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.

An Historic Day for Iowa and for Marriage Equality: Couples Get Licenses and Exchange Wedding Vows on the First Day for Same-sex Marriage in the Heartland State

Melisa Keeton and Shelley Wolfe became the first same-sex couple to exchange marriage vows under the new Iowa ruling.  (Des Moines Register photo)

Melisa Keeton and Shelley Wolfe became the first same-sex couple to exchange marriage vows under the new Iowa ruling. (Des Moines Register photo)

Today is the first day that same-sex couples can apply for marriage licenses in Iowa, and in some cities they are lining up at county courthouses to do it. Some couples, who have had the usual 3-day waiting period waived, are already getting married.

Couples line up waiting to apply for marriage licenses at the Polk County Courthouse in Des Moines, Iowa.  (Des Moines Register photo)

Couples line up waiting to apply for marriage licenses at the Polk County Administration Building in Des Moines, Iowa. (Des Moines Register photo)

According to the Des Moines Register, at least 360 same-sex couples had applied for marriage licenses on the first day. There also have been petitions by anti-marriage groups asking courthouse officials not to grant licenses to gay couples, but, in general, there was very little visible protest against those waiting to make their applications.

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.