Last week two events occurred in the fight for federal recognition of same-sex marriage. On Tuesday, March 12, 2013 Colorado lawmakers passed legislation legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples, expecting Governor John Hickenlooper (D) to sign the bill into law in the next few weeks. Then on Friday, March 15, 2013 Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced his support for same-sex marriage, reversing his previous stance on the issue. Both moves have the potential to influence the swiftly approaching decision on DOMA by the Supreme Court.
The Colorado legislation had originally been passed in that state’s Senate in 2012, but suffered defeat in the House in a special session convened by Gov. Hickenlooper. This year however, the bill passed through the Senate and a newly Democratic majority in the House, in a bipartisan effort. With the Governor’s approval, Colorado will become the 20th state, along with the District of Columbia, to recognize civil unions, domestic partnerships, or same-sex-marriage.
Senator Portman’s announcement makes him the first sitting Republican senator to officially support same-sex marriage. Portman, who had been on the short list of running mates for Mitt Romney in 2012, had sponsored DOMA back in 1996 and was compelled by the Court’s impending review to speak out. His position changed when his son came out to him as gay two years ago. While the majority of Republicans still oppose same-sex marriage, Portman is a man apart. However, his prominent status on the Hill could potentially influence other party members.
As more and more states and leaders come out in support of legally recognizing same-sex unions and marriage, the pressure is increased on the Supreme Court, which is expected to review DOMA in the next few weeks. However, with the scheduled arguments just around the corner, the impact of these events remains to be seen.