States Update: Vote Delayed in MD, Calls to Let Marriage Resume in CA, Encouraging Polls in IA &
March 01, 2011
Things have been moving fast in Maryland, where the marriage bill passed in the Senate last week is now pending in the House. A committee vote set for today was delayed when two supporters withheld their votes to make progress on other issues. Del. Jill Carter said she's holding out for school funding and a change in rules for child custody in divorce cases. The vote could still happen tonight.
In California more voices, including the state's attorney general, are joining the call to let the freedom to marry return to the Golden State as the federal case on Proposition 8 continues to drag on. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is keeping in place a stay while the California Supreme Court considers the issue of standing by the measure's supporters, who are having a hard time showing how gay couples getting married is causing any harm whatsoever. The stay blocks a lower court decision finding that the measure unconstitutionally discriminates against gay couples. Last week the legal team who challenged Prop 8 asked the appeals court to lift the stay, and today California's Attorney General and The Los Angeles Times added their voices.
"For 846 days Proposition 8 has denied equality under law to gay and lesbian couples," Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a court filing. "Each and every one of those days, same-sex couples have been denied their right to convene loved ones and friends to celebrate marriages sanctioned and protected by California law."
In an editorial, the Times wrote, "Right now, same-sex couples are being deprived of their constitutional right to marry, and every indication is that unless the stay is lifted, they'll have to keep waiting for more than a year. That is real harm, and there is no valid reason to allow it to continue."
One of the main arguments made by marriage opponents in Iowa is that the public should vote on the issue, instead of having an Iowa Supreme Court ruling declaring that marriage discrimination violated the state constitution. But a new poll finds that even if a referendum happened, a marriage ban would lose. Last month the House passed an anti-marriage amendment. Fortunately, Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal has promised that he would block it in his chamber, saying that the basic rights of a minority group should never be put up for a vote. Now a poll by the Des Moines Register says that even if Iowans did get to vote on such an amendment, it would probably lose. 38% said they would vote against it, and 35% said they would vote for it. 27% said they wouldn't vote at all, which goes to show that nearly two years after gay couples started getting married in the state, no one has been hurt.
It's a similar story in North Carolina, where lawmakers are pushing an anti-marriage amendment that has a significant chance of getting on the ballot in 2012 (the state currently has an anti-marriage law). A poll by Elon University found that 55% of North Carolinians would oppose an amendment, while about 38% would back it.
Meanwhile in New Hampshire a House committee is expected to vote Thursday on two bills that would repeal the state's marriage law. The bills' sponsors have asked that consideration be postponed until next year so lawmakers can focus on the economy. A WMUR Granite State Poll last month found that 62% of New Hampshire voters want to leave the marriage law in place, compared with only 29% who want to repeal it.