- France: the National Assembly overwhelmingly passed a marriage equality law on Saturday. The vote, which was 249-97, comes despite an aggressive campaign against the law by France’s Catholic bishops. The bill faces an additional week of parliamentary scrutiny before coming up for a final vote on February 12, but Raw Story reports that the wide margin in Saturday’s vote all but guarantees the marriage equality bill will “emerge unscathed from the debate.”
- Hawaii: Equality opponent Sam Slom, Hawaii’s only Republican state senator, admitted in an interview last week that legislators likely have the votes necessary to pass marriage equality in the Aloha State. Democrats control both chambers of the Hawaii legislature and the state’s current governor is an equality supporter. According to Hawaii News Now, if the marriage bill (SB 1369) passes as written, same-sex couples in Hawaii could begin legally marrying by January 2014.
- Illinois: State Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) told the Chicago Sun-Times on Thursday that he hopes to pass SB 10, which would grant same-sex couples the freedom to marry, out of committee this week and have the full Senate vote to approve it on Valentine’s Day. Cullerton says he believes he has the votes to pass the bill, which would then be sent to the House. If SB 10 is approved by both chambers and signed into law by pro-equality Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois would become the tenth marriage equality state (unless Delaware or Rhode Island gets there first).
- Vermont: It may come as a surprise to see this New England state, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2009, on a list of states making strides in marriage equality. But Vermont law currently does not compel large national corporations operating in Vermont but headquartered out of state to offer benefits to their employees’ legally married same-sex spouses. Two lawmakers — Paul Poirier (I- Barre City) and Patty Komline (R – Dorset) — are hoping to change that; they’re currently drafting legislation that, if passed, would require all companies operating in Vermont, regardless of whether they’re headquartered elsewhere, to offer the same spousal benefits to their gay employees that they give to straight workers. One of the companies that would be affected by the proposed law is Wal-Mart, which refuses to cover their employees’ same-sex spouses unless compelled by law to do so. The company’s director of national public relations told Rep. Poirier that Wal-Mart would comply with the law if it passed.
And let’s not forget Colorado, where a civil union bill is currently winding its way through the state senate. It’s not full marriage equality, to be sure, but definitely a step in the right direction.
After a landmark year in 2012, marriage equality is on the move again in 2013. What an exciting time this is to be alive and working for LGBT civil rights!
Cross-posted on johnmbecker.com.