From California and New York, which may be on the verge of recognizing full gay marriage, to Illinois and Rhode Island, where the state grants no benefits to gay couples but a majority of voters support recognizing civil unions, love is in the air. Here are ten states to watch in the coming months.
IowaThe state's marriage laws are being challenged in court, and the legislature has surprised many observers by refusing to field a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. It's a long shot, but a court ruling that strikes down the state's marriage laws, but allows civil unions as an option (as in the case of Vermont), may yet give Iowa's lesbian and gay couples a civil unions bill.
Governor Eliot Spitzer (D-NY), just elected last November, has vowed
to introduce legislation legalizing same-sex marriage by January 2008. 53 percent of New Yorkers, and a majority of legislators, support full marriage equality for same-sex couples.
New MexicoGovernor Bill Richardson (D-NY) has expressed support for a state civil unions bill, and has vowed to sign it if given the opportunity. The state legislature is entertaining several proposals.
Polls have consistently shown that a considerable majority of Illinois residents
support rights for same-sex couples, but the state currently has no civil unions law, much less a law recognizing same-sex marriage. This situation will not stand for long. And Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich--a Democrat--has stated no opposition to same-sex marriage or civil unions.
The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled
that the state legislature must grant marriage-equal benefits to same-sex couples, and they are currently drafting one of the best civil unions policies in the country. A slim majority of New Jersey residents would also favor full same-sex marriage rights.
MarylandIn 2005, the Maryland legislature passed a bill recognizing civil unions. The bill was vetoed by Republican governor Robert Ehrlich, who described himself as "sympathetic to the issue" and stated that he would support a bill expanding partnership rights for same-sex couples.
New HampshireThe New Hampshire state legislature is currently entertaining several proposals for a civil unions bill, and Governor John Lynch (R-NH) has expressed strong support for civil unions.
Rhode IslandRhode Island currently has no civil unions bill, but many gay rights activists are confident enough in their chances that they believe that they can skip a step and legalize gay marriage directly. Rhode Island is currently the only state in the country to recognize same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts.
ConnecticutConnecticut's legislature passed a civil unions bill in 2005, which was enthusiastically signed by Governor Jodi Rell. But Connecticut voters are not hostile to the idea of expanding rights to include gay marriage, and it is likely that full same-sex marriage rights will be granted at some point within the next few years.
WashingtonThere is a very strong possibility that the State of Washington may pass a civil unions bill by the end of 2007. The legislature is currently debating several proposals.