Saturday, April 27, 2013

Gay Marriage Updates Across the Nation -- 04/27/13

It's been a few weeks since I last wrote one of these marriage equality updates. Check out the following links (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) for past updates.  Here is a summary of the recent major marriage developments across the USA:

Brisbee, Arizona: Early this month, I shared that the Brisbee City Council voted 5-2 to legalize civil unions for all couples, which would be recognized same as marriage within city limits. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne immediately began threatening to sue the city of Brisbee if they actually implemented this plan. On April 11, 2013, the Brisbee City Council voted to reverse the community's civil union ordinance so that they could revise it enough to eliminate aspects that had upset the state's Attorney General. The new proposed civil union ordinance would only affect local governmental functions such as access to family passes at the local swimming pool or the ability to be buried together within the municipal cemetery. Larger and (I would argue) more important items such as the ability to retain community property within the relationship, equal inheritance rules, and the ability to make decisions for a deceased partner will be stricken from Brisbee's civil union ordinance.

Delaware: The Delaware House of Representatives approved a marriage equality bills by a vote of 23-18 this past Tuesday. The bill now needs to pass through the Delaware Senate. Gov. Jack Markell (D) has already expressed support for this bill and would likely sign it into law if it passes through the Senate. Delaware passed a civil union bill back in 2011.

Minnesota: A few weeks after a marriage equality bill passed through House and State committees, plans have been announced to introduce a civil union bill in the Minnesota legislature. This bill would create civil unions for all couples -- gay or straight -- and leave the term marriage specifically for churches. I guess it's an attempt to protect marriage from the gays. Except there are gays like me who belong to churches that recognize and honor marriages like mine. Ultimately, I don't see the point.

Nevada: The Nevada Senate voted 12-9 to repeal the state's constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex marriages this past Monday. Anything is possible, but I'm not terribly optimistic about the success of this repeal. This bill will have to pass through the Assembly this year and then it will need to pass through both legislative chambers again in 2015. After that, it will need to pass a voter referendum during the following year. A recent Public Opinion Strategies poll found that Nevada voters supporter a repeal of the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage by a margin of 54-43.

Oregon: This past Thursday, Ninth Circuit Court Judge Harry Pregerson ruled in favor of a lesbian public defender whose wife was being denied health benefits that were available to the families of her co-workers. Judge Pregerson blasted Oregon's Measure 36 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act for being prejudicial, degrading, and likely unconstitutional. LGBT activists are currently gathering signatures for a ballot initiative that would repeal Measure 36.

Pennsylvania: A bill (House Bill 1178) has been proposed that would legalize civil unions in the state of Pennsylvania. If passed, civil unions would be treated equally to marriages within that state. The bill currently has 27 supporters.

Rhode Island: Back in January 2013, a marriage equality bill successfully passed through the Rhode Island House. On Wednesday, April 24, the Rhode Island Senate voted 26-12 to approve same-sex marriage!! Because of some minor revisions, this bill must return to the Rhode Island House (most likely next week) for final passage. Gov. Lincoln Chaffee (I) has already promised to sign this bill into law. Assuming everything goes as expected, Rhode Island will soon become the 10th state (plus Washington DC and an assortment of Native American tribes) to legalize same-sex marriage!!

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