It didn’t take too long for Chile’s 2014 Congress to advance civil unions, in its first week, the Senate approved legislation that would allow same-sex partners to enter into civil unions. The Life Partner Agreement bill was advanced with 28 votes in support, six opposed, and two abstentions. According to polls, more than half of the country is in support of civil unions. “We are happy for this significant progress towards bettering conditions and equality for all families, regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identification of its members,” a Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh) statement read. “Today we have made one more step in the struggle for civil unions, which we began a decade ago. What was a dream is now becoming real.”
What a year for marriage equality in the United States. Fresh off the heels of Rhode Island and right before Minnesota votes, Delaware became the 11th state in the country to allow same-sex marriage. The Delaware state Senate approved the bill in a 12-9 vote after nearly three hour’s of debate, and the governor just signed the bill into law. Congratulations to the people of Delaware!
The governor of Delaware, Jack Markell, announced yesterday afternoon a bill that would legalize gay and lesbian marriage in the The First State. Given that both the upper and lower chambers of the Delaware legislature are controlled by Democrats, the governor expects that a bill would pass, though he cautions that “nothing is sure until it’s done.” Markell, a long-time supporter of the LGBT community, championed a bill in 2011 that allowed gay couples to enter into civil unions, but he now doesn’t think it’s enough. ”What we know is same-sex couples want to get married for the same reason that other couples want to get married,” Markell said in a telephone interview. [Reuters]
The Colorado General Assembly has passed the Colorado Civil Union Act that will provide provide gay, lesbian, and straight couples the legal benefits, protections, and responsibilities that are granted to married spouses under Colorado state law. Sponsored by Sens. Pat Steadman and Lucia Guzman in the Senate, and Speaker Mark Ferrandino and Rep. Sue Schafer in the House of Representatives, the bill passed the Senate last month 21-14 and today 39-26 in the house. Gov. John Hickenlooper is expected to sign the bill into law immediately and couples will be able to apply for a civil union license beginning on May 1.
Two bills have been introduced into the Wyoming House that both would set up a legal framework to grant equal rights to gay and lesbian couples: one would allow for marriage and the other for civil unions. According to Jackson Hole Daily: ”House Bill 169 would change the state’s definition of marriage to say that marriage is a civil contract between “two natural persons,” and “House Bill 168, which [Laramie Democratic Rep. Cathy] Connolly filed Monday, would create a legal framework for domestic partnerships, allowing same-sex couples to ‘obtain the rights, responsibilities, protections and legal benefits provided in Wyoming for immediate family members.’ Current law says that marriage is a contract between ‘a male and a female person.’” Jackson Republicans Rep. Keith Gingery and Rep Ruth Ann Petroff both have announced support of the bills. “It’s a basic human rights and fairness issue,” Petroff said Monday. “It’s a basic constitutional issue. There should just be no reason why same-sex couples shouldn’t have the same rights as everyone else.” The bills will be first debated in the Judiciary Committee.
The Colorado State Senate made huge news yesterday when it passed a civil unions bill. The piece of legislation will now head to the House. Last year, a similar bill was passed and sent to the House where it failed to pass by just one vote.
“Our toughest challenge is next—getting past the House Judiciary Committee, where we only need one vote to secure passage,” said Brad Clark, executive director of One Colorado in a release calling for voters to email members of the committee. [HuffPo]
The beautiful state of Hawaii is making new progress towards marriage equality with the legalization of civil unions beginning January 1. Couples in civil unions will have the same legal rights as married couples. Hawaii was the seventh state to approve such legislature earlier this year. The civil union law is the culmination of a 20-year battle over marriage equality that began when the Hawaii Supreme Court approved same-sex marriages in 1993, becoming the first state to do so. Unfortunately, voters were later given the chance to approve a “defense of marriage” amendment, which gave the legislature the power to prohibit marriage equality. The legislature then approved a ban on gay marriage, but left the door open for civil unions.
The Hawaii Legislature approved a civil union bill in 2010, but republican Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed it. Now that a democrat is in office, the bill was passed again and signed into law.
The Grand Wailea hotel on the island of Maui recently unveiled some great civil union and commitment ceremony packages to honor the new law. Check out their offers here and celebrate Hawaii’s historic move forward.
Beginning in January, same-sex couples living in civil unions will be able to file joint tax returns in the State of Illinois.
Gov. Pat Quinn pushed for the newest same-sex rights measure after signing a civil union law in January 2011. While the new tax paperwork and other details haven’t been finalized, officials currently plan to have same-sex couples file a joint federal tax return for the state’s use only. Because the federal government does not recognize civil unions, federal taxes will continue to be filed separately.
Due to the current tax code, the measure won’t save couples any money, but is still an important step forward in civil rights. “It’s a fairness issue,” Illinois Department of Revenue spokesman Susan Hofer said. “And that’s the way the governor presented it.”
New Jersey’s unsuccessful attempt at legalizing same-sex marriage hasn’t deterred activists and lawmakers from continuing to seek full equality, especially since New York passed gay marriage earlier this year. While the battle for the Garden State to grant marriage equality has been focused in the court system, this may change thanks to lawmakers, State Sens. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) and Ray Lesniak (D-Union), who will be heading to New York to lear a few things from those who helped get New York’s bill passed. NJ.com learns:
Lesniak said they’re likely to reintroduce the bill in the Senate, where it failed early last year — even though Gov. Chris Christie has said he’ll veto it.
“We’re leaning toward doing it and asking Christie, when he vetoes it, to send a Gov. Tom Kean-like message to the Legislature that this vote is a matter of conscience they have to personally and individually examine in the override vote,” Lesniak said.
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), the only openly gay lawmaker, reintroduced the gay marriage bill in the lower house in June. But at the time, Weinberg, Lesniak and Goldstein said they planned to reintroduce it in the upper house only if they could get enough votes to override a veto.
Meanwhile, the gay marriage case will begin winding through the courts Oct. 28 with a hearing in state Superior Court.
We’ve already fallen for Chile as a tourist destination—whether we’re exploring Santiago or cruising Patagonia—and now we may have one more reason to celebrate this fantastic South American Nation. According to newspaper reports, Chile’s government is preparing legislation that could legalize same-sex civil unions. The legislation would grant legal rights to same-sex couples that have been living together for more than one year. The bill is expected to be presented to Congress sometime next week. [Bloomberg]