Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gay Marriage News That You May Have Missed

Gay marriage is an issue worth keeping up with even if your queer politics are not inclined to focus on issues affecting mostly conventional, privileged gay couples. The gay marriage battle is constantly evolving, and consists of a landscape that is more complex than most people know, involving an overlay of statutory and constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, and alternative forms of couple recognition like civil unions, and domestic partnerships. Some states even have prohibitions on same-sex marriage, while they offer alternative forms of couple recognition. It is a cracked, uneven surface ahead. 

Nonetheless there are two related developments that you may have missed over the holiday season. 

First, the good news. Illinois approved a civil union measure called The Illinois Religious Freedom and Civil Union Act in late November. The bill is expected to be signed in the near future. The new law will allow same-sex couples to enjoy spousal benefits though under civil union instead of marriage recognition. 

And in terms of bad news, WCL's very own Nancy Polikoff reported on the Beyond (Straight & Gay) Marriage blog that New Mexico's Republican Governor may repeal domestic partner benefits. Domestic partner benefits, which were established by former Governor Bill Richardson by executive order, are currently available to same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The issue is in litigation, and is due for a Ninth Circuit hearing on February 14. We'll have to wait and see. 

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