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With R.I. a done deal, focus shifts to gay marriage bills in six other states

Monday, April 29, 2013
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With Rhode Island poised to become the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage following a key vote in the state’s General Assembly scheduled for Thursday, supporters of marriage equality are shifting their focus to other states.

At least six states are actively considering same-sex marriage legislation, three of which could see passage this year.

Delaware

The state’s House approved a bill last week legalizing same-sex marriage on a 23-18 vote. The bill now moves to the Senate. The measure has the support of Democratic Gov. Jack Markell.

Recent polling finds a majority of Delaware voters support legalizing same-sex marriage. Delaware approved same-sex civil unions last year.

Illinois

The state’s Senate approved a marriage equality bill on Valentine’s Day. Supporters in the House say they’re still a few votes short but hope a vote is held before the General Assembly adjourns this spring.

Gov. Pat Quinn supports the bill.

Minnesota

Hundreds of marriage equality supporters gathered at the state Capitol this month to urge lawmakers to vote for same-sex marriage. Legislation has cleared committees in both the House and Senate last month.

Opponents have introduced a civil unions bill in an attempt to derail the marriage bill, while a conservative lobbying group is urging state Republicans to support same-sex marriage.

Gov. Mark Dayton said he supports the bill and would sign it into law.

New Jersey

The Democratic-led legislature is expected to attempt to override Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of same-sex marriage legislation a year ago. But there aren’t enough Democrats to guarantee an override, and Christie has suggested putting the question before voters.

A recent poll found that a majority of New Jersey voters say they want the opportunity to vote on same-sex marriage, and given the choice, they’d vote yes.

Oregon

Marriage equality advocates hope to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the 2014 ballot that would reverse a ban on gay marriage passed by voters in 2004. The effort has the support of Gov. John Kitzhaber.

Nevada

The state Senate last week passed a resolution to repeal the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, the first step in a long process to legalize marriage equality in Nevada. The measure must be passed by lawmakers this year and in 2015, and then go before voters in 2016 for ratification.

Elsewhere:

The Santa Fe, N.M., city council has passed a controversial resolution recognizing same-sex marriage as legal in New Mexico, citing the fact that state marriage laws are gender-neutral and do not define marriage as between a man and a woman. A statutory list of prohibited marriages also does not list same-sex couples.

N.M. Attorney General Gary King is in the process of coming up with an opinion on the subject.

And the U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering a constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8. While the high courts appears reluctant to strike down gay marriage bans across the country, legal observers predict a ruling that will likely allow same-sex marriages to resume in California more than four years after gays and lesbians first won the right to wed in the state courts and lost it a few months later at the ballot box.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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