With Republican majorities in their legislatures, Minnesota and Pennsylvania are pushing for constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, even though there are already restrictive laws in both states:
- MINNESOTA: Republicans have fast-tracked a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. It passed out of committees in the Senate on Friday and the House on Monday. It will likely pass floor votes in both chambers, and the governor cannot veto a proposed referendum. Still, there has been compelling testimony against it, such as that from Madeline Koch, a self-identified heterosexual Republican, and Rep. Steve Simon (DFL), who asked, “How many gay people must God create before we accept that he wants them around?”
- PENNSYLVANIA: A longtime opponent of gay rights, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R), has introduced an amendment to the State Constitution, claiming that President Obama, bureaucrats, and special interests forced his hand. Same-sex marriage is already barred by Pennsylvania law. An amendment would need to pass the legislature in two consecutive terms and then pass a state referendum to become law.
- RHODE ISLAND: Following House Speaker Gordon Fox’s (D) announcement that he would put forth a civil unions bill instead of a marriage equality bill, advocates and opponents in the state are trying to reconcile whether the votes were there or not. Neither side is thrilled with the civil unions “compromise,” with both the Catholic diocese rejecting the bill and marriage equality supporters protesting it.
- TENNESSEE: While a bill that would overturn Nashville’s non-discrimination ordinance has been delayed another week, tomorrow the Senate will vote on the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill. There is not enough time for the bill to pass the House this year, but activists have been protesting that the bill is being considered at all.
- TEXAS: A bill that would ban transgender marriage seems stalled for the legislative session, but an anti-bullying bill has advanced, though it does not provide specific protections for LGBT youth. Meanwhile, the budget passed by the House contains an amendment that would essentially force the elimination of university gender and sexuality centers that provide important academic and social support for LGBT students at Texas’ public schools.
Keep track of how LGBT issues are advancing in the states at our State LGBT Watch.