The Indiana House approves a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage while a coalition of more than 40 Pennsylvania lawmakers prepare to introduce a civil unions bill in the states. That’s in today’s State Marriage Watch:
– INDIANA: On Tuesday, in a 70-26 vote, the Indiana House of Representatives voted to amend a ban of gay marriages and civil unions into the state’s constitution that would “lead to voters having the final say in a November 2014 referendum.” The measure now goes to the Senate. It must be approved by two separately elected legislatures and then by voters. Indiana already has a law outlawing same-sex marriage, but supporters argued that “a constitutional amendment is necessary to protect against the possibility of a court decision overturning that law.”
– WYOMING: Thirteen Wyoming lawmakers want permission to file a “friend of the court” brief with the Wyoming Supreme Court to weigh in on a pending case dealing with same-sex divorce. The lawmakers argue that if same-sex divorce is granted, Wyoming would have to revise several state laws and would probably have to recognize “plural marriages” — meaning polygamy — “and other domestic unions found in foreign jurisdictions.” Wyoming already has a law which specifies that marriage is only between a man and a woman but specifies that the state can recognize valid marriages performed elsewhere. The legislature is now considering “measures that would bar the state from recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.”
– RHODE ISLAND: Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox has said that a bill legalizing same-sex marriage is not yet ready for debate, but marriage activists are already rejecting a compromise that would bring civil unions to the state. Martha Holt, of Marriage Equality Rhode Island, told the local NBC affiliate that civil unions are not acceptable. “Absolutely not. Nothing short of marriage equality would satisfy us here,” Holt said.
– WASHINGTON: On Monday — Valentines Day — State Senator Ed Murray introduced a measure granting same-sex marriage to gays and lesbians in the state. Gov. Christine Gregoire signed an expanded domestic-partnership bill in 2009, but same-sex marriage has been illegal since the 1998 passage of the state’s “Defense of Marriage Act.” Murray concedes lawmakers are not likely to pass gay marriage this year.
– PENNSYLVANIA: Pennsylvania Representative Mark Cohen announced that he will introduce H.B. 708, a bill to legalize civil union throughout the state of Pennsylvania along with more than 40 co-sponsors. “I believe that there is a reasonable chance that, with a strong organizational effort, we can enact civil union legislation by the end of 2012,” said Cohen. “Doing so would require the support of the vast majority in the House and Senate, and the backing of a substantial number of Republicans in each chamber.
For a complete overview of the latest developments in the marriage battleground states of Rhode Island, Maryland, New York, California, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Wyoming, Iowa, and New Mexico, click here.