Another State Added to the List: New York Votes for Marriage Equality

Tonight is another good night.  After a long week of expectations and delays, the New York Senate voted to approve same-sex marriage by a vote of 33-29.  In the Republican-controlled senate, four of those voting in favor of passage were of the majority party. 

After frequent internet checks all week, I started out the night checking tweets from various bloggers, but then went downstairs to try to find something on TV.  CNN was doing Piers Morgan re-runs, but when 8 o’clock hit, I switched of to see what Rachel Maddow was doing on MSNBC.  Of course, everyone is totally focused on the murder case in Florida, but after a bit, Rachel got off of that and started live coverage from Albany, New York.  At that point a couple of Republican senators who had previously not been committed either way gave speeches saying that they were going to vote in favor of the bill.  Then after a few delays in the procedures, the final votes were read and it was a done deal!

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who really pushed for marriage equality, will now need to sign the bill into law, after that, a 30-day wait, and the state of New York will begin executing same-sex marriage certificates.  Another good thing is that anyone can get married in New York, not just residents!

With New York now joining the states of Vermont, Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, not to mention the District of Colombia, we are starting to see the old prejudices and discrimination starting to chip away.

Update:  Gov. Cuomo signed the bill into law before I had even finished my original post.  Congratulations to all those who worked so very hard to get this passed!

New Hampshire Governor Signs Marriage Equality Bill into Law; The Granite State Joins Five Others in Affirming Same-Sex Marriage

Pink Autumn in New HampshireAfter sending the same-sex marriage bill back to the New Hampshire Legislature for “tinkering” last week, Governor John Lynch signed the bill into at 5:20 PM (EDT) today. Earlier this morning, the state senate passed the bill by a 14-10 vote, and this afternoon, the New Hampshire House approved the legislation by 198-176.

Lynch had wanted more explicit wording about how the law would protect religions. Now according to the Manchester Union-Leader, “HB 73 clarifies the rights of religious organizations and their employees to refuse to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies or celebrations. It states that religious groups have exclusive control over doctrine, teaching and beliefs on who can marry within their faiths.” Unless there is some hidden meaning here, this doesn’t seem like it will do more than the obvious. It’s unlikely that any couple–gay or straight–would want to be married in a church that doesn’t want to marry them.

Supporters of marriage equality celebrate after the bill passes in the New Hampshire House.  Among those in the group is the Rev. Gene Robison, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, who can be seen at the lower left.

Supporters of marriage equality celebrate after the bill passes in the New Hampshire House. Among those in the group is the Rev. Gene Robison, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, who can be seen at the lower left.

With the governor’s signature, New Hampshire becomes the sixth state to establish marriage equality for its citizens. The state joins four other New England states–Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont–and the mid-west farming state of Iowa in approving gay marriage.

California Court’s Decision on Proposition 8 May Be Disappointing, But 18,000 Legally Married Same-Sex Couples “Ain’t Nothin’ To Sneeze At”

same-sex coupleThe California Supreme Court sent out a mixed message today when it upheld last November’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages, but, on the other hand, did not make make the proposition retroactive, which means that the 18,000 same-sex marriages that took place previous to the election are still legal.

While those opposed to gay marriage may be celebrating today, they must realize that the sand in the top of their hourglass continues to drain into the bottom: eighteen thousand gay marriages remain intact despite the millions they spent. The court’s ruling only says that the proposition made a legal change in California’s Constitution; the court did not say gay marriage was wrong; in fact, just the opposite is the case in allowing the 18,000 marriages to stand.

The effect of allowing the 18,000 marriages to remain legal will be much more enduring than the upholding of Proposition 8.

Except for under the G. W. Bush administration (with various interferences to privacy and to the writ of habeas corpus), it’s hard to think of civil liberties, once granted, that have been retracted. How willing would African-Americans be to go back into slavery? Would women say, “Oh, we’re just so happy with the way men run the government that we’ll just stay at home on election day”? Can you imagine Jon and Kate or any other inter-racial couples thinking how “unnatural” it would be to get married and have kids? When it comes to civil liberties, it’s very hard to get the toothpaste back in the tube once it’s been squeezed out.

And gay people are not going back either.

Because of these 18,000 marriages, gay marriage will become legal for other couples, one way or the other. It may be through the court itself or through the ballot box. It may come about through more people realizing that equality counts for all, not for just some. It may come about when a financially-strapped state understands the boon of same-sex marriages.

Whatever way–things will change. Look at the difference between now and barely a year ago. Until May 15th of last year when the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, only the state of Massachusetts allowed it. In spite of Proposition 8, 18,000 couples were legally married in California, and . . . same-sex marriage became law in Connecticut (since October 10, 2008), Iowa (since April 27, 2009), Vermont (starting September 1, 2009) and Maine (starting September 14, 2009). And it appears some of the “New” states–New York, New Jersey, and New Hampshire will approve gay marriage soon.

So for all the NOMers and other nay-sayers out there, imagine a “storm” of fluffy clouds, spring flowers, and the most delicious wedding cakes out there, because if you think you’ve won something today in California, most gay people see a silver lining that’s going to be found in more and more tuxes and wedding gowns all across the land.

In just looking at the Declaration of Independence, I see again that it says that one of the unalienable rights is “the pursuit of happiness”. Nothing in there that I can read says that working to make other people’s lives unhappy is an unalienable right. But, thank goodness, people like Maggie Gallagher, James Dobson, and Jerry Falwell are a dying breed. Oh, sorry, Falwell’s dead already, isn’t he?

New Hampshire Governor Says He Will Sign Gay Marriage Bill If the Legislature Diddles With It

New HampshireUpdate (June 3, 2009)–New Hampshire has approved gay marriage.  See story here.

The governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch, says that he will sign the same-sex marriage bill into law, if the legislature includes stronger language that says people won’t have to violate their religious principles. According to him, the laws granting gay marriage in Vermont and Connecticut do that. If the bill becomes law, New Hampshire, nicknamed the Granite State, would become the 6th U.S. state with marriage equality. In addition to Vermont and Connecticut, New Hampshire would be included with Iowa and most of the other New England states of Massachusetts, and Maine in having marriage equality in place. Rhode Island would then be the only hold-out state in New England not to have approved of marriage equality.

Remember “Maine”! Country’s Most Northeasterly State Gives Marriage Equality to All of Its Citizens

petit-manan-lighthouseGovernor John Baldacci signed the gay marriage bill, which the Maine state senate had passed earlier in the day, making the Pine Tree State, the fifth state of the nation to bring marriage equality to all of its citizens.

The Maine senate had passed the bill by a vote of 21-13.  The state house of representatives had also favored passage of the bill on Tuesday, voting 89 For to 57 Against.

Maine follows Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and Iowa in leveling the playing field for all its citizens.  All of these states are in the New England section of the U.S., aside from Iowa, a farming state, which sits between the Mid-West and the Great Plains.

Opponents have vowed to seek signatures for a referendum to deny marriage equality to people in Maine.

It’s Official! Vermont Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto To Approve Gay Marriage Equality; In Less Than a Week the Number of States Making Marriage Equal for All Doubles

Gay couples in Vermont will be able to legally "stick" themselves together in wedded bliss.

Gay couples in Vermont will be able to legally "stick" themselves together in wedded bliss.

Vermont through legislative action this morning overrode the governor’s veto of gay marriage in the New England state. 

Vermont joins Iowa, which gave its approval to gay marriage just last Friday, Massachusetts and Connecticut as the four U.S. states which have leveled the marriage field ground for all their citizens.  Read more on today’s vote here.

Yahoo!!! And Connecticut Makes Three–Another U.S. State Legalizes Gay Marriage

From msnbc.com: Hartford, Connecticut–Connecticut’s Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry, making that state the third behind Massachusetts and California . . . .

The divided court ruled 4-3 that gay and lesbian couples cannot be denied the freedom to marry under the state constitution, and Connecticut’s civil unions law does not provide those couples with the same rights as heterosexual couples.

There will be those that cry out that this is the act of legislating judges, but those that do that have forgotten what they learned in civics and government classes: the constitution was not written to just favor the majority, but was also written to protect the rights of the minority. This has been the case in so many situations of civil rights discrimination. Where the minority has tried to vote in discrimination, courts have had to step in, in order to follow the constitution. This was what happened with “equal-but-separate” and the segregation of schools. Many of the civil rights laws of the 60s would never have been passed if judges first had not stepped in to follow the Constitution.

One thing that I still remember learning in Mr. McKain’s (different spelling and so cute back in those days) government class back at good ol’ DHS (Dorrance, Kansas–that was also when church people set about doing good in the community, rather than spewing out hatred) is that one person’s rights only go to the point where they do not step on another person’s rights. That means (for all of you who still need a lesson in American civics) that your religious rights only go up to the point where they meet a gay person’s right to get married or the right to serve in the military. In other words, you do not hold a trump card. You may think you do, “but it ain’t so.”

It won’t be long before more states follow Connecticut. “Times are a changin'” as they say. A lot of the old coots that hold on to this antiquated thinking are older than me and are going to be dying off in the not too distant future. There are people like Fred Phelps, who has brain-washed some of his children and grandchildren, but in tough times, these hate-mongers might find it more beneficial to use their funds to put food on the table than to travel long distances to spout out more of their vile.