Marriage is the word of the month, with major victories in both Washington and California. The Washington State Legislature voted Feb. 8 to approve a same-sex marriage bill that Gov. Christine Gregoire signed into law Feb. 13. Opponents of the law filed paperwork for Referendum 73, a ballot measure intended to repeal the just-passed law, three hours after Gregoire signed the bill. According to Seattle PI, opponents (operating under the name Preserve Marriage Washington) have until June 6 to gather 120,577 valid signatures. Marriage equality is on hold until the issue is decided by voters. Read more here.
In California, just the day before, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling that anti-gay Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. Unfortunately, it’s not time to put those wedding cakes in the oven just yet. The ruling has been stayed until the appeals process is exhausted. Prop 8 supporters have until Feb. 28 to file an appeal, which they have vowed to do. Still, most eyes are toward the U.S. Supreme Court, where the case may or may not end up.
New Jersey is also diving into the fight for marriage equality. The state’s Senate passed a bill in support of same-sex marriage Feb. 13. As of press time, the bill was expected to also pass the House on Feb. 16. Gov. Chris Christie has said that he would veto the bill and favors a ballot measure on the issue. But Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire said she would try to sway her New Jersey counterpart.
The Mayors for the Freedom to Marry movement is also gaining momentum with 146 mayors signed on as of press time, including the mayors of Portland, Eugene, and Vancouver. If your mayor isn’t on the list, you can download a statement for them to sign at freedomtomarry.org.
Half-way across the world, Australian lawmakers are also contemplating marriage equality. Two virtually identical bills, both seeking to overturn a ban on same-sex marriage while providing an out for ministers who don’t want to marry gays, were introduced in Parliament Feb. 13 (just in time for Valentine’s Day). Sadly, neither bill is expected to succeed.
Meanwhile in South Africa, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2006, anti-gay murders have increasingly been in the news. A Cape Town court is currently trying four men in the death of a gay bar owner. Some have speculated that the man’s death is the work of a serial killer, due to similarities between his death and those of six other gay men over the past 18 months, though authorities reject this claim. Arrests in the most recent case came shortly after four men were sentenced to 18 years in the stabbing and stoning death of a South African lesbian.