Bills to permit gay marriage in New Jersey and Maryland face key legislative debates and votes on Thursday, highlighting a hot-button social issue gaining prominence in the election year debate.You can contact Governor Chris Christie to ask him not to veto the New Jersey bill here. If you're in Maryland, you can find and contact your member of the House of Delegates to urge them to support the bill here.
In New Jersey, the Assembly takes up the "Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act," which passed the Senate on Monday. The bill is expected to pass the Democratic-led lower house as well, but faces a promised veto by Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican often talked about as a possible vice presidential candidate.
In Maryland, the House of Delegates will begin debate on the "Civil Marriage Protection Act" sponsored by Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat.
The bill was passed by two House committees on Tuesday, but it remains unclear if O'Malley and his allies have pulled together the 71 votes needed to clear the full House.
Meanwhile, in Colorado: Colorado civil unions bill advances toward showdown.
Gay couples waiting for rights similar to those afforded to married couples got closer on Wednesday to a legislative showdown with Colorado Republicans after a Senate committee approved civil unions legislation after hours of emotional testimony.If you're in Colorado, you can find the contact information to encourage your state rep to support the bill here.
Hundreds of people packed a hearing room at the Capitol to plead with lawmakers to give them legal protections traditional couples enjoy. The issue has gained traction as more states have recently passed either civil union or gay marriage laws.
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper urged lawmakers to pass civil unions during his State of the State speech last month, and more Republicans have expressed public support for the measure.
The bill, passed on a 5-2 vote with one Republican senator joining Democrats, is expected to easily clear the full Senate. The real challenge will be in the Republican-controlled House.
In Illinois, making a change from constantly disappointing and infuriating progressives, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he will "support and lobby on behalf of the gay marriage bill introduced last week in the Illinois General Assembly."
"I'll push for it because it is consistent with the values base, and the practical values base, that I think it is right as a city, as a state and as a country," Emanuel told the Chicago Tribune.That's how to do it. Good job, Mr. Mayor.
..."I support both the civil union and ultimately, gay marriage, because I think discrimination is embedded deeper than just recognizing a marriage or recognizing a civil union," Emanuel told WBBM-AM. "We need that recognizing the love between two adults also has a series of rippling effects through a series of policies, public and private, that we all take as a given, and is not true for gay and lesbian couples."
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has signaled that he is likely to support the bill legalizing marriage, if passed. You can contact the governor to urge him to throw his support behind marriage equality here.