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Marriage equality updates from Rhode Island, Navajo Nation, Hawaii and Ireland

DOMA Repeal Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

In an interview with Rhode Island NBC affiliate WJAR 10 this Sunday, state Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed addressed the proposed marriage equality bill which recently passed the Rhode Island House of Representatives, saying that she is “listening to everyone on both sides” of the issue.  Paiva Weed repeatedly deflected questions regarding her personal feelings on the issue (she has opposed equal marriage rights in the past), telling WJAR that as senate president she has a responsibility to “speak to the chamber’s position.”

During the interview, Paiva Weed said that she simply doesn’t know if the votes are there in the Senate to pass the bill.  From a video of the interview, which you can find at the end of this post (h/t to Towleroad for the link):

“There are a number of folks in the Senate that would vote for that marriage equality bill that Sen. [Donna] Nesselbush has filed that mirrors [House] Leader [Gordon] Fox’s legislation. There’s another group that wouldn’t vote for any marriage equality bill. There’s some folks that would support a referendum and support marriage equality. There are other folks that would support a referendum and would vote against marriage equality. And there’s another group that might support marriage equality if the religious exemption was more expansive than it was in the House.”

Navajo leaders last week held a forum on LGBTQ issues such as marriage equality, which the tribe’s leaders may consider legalizing, the Navajo Post reported.  In 2005, Navajo lawmakers passed a law called the Dine Marriage Act of 2005, which limited marriages in the Navajo Nation to opposite-sex couples only, despite the fact that then-Navajo President Joe Shirley supported marriage equality.

The Human Rights Campaign this week announced it is spearheading the creation of a new group, the Business Coalition for DOMA Repeal, which will bring together large, national corporations who support overturning the 1996 ban on federal recognition for same-sex couples’ marriages, CNN reported yesterday.  Major companies who have joined the coalition include Groupon, Google, Orbitz, Hyatt Hotels, Morningstar, Exelon, Aetna, Thomson Reuters, Armani Exchange and Marriott International.

As the Los Angeles Times noted, the inclusion of Marriott hotels in perhaps a surprising one, given that the company was founded by and is still run by a devoutly Mormon family.  (Last month, Mitt Romney rejoined Marriott’s board of directors.)  But as Marriott International executive chairman/chairman of the board Bill Marriott told Business Insider last summer, despite his personal belief that only opposite-sex couples should be allowed to marry, he maintains that the company should “take care of [its] people, regardless of their sexual orientation or anything else.”

In Hawaii, a new poll conducted this month for the Equality Hawaii Foundation showed an 18-point margin in favor of marriage equality, with 55 percent supporting equal marriage rights and 37 percent opposed.  Of the 55 percent in favor, 39 percent said they ‘strongly’ favor it.  A federal court case challenging Hawaii’s marriage laws is currently on hold pending Supreme Court resolution of the Prop 8 case.  A marriage equality bill has also been introduced in the Hawaii legislature.

Another new poll out of Ireland shows an increase in support for equal marriage rights of 12 percentage points since 2008.  Seventy-five percent of respondents to the poll said they would vote yes on a marriage equality referendum.  Support for adoption rights for same-sex couples enjoyed a lower level of support, albeit still a majority one, with 54 percent.  Ireland is currently undergoing a national Convention on the Constitution to consider amendments to be presented for popular referenda.  The Convention will consider marriage equality on the weekend of April 13th and 14th.

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