On June 23, 2011 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed what many are calling “historic” legislation that made New York the sixth state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriages (it is legal in Washington D.C. as well). The news has touted the various reasons why New York’s decision is so important including the size of the state, the largest to legalize same-sex marriage to date.
This important step that has been taken in the state that I not only live in but is the state of my birth led me to wonder the status of same-sex unions in the other places that I have lived.
Doing this mildly thorough research I have realized how representative these four states are of the diverse opinions Americans have on this topic.
I was born in New York and we already know that come July 24 (or thereabouts) same-sex couples will be able to marry and receive the same rights and privileges associated with that union that heterosexual couples receive.
After New York I moved to Illinois. Known for Lincoln, political corruption (the two are unrelated to my knowledge), an recently abolishing the death penalty, Illinois recently (June 2011) instituted and legalized same-sex civil unions. These unions have the same privileges and benefits, to my knowledge, of a marriage however they are not officially titled as such.
From Illinois I made my way to Florida where I lived 11 hot and humid years along the Treasure Coast. As of 2008 Article 1, Section 27 of the Florida Constitution states: “Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”
My next 11 years were spent in the Centennial State AKA Colorado. More specifically I lived in Boulder…an interesting city. In 1975 City of Boulder clerk and recorder Clela Rorex issued the first same-sex marriage licenses in the country. Unfortunately with the issue all of a sudden raised Rorex and Boulder were quick to take fire. The marriages were later invalidated.
As of 2008 the Colorado Constitution has stated in Article II Section 31: “Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.” Allowing for the future possibility of civil unions for same-sex couples though recent legislation that attempted to institute these unions never passed.
This is only a snapshot of some of the country, a country that is very disjointed in how it chooses to deal with what seems like a simple issue to many. I recognize that the issue may not be so simple for all people. However I am a big fan of civil marriage, which I believe should be separate from religious and spiritual recognitions of personal unions and available to all consenting adults of any gender, race, ethnicity, religion and so on. The religious and/or spiritual side of it, in my opinion, should be left to each couple’s personal preferences and practices.
Something to consider.