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Where things stand on same-sex marriage


The AP has a story up on the status of gay marriage in the states. The run-down:
* In November 2004, voters in 11 states adopted constitutional amendments barring same-sex marriage: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon and Utah.

* In 2005 Texas followed suit.

* This year, voters in Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin are likely to vote on the issue.

* Vermont and Connecticut allow civil unions

The article erroneously states that the civil unions in Vermont and Connecticut “extend the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples,” which we all know is not the case; those unions are not recognized in all 50 states, and none of the 1000+ benefits that convey with marriage are available to same-sex couples in a civil union.

This week, the highest court in Massachusetts ruled that gay couple from other states cannot marry if SSM is illegal in their state. The MA Superior Court will review whether gay civil marriage is legal in Rhode Island and NY, where the matter is winding its way through the courts in those states.

The AP also fails to note that Alabama is also going to vote on an amendment in June.

Also, Washington state awaits a court decision that could overturn the ban on same-sex marriage, and the New Jersey Supreme Court recently heard arguments in a gay-marriage case and is expected to rule in the next several months.

It’s hard to keep track of all the initiatives making their way through legislatures, so if you all have additional updates, on goings-on in other states, post away in the comments.

***

And in California, the dilemma that gay activists are in knots about. A couple is suing right to marry under the U.S. Constitution, and is asking for a federal appeals court to rule. This is one step before the U.S. Supreme Court, and many are worried that it’s the wrong time for SSM to go before the high court. (Sacramento Union):

Two gay California men will ask a federal appeals court this week to declare they have a right to marry under the U.S. Constitution, but heavyweights in the fight for same-sex marriage are sitting this one out because they think the legal tactic is misguided.

“We have been very active in trying to win the freedom to marry for same-sex couples,” said Jon Davidson, legal director for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. “We think there is a smart way to do that and a less smart way to do that.”

Lambda, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups are waging their campaigns in the state courts of California, Iowa, Washington, New Jersey, New York and elsewhere, seeking rulings similar to the one that led to legal gay marriage in Massachusetts.

The groups are withholding funding and other support for this case because a U.S. Supreme Court ruling at this juncture is a likely loser given the national consensus against gay marriage, and it’s likely to set bad precedent, they say.

The lawyer for a California couple whose case will be heard Tuesday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals scoffs at the groups’ tactics.

“You fight for your rights when your rights are being denied,” Richard Gilbert said. “When the building is on fire, you don’t stand by and let the building burn down and say we’ll fight the fire another day.”

The rest of article lays out the pros and cons and to tell you the truth, I’m not sure what the best strategy is. Short-term loss for long-term gain, or waiting for the public tide to turn.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding