State Marriage Watch: Maryland Marriage Debate Hits House Floor

Maryland’s same-sex marriage bill is expected to receive a final vote on Friday, while a civil unions measure is advancing in Colorado. That’s in today’s marriage watch:

– MARYLAND: The full House began debating the same-sex marriage bill this morning and rejected a series of amendments that would have allowed abortion centers to discriminate against same-sex couples, permitted parents to pull their children out of classrooms that discussed same-sex marriages, and made passage of the bill contingent on voter approval. A third reading of the bill is expected tomorrow, with final passage on Friday.

– COLORADO: On Monday, in a vote of 6-3, a Senate Committee approved a bill that would establish civil unions in the state. Critics of SB 172 condemned sodomy and the “gay lifestyle,” frequently reading from Leviticus. The measure is expected to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate, “but its outcome is uncertain in the Republican-controlled House.” Colorado’s constitution, however, defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

– KANSAS: Two state representatives argued that being gay or lesbian should remain a crime in Kansas and made a “successful motion in the Kansas Legislature’s Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee to keep the criminalization of gay and lesbian relationships on the books.” Their action removed key language from HB2321, proposed by the Kansas Judicial Council, “which would have resolved inconsistencies in Kansas criminal code, as well as remove unconstitutional laws.”

– RHODE ISLAND: House Speaker Gordon Fox, an openly gay Democrat, said recently that he is “doing everything in his power” to advance a same-sex marriage bill. The House Judiciary Committee may consider the legislation later this week, although it’s unclear that it has enough votes to pass.

– NEW YORK: New York governor Andrew Cuomo will hold a meeting with advocates of marriage equality today to strategize how to pass a same-sex marriage bill. Cuomo has previously said that he hopes to sign such legislation by June of this year.

– MINNESOTA: A district judge rejected a case arguing that the state’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) “violates same-sex couples’ rights to due process, equal protection, religious freedom and freedom of association.” “Unless and until” the state Supreme Court overrules a 1971 decision limiting marriage to a man or a woman or repeals DOMA, District Judge Mary Dufresne wrote, “Same-sex marriage will not exist in this state.” The plaintiffs promise to appeal the decision.

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.