Marriage equality arrives in France, inches closer in Delaware, Rhode Island

Hollande.Francois

President Francois Hollande

France became the third country this month to legalize same-sex marriage when a bill passed the National Assembly today. Meanwhile, two more states in the U.S. are moving closer to marriage equality as well.

France became the 14th country with marriage equality when a bill passed the National Assembly following weeks of violent demonstrations and attacks on gay couples by conservatives. Civil unions have been legal in France since 1999.

President Francois Hollande said he will sign the bill and marriages should begin in June. He campaigned on a marriage-equality pledge and the issue didn’t become controversial until after he came into office.

Last week, New Zealand legalized same-sex marriage. Earlier in April, Uruguay did the same.

In the U.S., a marriage equality bill passed the House Administration Committee in Delaware and now moves to the House floor. The House is scheduled to vote on the bill today.

Delaware already has civil unions and a state law, but not a constitutional amendment, prohibiting same-sex marriage. The bill would repeal the law and upgrade civil unions to equal marriages.

Gov. Jack Markell has said he would sign the bill into law, according to Equality Delaware.

Rhode Island has been debating marriage equality ever since it passed a civil union law that is unpopular with both sides.

For the first time, an entire party delegation is supporting marriage equality. All Republican members of the Rhode Island Senate will vote for the marriage equality bill, according to the Associated Press.

The latest versions of the bill include more protections for religious organizations but fewer protections for businesses that want to discriminate against same-sex couples marrying, according to the Providence Journal.

Finally, Nevada’s legislature is debating repeal of its constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage. During the debate, Sen. Kelvin Atkinson came out as the second gay member of the Senate. USA Today reports that if the bill passes this year, it must be voted on again by the legislature in 2015. Then it goes to the voters the following year.

Same-sex marriage bills have also been introduced this year in Illinois and Minnesota.

—  David Taffet

Marriage equality battles rage in France, Great Britain and Uruguay

Uruguay’s Congress building in Montevideo

A marriage equality bill passed the lower house of Uruguay’s congress. The bill is expected to pass the Senate as well. The country already has civil unions.

President Jose Mujica is expected to sign the bill into law making Uruguay the second South American country with marriage equality after Argentina.

In Latin America, Mexico City has marriage equality as well, and a recent Supreme Court ruling makes other states in Mexico recognize those marriages.

France and Great Britain already have domestic partnerships.

In France, President Francois Hollande was elected on a promise to legalize same-sex marriage. Yesterday, however, about 20,000 people in five cities turned out for an anti-equality march.

Hollande suggested mayors from more conservative rural cities could opt out of marrying same-sex couples.

More than 2,000 mayors have signed a petition that they would opt out, according to Press TV.

In Great Britain, the debate over marriage equality continues. Because the Church of England is a state religion, the church is involved in the debate in a way in which it is not in other European countries. A new proposal would allow same-sex civil ceremonies but would ban the Churches of England and Wales from performing those ceremonies. It would also allow other religious groups to opt out.

Other religious groups would be able to opt in, according to the BBC. Among those in favor of marriage equality are the Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Jews. Liberal Judaism in Great Britain is equivalent to Reform Judaism in North America, which has recognized same-sex marriage for 15 years.

In Europe, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, Norway, Spain and Sweden already have marriage equality.

No word on when France and Great Britain will vote on their pending marriage equality legislation.

—  David Taffet

Marriage equality bill introduced in Uruguay

According to the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio, legislators in Uruguay have introduced a marriage equality bill. The bill has a good chance of passing because the liberal Frente Amplio party controls both houses of the legislature.

The bill’s author, Rep. Sebastián Sabini, explained the strategy to pass the law.

“We do not focus so much on the issue of gay marriage but of equal marriage regardless of sex, gender or religion,” Sabini said.

Laws that refer to “husband and wife” would change to “spouses” or “conjugal partner.”

If one spouse in a relationship had biological children, the law would give the non-biological partner the same rights and responsibilities in caring for the child.

Supporters said they hoped the law would be passed by both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate by the end of the year.

—  David Taffet

Ecuador is latest South American country to consider marriage equality; Bolivia may follow

A bill to allow civil marriage will be introduced in Ecuador’s National Assembly on Thursday, according to the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio.

In 2008, Ecuador adopted a new constitution that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Bolivia has a similar provision in its new constitution called “The Law Against Racism and All Types of Discrimination.” The LGBT rights group Equidad participated in a presentation and analysis of the Bolivian provision chaired by a member of the National Assembly. Recommendations will be made this week, and they’ll presumably include a marriage equality law.

This summer, South America has been a hotbed of equality legislation. Marriage equality passed in Argentina. An upgrade from civil unions in Uruguay, which have been legal for several years, is being debated. Civil union bills also have been introduced in Chile and Peru.

Chilean Senator Fulvio Rossi, who introduced the bill there, doesn’t expect it to pass. El Mercurio doesn’t predict what the chances are for passage of the bill in Ecuador.

Translation assistance by Miguel Flores.

—  David Taffet

Marriage equality makes progress in Latin America

Alex Freyre and Jose Maria di Bello
Alex Freyre and Jose Maria di Bello

The first same-sex marriage took place in Argentina this week.

Mexico City legalized same-sex marriage.

Ecuador, Brazil and Columbia are considering how to legalize same-sex relationships

Uruguay legalized same-sex adoptions.

In Argentina, where marriage equality is local-option, Buenos Aires legalized same-sex marriage. Alex Freyre and Jose Maria di Bello, a gay couple, applied for their marriage license. But before they could marry, a judge stepped in and stopped the marriage.

Argentina’s National Institute Against Xenophobia and Racism helped the couple and referred them to the gay-friendly governor of Argentina’s southernmost state, Tierra del Fuego. The governor issued Freyre and Maria di Bello a marriage license and this week they were married.

—  David Taffet