The state of Marriage Equality in 2011

Posted by Dana Rudolph on

"After a 2010 with few marriage equality measures contested outside the courtroom, 2011 will likely see a number of battles state by state across the country.

... "States that could win marriage equality:

"Rhode Island:

"Newly elected Governor Lincoln Chafee (I) expressed his support for marriage equality during his inauguration speech January 4. Legislators introduced marriage equality bills in both the House and Senate on January 6.

"Democrats hold large majorities in both chambers, and House Speaker Gordon Fox (D), who is openly gay, is a cosponsor of the bill. The bill may face a bigger struggle in the Senate, where Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed opposes marriage equality.


"Marriage equality bills are pending in both houses of the legislature, and supporters now form majorities on the key judicial committees that must first approve them.

"State Senate Minority Leader Allan H. Kittleman, however, said he will introduce a bill to allow civil unions for both same- and opposite-sex couples.

"New York:

"Although Republicans have a two-seat majority in the State Senate, Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Ross D. Levi said in a press release that LGBT advocates have 'picked up at least two ‘yes’ votes.' Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he would sign a marriage equality bill if it reaches his desk.

"All three of the above states already recognize marriages of same-sex couples from other jurisdictions.

"New Jersey:

"The state Supreme Court last June refused to hear a case that claimed the state’s civil union law did not provide full equality. It said the case must first go through the trial court process.

"Jennifer Pizer, National Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, said a trial court attempt is 'a sensible next step for us to consider.'

"Lambda Legal and state LGBT rights group Garden State Equality are also working on another round of marriage equality legislation, although Pizer could not yet share any details.


"The case to overturn Proposition 8, the state ban on the freedom to marry, is in a rather unusual spot.

"It is awaiting a decision from the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, but the appeals panel said January 4 that it could not render a decision on the constitutionality of Proposition 8 until the California Supreme Court rules that there is some state law or authority to justify giving the Yes on 8 proponents of the initiative legal standing to appeal the case in federal court on behalf of California voters.

"Pizer said that a 9th Circuit decision against Proposition 8 would have 'a massive positive effect nationwide' as marriage equality became a reality on both coasts.

"She also noted there are 'serious efforts underway now' for potential ballot measures in 2012 to secure marriage equality in Maine, Oregon, and Washington.

"States that could win civil unions:


"Acting House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro, who is openly gay, told KITV January 10 that he wants to pass a civil union bill early in the session. The Hawaii legislature is almost the same as the one that passed such a civil union bill last year only to see it vetoed by outgoing Republican Governor Linda Lingle.

"Current Governor Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat and long-time supporter of equal rights for gays, has said he would support a new bill.


"Montana bans marriages of same-sex couples under the state constitution, but the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a case on behalf of seven couples to try and gain the protection of domestic partnerships.

"Colorado and Delaware will also likely see civil union bills introduced.

... "This year...Wyoming State Rep. Cathy Connolly (D), the only openly gay member of the legislature, plans to introduce a bill for full marriage equality and one for civil unions...

"And New Mexico Attorney General Gary King issued a non-binding opinion January 4 stating that marriages of same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions would likely be recognized in the state.

"Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry, said that this year, 'we have the chance to really make some important strides in key states.' He stressed that wins in the states will help sway public opinion and move marriage equality forward on a federal level as well."


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