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French marriage equality bill advances (plus updates from Indiana and Hawaii)

Marriage equality

The French National Assembly

By Jacob Combs

This Saturday, the French National Assembly voted overwhelmingly to approve one of the central components of a proposed bill to allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt children.  By a vote of 249-97, the Assembly voted in favor of the draft bill’s first article, which modifies the definition of marriage from a union of a man and a woman to a union of two adults.

The chamber also rejected an amendment that would have allowed mayors who do not support equal marriage rights to opt out of officiating marriages for same-sex couples.

The marriage bill will continue to be debated in the French Parliament before a final vote scheduled for February 12, but the strong success of the first vote makes it very likely the measure will become law, despite the fact that opponents of marriage equality have filed some 5,000 amendments in parliament to delay the bill’s passage.

Check out the video at the bottom of this post, courtesy of ThinkProgress, of the National Assembly’s vote.

Back home in the United States, the Republican-led Indiana state legislature may postpone a vote to put a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality on the 2014 ballot until after the Supreme Court issues its rulings in the Prop 8 and DOMA cases.

Once any such measure is placed on the ballot, it cannot be amended in any form, even if the Supreme Court were to rule that such marriage bans are unconstitutional.  “There is no mechanism in place to get it off the ballot,” Republican Representative Suzanne Crouch told the Evansville Courier Press.

“This is not an issue of priority for us,” House Speaker Brian Bosma, also a Republican, told the paper.  The Indiana House and Senate approved the amendment once in 2011, and must vote again on an identical measure in 2013 or 2014 in order for it to qualify for the November 2014 ballot.

In Hawaii, state Senator Sam Slom, the chamber’s only Republican, told Hawaii News Now that marriage equality will be approved by the legislature.  “Same sex marriage probably will pass this year,” Slom told the site.  “You’ve got a preponderance of Democrats who support it in both Houses, you’ve got the Congressional delegation, you’ve got our Governor!”

Still, Slom says he plans to oppose the bill since he does not see it as a civil rights issue.  “I can point in the direction of other people who will say exactly the opposite–including those African Americans that take umbrage to the fact that sexual orientation has been raised to a level of real civil rights difficulties and struggles they had, so it’s a difference of opinion,” he said to Hawaii News Now.

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