Same-Sex Marriage in Hawaii and Illinois, Abortion in Michigan and Oklahoma

Same-Sex Marriage in Hawaii and Illinois, Abortion in Michigan and Oklahoma

HI LEGALIZES GAY MARRIAGE: Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) signed the "Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013" (SB 1) last week, enabling the Aloha State to edge out Illinois to become the 15th in the nation to legalize same-sex marriages.

Illinois passed its own same-sex marriage bill last week (SB 10), but Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has put off signing it until Nov. 20 to give supporters ample opportunity to attend the signing ceremony. Abercrombie, however, did not delay. The Hawaii Senate passed the version of the bill approved by the House earlier this month, granting churches and other religious organizations broader discretion to refuse to hold gay weddings and receptions, last Tuesday. Abercrombie signed it the following morning.

"I look forward to signing this significant piece of legislation, which provides marriage equity and fully recognizes and protects religious freedoms," the governor said in a statement following the Senate's 19-4 vote.

With the actions of Hawaii and Illinois, 1 in 3 Americans will soon live in states where same-sex marriages are legal. And with polls showing a rapid shift in public opinion on the issue over the past 15 years, some opponents of same-sex marriages fear they could ultimately be legalized nationwide.

National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown expressed that view earlier this month when the U.S. Senate passed the "Employee Non-Discrimination Act," aimed at protecting gay, ***, and transgender employees in the workplace. Brown said that act "could be a Trojan horse that enables the marriage redefinition agenda to be forced on the entire nation through the courts." (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, LOS ANGELES TIMES, CNN.COM, STATE NET)

NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT: Later this week, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign legislation making the Prairie State the 16th to legalize same-sex marriage. When he does, nobody will be more ready to tie the knot than Rep. Sam Yingling. As the Rockford Register Star reports, Yingling popped the question to his partner of three years just hours after his colleagues passed the bill. That might sound impulsive, but think again. Yingling has been carrying around a ring for more than a year, just waiting for the right moment. That apparently came last week during a celebration of the bill's success at the Governor's Mansion. The couple, which has three children, plans to get their marriage license as soon as the law takes effect in June.

ABORTION INSURANCE RIDER REQUIREMENT COMING TO MI? An anti-abortion group in Michigan submitted 315,477 signatures to the Secretary of State's office last month for an initiative allowing insurance companies to provide abortion coverage only for women who purchase it as a separate rider to their policy before they become pregnant. The initiative would bar women who are already pregnant from buying such coverage regardless of how their pregnancy occurred, including by incest or rape.

Opponents of the initiative will have until 5 p.m. on Nov. 25 to challenge the signatures. If enough of them are determined to be valid, the state Legislature will then have 40 calendar days to approve or reject the initiative petition. If approved by the Legislature, the initiative will automatically become law without Gov. Rick Snyder's (R) signature. If rejected by the Legislature, the initiative will go before the state's voters in November 2014.

Given the size of Michigan Right to Life's signature cushion — having collected 65,000 more signatures than the 258,088 required — and the group's track record — having spearheaded three successful petition drives since 1987 — it is likely the abortion insurance rider petition will be certified by the Secretary of State. And given that the GOP-controlled Legislature strongly opposes abortion, it is likely the petition will also obtain legislative approval.

But opponents say they'll focus their effort on trying to convince lawmakers to reject the initiative so it can go to the voters to decide.

"We don't have any plans to challenge the petition," said Desiree Cooper, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. "But we absolutely think this is bad public policy, and we'll do everything in our power to make sure the Legislature knows it." (DETROIT FREE PRESS)

POLITICS IN BRIEF: The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a ruling by the OKLAHOMA Supreme Court that a law requiring women to undergo a narrated ultrasound exam before obtaining an abortion was unconstitutional because it imposed an undue burden. Earlier this month, the high court declined to review another decision by Oklahoma's highest court that a major portion of the state's abortion law was unconstitutional because it effectively banned all drug-induced abortions (WASHINGTON POST).

SOCIAL POLICY: A federal judge upholds AB 3371, a NEW JERSEY law banning the use of so-called "gay conversion" therapy on Garden State minors. U.S. District Court Judge Freda Wolfson rejected a claim by two therapists that the prohibition violates their First Amendment rights. The decision mirrors that of Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in August that rejected a similar challenge to a gay conversion therapy ban in CALIFORNIA, the only other state to bar the treatment (LAW 360 [LEXIS NEXIS]).

POLITICS IN BRIEF: The Libertarian Party of OHIO has filed suit against the state over a newly enacted law tightening the requirements for access to the election ballot by minor political parties. The state's Green Party is also reportedly considering its own legal challenge to the law (CLEVELAND.COM).


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