National Briefs April 27, 2009

Posted on 27 Apr 2009 at 1:38pm

Maine panel eyes gay marriage bill

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Legislature’s Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a work session Tuesday, April 28 on the gay marriage bill that drew several thousand people to the Augusta Civic Center last week.

Designed to end Maine’s prohibition on same-sex marriages, the measure is backed by more than 60 legislative co-sponsors.

A separate bill before lawmakers would allow civil unions.

Colorado House gives initial OK to same-sex benefits

DENVER — The partners of gay and lesbian state workers would be able to get health insurance coverage under a bill given initial backing by the Colorado House.

The measure approved Friday, April 24 would add domestic partners to the list of dependents eligible for coverage. Same-sex partners who have been in a committed relationship with a state employee for at least a year would qualify.

Supporters say gay couples don’t have the option of getting married and it’s only fair to provide an alternative.

Opponents say it will be costly and it’s unfair to heterosexual couples who are committed but not married. They also said it violates the will of the voters. Two years ago, voters rejected Referendum I, which would have granted domestic partner status to same-sex couples. They also passed a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

The Senate approved the bill in February. It faces a third reading in the House before it goes to the governor’s desk.

Miss USA runner-up receives strong support

NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Miss California Carrie Prejean, who has drawn attention for her comments against gay marriage at the Miss USA pageant, received a swell of support at the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards.

The crowd giving Prejean a standing ovation when she came out to introduce a performance. Prejean was first runner-up last weekend.

In response to a question from celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, the beauty queen said she believes marriage should be between a man and a woman.

During the awards show Thursday, April 23, she introduced a performance by Mercy Me of their hit "I Can Only Imagine."

Prejan did not speak about the controversy during the show. Backstage, she said she had no regrets about her remarks and learned that "you have to stay true to your beliefs."

Connecticut governor signs gay marriage bill

HARTFORD, Conn. — A decade-long battle for same-sex marriage in Connecticut has ended with the governor’s signature on a bill updating the state’s laws.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed the legislation Thursday, April 23, one day after the state House and Senate both approved it.

The bill removes gender references from state marriage laws. It also transforms existing same-sex civil unions into legally recognized marriages as of Oct. 1, 2010.

The law comes after last fall’s state Supreme Court ruling that gay couples have the right to wed in Connecticut. Even if the bill hadn’t passed, same-sex marriage would still be legal because of the ruling.

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