This week’s marriage news includes one state and one Indian reservation beginning marriage, one court case heard and three legislatures considering changing their laws.
Marriage equality began in New Jersey on Monday, making it the 14th equality state. Some questions remained unanswered. There was no guidance issued by the court that ordered marriage to begin whether the state’s 16,000 civil unions would be upgraded automatically or whether the state would recognize marriages performed in other states.
The New Mexico Supreme Court heard a case brought by the state’s district clerks and filed by the ACLU. The five judge panel asked the opposition pointed questions like why should someone be allowed to marry whomever he or she chooses. When the procreation argument was tossed out, another justice pointed out that marriage has “many other benefits” and having children was never a requirement. The state constitution is not specific on who may marry but the opposition based its case on marriage forms that specify husband and wife.
In Oklahoma, a couple obtained a marriage license from their tribe. Later in the week, the tribe revealed that this wasn’t license they’ve issued to a same-sex couple. One couple married on the Arapaho Cheyenne Reservation northwest of Oklahoma City last December.
A special session of the Hawaii legislature meets next week to consider a marriage-equality bill. This may be the first time religious institutions will not be completely exempt from the law.
Thousands of Japanese tourists travel to Hawaii each year to marry. A number of churches cash in on that tourist bonanza. According to the state’s public accommodations law, a church that makes a profit from ceremonies held on its property may not discriminate against any group.
Some lawmakers want the bill considered in the regular legislative session. Others want to hold an election on the issue. If the law passes, Hawaii could be marriage-equality state No. 15 by mid-November.
An estimated 3,000 people rallied at the Illinois state capitol in favor of marriage equality. Supporters want the state House to put a stalled bill up for a vote even if they don’t have the votes for it to pass. They want legislators to be held accountable for their votes. The bill has passed the senate and the governor said he would sign it.
In Pennsylvania, Republicans are targeting the state’s attorney general for impeachment after she said she can’t defend the state’s marriage ban, which she called unconstitutional. The representative calling for impeachment also didn’t support a resolution condemning domestic violence, calling it part of the “homosexual agenda.”
A marriage-equality bill was introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature earlier this month and several lawsuits are pending. A county clerk in Montgomery County near Philadelphia began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in September. He issued 174 licenses before he was stopped by a court order.