Tagged: civil unions

Civil Unions Now Law in Colorado

colorado_capitolJohn Hickenlooper, Colorado‘s Democratic governor, signed a civil unions bill into law today as dozens of same-sex couples looked on.

Colorado joins eight states that have civil unions or other non-marital relationship recognition structures for same-sex couples. The law goes into effect on May 1.

Obviously, while anything short of full marriage equality, even separate-but-unequal civil unions, is not ultimately an acceptable solution for same-sex couples, Colorado is taking a wonderful step towards equality. Congratulations to all those in that state who worked so hard to make this important day possible!

Relationship Recognition Update: Colorado, Minnesota

Today has been another big day for relationship recognition, with major news coming out of Colorado and Minnesota.

colorado_capitolFirst, Colorado: thanks to its new Democratic majority, the Colorado House of Representatives gave final approval to Senate Bill 11, which establishes civil unions for same-sex couples that provide them with the same legal protections as those enjoyed by married opposite-sex couples. Two House Republicans joined all 37 House Democrats in voting for the bill, which passed on a vote of 39-29.

The measure has already passed the Colorado Senate and now goes to Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper, who plans to sign it into law.

As I’ve said before, while anything short of full marriage equality, even separate-but-unequal civil unions, is not ultimately an acceptable solution for same-sex couples, Colorado is taking an important step in the right direction.

Next, Minnesota: the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a marriage equality bill this afternoon by a 5-3 vote. It now advances to the full Senate. The House Civil Law Committee is hearing testimony today on the same bill; marriage equality proponents are optimistic that it will also approve the measure for a full debate in the House.

Civil Unions Coming to Colorado; Illinois Marriage Vote Due Within Days

DOMA_2Today was a big day for news related to same-sex relationship recognition.

In Colorado, the House gave initial approval to a bill that would allow same-sex couples to form civil unions. The Denver Post reports:

The House gave initial approval to Senate Bill 11 and will take a formal, recorded vote Tuesday on the measure, which already has passed the Senate. Democrats control the House 37-28, so the outcome is not in doubt.

Colorado’s Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper is expected to sign the measure into law if (although it’s looking like when) it reaches his desk this month. It would go into effect on May 1.

And in Illinois, a final House vote on SB 10, which would legalize marriage equality in that state, is expected any day now. The vote is likely to be close, but Rep. Greg Harris, the bill’s sponsor, told the Windy City Times that freedom-to-marry advocates were “very” close to securing the 60 votes necessary for passage. Governor Pat Quinn strongly supports the measure and has vowed to sign it if it passes this final vote.

If you live in Illinois or have friends or relatives who do, now would be the time to contact elected officials and tell them to vote YES on SB 10, the marriage fairness act.

Alaska Republicans Laugh at Civil Unions

alaska_gop_laughterAlaska’s GOP House Majority Caucus held a press conference on Friday to unveil a list of so-called “Guiding Principles,” which it says it will use as a “moral compass” during the current legislative session.

Reporter Mark Miller of the Juneau Empire brought to the panel’s attention a recent Public Policy poll that found only 30% of Alaskans opposed to any form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples; he then asked if Alaska’s House Republicans would support the legalization of domestic partnerships or civil unions.

The panel responded by literally laughing at Miller’s question. (Acknowledging same-sex couples and families? How absurd!) Once House Majority Leader Lance Pruitt was able to contain himself, he responded that no, they would not. After all, Pruitt said, the Republican House Majority Caucus is concerned with “the things that really allow people to have a great life,” not discussion of “what happens inside [one’s] home.”

Because remember, it’s not about basic protections like hospital visitation, the ability to inherit a partner’s estate in the absence of a will, or the right to take family medical leave to care for a sick partner. Domestic partnerships and civil unions are all about sex.

Enjoy your laughter while it lasts, Alaska Republicans, because the truth is that equality is coming — not just domestic partnerships or separate-but-equal civil unions, but full marriage equality. Relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples may be a controversial issue now, but demographically, it’s a done deal. Years from now, your poor children and grandchildren are going to be incredibly ashamed at the way you so haughtily stood on the wrong side of history.

Watch Alaska’s House Republican leaders laugh at the thought of recognizing same-sex couples:

h/t: Andy Belonsky, Towleroad
Cross-posted at Back2Stonewall.

Marriage Equality Round-Up: France, Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont

DOMA_2So much has been happening on marriage equality lately that it’s almost impossible to keep track of everything. Here are a few highlights from the past four days or so:

  1. France: the National Assembly overwhelmingly passed a marriage equality law on Saturday. The vote, which was 249-97, comes despite an aggressive campaign against the law by France’s Catholic bishops. The bill faces an additional week of parliamentary scrutiny before coming up for a final vote on February 12, but Raw Story reports that the wide margin in Saturday’s vote all but guarantees the marriage equality bill will “emerge unscathed from the debate.”
  2. Hawaii: Equality opponent Sam Slom, Hawaii’s only Republican state senator, admitted in an interview last week that legislators likely have the votes necessary to pass marriage equality in the Aloha State. Democrats control both chambers of the Hawaii legislature and the state’s current governor is an equality supporter. According to Hawaii News Now, if the marriage bill (SB 1369) passes as written, same-sex couples in Hawaii could begin legally marrying by January 2014.
  3. Illinois: State Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) told the Chicago Sun-Times on Thursday that he hopes to pass SB 10, which would grant same-sex couples the freedom to marry, out of committee this week and have the full Senate vote to approve it on Valentine’s Day. Cullerton says he believes he has the votes to pass the bill, which would then be sent to the House. If SB 10 is approved by both chambers and signed into law by pro-equality Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois would become the tenth marriage equality state (unless Delaware or Rhode Island gets there first).
  4. Vermont: It may come as a surprise to see this New England state, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2009, on a list of states making strides in marriage equality. But Vermont law currently does not compel large national corporations operating in Vermont but headquartered out of state to offer benefits to their employees’ legally married same-sex spouses. Two lawmakers — Paul Poirier (I- Barre City) and Patty Komline (R – Dorset) — are hoping to change that; they’re currently drafting legislation that, if passed, would require all companies operating in Vermont, regardless of whether they’re headquartered elsewhere, to offer the same spousal benefits to their gay employees that they give to straight workers. One of the companies that would be affected by the proposed law is Wal-Mart, which refuses to cover their employees’ same-sex spouses unless compelled by law to do so. The company’s director of national public relations told Rep. Poirier that Wal-Mart would comply with the law if it passed.

And let’s not forget Colorado, where a civil union bill is currently winding its way through the state senate. It’s not full marriage equality, to be sure, but definitely a step in the right direction.

After a landmark year in 2012, marriage equality is on the move again in 2013. What an exciting time this is to be alive and working for LGBT civil rights!


Cross-posted at Back2Stonewall.

Relationship Recognition on the Move in Colorado

colorado_capitolDelaware, Illinois, Minnesota — the list of states making progress on relationship recognition for same-sex couples seems to be getting longer every day. Also on this illustrious list is the state of Colorado, which has been experiencing a flurry of activity lately.

Last week, the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee advanced SB 11, a bill that would establish civil unions for same-sex couples, on a 3-2 vote. SB 11 was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee today, and it moves next to the full Senate. The Denver Post says the civil unions bill, which would confer many, but not all, of the rights and responsibilites of marriage, is expected to pass. Stay tuned!

However, Zoe Mandelski thinks her state can do better than separate-and-unequal civil unions. The 17-year-old high-school senior believes all Coloradans, regardless of sexual orientation, deserve the freedom to marry, so she drafted a ballot proposal for her civics class project that would overturn the state’s 2006 marriage discrimination amendment by making the following change to the Colorado constitution:

Be it enacted by the voters of the State of Colorado: Article II Section 31 of the Constitution of the State of Colorado is amended to read: A union of one man and one woman, one man and one man, and one woman and woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.

According to the Denver Post, Mandelski’s proposal will receive its first hearing by Legislative Council staff on February 11 at the state capitol building.

Mandelski intends to continue work on her proposal for as long as it survives, even if it means working remotely from the Illinois Institute of Technology, where she’ll be studying in the fall. She remarked to the Post about the well-documented generation gap on the marriage equality issue:

It seems like a nonissue to me, but I guess that’s my generation’s view on it. I do personally support gay marriage, but my parents don’t.

Remarkable, right? Equality is coming, folks. Thanks to people like Zoe Mandelski, the Millennial generation will make it so.

Happy Anniversary, Baker v. Vermont

Thirteen years ago today, the Vermont Supreme Court handed down its decision in the landmark case Baker v. Vermont. The unanimous decision held that existing prohibitions in Vermont state law which forbid same-sex couples from marrying violated the state constitution, and ordered the legislature to confer the benefits and protections of marriage on same-sex couples.

The historic events of twelve years ago led to Vermont’s passage of the nation’s first civil union law in 2000 and its adoption of full marriage equality in 2009.

My husband Michael and I are just one married couple among thousands in the state of Vermont and across the country who owe an immeasurable debt of gratitude to Vermont Freedom to Marry, now-Governor Peter Shumlin, now-Justice Beth RobinsonSusan MurrayMary Bonauto, Rep. Bill Lippert, the Baker couples, and the innumerable others across Vermont who led the state through many divisive battles on the road to full marriage equality.

Thank you.

Michael and me on our wedding day, March 22, 2006.