888 4 GAY NEWS or 888-442-9639

UPDATED! Marching toward marriage equality

Despite all the rhetoric coming out of the Republican presidential candidates in opposition to same-sex marriage, the marriage equality movement continues to build momentum.

Today in Washington state, lawmakers will begin debating marriage equality. The Seattle Times reports today that the Senate has enough votes to pass the bill, and it has even greater support in the House.

Today in Maine, Equality Maine and other supporters of same-sex marriage will announce whether they will submit signatures needed to place the issue on the ballot.

Late Monday in Maryland, Gov. Martin O'Malley introduced a gay-marriage bill ... months after the legislature flubbed its passage in the 2011 session.

New Jersey has fast-tracked gay marriage for the legislative session that began earlier this month. The problem in New Jersey is that Gov. Chris Christie is a Republican and a supporter of Mitt Romney, who has come out against marriage equality.

Colorado is looking into providing civil unions, and has put together a bipartisan coalition to fight for it.

In California, gay and lesbian couples who want to marry are anxiously awaiting a ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, expected soon, on whether it will uphold a lower court ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. No matter how the Ninth Circuit rules on the matter, legal experts expect the decision to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Also, several gay-rights groups are collecting signatures hoping to qualify an initiative to repeal Prop 8 regardless of the legal wrangling that has put LGBT Californians in limbo on marriage.

In Illinois and Rhode Island, which allow civil unions, marriage equality supporters are strategizing on whether to push for same-sex marriage.

There are two bumps in the road, however. Republicans who control the New Hampshire Legislature are attempted to repeal same-sex marriage, though the Democratic governor has promised to veto any such effort. And in Iowa, opponents of gay marriage are trying to repeal same-sex marriage but are being stymied by the Senate’s Democratic leader who supports equality.

Mapping marriage equality

Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont, along with the District of Columbia, have legalized same-sex marriage.

Nine states — California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington — provide same-sex couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships. Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state. Californians are awaiting a ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on whether it will uphold a lower court ruling that Proposition 8, which bans marriage equality in the state, is unconstitutional.