Maryland and Washington state began implementing parts of new legislation legalizing same-sex marriage today. Same-sex marriage was approved in both states, as well as in Maine, in the November election.
In Maryland, same-sex couples can now begin the process for obtaining a marriage license from the state. Licenses for same-sex couples won't be valid in January 1st, 2013, when the new law will officially take effect. However, two of the largest jurisdictions in Maryland will begin issuing licenses as early Thursday according to local WJLA. Couples with a marriage license dated for January 1st, 2013 can begin exchanging vows at the beginning of the new year.
In Washington, same-sex couples were in line at midnight to get marriage licenses. According to the Seattle Times, over 200 couples were in line at midnight to get licenses in the city. Whereas in Maryland couples won't be able to exchange vows until 2013, Washington couples can proceed with ceremonies as early as Sunday, after a mandatory three day waiting period after receiving a marriage license. Pete-e Peterson, the first to get a license with her partner Jane Abbott Lightly, told the Huffington Post, "We waited a long time. We've been together 35 years, never thinking we'd get a legal marriage. Now I feel so joyous I can't hardly stand it."
Same-sex couples in Maine can begin exchanging vows December 29th when the state law goes into effect. There is no mandatory waiting period for a marriage license in Maine.
Media Resources: Huffington Post 12/6/12, Reuters 12/6/12; Seattle Times 12/6/12. WBAL 12/6/12, WJLA 12/6/12
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .