2008. There are mixed opinions on what the court will decide.

Colorado – The legislature passed a Designated Beneficiary Agreement Act, which has been signed by the Governor.

Illinois – a bill has been introduced to enact Civil Unions. The bill is currently waiting for a House vote.

Maine – The House and the Senate have both passed a marriage bill. Tomorrow it goes before the Senate for final approval and then to Gov. John Baldacci, who is “keeping an open mind”. Anti-Gays will immediately seek a “People’s Veto”, a process by which an enacted bill can be placed before the voters for an up or down vote. They would need about 55,000 valid signatures by the first of September. It would be led by Michael Heath who has established his reputation in Maine as an extremist and a homophobe.

Nevada – The Senate passed a bill to provide Domestic Partnerships with all the rights and obligations of marriage. It will go before the Assembly Judiciary on Friday. The Governor has promised to veto the bill but some sources say that there will be a compromise crafted before the legislature disbands in a month.

New Hampshire – The House and Senate have both passed a marriage bill. The Senate version had specific religious protections that were not in the House bill. The House Judiciary has approved the changes and they will go before a House vote tomorrow. The Governor has stated that he is opposed to gay marriage in the past but has not addresses this specific bill.

New York – A marriage bill has been introduced in the house. Log Cabin Republicans announced that they have found additional Republican support in the House for marriage. Senate Majority Leader Smith will not bring marriage to a vote in the Senate until adequate votes will assure its passage, which probably means that four to six Republicans will need to be convinced. Empire State Pride is doing polling in Republican districts and seeking to give them assurance that a vote for equality will not result in an election defeat.

Washington – a bill to upgrade the state\’s Domestic Partnerships to provide all the rights and obligations of marriage has passed the Senate and House with large margins and will be signed by the Governor. A petition has been filed to put it to the voters.

District of Columbia – the Council voted to recognize out of state marriages. This bill will be signed by the Mayor and then Congress has 30 days to review and possibly overturn it by a majority vote in both houses and the signature of the President. A same-sex marriage bill is expected later this year.

Also see our last synopsis on April 9



John Wilkinson
May 5th, 2009 | LINK


May 5th, 2009 | LINK

Thank you so much for this.

I suspect the DC vote won’t be binding or legal because of DOMA.

Nevertheless, there’s a great movement bearing fruit.

I’m hoping the Iowa decision will influience California as California was instrumental in CT & Iowa.

The elephant in the room section of Iowa re: separation of church & state & the similaroty of “tradition” to religion & court’s inability to enforce religious beliefs is breath-taking. And hopefully a watershed for equality.


Christopher Waldrop
May 6th, 2009 | LINK

Regarding DOMA, I thought it allowed states (and the District of Columbia) to decide individually whether they would recognize same-sex marriages recognized in other states and/or countries.

I may be wrong about that, of course, since I haven’t actually read the law. If it actually prevents states from recognizing same-sex marriages that are recognized elsewhere even if they want to then it’s an even more twisted law than I thought.

The Lauderdale
May 6th, 2009 | LINK
“No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.”
Under the law, the government is actively prevented from recognizing SSM. Individual states may recognize, but are not required to recognize, SSM.

May 6th, 2009 | LINK

Yes, key words are, “No state . . . shall be required.”

Rhode Island looks sad.

May 6th, 2009 | LINK

I just noticed – DOMA only addresses US same-sex marriages. It doesn’t prevent a couple married in, say, Canada from naturalizing and suing to have their marriage recognized. Perhaps because DOMA was passed in 1996, years before other countries legalized same-sex marriage.

May 6th, 2009 | LINK

Rhode Island looks sad.

The government of Rhode Island recognizes SSMs contracted in other states. I think they’ll legalize in early 2011, with some efforts late this year and probably some next year.

But the place is really miserable at the moment- Providence has a large population of working poor and unemployment is officially 12+% (likely a lot worse).

Patrick ONeill
May 6th, 2009 | LINK

Ditto on RI.

They may not perform weddings there, but you can hop over the border to MA and be legally married and it is recognized.

Having lived there – the state is so small that hopping over to MA is never much of an obstacle :)

And when you consider that NY also recognizes out-of-state marriages, the map in the Northeast is starting to look good.

May 7th, 2009 | LINK

The problem with RI comes when you need to get same-sex divorced. There is a couple whose case has been going on for over 2 years now and is now at the state Supreme Court. All the lower courts have claimed they don’t have jurisdiction since you can’t get same-sex married in-state.

Pennsylvania has been (thankfully) cooperative on dissolving my own same-sex marriage, but it occurred under somewhat different circumstances. I was concerned in part because of DOMA and in part from the RI family’s case.

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