After a long, hot summer when the gay
marriage debate took a breather, expect the conversation to reignite
in a number of states as temperatures plummet.
Roiled opponents have vowed to undo
wins piled high by supporters in the spring when Iowa, New Hampshire,
Maine and Vermont legalized gay marriage. In Washington State,
Nevada and Wisconsin lawmakers approved gay-inclusive domestic
partnership laws. Washington's law grants gay and lesbian couples
all the rights and obligations of marriage, while Wisconsin and
Nevada lawmakers only approved a handful of benefits. And lawmakers
in the District of Columbia agreed to recognize gay marriages
performed outside its borders. The law effectively allows marriage
for gay and lesbian couples who hop on a train to one of the nearby
states where it's legal.
But come this time next month some of
those gains might be history. Next month, voters in two states will
decide whether to keep their gay unions laws.
Maine became the fifth state to
legalize gay marriage on May 6, when Maine Governor John Baldacci
signed a gay marriage bill approved by lawmakers. The nation's most
vociferous opponent of gay marriage, the National Organization for
Marriage, and the Catholic Diocese of Portland formed the Stand for
Marriage Maine coalition to push for repeal.
1 goes to voters on November 3, giving Mainers the first
opportunity in the nation to approve a gay marriage law – or reject
In Washington State, where a law that
bans gay marriage remains in place, voters are also being asked to
approve of legislative action. Passage of Referendum
71 would affirm the state's gay partner law, dubbed the
“everything but marriage” law by the media.
Opponents in both states managed to put
the laws on hold until voters have their say at the ballot box.
On Tuesday, District of Columbia
lawmakers will begin debate on a gay marriage bill. Openly gay
Catania announced last week he would introduce his long awaited gay
marriage bill on Tuesday. The measure, which enjoys the
endorsement of 10 out of 13 council members, is a shoo-in for passage
but that doesn't mean there won't be any fireworks.
Gay marriage foes in the District have
already begun their push to outlaw gay marriage. And the bill will
also need to get around Congress, which has the final say on laws
approved by the city council.
Democrats in New York and New Jersey
have vowed to legalize gay marriage. Albany watchers say lawmakers
are close to moving on a gay marriage bill waiting on Senate approval
to become law. And New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine has said he's
prepared to lead an effort to legalize gay marriage during the
legislature's lame duck session in November – that is if he's
In Illinois, lawmakers cannot decide
whether to back civil unions or marriage for gay and lesbian couples,
to increasing criticism of elected officials. Supporters of a
failed gay partner bill in New Mexico say they're prepared to attempt
a comeback in the fall.
And in California, Proposition 8, the
gay marriage ban which has created the most intense heat on the
on trial before a federal judge in January.