State LGBT Watch: Push For Partner Benefits In FL And MN, Marriage In NY

As Minnesota and Florida’s Orange County look for ways to support same-sex domestic partners, a new coalition forms in New York to push for full marriage equality:

– ARIZONA: Gov. Brewer (R) signed a bill that would give “primary consideration” to married (read: heterosexual) couples in all the state’s adoption and foster care services, which could essentially end same-sex couples’ access to those services.

– DELAWARE: As reported last week, the General Assembly approved civil unions and Gov. Jack Markell (D) has confirmed he will sign the bill.

– FLORIDA: Domestic partner benefits will now be available in Orange County thanks to a unanimous vote by the county’s commissioners, including medical, dental, vision, life insurance, COBRA, bereavement leave, domestic violence leave, and counseling and referral services.

– HAWAII: The House agreed to an amended Senate bill offering transgender employment protections and it now awaits Gov. Abercrombie’s (D) signature.

– MAINE: A new documentary, Question 1, about the campaign to overturn Maine’s marriage equality law, reveals that the chair of the “Yes on 1” campaign deeply regrets having worked against marriage equality.

MINNESOTA: Despite an impending constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, legislators have introduced a bill that would offer benefits to same-sex domestic partners in state employment contracts. Meanwhile, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) made history by being the first sitting governor to speak at LGBT Lobby Day and offer his support of marriage equality.

– NEVADA: The House has passed a transgender employment protections bill, and supporters are optimistic it will pass in the Senate as well. Other bills being considered would end transgender discrimination in public accommodations and housing while another would make transgender hate crime sentences harsher.

– NEW YORK: Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has allied with a new coalition of marriage equality groups called New Yorkers United for Marriage to develop a $1 million media campaign, with a goal of same-sex marriages taking place by early summer.

– OKLAHOMA: Two bills passed today altering how civil rights claims are handled in Oklahoma, limiting the window for filing them and the objectivity with which they will be handled.

– TENNESSEE: Today the Senate Education Committee was scheduled to consider the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would prohibit discussion of any aspect of human sexuality other than heterosexuality in grades K-8.

– TEXAS: A bill on today’s Senate intent calendar would prohibit transgender Texans from entering opposite-gender marriages by not allowing applicants for marriage licenses to use a “court order of sex change” as an identifying document.

Keep track of how LGBT issues are advancing in the states at our State LGBT Watch.