A Leap for Equality – NYTimes.com

On Wednesday, Gov. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii signed a bill that will allow same-sex couples to marry in the state, starting Dec. 2. The measure, ending a two-decade legal and political battle, caps a remarkable year of progress toward ensuring the basic civil rights of gay Americans.

Before the election in November 2012, same-sex couples could marry in only six states. That election added three more states to the roll when Maine, Maryland and Washington approved same-sex marriage by a popular vote, the first states to do so. Counting Hawaii and the marriage equality bill that Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois plans to sign on Nov. 20, the number of states and the District of Columbia that have come to recognize the freedom to marry through legislation, court rulings or voter approval now stands at 16 compared with just nine a year ago.

The Supreme Court has also done much to make America a more hospitable environment for same-sex marriage, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act’s denial of federal benefits to married same-sex couples and nullifying Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. The justices stopped short of making marriage equality the law of the land, but it is not unusual for civil rights to advance in stages. Cases in the pipeline will provide the court with another chance to invalidate all remaining state restrictions preventing gay and lesbian Americans from marrying and denying full legal recognition of their relationship

A Leap for Equality – NYTimes.com.

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Hawaii House Committees Pass Marriage Equality Bill After Five Days Of Testimony

HONOLULU — After more than 55 hours of testimony, the joint House committees voted Tuesday to pass Hawaii’s marriage equality bill, Senate Bill 1. The House Judiciary Committee and Finance Committee voted 18 to 12. The bill now goes to the full House for a final vote.

The vote comes during a special session called by Gov. Abercrombie for Hawaii’s marriage equality bill, and after a Senate hearing by the Committee of Judiciary and Labor and a full Senate vote to send the bill to the House.

Before they voted, the House committees amended Senate Bill 1 to broaden a religious exemption that allows religious leaders to refuse service for same-sex marriage ceremonies and moved the effective date from Nov. 18 to Dec. 2.

via Hawaii House Committees Pass Marriage Equality Bill After Five Days Of Testimony.

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Senate Advances Marriage Equality Bill | Hawaii Reporter

REPORT FROM THE STATE SENATE MAJORITY- The Hawaii State Senate today passed a measure to legalize same-sex marriage in the State of Hawaii.

“The Senate’s passage of this bill marks an historic step towards equality, fairness, and justice,” said Senator Clayton Hee, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. “I look forward to working with our colleagues in the House as this measure moves forward.”

Senate Bill (SB) 1, Relating to Equal Rights, recognizes marriages between individuals of the same gender. In addition, the measure extends to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage to which opposite-sex couples are presently entitled.

“This measure represents the Senate’s best effort to strike a balance between religious freedom and equal rights,” said Senator Hee. “Language has been included that preserves the sincerely held religious beliefs of religious organizations.”

via Senate Advances Marriage Equality Bill | Hawaii Reporter.

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The Marriage Equality Movement Could Change Dramatically In The Next Two Weeks

WASHINGTON — It’s been less than four months since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and put an end to California’s marriage amendment, but advocates have been busy over the summer — setting the stage for a very busy two weeks that could rock the marriage equality landscape and change the country.

The calendar for the rest of the month is packed with a dizzying array of potential developments: decisions and movement in lawsuits that are multiplying by the week, possible votes from lawmakers being prodded to action by governors in their states, and — for the state of New Mexico — a hearing at the state Supreme Court to resolve once and for all whether same-sex couples can marry in a state that doesn’t specifically ban or allow such marriages.

The coming weeks also will feature the first action in the federal appellate courts since the Supreme Court rulings, with a filing in the 9th Circuit in a challenge to Nevada’s marriage law. The quick reemergence of a marriage case at the appellate level is notable because that’s the path back to the Supreme Court, where marriage equality advocates are still seeking a ruling that would bring marriage equality to all 50 states.

From a Wednesday hearing in Michigan to a hearing regarding a challenge to Virginia’s marriage law on Oct. 29, here’s what you need to know:

via The Marriage Equality Movement Could Change Dramatically In The Next Two Weeks.

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Mormons join Hawaii’s gay-marriage fight, but with a new approach | The Salt Lake Tribune

In a letter dated Sept. 15 and read to congregations, LDS leaders across the state urged Mormons to “study this legislation prayerfully and then as private citizens contact your elected representatives in the Hawaii Legislature to express your views about the legislation.”

The letter did not tell members which side of the issue to take, only to study the church’s “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” a document that endorses one man/one woman as the ideal for marriage.

Whether Mormons favor or oppose the potential change, the letter said, they should push for “a strong exemption for people and organizations of faith” that would protect religious groups “from being required to support or perform same-sex marriages or from having to host same-sex marriages or celebrations in their facilities; and protect individuals and small businesses from being required to assist in promoting or celebrating same-sex marriages.”

via Mormons join Hawaii’s gay-marriage fight, but with a new approach | The Salt Lake Tribune.

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Federal Judge Says ‘No’ To Marriage Equality In Hawaii| News | Towleroad

Marriage equality opponents scored a victory in Hawaii, where gay couples were suing for the right to tie the knot and receive the same benefits as their straight counterparts, rather than entering into the limited civil unions already available.

In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Alan C. Kay sided with opponents, but perhaps only for the civil mechanics of it all.

“Hawaii’s marriage laws are not unconstitutional,” Kay wrote. “Nationwide, citizens are engaged in a robust debate over this divisive social issue. If the traditional institution of marriage is to be reconstructed, as sought by the plaintiffs, it should be done by a democratically elected legislature or the people through a constitutional amendment.”

Read more: http://www.towleroad.com/2012/08/federal-judge-says-no-to-marriage-equality-in-hawaii.html#ixzz23CYbz66U

via Federal Judge Says ‘No’ To Marriage Equality In Hawaii| News | Towleroad.

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