, Salem, MA


June 29, 2013

In states, a mix on gay marriage


New Jersey’s Democratic-majority Legislature passed a bill last year to legalize gay marriage, but it was vetoed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie. He says the matter should be decided in a referendum.

“There is no longer any excuse to delay,” said Troy Stevenson of the gay-rights group Garden State Equality. “It is as immoral as it is impractical to force any New Jersey family to be stripped of critical economic and legal protections every time they cross the Hudson or Delaware Rivers.”

Hawaii’s civil union law, adopted in 2011, is being challenged in federal court by two women who want to marry rather than enter into a civil union. Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who supports a right to same-sex marriage, says the Supreme Court ruling on federal benefits for same-sex couples bolsters his argument.

Illinois also allowed civil unions in 2011, but efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in the recently ended legislative session fell short. The sponsor of the measure, Democratic Rep. Greg Harris, said the Supreme Court rulings should bolster efforts to revive the bill in the fall session.

Meanwhile, gay-rights lawyers are pressing ahead with a lawsuit on behalf of more than two dozen same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in Cook County. The suit also challenges an Illinois law that defines marriage as between a man and woman.

Gay-rights activists in some conservative states say there is no near-term prospect for softening their states’ gay-marriage bans, and they’re looking toward a more incremental approach.

In states such as Georgia, Idaho and Louisiana, these efforts include lobbying for local and statewide anti-discrimination laws that would extend protections to gays and lesbians.

In Wisconsin, a state that has tilted Democratic in national elections, Republicans now hold power at the Statehouse, and there’s little discussion by gay-rights supporters of mounting an effort to repeal the gay-marriage ban approved by voters in 2006.

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