On Monday, Washington State joined the six states to allow same-sex marriage as Governor Gregoire signed the bill into law. New Jersey, Maryland, and several other states have taken measures with different outcomes this week. Here’s what’s up:
On Monday, Gov. Christine Gregoire signed same-sex marriage into law in what she described as her proudest moment. The governor was enthusiastic about the decision, stating “we have finally said yes to marriage equality.”
The bill will go into effect in June. Still, opponents of the bill are working to form a ballot initiative to get voters to block the bill in the November election. The governor was optimistic nonetheless and expressed confidence in Washingtonians to make the right decision.
On Tuesday, the NJ Senate voted in favor of the bill, 24-16. On Thursday, the NJ Assembly seconded that motion. The bill will now pass to the Governor’s desk, where it may encounter some difficulty.
But Gov. Chris Christie was lukewarm on the Senate decision, expressing a desire for a statewide referendum instead. “I think that this is not an issue that should rest solely in my hands, in the hands of the Senate president or in the hands of the speaker or the other 118 members of the Legislature,” he said. “Let’s let the people of New Jersey decide what is right for the state.” State senators however, believe that such civil rights should not be placed in the hands of the public.
Christie has stated his intentions of vetoing the bill, but it is a tangible possibility that the Senate would override his veto. Two-thirds of votes from each house would be needed to pass the bill without the governor’s consent.
Gov. Gregoire contacted Christie and offered to talk, presumably to convince him that he would not be sacrificing any of his Catholic values in signing the bill. For now, NJ’s fate still hangs in the balance.
Gov. Martin O’Malley has been backing legislation in the state, following suit after Cuomo and other Democratic governors.
Two committees in the House have approved the measure, but a total of 71 votes are needed for it to pass. If passed, the bill will move onto the Senate. With the full support of the governor, the issue is entirely in congressional hands.
The recent buzz has led politicians, lobbyists and legislators to weigh in on the matter. In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emannuel, the former White House Chief of Staff with a penchant for profanity, spoke in support of the pending legislation in Illinois that may soon put the state on the radar. “I’ll push for it because it is consistent with the values base,” Emmanuel said, “and the practical values base, that I think is right as a city, as a state and as a country.” And only last week, a federal court in California voted to make Proposition 8 unconstitutional.
If all goes well, both Maryland and New Jersey will be on their way to becoming the eighth and ninth states to allow same-sex marriage. There’s still a long way to go, but there’s every reason to be optimistic. Reason and love is contagious, even in an election year.