Arkansas: Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as only between a man and a woman said they would submit signatures to the Secretary of State’s office July 1. The Arkansas Marriage Amendment Committee needed to gather at least 80,570 to get the proposal banning equal marriage rights and civil unions on the Nov. 2 ballot.
California: The state Assembly voted June 24 to oppose a constitutional amendment banning equal marriage. In the 42-27 vote, the Assembly also said it opposed other federal moves to restrict the rights of same sex-couples. The resolution now goes to the Senate. If passed, it does not need the signature of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has said he had “no use” for the proposed federal amendment.
Massachusetts:The latest attempt to stop equal marriage in Massachusetts has failed. A federal appeals court rejected a lawsuit by conservative groups and state lawmakers that claimed the state Supreme Judicial Court overstepped its bounds by legalizing the unions of same-sex couples. The Florida-based Liberty Counsel, which launched the lawsuit, promised a quick appeal to the US Supreme Court. The rejection was the latest in a series of defeats for conservative groups in both state and federal courts.
A deeply divided gathering of The U.S. Conference of Mayors in Boston could not reach consensus June 28 on a proposed resolution opposing a federal constitutional ban on equal marriage. The Conference voted 46-44 to table the resolution, and an attempt to revive it was also defeated, 47-45. Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy, a Democrat running for governor in Connecticut and an opponent of a constitutional amendment, said he believed the mayors wanted to avoid the issue in a year many of them are seeking re-election. The close votes, Malloy said, also indicate that “there is no broad-based support in the nation to amend the Constitution of the United States to discriminate.”
Oklahoma: The state Senate’s top Republican urged Attorney General Drew Edmondson to “vigorously defend” a proposed constitutional amendment barring equal marriage rights against a planned lawsuit seeking to keep it off the ballot. In a letter to Edmondson, the Senator said the ACLU and other groups have announced plans to sue the state to stop a planned referendum on the Marriage Protection Amendment in November.
Oregon: A group attempting to recall a pro-equal marriage commissioner in Benton County fell short of the 5,000 required signatures. The commissioner faced the recall effort after she voted in March to stop issuing marriage licenses to Benton County couples altogether, until all couples – including gay and lesbian pairs – were afforded the same right to marry under the law. In March, the commissioners were unanimous in their decision to postpone issuing all marriage licenses until there is a ruling from the state Supreme Court on the definition of marriage.
Supporters of an equal marriage ban pressured people into signing petitions and failed to witness voters’ signatures, according to complaints filed June 28 by a Portland-based gay rights group. Basic Rights Oregon says it has been monitoring the petition drive by the Defense of Marriage Coalition for weeks, watching for violations of election law. According to complaints, signature collectors passed petition sheets along church pews or left them unattended in church lobbies without witnessing the voters’ signatures in person. And the group says volunteers in Tualatin circulated a petition on May 1 – more than a week before they could officially begin collecting signatures.
Virginia: About 50 gay rights supporters June 26 marched to the home of Del. Robert Marshall, to protest a new law that will prohibit civil unions and could interfere with contracts between same-sex couples in Virginia. Marshall, in a cell phone interview on the same day with The Potomac News as he played golf, said the bill as he wrote it is to keep people of the same sex from marrying. Period, he said.