Saturday, November 9, 2013

Observations from the Coffee Shop 11.9

I thought I would take a minute to update some of my recent posts.

On Tuesday Illinois became the 15th to legalize same sex marriage. Governor Pat Quinn has announced that he will sign the bill on November 20 at the University of Illinois with marriages beginning June 1, 2014.

As was expected when I posted Thursday morning the U.S. Senate passed ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, later that afternoon by a vote of 64-32. Ten Republican Senators voted for the bill. ENDA has now passed the Senate for the first time and is supported by President Obama along with a majority of Americans. However ENDA is not supported by House Speaker John Boehner and it's unlikely the House will ever vote on it. In calling for a House vote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he thought Republicans would have to allow a vote "if they have any hope of having a president candidate that can be a viable candidate or they think they can elect some Republicans and they want to hang onto the House."

Meanwhile the Aloha State of Hawaii is on the verge of becoming the 16th state with same sex marriage after the Hawaiian legislature passed it's bill 30-19 early Saturday morning east coast time. The Hawaiian Senate will vote and likely pass the House's amended bill on Tuesday and Governor Abercrombie will sign it. Maybe because of the time difference, or because it came after the celebration of Illinois, the vote in Hawaii just doesn't feel as good as some of the others. I try to follow these state debates as much as possible, the Hawaiian special session has been downright exhausting and at times hateful.

At other times the session became a farce as over 5,000 witnesses testified and 30 amendments were proposed by same sex marriage opponents, most simply to slow the inevitable passage as long as possible. One amendment would have created a task force to further discuss the impact of marriage equality. Further discussion twenty years after the Hawaiian Supreme Court first ruled on same sex marriage, a ruling that started the marriage equality movement, and after 57 hours of testimony this week. Other 'highlights' included an out lesbian representative voting against marriage equality, more recesses than a first grade class in summer school, and the argument that marriage equality would scare away Asian tourists. My favorite quote came from Republican Representative Bob McDermott who argued, "people of religion are now the minority, they're the ones we never take care of."

As I said the Hawaiian Senate will pass the bill next week, the Governor will sign it, and Hawaii will become one of the sweet sixteen. You just have to smile and say mahalo to the Hawaiian Legislature.

Current betting is on New Mexico becoming number 17.