Marriage and civil union bills moving forward in multiple states
January 31, 2011
Things are moving fast in two states where winning the freedom to marry is a real possibility this year, and other states are moving ahead with civil union legislation.
In Maryland, a Senate committee has set a hearing on the Religious Freedom & Civil Marriage Protection Act for February 8. The Washington Post reports, "The hearing date signals that lawmakers may deal with the issue earlier in their 90-day session than is often the case with controversial bills." A majority of senators on the panel have voiced support for the measure.
In Rhode Island, a House committee will hold hearings on that state's marriage bill this Wednesday. One week later on February 9, our local partner Marriage Equality Rhode Island is holding a rally outside the state house to let the legislature know that Rhode Islanders are demanding the freedom to marry now.
Elsewhere, progress is being made on civil union legislation. While not offering the same recognition and security of marriage, these laws can offer many of marriage's advantages. In Illinois today Governor Pat Quinn is signing a civil union bill, which will take effect on June 1. The governor's office received hundreds of requests from people who wanted to attend the historic signing.
In Colorado, where marriage was banned by a constitutional amendment in 2006, a state senator says he will introduce a civil union bill. About 100 people gathered Sunday at the First Unitarian Society of Denver to voice their support for the measure. State Senator Pat Steadman (D) said, "This is something that I think is overdue, something that will protect families and will make our laws a little bit more fair, and a little bit more inclusive so that everyone has the same opportunity to have economic security and stability in their family relationship."
In Hawaii, chances are looking much better for a civil union bill that has failed in the past. The measure was passed by the Senate 19-6 Friday and is also expected to clear the House by a wide margin. A similar civil union bill was vetoed last year by republican Governor Linda Lingle, but the state's new Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie has promised to sign it into law.