Marriage momentum continues with bills introduced in Rhode Island and Illinois

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

After Gov. Christine Gregoire signed a marriage equality bill into law in Washington state, momentum for marriage is growing.

In Rhode Island, State Rep. Art Handy and State Sen. Rhoda Perry are expected to introduce a marriage bill to replace an unpopular civil union law that passed last year.

Rhode Island’s Rep. David Cicciline is one of four openly gay members of Congress. The speaker of the Rhode Island House, Gordon Fox, is gay. And Gov. Lincoln Chaffee said he would sign a marriage bill if it passed.

Last year, Illinois passed relationship recognition. This week, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act was introduced in the Illinois General Assembly. Backers of the bill said that the civil union law that is in effect leaves out some important rights.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who signed the Freedom to Marry pledge at the national mayor’s conference, said he will back marriage equality in Illinois.

In New Jersey, a marriage equality bill passed the Senate this week and was headed to the Assembly. Gov. Chris Christie has said he would veto the bill, and that the issue should be decided voters. According to polls, a majority of people in New Jersey support marriage equality. Meanwhile, in Maryland, the governor testified before two legislative committees last week in favor of a marriage equality bill.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has signed on to Freedom to Marry petition calling on the Democratic Party to add marriage equality to its party platform.

—  David Taffet

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings won’t sign pledge in support of same-sex marriage

Mayor Mike Rawlings speaks during an LGBT Pride Month Reception at City Hall in June.

Dallas’ Mike Rawlings won’t join more than 70 mayors from across the country who’ve signed a pledge in support of same-sex marriage during this week’s U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington, D.C.

“The mayor does not plan to publicly support any social issues but would rather focus on the policy issues that impact Dallas,” Rawlings’ chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, said in an email to Dallas Voice today. “Also know we have not signed onto other similar requests.”

Mayors who’ve signed the pledge sponsored by the group Freedom to Marry include Michael Bloomberg of New York, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Annise Parker of Houston, Jerry Sanders of San Diego, Thomas Menino of Boston and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles.

Jackie Yodashkin, a spokeswoman for Freedom to Marry, said the full list of mayors who’ve signed the pledge will be revealed during a press conference Friday morning to kick off the campaign, called Mayors for the Freedom to Marry.

However, Yodashkin told Dallas Voice today that Houston’s Parker is the only mayor from Texas who’s signed the pledge thus far. About 20 mayors from Texas pre-registered for the Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, according to the website.

During his campaign last year, Rawlings said he voted against Proposition 2, Texas’ 2005 constitutional amendment that banned both same-sex marriage and civil unions. When asked directly whether he supports marriage equality, Rawlings said: “I think it’s one of the most irrelevant issues for the world. I think we should get beyond it and let people do what they want to do. Some of my best friends have been married, and I’m pleased that they have been, and so I’m really happy for them. I’ve supported their marriage, but its’ not the mayor’s job to say, ‘We need to do this.’”

Read Freedom to Marry’s full press release about the campaign below.

—  John Wright