Updates: Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill on Wednesday, November 20, 2013, making Illinois the 16th state to allow same-sex marriage. The law won’t take effect until June 1, 2013, which is when the first same-sex marriage ceremonies could take place.
On Wednesday, November 13, 2013, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. The effective date of the new law is December 2, 2013. Hawaii is the 15th to allow same-sex marriage.
Original Post: Three more states are considering same-sex marriage, although by different means. In two of the states — Hawaii and Illinois — the state legislatures are debating bills which would legalize same-sex marriage. In the other state — New Mexico — the state supreme court is considering whether same-sex marriage should be legalized. And, in Oklahoma, three same-sex couples have gotten married under Native American tribal law, although the state of Oklahoma bans same-sex marriage.
Legislators in Hawaii recently returned for a special session called by the governor for the exclusive purpose of passing a same-sex marriage bill. On October 24, the State Senate easily passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. Followers of Hawaii’s legislature — which is heavily Democratic — say they’re confident the bill will also pass in the House, but not certain.
The Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013 provides that those couples who are currently in a civil union or are reciprocal beneficiaries may marry each other; the couple’s marriage will automatically terminate the civil union or reciprocal beneficiary relationship. The bill also allows any clergy, minister, priest, rabbi or officer of any religious denomination to decline to perform a same-sex marriage and to refuse to make its facilities or grounds available for a same-sex marriage.
Illinois’ legislature is expected to vote on a same-sex marriage bill during the final week of the fall session. The proposal has passed the Senate and Governor Pat Quinn has vowed to sign it into law. Under the bill, civil unions will be converted to marriages within a year of the law being passed. The bill exempts religious organizations from performing a marriage of a gay couple and church officials would not be forced to allow their facilities to be used for same-sex marriage. Despite the fact that Democrats hold the governor’s office and are the majority in the House and the Senate, Illinois has been surprisingly resistant to same-sex marriage. The outcome in the House is uncertain; last spring the bill’s sponsor didn’t have the 60 votes needed to pass the bill. The number of votes needed increases to 71 for the fall session.
3. New Mexico
The New Mexico Supreme Court held arguments on a same-sex marriage case on October 23. A total of almost 1,500 marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples across New Mexico since August, when a lower court ruling compelled county clerks in some counties to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However, same-sex couples are still unable to get a marriage license in 25 of the states’ 33 counties. New Mexico has neither explicitly allowed or disallowed same-sex marriage through legislation.
4. Marriages on Native American Tribal Land
Finally, three same-sex couples have been issued marriage licenses by the Cheyenne- Arapaho tribe, a sovereign nation in Oklahoma. Same-sex marriage is banned in Oklahoma, but the marriage laws of the Cheyenne-Arapaho do not specify gender and require that only one of the spouses be a tribal member.