Compiled by Dawn Wolfe
Kansas: Supporters and opponents of adding a ban on equal marriage rights to the Kansas Constitution expect hundreds of people to converge on the Statehouse for rival rallies Jan. 10 as legislators open their annual session. Pastors supporting a ban are planning a rally in the statehouse at the same time a rally outside is planned by opponents of the ban. Both legislative chambers must adopt a proposed amendment by two-thirds majorities to place it on the ballot, with approval by a simple majority of voters needed to add it to the constitution.
New Mexico: The state Attorney General’s lawsuit over the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Sandoval County has been dismissed at her request Jan. 3, three days after the expiration of Victoria Dunlap’s term as Sandoval County clerk. Dunlap issued 66 marriage licenses to same-sex couples last February, but stopped after an advisory letter from the Attorney General declared them illegal. The Attorney General’s office sued to prevent Dunlap from issuing the licenses. Sandoval’s new county clerk said she will not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Rhode Island: The Tiverton School Committee has asked a Superior Court judge whether it can extend health care coverage to the same-sex spouse of a retired high school teacher. Cheryl McCullough, who worked as a health teacher and guidance counselor at Tiverton High School for 27 years, applied for insurance for Joyce Boivin in June, days after the couple was married in their home state of Massachusetts, where equal marriage rights are legal. School committee members voted in October to ask the court for clarification on the legality of McCullough’s request. A ruling could come by the end of the month. Lawyers for both sides say this is the first case of this kind in Rhode Island, where the law is silent on equal marriage rights.
Tennessee: State Republicans are promising to use their first elected majority in more than a century to demand constitutional bans on equal marriage rights and restrictions on abortion rights when the session opens Jan. 11. A proposed ban on equal marriage rights is expected to clear both chambers with the required two-thirds support and go to voters after clearing its first hurdle last year. It will be harder to get an abortion amendment into the Constitution, an effort that stalled in the House last year.
Vermont: Less than five years after civil unions became law in Vermont and 7,364 same-sex couples from around the world have been legally joined as spouses, Democrats who were largely blamed for forcing the state to confront the issue have returned to their place of political dominance in the Statehouse. The new General Assembly even includes five openly gay men, up from just one when civil unions were enacted.