Push and pull over same-sex marriage in legislatures around the country

(image: Alan Light, Flickr)

Surprising news from Maryland Friday, as reports come out that a same-sex marriage bill that looked certain to pass has been withdrawn. It will be sent back to committee for retooling. Although Democrats hold a clear majority in Maryland’s House of Delegates, about a third of the 98 House Democrats opposed the bill, citing pressure from religious constituents. The bill would have required votes in the affirmative from 71 of the House’s 141 members.

Other bills around the country remain active. In Washington, a same-sex marriage bill has been sitting in committee since February 15, although it may fare better than Maryland’s. The bill has 43 sponsors and would just need the support of seven additional representatives to pass in the House. There are 55 Democrats in Washington’s House, and Democrats also control the Senate and the governor’s office. The House last week passed a separate bill that would recognize same-sex marriages from other states. It’s scheduled for a reading in the Senate on the 15th.

In Rhode Island, twin same-sex marriage bills in the House and Senate have gained traction in recent weeks. The House bill re-entered committee after a public hearing in February and could receive a vote next week. The Senate is holding hearings on its version of the bill this week. Things look good for same-sex marriage in the state, as Democrats hold overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate. Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an Independent, was a Republican until 2007, but has broken with his erstwhile party on abortion, gay rights and the Iraq war, among other issues, in the past. While serving as a U.S. Senator, he was the only Republican in the Senate to voice support for same-sex marriage.

Though same-sex marriage will remain illegal in Colorado, the State Legislature is currently embroiled in debate over a civil unions bill. In Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, as expected, last week signed into law a bill like the one being discussed in Colorado recognizing civil unions for all citizens regardless of sexual orientation. And in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that he wants to make same-sex marriage a priority and will work to create legislation legalizing it in the state.

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