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Two More States May Win Marriage This Week

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By Matt Baume

We’re closer than ever to marriage in Hawaii, but time is running out for a marriage bill in Illinois. A Pennsylvania widow sues over the state’s refusal to recognize her marriage, Missouri rejects survivor benefits for the spouses of gay and lesbian police officers, and there’s legal progress in Texas, Virginia, Ohio, and Colorado.

AFER’s federal marriage case in Virginia is now fully briefed. That means we’re just awaiting a date for a hearing to determine when the case will move forward.

The Hawaii Senate has overwhelmingly approved a marriage bill, but some hurdles remain. Now it moves to the House, but before legislators can vote, they must hear public comment. That process lasted for hours late last week, with thousands of people signing up to speak. We don’t yet know when the House will finally vote.

If the bill passes, marriages could start before Thanksgiving.

Time’s running out for a marriage bill in Illinois, with the special session ending this week. The vote there is still too close to call. Some lawmakers still haven’t revealed how they plan to vote, if they get the opportunity. If the bill doesn’t come up in the special session, its next chance won’t come until 2014. If you live in Illinois, or know anyone who does, now is a crucial time to get involved. Visit Equality Illinois at EQIL.org to find out how you can help.

We have a series of new lawsuits across the country. A Pennsylvania woman sued the state last week over a tax bill she received after her wife passed away. Although the women were legally married in Connecticut, Pennsylvania wants to tax the survivor’s inheritance as though they were strangers.

In addition to that suit, two Texas couples filed a suit against that state last week over its marriage ban. And there’s also a brand new lawsuit in Colorado.

Meanwhile, litigation continues in Virginia and Ohio, where courts held procedural hearings last week. Missouri’s Supreme Court ruled that the state doesn’t have to pay survivor benefits to gay and lesbian spouses of public employees killed in the line of duty. And a new survey in Wisconsin shows a surge in public support: Fifty three percent, up nine points from just one year ago.

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