As Wedding Bells Ring Out in Maryland, Attention turns to Illinois and Rhode Island


New Year’s day marked yet another milestone in the fight for marriage equality, Maryland officially became the first southern state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage.

The states of Washington and Maine also came on board in recent weeks, bringing the total number of states offering marriage equality to nine.

The smoke hasn’t cleared yet, either.

Illinois, the fifth largest state, with a population of almost thirteen million people, is likely about to become the tenth state to allow same-sex marriage.

According to The New Yorker,”advocates had planned to hold a State Senate hearing on the legislation as soon as later today, January 2nd, and the bill could be voted on by the full chamber on Thursday, January 3rd. The State House of Representatives would then have through Wednesday, January 8th, to pass the bill during the lame-duck session. Advocates are confident that they have the votes in the State Senate and feel that they are “within striking distance” in the House.”

WGN-TV reports that a procedural delay held up the committee from hearing the bill earlier today, but backers are hoping they’ll be able to move forward tomorrow as legislators convene in Springfield.President Obama lent his endorsement for the bill on Saturday. White House spokesman Shin Inouye told the Chicago Sun-Times,“While the president does not weigh in on every measure being considered by state legislatures, he believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect.”

Meanwhile, the Rhode Island House of Representatives could be holding hearings on the issue “within weeks and voting on the matter by the end of the month.”

A spokesman for House Speaker Gordon Fox tells The Associated Press that a bill to allow same-sex couples to marry in Rhode Island was expected to be filed Wednesday or Thursday.

Of course, the major showdown is yet to come, with the Supreme Court announcing that it would enter debate by taking up two separate cases.

According to the New York Times,” One of the cases, from California, otherwise known as Prop 8, could establish or reject a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. The justices could also rule on narrower grounds that would apply only to marriages in California.

The second case, from New York, challenges a federal law, known as DOMA, that requires the federal government to deny benefits to gay and lesbian couples married in states that allow such unions.”

In light of the court’s decision to hear the cases, LGBT binational couples across the country, “have begun filing green card petitions and fighting to have them put on hold — that is, neither denied nor approved — until the Supreme Court rules on DOMA.”

Huffpost’s Brynn Gelbard and Lavi Soloway report that,”The DOMA Project first called for this “abeyance” policy as soon as the White House announced that it would no longer defend DOMA, but the campaign really picked up steam last week when it became clear that a final judicial resolution will come from the Supreme Court by June of next year.”

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