While California's Prop 8 hearings took center stage yesterday, two other states also pushed forward on marriage equality.
An Illinois House committee passed a bill that would extend legal recognition and benefits limited to same-sex couples. From an Equality Illinois press release:
The Religious Freedom and Civil Union Act (HB2234) passed the Youth and Family Committee with a vote on Thursday, March 5. The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.
The bill guarantees some of the rights and responsibilities to persons in civil unions that are currently granted to persons in civil marriages. Among those rights are the ability to participate in healthcare visitation and decision making for one's partner, survivor benefits and the right to make disposition decisions about deceased partner's remains.
But a Vermont television is predicting that the Green Mountain state will approve same-sex marriage within weeks - with or without the Governor's signature. Details after the jump.
According to WCAX-TV3, the Republican governor won't sign the law granting marriage rights, but he won't actively oppose it either.
Shumlin and Rep. Shap Smith, D-Vt. House Speaker, plan to push a marriage equality bill quickly through both chambers.
The bill would grant same-sex couples the right to marry in Vermont.
Gov. Jim Douglas, R-Vermont, says this is not the time. He says it's too divisive of an issue when lawmakers should be working on the economic crisis.
"Jim Douglas is no fool," political analyst Garrison Nelson said.
But Nelson says the timing makes sense, it will pass this session, and the governor will ultimately let it.
"The anticipated horrors of civil unions never came to pass so consequently this is the logical next step," Nelson said. "Douglas won't sign the bill. He won't veto the bill. He'll let it become law without his signature."
The governor himself has not said whether he would sign a same-sex marriage bill. Lawmakers want this done quickly. They will take up gay marriage in a week-and-a-half and they plan to hold a public hearing at the Statehouse. But the discussion might not matter. Lawmakers say the opposition had an opportunity to weigh in during statewide public meetings held in the fall of 2007. Opponents say they boycotted the meetings because it was a quote "dog and pony show," and point out that the Freedom to Marry Task Force begins airing TV ads tonight-- the same day the press conference was held.
Congratulations to forward-thinking legislators in Illinois and Vermont! What other states do you see standing up for equality soon?