Bil Browning

Illinois and Vermont move forward on marriage equality

Filed By Bil Browning | March 06, 2009 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay marriage, Illinois, marriage equality, New Jersey, same-sex marriage, Vermont

While California's Prop 8 hearings took center stage yesterday, two other states also pushed forward on marriage equality.

WeddingBells.jpgAn 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?

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This is a really minor thing, but... New Hampshire is the Granite State. VT is the Green Mountain State.

On an unrelated note, I'm wondering what the legislation of marriage equality in Vermont will mean to those who have VT civil unions.

Thanks Bi. That was a silly mistake on my part. I've fixed it. :)

i have to say, i feel really sad that the western states are slipping so far behind on marriage equality. we usually lead on so many other progressive issues. but a lot of states out here are big - which means a bigger financial base, but it also means it is much harder to organize.

but illinois gives me hope. i'm keeping my fingers crossed for them.

i predict that the next two states (after these two) will also be in the northeast. maine or new york, perhaps? hawaii seems promising as well. i think the northeast will become a solid stronghold for marriage equality before the idea really gets much traction at all farther west.

Keeping with the pedantic theme, technically Illinois isn't making progress on marriage equality but limited partnership equality: "The bill guarantees some of the rights and responsibilities to persons in civil unions that are currently granted to persons in civil marriages." (emphasis added)

It's a step in the right direction, but a long way from marriage equality.

As a side note, I was part of a GLBT political group in Illinois that proposed such a thing around 20 years ago (it was never introduced).

Andrew Conte | March 7, 2009 7:51 AM

I foresee within a couple of years an 8 state block, all of New England, New York, and New Jersey. This will prove to be quite a mess. Already, Texas refused to divorce a same-sex couple from Mass. because they did not recognize the marriage. What would happen if one of those men decided to (re) marry a woman in Texas? Surely it would be legal, in Texas. But what if that married couple decided to move to Mass. Once they stepped over the state line, would the man be considered a bigamist? When this does get to the Supreme Court, these types of problems will have to weigh in favor of eliminating DOMA and forcing states to recognize marriages through full faith and credit, the same that was done for interracial marriages.

we are waiting the Iowa court ruling too....don't forget that. It seems states that can and are forward thinking are trying it in steps civil unions then marriage. it is a way for un enlightened folks to step up to what is inevitable marriage equality and give some others a chance to get on board too who might be on the fence. Even if not full marriage equality a step closer is a step. The more steps moving forward the better.