Lawsuits in New Jersey and New Mexico and a petition drive in Florida aim for marriage equality, in addition to a federal judge’s ruling allowing a lawsuit to proceed in Michigan against that state’s marriage ban amendment and a lawsuit filed in Arkansas. Quick movement in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s marriage rulings.
Less than 24 hours after the final vote, in a ceremony know as Royal Assent, Queen Elizabeth II signed a same-sex marriage bill into law, officially extending marriage to gay and lesbian couples in England and Wales. Weddings will be able to begin next summer, per British law.
The New Jersey Supreme Court said Friday that same-sex marriages can begin taking place Monday, brushing aside a request from the administration of Gov. Chris Christie (R) for a delay.
The Illinois House of Representatives voted Tuesday to allow same-sex couples to wed, ending months of delay over the issue in the Capitol and clearing the way for Illinois to become the 15th state, along with the District of Columbia, to permit gay couples to marry.
The vote was 61 to 54, mostly along partisan lines, with only three Republicans voting yes.
“In Illinois, we tried civil unions and that separate status has time and time again proved to fall short,” said State Representative Greg Harris, a sponsor of the bill, urging his House colleagues to approve the measure on Tuesday.
The measure passed the Illinois Senate in February, but for procedural reasons it had to be voted on there again. On Tuesday, the Senate quickly approved changes the House made to the bill, sending it to the desk of Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat who has said he will sign it. Illinois couples could begin marrying on June 1.
The outcome itself was perhaps less surprising than how long and difficult the debate had proved in a state with both legislative chambers controlled by Democrats and where President Obama, once a member of the State Senate, specifically voiced his support this year. Illinois already permits civil unions for same-sex couples, but even as a wave of state legislatures passed marriage provisions this year, the issue had stalled.
“We were aiming for this to happen a year ago,” said Bernard Cherkasov, the chief executive of Equality Illinois. In May, in the final hours of the State House’s regular session, a leading advocate of the bill reluctantly and tearfully announced that he would delay plans for a vote, suggesting that there were not yet enough votes to pass it.
“In many ways, it has taken longer than we expected,” Mr. Cherkasov said.
Despite Democratic control of both chambers, the issue had been particularly vexing for some Democrats in socially conservative districts outside Chicago and for some black Democrats in Chicago, where some clergy members have suggested that those supporting gay marriage should prepare for election challenges next year.
Same-sex marriage has been all but totally secured in the Aloha State. In a 30-19 vote late Friday night in Honolulu — Saturday morning on the mainland’s East coast — the Hawaii House passed marriage equality, becoming the 16th state in the nation to extend the institution to same-sex couples. All that remains is for the Hawaii Senate to approve the changes the House made to the legislation, and for Governor Neil Abercrombie to sign it — which he has promised to do. The bill, once signed, would go into effect December 2.
Gov. Pat Quinn today signed a historic measure into law making Illinois the 16th state in the nation to allow gay marriage.
The Democratic governor put pens to paper at a desk brought up from Springfield that his administration says President Abraham Lincoln used to write his first inaugural address. That speech, delivered on March 4, 1861 as the Civil War was unfolding, called on Americans to heed “the better angels of our nature.”
Photos: Gay marriage passes in Illinois
Map: Same-sex marriage laws
Stories: Same-sex marriage debate in Illinois
Legalizing gay marriage
Video: History of marriage bill
“Love never fails and I’m going to sign this bill right now,” said Quinn, who used many pens to sign his name to the bill so that those who helped pass the measure could have a souvenir.
The bill signing capped a gay rights push in Illinois that’s gained major momentum since 2005. That year, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a gay rights measure into law --- a bill that had failed to pass since 1974. In January 2011, Quinn signed a civil unions measure.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and several statewide elected officials were on hand.
"It's time to stop planning rallies and start planning weddings," said Democratic Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon.
Republican Judy Baar Topinka said it took both parties to get the bill passed. One Republican voted for the bill in the Senate and three in the House. “They were there,” said Topinka, who went on to add she’s available to be a “flower girl” at gay weddings and “will even waive the fee.”
More than 2,000 people packed into the University of Illinois-Chicago Forum to watch the signing ceremony.
Casey Cameron, 38, traveled from Downstate St. Elmo, saying it represents a huge step forward for the gay rights movement given the intense fight that took place just years ago to ensure gays and lesbians had equal access to housing and employment opportunities on Illinois.
A federal judge Friday set June 9 as the trial date for a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's gay-marriage ban after rejecting a request to delay the proceeding.
U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III also set a timetable for pre-trial motions and other paperwork to be filed before the trial at the federal courthouse in Harrisburg.
Jones said a defense request to delay the trial until August would be unnecessary.
"I'm an optimist by nature," he said.
Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state that bars same-sex marriage. Nationally, Illinois this week joined 15 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing it.
State Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat who took office in January, has refused to defend the law in court, saying it violates the state and federal constitutions.
Friday's meeting came a week after Jones denied a motion to dismiss the lawsuit by the two major defendants — the secretaries of the state departments of Health and Revenue.
William Lamb, a former state Supreme Court justice who heads the private legal team that Republican Gov. Tom Corbett hired to defend the state officials, said he plans to appeal Jones' ruling to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by next week.
The defendants' motion cited a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision to argue that federal courts lack jurisdiction over state marriage laws. But Jones said that decision has been eroded by the court's subsequent rulings on constitutional challenges based on sex or sexual identity.
"The jurisprudence of equal protection and substantive due process has undergone what can only be characterized as a sea change since 1972," Jones said in his opinion.
“Even a person who is a homosexual is a human being, and he has rights. We have no power to take away (their) rights,” President Peres told Ynet News while in Mexico. “We cannot take away someone’s rights because they are different. We cannot take away their right to breathe, right to eat or right to start a family. We must allow everyone to live as is natural to them.”
NEW YORK (AP) — The countdown to the new year in Times Square is getting some high-profile help — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (SOHN'-ya soh-toh-my-YOR').
The organizers of the annual celebration announced Sunday that Sotomayor will lead the final 60-second countdown and push the ceremonial button to signal the descent of the Times Square New Year's Eve ball.
Sotomayor was appointed to the court in 2009. She is a native of the Bronx.
The giant New Year's Eve ball is covered in more than 2,600 crystal triangles and lit from within by more than 32,000 lights.
Meacham has been on a starvation diet since December 21, in an effort to end the legalization of same-sex marriage in Utah. A Mormon, Meacham describes himself as an “anti-Marxist secessionist” who believes that states can merely decide to “nullify” any federal laws or rulings they don’t care to follow.
“The State can end this immediately with hardly any costs by simply nullifying the ruling!,” he writes on his Facebook page.
“Meacham claims he will fast until Utah decides to nullify the court’s decision — nullification being a theory that the states have authority in all matters, not the federal government,” the Huffington Post reports. “It is a theory that has reportedly been used previously in an attempt to prevent integration in the public school system in the 1950s.”
He says he’s lost 25 pounds and “will continue the fast until the State of Utah exercises its right of nullification. I will go without food or drink, but will continue to drink water, and take weekly vitamin supplements.”
Fortunately, Meacham’s fast — which he says he began the day after a federal judge declared Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional — “has nothing to do with hatred of a group of people.”
“I have friends and relatives who practice a homosexual lifestyle and I treat them with the same respect and kindness that I would anyone,” he writes on his blog. “This is about religious freedom, and an out of control federal government.”
Right Wing Watch calls Meacham “a libertarian-leaning Navy veteran who ran for the state senate in 2012 as a candidate for the far-right Constitution Party, which promotes biblical law.”
Today U.S. District Judge Terence Kern ruled that Oklahoma’s ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional. His ruling is stayed pending appeal, meaning marriages will not occur immediately in the Sooner State.
HRC President Chad Griffin issued the following statement:
“Judge Kern has come to the conclusion that so many have before him – that the fundamental equality of lesbian and gay couples is guaranteed by the United States Constitution. With last year’s historic victories at the Supreme Court guiding the way, it is clear that we are on a path to full and equal citizenship for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. Equality is not just for the coasts anymore, and today’s news from Oklahoma shows that time has come for fairness and dignity to reach every American in all 50 states.”
Two plaintiff couples, Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin and Gay Phillips and Susan Barton, filed their case, Bishop v. Oklahoma, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma in November 2004. Lead counsel in the case are Don Holladay and James Warner of the Oklahoma City law firm Holladay & Chilton PLLC.
The ruling comes on the heels of a year-long string of electoral, judicial and legislative victories for marriage equality. In recent weeks both the New Mexico Supreme Court and a federal district judge in Utah have ruled in favor of marriage for lesbian and gay couples.