Indiana: House approves Marriage Equality ban

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In a vote of 70-26, the Indiana state House voted to approve a state constitutional amendment to not only ban same-sex marriage but “anything similar” like civil unions and domestic partnerships.

The bill now goes to the state Senate, where it look to pass there as well.

The proposal has to pass in another separately elected legislature in 2013-14 before it can go before the voters.

Sad to know that so many in Indiana like the idea of committed partners not having the same rights as straight couples.  Hospital visitation, inheritance, medical decision making…

Sure, we can go spend thousands at a lawyers office, but why should gays and lesbians have to spend all that money for a small handful of rights when heterosexual couples don’t?  Seriously kids – this isn’t the America we can be proud of.

Full Marriage Equality coming to Britain this week?

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According to the Sunday Times in London, “A proposal to end the ban on same sex marriage will be announced by the Liberal Democrat equality minister Lynne Featherstone at the same time as the government announces the time table for civil partnerships to be held in religious buildings.”

Civil partnerships have existed in Britain since 2005 which extend many but not all of the same rights and privileges as marriage. The partnerships also are not recognized abroad.

Should full gay marriage be introduced, the only other significant legal discrimination against gay men will be the ban on donating blood, although the government have signaled in the past that they will look to end this practice.

Word is this could be introduced this week…

Marriage Equality in Maryland moves closer

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OK kids – getting close to having the happy dance today.

Just saw the good news that two more state senators in Maryland have committed to supporting marriage equality when it comes up for a vote in the state senate.

From the Baltimore Sun: Sen. Katherine Klausmeier said today that she has decided to vote in favor of same-sex marriage, putting the measure within a breath of passage in the Senate.

“I just weighed all of the options,” said the Baltimore County Democrat, who earlier told The Sun that she was torn about the issue. “It’s about fairness.”

Klausmeier becomes the second previously undeclared senator today to lend support to advocates, who plan a rally this evening. Earlier, Sen. Edward Kasemeyer said he has decided to back it.

Sen. Joan Conway has said if the numbers look like it will pass, she would possibly vote for the bill. Conway said she would not support the Senate bill if it appears to be failing. But if there are 23 “yes” votes on the board, she said, she will “pray really hard” and make her choice.

Once out of the Senate, the bill moves to the House of Delegates where chances look good.

If you’d like to reach out to Sen. Conway here’s the email address: joan.carter.conway@senate.state.md.us

Indiana: Possible marriage equality constitutional ban ahead

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A constitutional amendment on marriage equality could come up for a vote in the Indiana legislature as soon as Monday.

Not only would the proposed amendment to the state constitution ban same-sex marriage, it would outlaw civil unions by stating that a legal status “substantially similar” to marriage for unmarried people is not valid.

If passed in both branches of the Indiana legislature this year, it would have to pass again in 2013-2014 before it could reach voters.

Chances are strong that it will pass since both houses of the legislature are controlled by Republicans.

Governor Mitch Daniels originally wanted the legislature to focus on the economy in this session and leave social issues alone for now.

NY Governor to legislature: Pass marriage equality

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Fourteen months after the last ill-fated attempt to pass marriage equality in New York state, the recently elected Governor Cuomo said Wednesday that he intends to ask the legislature to take up the issue during this session.

Cuomo campaigned on marriage equality promises, and has repeated said that he would sign a bill allowing same-sex marriage should it reach his desk. Now he is saying “we’ll be working very hard to pass it.”

Supporters weren’t sure if the governor would truly want to take up a socially charged issue like marriage equality with the state budget in disarray.

From the New York Times: It is not immediately obvious how the legislation would fare markedly better this year, given that the composition of the Senate, which is now controlled by Republicans, has not changed significantly since the last vote.

But gay-rights advocates point to public-opinion polls that show more New Yorkers than ever support the legalization of same-sex marriage.

The issue has done well in past sessions of the state Assembly but has found more resistance in the state Senate. Republican Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos has said he won’t block a vote on the issue, but says the legislature needs to focus on the economy right now.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, Jan. 27 revealed that the majority of New York residents support legal recognition of same-sex marriage.

56 percent of those surveyed indicate that they support marriage equality; 37 percent do not.

Why Marriage Matters

Beginning Valentine’s Day, a new campaign will be launched by Freedom To Marry to get the message out about marriage equality in a clear and compassionate voice.

From Freedom To Marry: “Across the country the thinking of many Americans, from the president to the people next door, continues to – as President Obama put it – ‘evolve’ toward support for same-sex couples joining in the freedom to marry. Freedom to Marry’s team has crunched over a decade’s worth of polling data and field experience to crack the code on moving the reachable but not yet reached,” said Evan Wolfson, Founder and President of Freedom to Marry.

“By engaging friends, families, and neighbors in personal conversations about why marriage matters, each of us can help fair-minded people wrestling with a lack of information and uncertainty, and change hearts and minds.”

More information can be found here.

Maryland: 6 Hours of Senate Testimony on Marriage Equality

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The Maryland State Senate heard over 6 hours of testimony in support and opposition to the proposed marriage equality bill working it’s way through the Maryland State legislature.

From the MetroWeekly: “At the hearing, which began about 1 p.m. and lasted into the evening, Senate president Thomas Miller (D-Calvert, Prince George’s) spoke with optimism about the bill’s chances for success. Miller declared then that he predicts about a 70 percent chance that the bill will pass the Senate’s chambers, adding that a Senate vote is expected next week. The Senate’s Clerk Office reported that votes on such matters usually occur on Wednesdays, which would be Feb. 16.”

On the opposition side, National Organization for Marriage’s Maggie Gallagher, in underestimating the compassion and common sense of equal rights, testified about what she said SB 116 would do to the “public understanding of marriage.”

What always amazes me about the opposition to marriage equality is the often repeated argument that marriage is only about procreation and raising children, and yet many heterosexual marriages have no children. I always wonder would Maggie Gallagher invalidate a marriage if no children were produced? Many senior citizens marry later in life, at a point when child rearing is out of the picture. Yet I never see Maggie opposed those marriages.

Also, there is a very weak argument that marriage is about the Bible and religion. And yet, in the Bible women were also considered “property.” Society evolved. 200 years ago, in this country, African-Americans were slaves and considered 3/5 of a human being. Society evolved. 100 years ago in this country, women didn’t have a voice in government or the right to vote. Society evolved. 50 years ago inter-racial marriage was against the law in many states. Society evolved.

For a marriage to be recognized in the United States, you are required to have a legal marriage license issued by a CIVIL government. This is why opponents are wrong when they try to say their opposition isn’t about civil rights. As long as a marriage license is issued by a CIVIL government, marriage is a civil rights issue. The church doesn’t extend hospital visitation rights, tax inheritance rights, social security survivorship rights – the civil government does. And as long as those rights are attainable by one group and not another, this is clearly a civil rights issue.

I personally have no desire to re-define a religion or it’s beliefs. I don’t want to see any law force a church to do anything against it’s will. But I do think, as long as the government is involved in issuing civil rights attached to a form of partnership, we should have equality for all. These rights should be available to everyone.

One last thing – some opponents argue that gay men have the same right to marry whatever woman they want, just like straight men. I’d like to ask those people: “would you like your sister to marry a gay man? Is that the solution you think would solve problems?”

UPDATE: According to the Baltimore Sun: “Baltimore County Sen. James Brochin found the testimony Tuesday by opponents of gay marriage “troubling,” and said this morning that he may support the bill. The Baltimore County Democrat had previously said he was against same-sex marriage.”

“The demonization of gay families really bothered me,” Brochin said. “Are these families going to continue to be treated by the law as second class citizens?”

Testimony of Marriage Equality continues in Maryland

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The following is from HRC’s Regional Field Director Sultan Shakir:

“After three hours of testimony, supporters of marriage equality are going strong, testifying about the many reasons that loving and committed couples should have access to marriage equality.”

“One couple, Stacy and Barbara, spoke about the need to protect their family, which includes their 10 month old son. Stacy and Barbara spoke about the need to protect themselves and their son through the institution of marriage. They spoke about their love and commitment and how they hope that the state in which they live will honor their love and commitment by allowing them to raise their family under the protections of the law.”

Maryland: Marriage Equality headed to Senate this week

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The issue of marriage equality heads to the Maryland State Senate this week, as the Judicial Hearings Committee takes up a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland.

Last week the movement picked up steam as the leading Republican Senator Allan Kittleman said he would support the bill. He had originally meant to submit his own bill for Civil Unions but found no support there. In supporting marriage equality, he stepped down from the position of Minority Leader in the state senate.

At present count, there are 20 state senators who have indicated they will vote to support marriage equality. 6 Democratic senators have not indicated where they stand just yet.

Among the undecideds, Sen. Joan Carter Conway said she is willing to be the 24th vote for the bill but does not want to vote for it if it is going to fail. Sen. Ulysses Currie put his chances of voting for the bill at 40 percent. And Sen. James Rosapepe said he will announce his intentions before the bill reaches the floor.

Anyone who lives in the following districts should call their state senator and let them you know you want to see equality in the state of Maryland.

Senators who said in interviews that they are undecided (6):
Sen. John C. Astle (D-Anne Arundel)
Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore)
Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George’s)
Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer (D-Baltimore County)
Sen. Katherine A. Klausmeier (D-Baltimore County)
Sen. James C. Rosapepe (D-Prince George’s)