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Archives – January, 2012

In New Hampshire, marriage equality repeal could face an uphill battle

By Jacob Combs

In an in-depth article published yesterday, New Hampshire’s Concord Monitor looked at the uncertain path for marriage equality repeal in the state, despite veto-proof Republicans majorities in both the House and Senate.  Two weeks ago, House leadership pushed back consideration of the bill from January to February, and any legislative action to repeal the law goes against the overwhelming public opinion on the issue.  Still, the biggest threat to the GOP repeal bill may come from within the Republican caucus of the infamously libertarian state.  From the Monitor:

Rep. Seth Cohn, a Canterbury Republican who moved here as part of the Free State project, a libertarian movement to relocate to New Hampshire, is also against repeal. Cohn and others believe the bill may pass the House but does not have the two-thirds majority to override a potential veto by Democratic Gov. John Lynch, who signed the bill three years ago legalizing same-sex marriage.

“I know for a fact, based on people I’ve talked to, that if Gov. Lynch vetoes it, that veto is not override-able,” Cohn said.

This isn’t to say there aren’t strong proponents of repeal in the New Hampshire legislature; freshman Rep. Andrew Manuse described the state’s marriage equality law as “tyranny.”  In a broader sense, though, for the many libertarian members of the state’s GOP caucus who do not support same-sex marriage, voting for repeal would be equally against their political beliefs.  Rep. Jennifer Coffey (who calls herself a “Goldwater Republican”) voted against marriage equality in 2009, and will also vote against repeal if it should come up this year.  In defending her decision, Coffey told the Monitor, “I voted against government defining marriage.  It doesn’t have the right to define marriage in any sense.”

There are other libertarians in the legislature who agree with Coffey, and want to take government out of the equation entirely.  Rep. Cohn will introduce an amendment to the repeal bill that would give all couples, straight and gay, a civil union, leaving the power to bestow marriages solely to religious institutions.  Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, on the other hand, said he would only vote for the repeal bill if civil unions were established for both straight and gay couples that were strong enough to ensure their recognition, as the Monitor puts it, by “all employers and other entities.”

Given the multiplicity of views on the subject, it seems likely that Cohn is correct in predicting a lack of support for overriding a veto, which Democratic Gov. John Lynch has promised.  It will be interesting, though, to see the effect that New Hampshire’s libertarian lawmakers have on the issue if it is indeed brought up for a vote.

14 Comments January 30, 2012

NYTimes editorial board nails it again in support of marriage equality in New Jersey

By Adam Bink

Great NYTimes editorial in favor of marriage equality in New Jersey:

Gov. Chris Christie’s announcement last week that he would veto a measure to legalize same-sex marriage in New Jersey is maddening, but sadly predictable. He vowed to block marriage equality when he ran for office in 2009 and is now calling for a statewide referendum.

Supporters of marriage equality in the State Legislature need to press on. To turn what is a matter of civil rights over to voters would be an abdication of lawmakers’ duty. It would also be a sharp break with New Jersey tradition. The last time the state held a referendum on civil rights was 1915, when a majority voted “no” on granting women the right to vote.

It appears there are enough votes in the Democratic-controlled Legislature to approve marriage equality, and legislative leaders should seize the moment. Just getting the measure to Mr. Christie’s desk would be an important milestone. It would add momentum to the cause of equal rights beyond New Jersey’s borders.

Rounding up sufficient Republican votes for a veto override would be hard but not impossible. Under New Jersey law, the Legislature would have until January 2014, when the current two-year legislative session ends, to undo the governor’s action with a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and Assembly.

Instead of blocking justice for gay people, some governors are actually leading the way. Gov. Andrew Cuomo set an inspiring example last year with his successful fight to allow same-sex couples to marry in New York. Now, Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland and Gov. Christine Gregoire of Washington, both Democrats, are leading the drive for marriage equality in their states. New Jersey’s lawmakers will have to achieve that goal on their own.

6 Comments January 30, 2012

Opponents of North Carolina marriage equality ban kick off outreach at colleges

By Jacob Combs

North Carolina’s marriage equality vote will be the first electoral challenge for gay marriage this year, with the question set to go to voters on May 8.  This week, the fight began: proponents of the ban kicked off their campaign on Monday, and its opponents will respond in kind this weekend, stumping at colleges across the state to register voters and build support for a coalition to defeat the ballot amendment in May.  Opponents of the measure were in Cullowhee today, home of Western Carolina University, and will head to Ashville tomorrow and Sunday.

As Seth from Maryland pointed out in the comments yesterday, the recent announcement by North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue, a Democrat, that she would not be seeking reelection has changed the calculus for the May election.  Perdue has been a vocal opponent of the amendment, arguing that it should not be up to the voters to decide.  Democrats in the state worried that that having the ballot on the November election could help Republicans in the presidential and gubernatorial races, so the date was moved up to May.  Many observers believed the ban would pass, since the May election would most likely see a high Republican turnout for the presidential primaries and a lower one for Democrats faced with uncontested candidates for president and governor.

Now, the race for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate is wide open, and the May election will be a competitive one for Democrats as well as Republicans.  This could bring out more voters in support of marriage equality, causing the ban to fail.

The North Carolina amendment holds symbolic as well as political significance–the state is the last in the South without an explicit ban on same-sex marriage.  A win for one side means the South would have a clean sweep against marriage equality; a win for the other would be a marked pronouncement by the electorate rejecting such a ban.

14 Comments January 27, 2012

A small victory for LGBT couples in Australia

By Jacob Combs

Gay marriage is most likely still a ways off in Australia (even though the ruling Labor party amended its platform in support of marriage equality in December), but a new government policy will make life a little bit easier for LGBT couples in the country.  In many countries which allow marriage equality, including Portugal, Spain, Norway and South Africa, applicants for a marriage license are required to produce a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) which states that both individuals are over 18 and unmarried.  In the past, the Australian government has refused to grant CNIs to same-sex couples, effectively prohibiting them from being married abroad.

Yesterday, Australia’s attorney-general, Nicola Roxon, announced that same-sex couples will be able to apply for CNIs starting February 1.  The marriages these couples enter into abroad still won’t be recognized by the Australian government.

A small victory, indeed, but an important one for Australia’s LGBT citizens on the road to full marriage equality.

9 Comments January 27, 2012

Mayor Booker nails it on the issue of a ballot referendum on marriage equality in NJ

By Adam Bink

Brilliantly put.

11 Comments January 27, 2012

Marriage equality bill clears Washington Senate committee

By Jacob Combs

Today, Washington state’s marriage equality bill was approved in the Government Operations, Tribal Relations & Election Committee on a party-line 4-3 voice vote.  The bill will move to a full floor vote next, although no date for the full vote has been announced.

Several Republican amendments to the bill were rejected by the committee, including one that would have required sending the measure to the ballot in November.  Nevertheless, opponents of marriage equality in the state have promised that if the bill becomes law, they will attempt to collect the more than 120,000 signatures required before July 6 to trigger a referendum.

Congratulations, Washington, and on to the next vote!

9 Comments January 26, 2012

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