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Governors of several states push for marriage equality

Marriage equality

By Scottie Thomaston

In several post-2012 election speeches, the governors of Minnesota, Illinois, and Delaware have mentioned their support and push to pass marriage equality in their states. In Rhode Island, Governor Chafee is continuing to push for marriage.

In Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn said this at his State of the State Address:

“Our Illinois is not a land of discrimination,” Quinn said as he delivered his fourth State of the State address.

“Four years ago nobody thought civil unions would be possible here. Today civil unions are the law in our state and nearly 5,200 couples across 94 counties have joined in civil unions.

“Now it’s time to take the next step to achieving full equality. Marriage equality is coming to Illinois.

“And yesterday was a great start in the Senate Executive Committee. I want to thank Senator Heather Steans and Rep. Greg Harris for their work to move Illinois forward.

“Let’s pass this bill for marriage equality and let’s do it now,” said Quinn.

A full Senate vote is expected February 14.

In Minnesota, where voters rejected an attempt to amend the state’s constitution to forever ban gay and lesbian couples from marrying in 2012, Governor Mark Dayton said this in his State of the State Address:

He departed from his focus on the budget briefly to mention one other cause, which he acknowledged was controversial but central to his principles.

“I believe that every Minnesotan should have the freedom to marry legally the person she or he loves, whether of
the same or other sex,” he said, bringing a standing ovation from DFL lawmakers while Republicans remained silent.

Dayton has supported same-sex marriage for years, but his statement was nonetheless a surprise because he said earlier this year he wanted to put that issue on the back burner until after he and lawmakers fix the state’s budget problems.

And in his inaugural speech, Delaware Governor Jack Markell alluded to marriage equality:

“We will advance the cause of liberty, equality and dignity in our time,” he told an audience at Central Middle School in Dover. “Our state will be a welcoming place to live, to love and to raise families for all who choose to call Delaware home.”

Spokesperson Catherine Rossi confirmed to gay weekly the Washington Blade that Markell was indeed referring to marriage equality.

Rhode Island’s Governor Lincoln Chafee is also continuing his push for marriage equality – focusing on business in the state:

The Ocean State’s refusal to allow gay marriage sends a message of intolerance to technology and life-science companies he’d like to attract and puts the state at odds with the younger generation of innovators he wants to retain, Chafee said in an interview. He’s pressing the state Senate to follow the lower chamber, which on Jan. 24 approved a same-sex marriage bill.

“We are in intense competition with Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts,” said Chafee, a 59-year-old Republican- turned-independent, ticking off three nearby states where gays can wed. “We are all in the same economy. We have to have the same welcome mat at our door that our neighbors have.”

Every New England state except Rhode Island allows gay marriage, as do Iowa, Maryland, Washington and the District of Columbia. Gay-rights advocates in five others, including New Jersey and Delaware, are pushing similar legislation this year.

Marriage equality bills are pending in a few of these states and some are up for consideration as early as next week.

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