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Same-Sex Unions in 2009

29 October 2009
Written by

This year, two states will determine the legal status of same-sex unions by popular vote.

  • Earlier this year, Maine's State House and State Senate approved legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry, recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states, and "allow individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages."  In response, Maine citizens petitioned for a people's veto to appear on the November 3rd ballot.  If this measure is approved, same-sex couples would be prohibited from marrying.

The state of Vermont enacted legislation permitting same-sex marriage in April of this year (see: Senate vote, House vote, Governor Jim Douglas' vetoHouse Override of Veto, Senate Override of Veto).  State Senator Kevin Mullin introduced an amendment to this bill that would have forced a legislative referendum on the measure, but it failed in the Senate.  Not long after, the Connecticut legislature (see: Senate Vote, House Vote) and the New Hampshire legislature (see: House Vote, Senate Vote with Amendment) each passed similar bills.  The State Assembly of New York passed such a bill as well, but it has yet to reach a vote in the State Senate.  Also in 2009, The Supreme Court of Iowa ruled that a 1998 law defining marriage as strictly between one man and one woman was unconstitutional.

Last year, the citizens of Arizona, Florida, and California approved constitutional amendments to define marriage only as the legal union of one man and one women.  Members of the Wyoming State House attempted to pass such an amendment this year, but it failed.

  • Washington's Referendum 71 does not permit same-sex marriage, but would affect the status of those in domestic partnerships.  According to the Official Explanatory Statement- as supplied by the Attorney General- approval of this referendum "would amend references in numerous state statutes so that rights, responsibilities, and obligations granted by or imposed by state law on married couples and their families would apply equally to state-registered domestic partners" (see: Senate Vote, House Vote).

In Nevada, domestic partnerships were first established this year (see: Senate Vote, House Vote, Governor Jim Gibbons' Veto, House Override of Veto, Senate Override of Veto).   New Mexico and Hawaii legislatures tried to do the same, but were unsuccessful.

-Kristen Vicedomini, Research Director

Related tags: 2009-election, Arizona, ballot-measures, blog, California, Connecticut, elections, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Nevada, New-Hampshire, New-Mexico, New-York, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming

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