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Gay Marriage Laws in Pennsylvania

Gay Marriage Laws in Pennsylvania

current Pennsylvania marriage laws do not allow gay marriage. Pennsylvania gay
couples are blocked from being married by the Defense of Marriage Act,
otherwise known as DOMA. Right now some anti-gay marriage activists are in an
uproar that Pennsylvania may soon allow gay marriage.

Even though there is not
even a civil-union law allowing Pennsylvania gay couples to get married, some
religious people in the region feel they need to make sure that the gay
marriage laws are not passed. The Pennsylvania for Marriage organization is
looking to recruit people to protect Pennsylvania marriage from being tainted
by Pennsylvania’s gay community. They believe in the sanctity of marriage and
believe and their religious liberty to protect the sanctity of marriage.

The Pennsylvania for Marriage organization strongly feel
marriage should only be between one man and one woman. They believe anything
else would damage the state, children, and the meaning of a Pennsylvania
marriage. They are looking to block HB 300, which would become part of the
Human Relations act. HB 300, if passed, would allow for no gender or sexual
orientation discrimination when it comes to Pennsylvania marriage.

They have
listed on their web site some of the prominent names that support HB 300 which
would allow Pennsylvania gay couples to either marry or form a civil union.
They even asked everyone to use their civil action center and contact their
local state representatives in an effort to block the Pennsylvania gay
movement. Those against gay Pennsylvania marriage are looking to amend the
state constitution to completely ban all Pennsylvania gay marriages,
civil-unions, or any other type of legal bond that would have the gay couples
enjoying the benefits of marriage.

The amendment to the constitution may be added banning gay
marriage and unions. Gays argue that the language of the amendment is so sloppy
and unclear that it seems as if the amendment would take away rights that gays
have now, not regarding marriage. The amendment banning gays from joining
together as a married couple is in place in Pennsylvania as it was voted in the
senate. If the gay couples would like to form a union they will have to go to a
state that will accommodate them. 

The state has spoken and claimed that it will
not recognize any union or marriage between 2 people of the same gender.
Therefore,the forming of any union outside of Pennsylvania will not be valid or
recognized under Pennsylvania marriage laws. Any couples that are hoping to
claim benefits because they have a union or marriage formed somewhere else,
while living in Pennsylvania, will not be granted those benefits.

Gay Marriage Laws in Rhode Island

Gay Marriage Laws in Rhode Island

Rhode Island gay marriage laws currently do not allow same-sex marriages. The state at this time only allows domestic partnerships. These domestic partnership do not have nearly all the benefits of a normal Rhode Island marriage, but they do have some important ones. Rhode Island domestic partnerships allow for your partner to have family visitation rights in hospitals or nursing homes.
They also offer benefits to employees that are police officers, firefighters and offer funeral rights. The domestic partnership also offers property rights which are very important. All of these are right from the state, the federal government does not offer any rights to the Rhode Island gay domestic partnerships. Currently there are three interesting bills pending for the Rhode Island General Assembly to review. 
One of them would make Rhode Island marriage legal for gays. The other would ban same-sex marriage for Rhode Island gay couples. The third bill is a bill that would allow a reciprocal beneficiary agreement, granting gay couples more rights.
Rhode Island Attorney General Lynch has stated that Rhode Island should recognize same-sex marriages that were performed in another state. He also stated that not all those marriages should be accepted, for instance they may not recognize same-sex marriages from one state, but would from another depending on the circumstances. If the out of state marriage is not of Rhode Island marriage standards then the state should not have to recognize it, Attorney General Lynch explained.
In 2006, the Supreme court ruled that Rhode Island gay couples who had formed domestic partnerships were free to travel to Massachusetts and legally have a same-sex marriage. Once the couple is married in Massachusetts and they come back to Rhode Island, they will be recognized as having a Rhode Island marriage. Before Rhode Island gay couples were allowed to marry in Massachusetts, a nearly century old law that claimed on residents of Massachusetts could be married in the state, had to be lifted.
It is interesting to note that Rhode Island, which does not allow gays to marry in the state, also can not run a divorce court for Rhode Island gay married couples that were married in another state.
There are bills being written by both sides of the Rhode Island marriage debate. Some for gay marriage and others opposing it. Both sides claim to have opinion polls that support their argument, either for or against Rhode Island allowing gays to marry in the state. Brown University claims that 60% of Rhode Island citizens support gay marriage while only 31% oppose it. 
The National Organization for Marriage claims that 43% oppose same-sex marriage, 36% are for it, and 17% are undecided. In both polls however, the opponents of same-sex marriage fail to reach the 50% marker. Rhode Island may be one of the states on the verge of legalizing gay marriage being performed within the state. With a close proximity to other States with a large and active gay community such as New York and Massachusetts, the supporters of Rhode Island Gay marriage will likely grow.

Gay Marriage Laws in South Carolina

Gay Marriage Laws in South Carolina

most other states, South Carolina adopted DOMA. The Defense of Marriage Act was
enacted by many states to clearly define marriage as to prohibit legalizing gay
marriages. In South Carolina, gay marriage is legally forbidden. In addition,
South Carolina approved a constitutional amendment that explicitly forbids same
sex marriages and civil unions, in addition to the enactment of DOMA. In fact,
seventy eight percent of voters supported the measure.  In South Carolina,
gay marriage, domestic partnerships and civil unions are banned outright.

In South Carolina, gay marriages and other same sex relationships are forbidden
from being legally recognized by Article XVII. In other words, no same sex
relationship shall be recognized by the state, no matter what it is called, and
no matter if it is recognized by another state. In fact, Title 20 states that a
marriage between same sex couples is forbidden and against the public policies
of the state of South Carolina. Marriages are forbidden in several
circumstances, such as between relatives and in the case of a same sex couples. 

In fact, Title 20 explains in detail, which marriages are forbidden by the
state of South Carolina. Marriages are not allowed between specific
individuals, such as a woman and her father, son, grandson etc., and another
woman. Likewise, a man may not marry his mother, stepmother, sister or another
man. This Title equates same sex marriage with an individual marrying a

However, South Carolina’s gay population appears to be in consideration by some
state senators. In fact, The Civil Union Equality Act was introduced to the
state Senate in 2009.  The bill was meant to establish the legality of
civil unions for same sex couples in South Carolina. Marriages would still be
explicitly forbidden for same sex couples but same sex unions would be legally
recognized in South Carolina. Gay couples would be afforded all rights and
responsibilities usually afforded to married couples in South Carolina. 

Marriage provides certain rights such as, the right to share health insurance,
the right to assign a a partner as a health care proxy and the right to own
property jointly. If the bill were to become law, it would be active
immediately upon the signature of the governor of South Carolina. Marriage’s definition
would remain unchanged as the bill would only legally allow for civil unions
for same sex couples. The bill has not moved and currently awaits review and
the voting procedure of the state.

Gay Marriage Laws in South Dakota

Gay Marriage Laws in South Dakota


South Dakota has legally banned gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships. In November of 2006, the measure passed by a public vote of fifty two percent.  Article XXI clearly states that South Dakota shall not legally recognize any relationship, other than a union of a man and a woman. 

In addition, the state had also adopted the Defense of Marriage Act. Combined, the act and amendment explicitly deny any legal rights or recognition of any other relationship besides marriage. In South Dakota, marriage laws could not be any clearer in denying rights to the LGBT community. In addition, South Dakota law on marriage only recognize out of state marriages between an opposite sex couple.

In South Dakota, gay couples have no entitlement to any rights or responsibilities afforded to married couples. In fact, same sex relationships can not be recognized in any form in South Dakota. Marriage laws prevent same sex couples from any entitlement to property without a will. In this case, a couple that has lived together would have difficulty in retaining the property as a whole, should one person pass away. 

For instance, if the Deed or Lease to a property is in one partners name and that partner passed away, the other partner has no legal entitlement to that property. In addition to not being able to own property jointly, same sex couples have no ability to make health care decisions for their partners. The same sample partner that lost property after the death of a partner,would have been unable to visit that partner in the ICU because they are not related. In essence, the inability to have a relationship legally recognized, prevents access to many basic rights for same sex couples.

In addition, South Dakota has no laws to protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination. However, larger private employers tend to have their own regulations regarding such discrimination and many forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Many studies suggest that openly gay employees, suffer harassment, as well as a decrease in pay do to public perception. In South Dakota, gay couples live without rights that are equal to other portions of the population.

In South Dakota, gay couples are unable to expect legal recognition of their relationship. In addition, discrimination and hate crime laws are seriously lacking in South Dakota.Marriage laws prevent same sex couples from obtaining even basic rights as they pertain to their relationship. In addition, when those individuals do suffer from discrimination, they have no legal recourse. In South Dakota, gay rights need more consideration by lawmakers and by the general public. 

In South Dakota, marriage's definition should be reconsidered to include unions between same sex couples. Allowing civil unions or domestic partnerships, would be the first step to obtaining equal rights for the LGBT community. In South Dakota, gay rights must first be applied to the most basic circumstances. In this way, laws can change to protect all citizens and their rights, equally.

Gay Marriage Laws in Tennessee

Gay Marriage Laws in Tennessee

Tennessee, gay marriage is not currently legal. According to state laws in Tennessee,
marriage consists of a union of one man and one woman. In fact, Article XI
states that “any law, policy or judicial interpretation,” of marriage
as anything other than a legal contract to join one man and one woman, is
contrary to public policy and should void and therefore, not legally
recognized. In addition, the state does not recognize legal same sex marriages
performed in another state. In Tennessee, marriage is strictly defined by state
laws and the state’s constitution.

In Tennessee, gay marriage is also forbidden by Title 36, which says that
family is essential to society and that any other definition of marriage puts
society at risk. In fact, Tennessee law states that marriage is unique in its
rights and responsibilities and any alteration of the definition is detrimental
to society. In essence, families are run by one man and one woman and any
variation of that, will pose a danger to the natural order of society. The
union of one man and one woman, is the only acceptable definition of marriage
in Tennessee.  

Gay marriage in explicitly forbidden in several aspects of
the laws in Tennessee. Marriage of same sex individuals is contrary to the
public policy of Tennessee. In addition, lawmakers believe that marriage is the
link that holds families together in Tennessee. Gay couples are explicitly
forbidden form enjoying any of the rights or benefits of marriage.

Tennessee is
one of a few states to include such strong language in their laws relating to
marriage. In fact, their laws contain language that question the morality of being
a part of a same sex couple. The laws state that opposite sex couples add to
the bond in society in Tennessee. Marriage is claimed to be the bond that holds
families together.

The laws in Tennessee are currently prohibitive to the legal recognition of
same sex couples. However, the Federal government is likely to address the
issue in the immediate future. For the most part, the argument is that most
people believe that marriage, or the legal recognition of a same sex
relationship, is an equal right. 

In essence, many people believe that same sex
couples are entitled to the same rights as opposite sex couples. In Tennessee,
gay rights are clearly violated not only by the laws, but by the language of
the laws. Laws and their language must be addressed in Tennessee. Marriage must
be available to all individuals in order to ensure equal rights.

Gay Marriage Laws in Nebraska

Gay Marriage Laws in Nebraska


Although there has yet to be an actual legal advancement made for the Nebraska gay community, at least in regards to homosexual relationships being granted the same privileges as heterosexual Nebraska marriages, there is proof of a decent fight being put up against the state's anti-gay laws. Up until 2005, a federal judge had never struck down a constitutional amendment set on limiting Nebraska marriages to heterosexual couples, especially not one that an overwhelming 70% of Nebraskan voters approved. U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon, however, changed all of that. 

On May 12, 2005, after being challenged by the groups Lambda Legal, a gay rights organization, and the Lesbian and Gay Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, who strongly urged the judge to reconsider the provision of the Nebraska constitution, Section 29, which defined marriage as solely being between a man and a woman and prohibited all types of state recognized same-sex partnerships and civil unions (as well as same-sex foster parents), Judge Bataillon voided the same-sex Nebraska marriages ban which was signed in the year 2000, stating that it interfered with the rights of those in the Nebraska gay community. 

He further supported his decision with the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and said that the ban deprived Nebraska gay and lesbian partnerships of participation in the political process. It was the first time that a state constitutional amendment of the kind, that is one which banned Nebraska marriages for same-sex partners, had been so clearly struck down by a court.

In a way, it can be said that the Nebraska gay marriage debate made history on this judge's decision alone. However, it was a verdict that the majority of Nebraskans were clearly not pleased with, and it did not last long. And so the controversial issue was brought to a higher court, yet again, and due to a very evident popular demand, a U.S. federal appeals court reversed Bataillon's ruling and reinstated the Nebraska gay marriage ban on July 14, 2006. The issue continues to be challenged by equal rights activists, Nebraska gay marriage supporters, and those who question if judicial power can, indeed, be so quickly overturned. If you need legal advice and assistance, contact Nebraska lawyers.

Gay Marriage Laws in Nevada

Gay Marriage Laws in Nevada


Although there are no gay marriage laws granting full marital rights for homosexual couples in Nevada, marriage-minded gay partnerships received at least some good news when, in 2009, they were granted legal recognition of same-sex unions in Nevada. Marriage it is not recognized, but at least it's monumental progress in the right direction. 

In Nevada, marriage for same-sex couples was actually legally banned with an astonishing 67% majority vote in 2002, in an amendment to the Constitution of Nevada entitled Question 2. However, despite the ban, the Senate Bill (283) creates a domestic partnership registry that allows those in same-sex relationships to have the same rights as Nevada's heterosexual married couples. The bill makes Nevada the 17th state to legally recognize residents which are in homosexual relationships. 

Although those rights are not nearly the same as those in other states' gay marriage laws, because it does not recognize the partnership as an actual legal marriage. The new bill, similar to California's historic domestic partnership law, does allow gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender couples to receive the exact same rights, responsibilities, entitlements, and benefits as those with a Nevada marriage license, such as health care decision–making, insurance rights, information–access rights, and inheritance rights, without actually having a legal Nevada marriage license.

Although the bill was vetoed, as promised, on May 26, 2009, by Republican Governor Jim Gibbons, who opposes the idea of gay marriage laws and has previously said, "I just don't believe in" domestic partnerships, the veto was successfully overturned by both the Senate, in a 14-7 vote, and finally, on May 31, 2009, by The Assembly, in a 28-14 vote. And despite the outlook of the Governor, who was assured that the majority of Nevadans, who were so strongly against gay marriage laws at the beginning of the decade, would likewise not support the new domestic partnership bill, there was indeed, no major opposition or overwhelming outcry from the public, and the law took effect on October 1, 2009. If you need legal advice and assistance, contact Nevada lawyers.

Gay Marriage Laws in New Hampshire

Gay Marriage Laws in New Hampshire

In a lot of ways, it was bound to happen. After being one
of the first states to pass a civil unions bill in 2007, providing rights, such
as the same state benefits accorded to married couples, to those in same-sex
partnerships within the New Hampshire gay community, New Hampshire followed the
lead of four other fellow New England states in furthering equal rights for
all, by legalizing same-sex New Hampshire marriages. 

That action made it the
sixth U.S. state to do so. On June 3, 2009, despite opposing the idea of
legalized New Hampshire marriage rights for homosexual couples in the past,
Governor John Lynch signed a new marriage equality bill (House Bill 436) 
support of New Hampshire gay marriage unions, after changes were made and two
other bills were approved to give religious institutions and clergy greater
protections in relation to gay marriage, such as performing the marriages. The
bills became effective on January 1, 2010.

In the months building up to the official signing, the
House of Representatives had technically already approved the New Hampshire
marriage equality bill in question weeks beforehand, but it would not pass
due to certain sensitive issues relating to religious institutions. And so
while the Senate changed the language of the bill, on insistence of the
Governor, two addition bills (HB73 and HB310) were also signed, which affirm
religious freedom protections with regard to marriage. 

These additions state
that religious organizations and societies have “exclusive control”
over religious “doctrines, teachings and beliefs.” Simply put, the
newly adapted New Hampshire marriage laws for same-sex couples are separate
from the laws of marriage in respective religious communities. So if your
religious leader wants to deny you the right to marry within the religion, they
can. Other than attempting to convince a religious leader with valid arguments, by law, couples can’t do anything else about it.

The New Hampshire gay marriage law also recognizes
same-sex marriages from other states, as well as civil unions in New Hampshire.
Gay couples who have such civil unions in New Hampshire, will automatically be
considered  married, as of January 1, 2011.

Although there have been measures taken to try and topple
down these New Hampshire gay rights advancements, including a proposal to
repeal same-sex marriage and civil unions, and another to create a
constitutional amendment that bans same-sex New Hampshire marriage unions, all
proposals were defeated on February 17, 2010. For now, marriage equality for
all in New Hampshire,  gay and straight, remains, and the successful New
England Marriage Equality movement continues to set an example for other areas
of the United States.

Gay Marriage Laws in New Jersey

Gay Marriage Laws in New Jersey

While the fight for gay marriage to be recognized by every state and the federal government is a long way from over, legal New Jersey gay marriages have a chance of being recognized. Currently, New Jersey marriages do not include any gay couples but the state does recognize same-sex unions. 

Same-sex unions give gay couple some of the same state rights that heterosexual New Jersey marriages get. The problem is that there are over 1,000 rights regarding marriage that only the federal government recognizes. So between New Jersey gays having to settle for civil-unions and the federal government not giving them any of the rights that New Jersey marriages benefit from, a fight will continue to win the battle for legal same-sex New Jersey marriages. 

A ban on New Jersey gay marriage is one of those old-school type of laws that may someday seem ridiculous much like segregation. As of now, New Jersey is caught in the middle. While it is not one of the 6 U.S states that recognizes gay marriage, it does offer most the benefits of New Jersey marriages. For many, religion gets in the way of passing a bill that would allow for New Jersey gay marriage. The excuse that “it just is not right” does not fly with supporters of New Jersey gay marriage, which extends beyond the gay community.

    One of the main problems with New Jersey not accepting same-sex marriages is that employers do not recognize civil unions. Gay couples feel they deserve the same health benefits and other benefits that the spouses of different sex marriages enjoy. 

Former Governor Corzine has fought for same-sex couples and has said he would support any bill that was ever passed on to his desk that legalized New Jersey gay marriage. Companies in New Jersey such as UPS claim their contract agreement does not support civil unions when it comes to employee spousal benefits so there is nothing that can be done.

    Unfortunately up to this point, New Jersey gay marriage cases have not been so successful in court. In January of 2010 a bill was shot down by the New Jersey judicial committee that would have made New Jersey marriage laws fair and equal regardless of whether they were same-sex marriages or not. Garden State Equality and Lambda Legal were representing those fighting for equal right in the case and even though they did not win that day they vowed to return to court. It is a fight that will never end because both sides feel they are in the right.

Gay Marriage Laws in New Mexico

Gay Marriage Laws in New Mexico


New Mexico gay marriage is not performed or accepted in the state. New Mexico marriages are only between a man and a woman and the do not recognize same-sex unions either. However, the state does give domestic partnership benefits to state employees. 

That causes anger being that the state will only give you domestic partnership benefits is you are working for the state. People who argue for the same-sex marriage do not understand why some people have the right to have a domestic partnership and others can not. 

They feel if some can do it then there must not be a serious backlash against it and all should be allowed to enjoy the benefits of a marriage. New Mexico marriages of course are recognized by the federal government but even if New Mexico gay marriage was accepted the federal government would still not grant any of the benefits that married couples get under federal law. Currently there is no legislation set to be passed that would allow for same-sex marriage in New Mexico.

In 2004 there were nearly 70 same-sex couples that were actually married. A republican senator named Victoria Dunlap claimed that there was no language that specifically banned New Mexico gay marriage. When news broke out of the senator allowing a couple to be married by ministers there was a flooding of couples who applied to be married. It was not even one day before the licenses were deemed invalid by the Supreme court of New Mexico. Senator Dunlap faced a lot of backlash from her party as well as other state officials. 

The happy couples who thought they had been married, were quickly stripped of their happiness. It is interesting to note how quickly the New Mexico senate acted to terminate the New Mexico Marriages that took place due to what Senator Dunlap thought was perfectly legal. In fact it was legal because there was nothing stating that New Mexico gay marriage was illegal.

New Mexico gay couples that seek to be married by means of going to a state such as Massachusetts or leaving the country to Canada to get married may do so. However, New Mexico gay marriage was not required to be accepted by the state. New Mexico marriages are possible, as long it is not done in New Mexico and it will not be recognized as the strong union with benefits that same-sex marriages enjoy in the state. 

As with any other state there is outrage among gay and straight people that gays can not marry. However, there is not as publicized a fight taking place as in other states. With no legislation currently fighting for or against the topic of New Mexico marriage regarding gays, the issue is at a stand still. If you need legal advice and assistance, contact New Mexico lawyers.