Republicans Introduce Anti-Equality Measures in States Across the Nation
January 27, 2011 by Sarah Warbelow, Legal Director
The Republican wave that swept the country in the November elections was supposed to be a referendum on the state of the economy and the widespread lack of jobs, not on the rights of LGBT Americans. While that has been true in some cases, in several states conservatives are instead using their new-found power to put the rights of LGBT Americans on the chopping block. While this is not surprising, certainly there are more important issues facing the country than enshrining discrimination in state constitutions. On the top of many of these conservative wish-lists is enacting constitutional amendments banning marriage equality. Some states are also considering amendments barring civil unions and any recognition of out of state unions for same sex couples. So far this year, conservatives have introduced the following anti-equality measures in states across the nation:
- Legislation in Hawaii seeks to amend the state constitution to define marriage as only a union of a man and a woman.
- Indiana conservatives introduced a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions.
- In Iowa, which already has marriage equality following the unanimous decision of the State Supreme Court, conservatives have introduced a proposed amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage in the state. This week the House Judiciary Committee moved the proposed amendment forward, proving an opportunity for a full House vote.
- In New Mexico, conservatives introduced legislation to put before the voters a constitutional ban on both same sex marriage and civil unions and a ban on recognizing any same-sex relationships entered into outside the state.
- In Wyoming, legislation that would prohibit recognition of out-of-state same sex marriages has passed the House. In the Senate, a committee has moved forward legislation to propose a constitutional ban marriage equality in the state.
In addition, other states are expected to face similar efforts to amend their state constitutions to deny marriage equality. In New Hampshire, which currently has marriage equality, the Republican-led legislature has so far held off on introducing legislation to repeal marriage equality but may move forward at any point. In Minnesota, Republican legislative leaders plan to send a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, and perhaps civil unions, to the voters in 2012. North Carolina and Pennsylvania will likely see proposed constitutional amendments in their respective legislatures this year. In a time of continuing economic turmoil and increasingly positive attitudes nationwide towards marriage equality and the LGBT community (See HRC’s new polling report here: www.hrc.org/pollingreport), it is time to put a stop to these anti-LGBT measures. Our community deserves to be treated like everyone else, and allowed to live our lives in peace and security, not used as a political football. Americans need to remind their representatives that taking rights away from fellow citizens should never be a priority, especially not when their priority should be to help the country recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
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