PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Lawmakers in Rhode Island and Maryland are taking up bills to legalize gay marriage, advocates in New York are making a renewed push, and opponents are fighting for constitutional bans in Indiana and Wyoming and to re-impose bans in Iowa and Hampshire.

The flurry of activity nationwide has activists on both sides of the gay marriage debate encouraged that 2011 will be a year of gains for them.

“There is so much happening that it is a challenge even for the most ardent marriage-equality supporters to keep track of,” said Molly McKay, media director of Marriage Equality, a national group that favors same-sex marriage. “This is a national fight being fought out on various local grounds. Rhode Island, New York, those are states right now where all eyes are looking.”

In New York City, the advocacy group Freedom to Marry on Wednesday announced the launch of what it described as the largest-ever national public education campaign aimed at increasing popular support for same-sex marriage.

The group said it hopes to raise and spend $10 million over the next three years to run ads featuring gay and straight couples talking about the importance of marriage. The first ad is scheduled to run nationally on CNN on Valentine’s Day, the group said.

McKay said that with more people open about their sexual orientation, and with gay marriages legal in Massachusetts since 2004, there is a growing acceptance among the public that allowing two men or two women to marry is not a big deal.

“People are realizing, ‘Oh, this isn’t just a theoretical issue. That’s our nice neighbors down the street,”‘ she said. “You can’t put the toothpaste back into the tube one it’s squeezed.”

Gay marriage is legal in a handful of states besides Massachusetts: Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa, as

well as in the District of Columbia. In California, supporters of gay marriage are mounting a challenge in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage there after voters approved it in 2008.

On the other side, 30 states have constitutional amendments banning gay marriages.

Maggie Gallagher, chairwoman of National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage, said her group is working to increase that number by adding Indiana, Wyoming and possibly North Carolina, the only state in the South that does not have such an amendment. In Wyoming, the proposed amendment is heading to the full House after clearing a committee on Tuesday. It has already passed the Senate.

Gallagher said the group hopes it can block legislative efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland and Rhode Island, as well as in New York, where a similar measure could emerge this year. She said that she doesn’t believe there are enough votes in New York to pass potential legislation, and that she’s especially hopeful in Maryland, which has a voter referendum process similar to the one in Maine. Voters in that state repealed same-sex marriage in 2009

after legislators approved it.

If the bill is approved, Gallagher said, “the people of Maryland will, like the people of Maine, reverse their legislators’


In Maryland, supporters say they are “cautiously optimistic” that a same-sex marriage bill will pass the Senate. Maryland’s House speaker, a Democrat, has said he will wait on action from the Senate before advancing the debate in his chamber.

In Rhode Island, activists believe that after years of trying, this year represents their best chance yet of legalizing gay

marriage. New Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent, has been a longtime supporter of legalizing gay marriage, and Democratic House Speaker Gordon Fox, who took his post last year and is gay, is co-sponsoring a bill scheduled for testimony Wednesday before a key House committee. Democratic Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, however, opposes same-sex marriage.

The Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Marriage has aired TV and radio ads targeting Chafee, while

advocates planned a Statehouse rally in support of the bill Wednesday afternoon.

McKay said activists see Rhode Island as key.

“What happens in Rhode Island will advance the cause of equality nationwide,” she said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (17)
  1. skiing7654 says:

    Can people who are against gay marriage pause and think for a moment:
    Slavery was legal 150 years ago…
    Women couldn’t vote 100 years ago…
    Segregation was legal 50 years ago…
    Interracial marriage was illegal 50 years ago….

    Conservative social values and staying with the status quo ALWAYS loses and looks antiquated and assinine in the face of history.

    How do 80 year olds who faught against the civil rights movement look at themselves now?? This will be the way everyone who is fighting against gay marriage looks at themselves in 40 years.

    And I am straight.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The conservatives will ultimately lose this battle. Celebrities downplay the “sanctity of marriage” anyways when they have 30-minute marriages and get divorced nine times. Sarah Palin’s Army will not defeat us, you hear me now.

  3. Matt says:

    The struggle for civil rights is not a popularity contest.

  4. Jon-Paul says:


    You bring a very, very important point to everyone who reads your comment can learn. But therein lies our problem: How much faith do you have in human learning?

    The first atomic bomb was exploded approx 67 years ago….
    Yet even the designers and planners who built it DIDN’T KNOW if it would stop

    Rather than Libs and Conservatives (Anonymous) let’s look toward a greater macrocosm — humankind; when it comes to messing up the baby train we’re talking about the survival of the species — human species; that ALONE should alert some people about the correctness of it.

    1. skiing7654 says:

      Jon, do you think gay people would suddenly become straight and start having children if gay marrige were made illegal everywhere.

      For that matter would you (assuming you are straight here) become gay if gay marriage were leaglized in MD?

      I know I wouldn’t.

      The sad fact is this law will not change anyone’s behavior, but it will move us towards a more open and just society, you know where “All men are created equal”
      (It will be nice when social conservatives realize that phrase and its true meaning)

  5. Brian of Bel Air says:

    How dare you all call this Civil Rights, you all have rights establishe by the Constiituion. Gay Marriage isn’t one of those Rights expressed therein!!
    Marriage between a Man and a Women has both Reliigious and tradaitional connotations going back to the time of Abraham and re-confirmnned in Chrits’s
    name with the Wedding Ffeast at Cana. Gay marriage has nothing of this sort of Traditional, Religious, or Legal Precedence. As a voter I would oppose any legislation and/ or legislator who would nvote in support of Gay Marriage,
    As a member of current society I could accept a Civil Union as the Only popular and acceptable term for a union between a same sex Couple as the Term Marriage has too much significane for those of us who are straight!.

    1. Judy Fox says:

      You don’t believe that we should all have the same civil rights? To legally commit to the one you love? If my hetero marriage does not produce offspring and I do not submit to the religious connotations of marriage, what signifigance do you think I should put on it? Is it not as signifigant as yours? I would gladly have a Civil Union instead of a traditional marriage if it meant that my fellow humans were given the same CIVIL RIGHT to marry their chosen love.

    2. skiing7654 says:

      Unfortunately Brian, there are people in this country that do not hold the same religious views as you. Once you start to impose your religious views on others and say they can not do something strictly because your book says it is wrong (which is different than murder or stealing which is universally viewed as wrong) you open pandoras box.

      Should orthodox Jews be able to say you can not eat pork, shrimp or work on Sundays?

      Then why can you say that gays can’t get married?

      1. skiing7654 says:

        Meant Saturdays. (same point though)

  6. HUMAN says:

    Leave those people alone. You don’t know them, feed them, clothe them, don’t live with them, not related to them, don’t work and take care of them and you are not going to die for them. “MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS” They will answer for what ever they do wrong, ‘NOT YOU’.

  7. Kathy Fronzoli says:

    I would like to ask Brian of Belair. How would gay marriage effect you personaly? A civil union does NOT offer the same kind of prtection of a legal marriage. What bennifits would a civil union offer to anyone?

    1. Not Civil Rights Issue says:

      Why wouldn’t a legal civil union offer the same protection as marriage? Civil unions would give insurance benefits, etc. to the significant other. What is the protection of marriage that a civil union would not provide?

      Marriage between one man and one woman ensures for survival of the species. Two women nor two men cannot reproduce/procreate.

      This is not a civil rights issue.

  8. whatnow says:

    But I do have one question. I am pro-gay marriage and for progess. But at the same time, If all the progress alluded to is so good, why is this country in such bad shape. Financially, women can’t be stay at home moms anymore. Crime wise, it is frightening out there. I don’t want to stomp on anyone’s rights but we need to bring back some kind of value system both in industry and in our homes. I fear for my great-great grandchildren in the years to come. And gay marriage is certainly not one of the things I’m worried about.

  9. jimmy says:

    Call it what ever you want as long as my taxes reflect the same as you “straight married people” and we can all call it a day. So much more important things in this country to worry about , “WAKE UP.”

  10. candy says:

    i agree with making same sex marriage legal in md. there are a lot of families that have two mommies or two dads in a functioning household that would like to be complete family by getting married. people would like for us to shack up instead of being responsible and make our families one with marriage.

    1. John says:

      It use to be that people looked up to determine right from wrong but this is no longer the case for more & more people in America.
      Is man the measure of all things? Is there an absolute standard that applies to all people, in all places, & for all times or is the only absolute that there are no absolutes? Does it matter if the original design for the family was one man with one woman. If you will look into it you will see that when Christ did speak of marriage he always referred to a man and a woman. (nothing less or nothing more.) On the other hand the God of scripture will step aside and allow people to have their freedom.

  11. Creed says:

    I’m not for gay marriage. I would like for once something sacred not be defiled by some minority wants.

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