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Same-sex marriage bills have mixed results

By NICOLE DEBEVEC, United Press International   |   Feb. 20, 2011 at 4:30 AM   |   Comments

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>If Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie follows through on his pledge to sign a same-sex civil union bill, that would make same-sex marriage or civil unions legal in 24 percent of the United States.

Indeed, Americans in general are becoming more accepting of same-sex partnerships, The Washington Post said. Government-sanctioned gay marriages or civil unions were hardly imaginable when the movement began about four decades ago.

But the row remains hard to hoe.

So far, 30 states amended their constitutions to ban same-sex marriages or unions by defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. In 2008, California voters struck down gay-marriage statutes already on the books -- Proposition 8 -- and Maine voters did so the next year. In November, Iowa voters turned out three state Supreme Court judges who ruled in favor of gay unions.

And same-sex partnerships became part of the Conservative Political Action Conference as conservative candidates expand their platform from an economic focus to possibly testing 2012 contenders on social issues. In a twist, the recently ended CPAC confab in Washington was boycotted because of the participation of GOProud, an organization that supports fiscal conservatism and gay rights.

The next battleground for gay marriage likely will be in New Hampshire, where Republicans took control of the Legislature, the Post said. Now, conservatives say, they plan to push for a repeal of that state's gay-marriage law.

Polls, however, indicate Americans closely divided on legalizing gay marriage, with 47 percent of participants saying they favor gay marriages and about 50 percent saying they oppose it, a recent ABC News-Washington Post poll indicated. ABC said the numbers during the the past decade have shifted toward support of same-sex marriage.


Hawaii: Back to the bill

The Hawaii state Senate approved a bill that would give same-sex couples nearly all of the rights and benefits as heterosexual couples.

Now it's up to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who supports civil unions, to fulfill his promise to sign the bill into law, the Honolulu Star Advertiser said. His predecessor, Linda Lingle, vetoed a similar measure about seven months ago.

After the state Senate passed the measure last week, Abercrombie said in a statement civil unions "respect our diversity, protect people's privacy, and reinforce our core values of equality and aloha. … For me, this bill represents equal rights for all the people of Hawaii."


New Hampshire: Gov likely to block bill repealing gay marriage law

The sponsors of a bill that would repeal New Hampshire's same-sex marriage law are confident their bill will pass the Legislature, even though it faces a likely veto by Gov. John Lynch, the Eagle Tribune in North Andover, Mass., reported.

Polls just released by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center and New Hampshire Freedom to Marry indicate many Granite Staters oppose a repeal.

The Survey Center poll, conducted Jan. 27-Feb. 6, indicates 62 percent of the 520 adults surveyed are against repeal of the law, 29 percent said they favored the move and 9 percent said were neutral.

The New Hampshire Freedom to Marry poll, conducted Jan. 30-Feb. 3, indicated 63 percent of the 622 voters polled oppose efforts to bar gay marriages, while 23 percent support a repeal.


Maryland: Odds for same-sex marriage passage improving

A majority of Maryland's state senators publicly committed to voting for a bill that would legalize same-sex marriages, improving the the odds of passage for the legislation.

The Washington Post recently reported the number of senators who have made such commitments was 24, the slimmest of majorities needed for passage in the in the 47-member Senate.

"I think it's the fair thing to do," said Democratic Sen. Katherine A. Klausmeier, who admits to going back and forth on her position. "I just weighed all the options. I think it's fairness."

If the bill passes the Senate, it would move to the House, typically the more liberal of the two chambers on social issues. Sponsors told the Post say they are confident the bill would pass.

Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, has said he would sign the bill.


Indiana: Ban on same-sex marriages closer to passage

The Indiana state House overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages, moving the measure closer to passage.

The Republican-controlled state Senate has backed the amendment four times since 2005, but it always died in the House, which was led by Democrats until the last election, the Indianapolis Star reported.

The ban not only would cover same-sex marriage but also anything "substantially similar," meaning the Legislature could not legalize civil unions at some later date. Sponsor Eric Turner added the measure also would pre-empt a court legalizing gay marriage -- which is what happened in Iowa.

This year begins what likely will be a three-year process to pass the bill. The measure, which heads for the Senate, must be approved by two separately elected Legislatures and then by voters to become effective.


Washington: Employment Non-discrimination Act next battle

Gay rights groups say they will focus on the "Employment Non-Discrimination Act," which would stop employers from discriminating based on a person's real or perceived sexual identity.

In Washington, gay rights groups say they will turn now to the "Employment Non-Discrimination Act," which would stop employers from discriminating based on a person's real or perceived sexual identity, The Washington Post said. While Congress's new, more conservative makeup likely won't lead to approval, gay rights activists say repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy should lead to more success in gaining more parity for the gay-lesbian-transgender community.

"If you can fight and die for your country, there's absolutely no reason why you can't be granted the full set of rights" others have, including the opportunity to marry a person of the same sex, Fred Sainz, a vice president at the gay-rights group Human Rights Campaign, told the Post.

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