BREAKING: Delaware becomes 11th marriage-equality state

Just minutes before the Delaware Senate was set to vote on its marriage equality bill Tuesday, a Democrat senator who had been quiet about how she would vote announced on her Facebook page that she was a yes. The announcement by Sen. Bethany Hall-Long, who represents Dover, the state capital, came just minutes after the city’s other Democratic senator, Karen Peterson, came out as gay on the floor during debate.

The final roll call vote, after three hours of debate, was 12-9, with the gallery erupting into loud and prolonged applause.

Just minutes later, Democratic Gov. Jack Markell signed the bill, making Delaware the 11th state (plus the District of Columbia) to provide for equal protection under its marriage laws.

Meanwhile, a Minnesota House Ways and Means Committee gave the marriage equality bill there a green light Monday, and the House floor is scheduled to vote on the measure Thursday. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is lobbying actively for the measure.

And Illinois is also poised to take a final vote on its marriage equality bill this week. The state senate passed the bill in February; the House bill needs 60 votes to pass.

via BREAKING: Delaware becomes 11th marriage-equality state.

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Marriage equality does not infringe on religious freedom | Reno Gazette-Journal |

When news came last week that the Nevada State Senate stood up for the freedom to marry, I was overjoyed. As bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada, I support marriage equality.

I support marriage equality not in spite of my religious beliefs, but because of them. As Christians, we are committed to cultivating love and compassion within our church and community. The moral imperative to respect and care for other people compels us to insist on their right to form loving relationships sealed in the legal bond of marriage. That right is part and parcel of being human.

Our ability to fall in love, commit ourselves to another person and build a life together is a gift of God. However different churches may view same-sex relationships, we should all agree that the state has no right to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples the way it once did against mixed-race couples. A basic sense of justice, found in all religions, stands against such discrimination.

I respect my fellow Christians who do not believe a same-sex relationship can be a sacramental marriage. They have a right to their convictions. But this law is not about sacraments. It is not about what constitutes a “Christian marriage.” That is a question for churches, not the state, to decide. This is about civil law. It is about the right to enter into the legal relationship of marriage. That right is fundamental and should not be denied to gay and lesbian citizens who are as capable of maintaining stable family relationships as straight couples.

Lawmakers took extra steps to ensure that this bill protects religious freedom. Let me make this crystal clear: Allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry will not change how each religion defines marriage. This proposal specifically protects the rights of clergy and religious organizations that choose not to perform marriages for same-sex couples.

via Marriage equality does not infringe on religious freedom | Reno Gazette-Journal |

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DOMA 2013: 17 Years Later, Some Things Still Haven’t Changed

In the 10 years since Massachusetts became the first state in the country to recognize same-sex marriages, another 10 states have taken similar steps. As of this writing, Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, New York, Washington, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Delaware have all recognized same-sex marriages. Minnesotaseems likely to join them as soon as the end of this week. There is widespread expectation that a large number of other states will soon follow. California, pending the Supreme Court’s decision on Proposition 8, may be amongst them.

State by state by state. That’s how marriage equality has progressed and is progressing — through state courts, through state referenda, through state legislative actions. First, through the reliably liberal blue states (plus Iowa). Then, at some hitherto unknown date far, far into the future, into the red states.

In other words, Georgia’s gay or lesbian couples (all 21,318 of them) may be waiting a while for their weddings. Considering that 40 years after desegregation, a Georgia high school just had itsfirst racially integrated prom, there’s a precedent for patience.

Federalism. States’ rights. That’s what it’s about, ultimately. Just as the War of Northern Aggression was fought over the over-extension of presidential power and South Carolina’s right to not implement Northern trade tariffs. Just as Southern opposition to the Civil Rights movement was about protecting the autonomy and private-property rights of small businesses.

via DOMA 2013: 17 Years Later, Some Things Still Haven’t Changed.

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Delaware and Rhode Island legalize gay marriage; Minnesota set to follow by Saturday –

Six months after Maryland, Maine and Washington voters endorsed same-sex marriage at the ballot box, two more states have adopted laws allowing gay couples to marry, and a third is poised to join them. On Tuesday, lawmakers in Delaware adopted a same-sex marriage law, and Minnesota’s House of Representatives passed a marriage equality measure there today, setting up a final vote in the Senate on Monday. Last week the Rhode Island legislature adopted a similar measure. That three states have moved to legalize gay marriage over the span of less than a month shows how quickly public attitudes toward same-sex unions are changing. Still, more progress may be difficult until more Republicans start to see the issue as one of civil rights, equal protection under the law and individual liberty.

Polls show that nearly 60 percent of Americans now believe gay marriage should be legal, up from less than 40 percent only a decade ago. Among young people, about 8 in 10 think gay couples should be allowed to marry, a trend that clearly favors wider acceptance of such unions in the future. The evolution of public opinion on same-sex marriage is in line with a broader movement toward recognition of gay rights that has manifested itself over the last year in spheres as varied as the Boy Scouts, professional sports teams and the military.

The Supreme Court is currently considering two cases related to same-sex marriage, one that could establish it as a right under the Constitution and another that could overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages. During oral arguments, the justices signaled varying degrees of discomfort with making a sweeping ruling in either case, but as the political battle over rights for gays tilts toward equality in state after state, such caution appears increasingly out of touch.

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via Delaware and Rhode Island legalize gay marriage; Minnesota set to follow by Saturday –

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