Senate minority leader says gay marriage inevitable

JUNEAU — Senate Minority Leader Hollis French said Thursday the legalization of same-sex marriage across the country seems inevitable.

“If you can’t see it coming, your eyes are closed,” he said.

Over the last year, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that prevented legally married same-sex couples from receiving a range of federal benefits. States like Hawaii and Illinois legalized same-sex marriage, and state constitutional bans in Utah and Oklahoma have been struck down by federal courts, though appeals are pending or expected.

Virginia’s attorney general said Thursday that he believes that state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and would support efforts to fight it.

French said he believed the U.S. Supreme Court would ultimately take up the issue and find denying an adult the right to marry whomever he or she wants violates the equal protection clause.

He called it an exciting legal development.

Alaska voters in 1998 approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Sen. Berta Gardner, D-Anchorage, said she thinks that will change in time. She said she is committed, in the meantime, to removing barriers and discrimination “so that people can live their lives and be measured on what they contribute and how they live their lives rather than who they love.” Gardner has introduced legislation that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.

Gov. Sean Parnell was asked in December if he believed the state needed to revisit the ban on same-sex marriage given developments around the country. He said he didn’t think so.

He said at the time that the state extended certain benefits offered to spouses of public employees to same-sex domestic partners after the Alaska Supreme Court ordered it, and the state honors and respects each citizen.


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