The fight for marriage equality is currently on in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New York, and Rhode Island, but for the first time, its opponents do not have majority support at their back. In Minnesota and Pennsylvania, legislators are pushing to redundantly ban marriage for same-sex couples in their constitutions — redundant because it’s already illegal for those couples in those states to marry. New Yorkers and Rhode Islanders, on the other hand, are advocating for full marriage equality. The important thing that all four of these states have in common is that the legislators opposing equality are completely out of touch with their constituents:
- PENNSYLVANIA: 63 percent support recognizing same-sex couples. Notably, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R) only had 35 cosponsors this time, as opposed to when he proposed a similar marriage ban amendment in 2006 with 83 cosponsors.
- NEW YORK: A new, albeit controversial, poll shows that 79 percent support relationship recognition, with 51 percent support for full marriage equality. Despite intense enthusiasmfor making 2011 the year for New York marriage equality, the legislature still doesn’t have the votes necessary to make that a reality.
- RHODE ISLAND: There has been a strong push for marriage equality in Rhode Island since the beginning of the year. Given that 59 percent support (including 63 percent of Catholics) support marriage equality and the state already recognizes the marriages from its neighbors Connecticut and Massachusetts, it’s unfortunate that the legislative support is still not there. A bill to support civil unions is now being considered, but it’s seeing little support from advocates. Given the local availability of marriage equality, advocates see nothing to gain from civil unions except a reminder of their second-class status.
In all four of these states, legislators are openly defying the will of the people. How they ultimately vote on these bills should be closely monitored for consideration in future elections.