A final vote is to take place on May 5. Supporters believe that this is first step is paving away for the official legalization of gay marriage in the district.
That same day, Vermont voted to legalize gay marriage, the fourth state to do so and the first to do so by legislative vote. The vote came nine years after Vermont became the first state to legalize civil unions. Gov. Jim Douglas had vetoed the gay marriage bill. The Burlington Free Press writes that he felt it to be an unnecessary distraction in a time of economic crisis and that legalizing gay marriage in Vermont was pointless, given that federal and other states’ laws still don’t recognize same-sex marriages. The Vermont legislature voted to override his veto, however; the vote was 23-5 the state Senate and 100-49 in the House.
Meanwhile, on April 3, the Iowa Supreme Court overturned a gay marriage ban, calling it unconstitutional. The unanimous vote still permits churches to decide who can be married under their roofs, the Des Moines Register reports. The difference between civil unions and marriage is also discussed; part of the ruling indicated that limiting same-sex couples to civil unions would be a form of discrimination.
The case originated in 2005 with a lawsuit filed by six gay couples, and is particularly remarkable given Iowa’s location in the country; it is the first state in its region to make a ruling in favor of gay marriage.
To that end, 2009 has meant a big push for gay marriage in numerous states throughout the country. Activists in Minnesota, California and Arizona began initiatives for gay marriage, including long-term education projects to increase public awareness of the issue.