There was a time not long ago when you couldn’t keep up with all the states moving heaven and earth to etch discrimination into their laws and constitutions to prevent loving and committed same-sex couples from marrying. Today, the opposite is true. Rhode Island last week become the 10th state to approve same-sex marriage. Delaware, the First State, is poised to become the 11th state.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat, told the Huffington Post, “you know what, it is time.” He is itching to sign a marriage equality bill. The General Assembly passed such a bill last month by a vote of 23 to 18. So, the only thing standing in the way of Markell getting his wish is today’s vote in the state Senate. Since that chamber is controlled by the governor’s party, it stands to reason that Delaware will join the parade of states adopting marriage equality.
Meanwhile, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent, made it official on Thursday when he signed the bill that allows same-sex couples to wed in the Ocean State. “Now, at long last, you are free to marry the person that you love,” he told a jubilant crowd in Providence. The first gay nuptials will happen on Aug. 1.
But it’s not all smooth sailing to marriage equality. Despite Democratic majorities in the state legislature and support from the Democratic governor, Illinois is having a rough time joining the ranks of Rhode Island and Delaware. Robocalls from African American clergy who have teamed up with the loathsome and duplicitous National Organization for Marriage haven’t helped matters. Sen. Mark Kirk (R) came out in favor of marriage equality last month, only the second U.S. Senate Republican to do so. Illinois GOP chairman Pat Brady also expressed his support for same-sex marriage. But that didn’t go over so well with conservatives. He’s set to step down from his post this afternoon. Still, folks pushing for marriage equality in President Obama’s home state, such as Illinois Unites for Marriage Equality, are right to be hopeful.
According to a Pew Poll released yesterday, 70 percent of people born after 1980 say same-sex couples should be able to marry legally. That means it’s only a matter of time before Illinois and the nation do right by same-sex couples who want nothing more than what straight married couples get automatically: stability and security for themselves and their families.
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