There's one potential sticking point on the current bill, however: religious exemptions. The current measure would exempt clergy members from abiding by the state's law, but not other religious organizations. It's expected that the House of Representatives would add more so-called "religious liberty" exemptions into the bill before passage. In any case, Abercrombie has made it very clear that he wants and expects to sign the legalization of same-sex marriage into law as soon as possible.
While some counties in New Mexico are already performing same-sex marriages, the state's Supreme Court has yet to decide on the subject state-wide. But it will, and soon: last week, the high court heard arguments on the subject in a a packed court house. The case in the state is like no other in the U.S., as New Mexico has the distinction of being the only state with no law allowing or barring same-sex marriage, even though the state functions as if the practice is banned.
And that's kind of how the fight for same-sex marriage in the state found its groove: a single clerk in a single county just began issuing licenses for same-sex marriages, daring the courts to find a constitutional precedent to stop him. Others followed suit, either independently or by court order, connected to an existing lawsuit challenging the state's gay marriage stance. Last week's arguments before the state Supreme Court case pitted a handful of Republican lawmakers, represented by an attorney for a Christian group, against same-sex couples in the state. The anti-gay marriage argument posits that the state's laws at least imply a ban on same-sex marriage by not explicitly allowing it, and that the issue should be decided by voters and legislators anyway. The case for same-sex marriage relies on the state's constitution, which includes a provision barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. That's the provision cited in previous state court decisions ruling in favor of same-sex couples. The court's decision isn't a sure thing either way. But the state will know where it stands on the issue in the near future.
While voters approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage in 2006, a majority of Virginians now say they oppose it. Virginia also refuses to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, and the law is facing a number of legal challenges. One suit, focusing on the out-of-state ban, comes from the legal team that helped to overturn California's Proposition 8. Earlier this week, lawyers for a separate case challenging both parts of the ban asked a judge to certify it as a class action suit.
Last spring, the Illinois senate passed a bill that would legalize gay marriage in the state, a bill that has since gone nowhere in the state House. But legislators are feeling pressure from activists on both sides to make a decision on the bill this fall, during the legislature's brief veto session. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has said he would sign the bill into law if it ever reaches his desk, but House action on the existing measure is far from a sure thing, nor is it clear if the bill's sponsors have enough votes to get it there if a vote does come up.