Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Same-sex marriage in the South?

The Associated Press is reporting that 10 states are asking California to hold off on implementing marriage rights for same-sex couples. One of them is South Carolina and one is Florida. The others are Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Utah.

The attorneys general say in court documents filed Thursday that they have an interest in the case because they would have to determine if their states would recognize the marriage of gay residents who wed in California.

A number of questions come up. Wouldn't same-sex marriages in Massachusetts already have triggered this if a couple married in Mass. moved to one of these other states? Maybe no one who has pushed it in the courts.

And the bigger question is what will it would mean for the other Southern states if South Carolina and/or Florida recognizes same-sex marriages. I occasionally hear people argue about whether Florida is part of the South or not. Certainly the culture of Northern Florida could still lay claim to Southern heritage. But no one questions whether aspects of the old South live on in South Carolina. If these two states granted marriage rights to same-sex couples, then even in those Southern states with constitutional amendments we would see more movement on partnership recognition and even the beginnings of civil union legislation.

Almost everyone agrees that the long-term goal is full marriage equality, but other forms of relationship protection would make a huge difference to couples living in the old Confederacy today.

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