Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Hampshire Takes Step Toward Marriage Equality

"They're gonna lead on"

The New Hampshire state Senate has joined the state House in passing a bill opening marriage to same-sex couples (story here). The bills would now have to be reconciled and the Governor have to sign it for the law to change. If New Hampshire makes the shift from its current parallel civil unions/civil marriage regime to one of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, it would become the fourth state in New England with such rights (Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont being the other three).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Marriage Recognition in District of Columbia

"Oh love - like liquid falling/Falling in cascades"

Not only did the Vermont legislature today open civil marriage to same-sex couples, but the D.C. Council unanimously voted (initially, with a final vote on the legislation to follow) to recognize and honor marriages of same-sex couples lawfully performed in other jurisdictions. What a week for marriage equality!

Marriage Equality in Vermont

"And the walls come tumbling down"

As reported by the Burlington Free Press, the Vermont legislature has just overriden the governor's veto of a bill opening civil marriage to couples regardless of sex/gender. With Iowa last Friday, that makes two states to honor marriage equality within five days, doubling the number of states that allow same-sex couples to marry, with Massachusetts and Connecticut the other two, since Prop 8 is in effect in California precluding the state from issuing new marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Vermont also becomes the first state to do so without court command (since the Baker v. State decision in 1999 left Vermont the initial choice of opening up marriage or creating another institution to provide the rights, benefits, and obligations of marriage, which the legislature did by creating "civil unions"). Add to that the fact that Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery and it really appears to be a path-breaking state.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Marriage Equality Comes to Iowa

"What a Difference a Day Makes"

Occasionally citing the May 2008 California Supreme Court decision in In re Marriage Cases, the Iowa Supreme Court today unanimously held that the state constitution's guarantee of equal protection requires the state to allow same-sex couples to marry civilly. Adopting a practical analysis, the Court determined that the marriage exclusion discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation. Following the Connecticut Supreme Court in Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health (after independent analysis), the Iowa Supreme Court held that discrimination against gay men and lesbians must be tested by a less deferential form of judicial review than applies in run of the mill cases of legislative distinctions. Because the Court concluded that the marriage ban could not pass intermediate scrutiny, the Court didn't need to decide whether sexual orientation discrimination should receive the least deferential form of review, strict scrutiny.

The Court's decision goes into effect in 21 days [**unless the losers file a petition for rehearing, which could somewhat delay things**-edit]. It's opinion is here, though this morning the Court's web site is extremely busy.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sweden to Allow Same-Sex Couples to Marry

"Somebody get some flowers! Somebody get a ring!"

I'm trusting this isn't an April Fool's Day prank -- do they even observe this day in Scandinavia? -- but the national legislature in Sweden approved a law today that will open marriage to same-sex couples starting May 1. You can check out the Wikipedia entry that's already up here. Northern Europe now boasts three of the seven countries that don't discriminate on the basis of sex regarding whom their laws allow to get married.