BY ROB SALERNO – In the wake of last week’s furor over gay divorce, perhaps it’s time to check in on the other side of the gay relationship equation: same-sex marriage.
Same-sex marriage is currently legal in only six US states and the District of Columbia. But efforts are underway to add four more states to that gay-friendly roster by the end of the year. Some say the state with the best odds of legalizing gay marriage is Washington, where the governor has pledged her support. Legislators are a few votes shy in the state senate but are hopeful it’ll pass in 2012. Unfortunately, some anti-gay activists are already organizing a repeal referendum to be placed on the 2012 ballot if the legislation passes.
Contrast that with Maine, where all three houses of government are controlled by Republicans, but an effort is underway to put a pro-gay marriage law on the ballot in 2012. If passed, it would be the first time voters in any state approved gay marriage directly, and it would be a fitting irony, given that in 2009, Maine voters were the first to repeal an existing gay-marriage law.
There’s also a push to legalize gay marriage in Maryland, where legislators are using procedural manoeuvres to move the bill through the legislative process.
Legislators are also hopeful that they can pass a gay marriage law in New Jersey, but the state’s Republican governor, Chris Christie, has been cool to the idea of gay marriage in the past. Given his possible presidential ambitions, he’s unlikely to sign it into law. Legislators are hoping for a veto-proof majority on the issue or to convince him to allow the law to pass without signing it.
Of course, for every leap forward, there are always a few steps back. Republican lawmakers in New Hampshire are trying to repeal that state’s same-sex marriage law, and there’s a pair of unspeakably homophobic bills being debated in Tennessee right now. Let’s hope neither effort comes to fruition.
Across the pond, meanwhile, UK Prime Minister David Cameron is facing a caucus revolt over his plans to legalize gay marriage in the UK, which is not going to be debated until 2015 anyway. In any event, most analysts believe that with Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs supporting it, the effort is still likely to pass.