Wagons, Roll! Equality Advances in US


pic by Show Us Your Togwotee (really!)

While we’re still floundering around in the mire of state and territory pseudo-marriage bills and High Court challenges from the government, the real marriage equality wagons are rolling in America.

Illinois has beaten Hawaii to the punch, with a marriage equality bill passing state congress and the Governor expected to sign it into law next month. The first marriages should start happening in June. This makes Illinois the largest US state to legalise same-sex marriage. Anyone for a Chicago wedding?

Doesn’t have quite the same allure as a tropical island wedding, does it?

Marriage equality advanced to a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives in Hawaii, after two committees approved it. The decision came despite hours of repetitive public testimony, mostly from opponents. A second reading is taking place this morning, with a third reading sometime on Friday.

UPDATE: This mornings session being disrupted by Christian protestors chanting to drown out speakers in the chamber.

Most opponents seemed to be singing from the same hymnsheet, waving their bibles and wedding rings, giving rise to the suspicion of a rent-a-crowd operation: suspicions only strengthened when it appeared that some people testified more than once under different names.

Once through the House the bill returns to the Senate, who will have to either accept the amendments passed by the House, or craft a compromise. If all goes well same-sex marriage will be legal by the beginning of December. About the same time the Australian High Court starts hearing the federal governments case against the ACT same-sex marriage law.

Back in Washington the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) came back to life, seventeen years after it was killed off by a single vote. The Democratic majority in the Senate voted to open debate on the bill: predictably, the Republican dominated House pledged to oppose it, saying it could lead to lawsuits and hinder job creation.

The act would make it illegal for businesses with 15 or more employees from hiring, firing, or paying staff based on sexual orientation and gender identity.


About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)