Marriage Equality Policy and Legal Update – September 4-29, 2013

Written by Thom Watson on October 2nd, 2013

MEUSA LogoMarriage Equality USA closely monitors marriage equality polls, ballots, laws, and lawsuits nationwide, and keeps the MEUSA website updated with changes in these areas on a near-daily basis. Every week we plan to update you with policy and legal updates covering the preceding week. This first edition of our weekly policy and legal updates post will be a little longer than usual because it covers updates from throughout the entire month of September; going forward we will provide updates a week at a time.

Moreover, you may always find the most up-to-date information, including changes that have taken place between these weekly posts, on the Current Policy & Legal Status page on the MEUSA website.

Policy & Legal Updates

September 4-29, 2013

NATIONAL MAP


NATIONAL POLLS

On 27 September 2013, University of Minnesota compared data on 1,476,548 families, and reported that 78% of children with married mixed-gender parents have private health insurance, but only 63% of children with dual fathers and 68% of children with dual mothers have such coverage.  The disparity reduces in states where same-gender civil marriage, civil union, domestic partnership, and/or second-parent adoption is legal.  •  Survey Details

On 24 September 2013, Public Religion Research Institute surveyed 1,563 Hispanic American adults (a representative sample of the 53 million Hispanic people who comprise 17% of all Americans) on same-gender civil marriage, and reported that 55% support it, 43% oppose it, with 2% unaccounted for.  •  Survey Details

On 27 September 2013, Bloomberg News surveyed 1,000 American adults on same-gender civil marriage, and reported that 55% support it, including 70% of young people.  Most Republicans (52%) oppose it.   •  Survey Details


NATIONAL LEGISLATION

Nationwide #25  •  On 19 September 2013, U.S. Representative Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) and 60 co-sponsors introduced the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, which would:  (a) prohibit federal agency discrimination against religious organizations where the followers believe that marriage is only for mixed-gender couples; (b) allow federal workers refuse to serve same-gender couples; and (c) allow federally-funded social service programs to refuse service to LGBT people overall; (d) allow employers to deny workers leave to care for ill same-gender spouses; and (e) allow individuals to use religion as an excuse to break federal laws; and (f) allow federal beneficiaries to discriminate against anyone who has had sexual relations outside of a mixed-gender marriage.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source 

Nationwide #22  •  As of 26 September 2013, House Joint Resolution 51, which would ban same-gender civil marriage in both the U.S. Constitution and every state constitution, has 55 supporters (54 Republicans, 1 Democrat).  To succeed, it needs approval from 289 Representatives, 66 Senators, and 38 states.  The proposal is heavily promoted by anti-equality groups as a fund-raising ploy.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source 

Nationwide #26  •  On 18 September 2013, the U.S. Labor Department announced that legally married same-gender couples have all the same federal rights (pensions, 401(k) retirement plans, health insurance, etc.) as other married couples, regardless of their state of residence.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source 

Nationwide #27  •  On 19 September 2013, U.S. Senators and Representatives introduced the DPBO (Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2013), which would extend employee benefit programs to same-gender domestic partners of federal civilian employees, regardless of state of residence.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source


LAWSUITS

PENNSYLVANIA  •  On 12 September 2013, a state district court judge ordered a Philadelphia clerk to stop issuing civil marriage licenses to same-gender couples.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

NEW MEXICO  •  On 11 September 2013, in Elane Photogaphy v. Vanessa Willock, after losing at the NM Civil Rights Commission, NM district court, NM appeals court, and NM Supreme Court, lawyers from Alliance Defending Freedom announced that they now are seeking U.S. Supreme Court permission to discriminate against same-gender couples as a religious practice.  The photographer was fined $6,638 for refusing to photograph a lesbian civil commitment ceremony.  More than any other case, equality opponents cite this one as evidence that marriage equality for all discriminates against religious freedom for a few.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

MASSACHUSETTS  •  On 12 September 2013, in Shannon McLaughlin, et al. v. Chuck Hagel, et al., a case about equal pay/benefits for active/veteran military personnel, a federal judge ruled in favor of the 8 plaintiff couples.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Srouce

KENTUCKY  •  On 10 September 2013, in Kentucky Equality Federation v. KY Governor Steve Beshear, et al., a state lawsuit was filed challenging the 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-gender civil marriage.  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

KENTUCKY  •  On 23 September 2013, Kentucky v. Bobbie Jo Clary, a judge ruled that Geneva Case must testify against her own wife, Ms. Clary, in a murder trial, because KY does not recognize their 2004 VT civil union, which in 2009 was automatically converted to a VT marriage.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

TEXAS  •  On 18 September 2013, in Nikki Araguz v. Texas, a trans woman will argue before 3 state appeals court judges that they should overturn the 2010 state court decision that denied her $600,000 in death benefits because she was born a male, which makes her TX marriage to her former (now deceased) firefighter husband invalid.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

MICHIGAN  •  On 10 September 2013, in April DeBoer & Jayne Rowse v. MI Governor Rick Snyder, et al., the trial date was re-scheduled for 16 October 2013 in a federal case challenging MI laws that deny adoption to certified foster parents when they are not married, and challenging the 2004 state ban on same-gender marriage, civil union, domestic partnership, and joint adoption.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source 

OHIO  •  On 24 September 2013, in Jim Obergefell & John Arthur v. Ohio, a federal lawsuit to get same-gender couples recognized on Death Certificates was expanded to include all such couples, and Cincinnati, OH funeral director Robert Grunn joined the lawsuit.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source  

SOUTH CAROLINA  •  On 23 September 2013, in Katherine Bradacs & Tracie Goodwin v. SC Governor Nimrata Haley, et al., a federal lawsuit challenging both of SC’s bans on same-gender civil marriage, the judge extended the state’s response deadline from 27 September to 15 November 2013.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

PENNSYLVANIA  •  On 25 September 2013, PA Governor Corbett  was sued in state court by 21 couples claiming that (1) the PA same-gender civil marriage ban violates both the PA and the U.S. constitutions, and (2) the legality of the plaintiffs’ marriages should be affirmed.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

PENNSYLVANIA  •  On 26 September 2013, in Cara Palladino & Isabelle Barker v. PA Governor Corbett et al., a couple filed a federal suit to force PA to recognize their 2005 MA marriage.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

NEW JERSEY  •  On 27 September 2013, in Garden State Equality v. NJ Attorney General Paula Dow, et al., NJ Superior Court ruled in favor of full marriage equality statewide, which starts 21 October 2013, unless the decision gets stayed because Governor Christie’s Administration appeals it, in which case the 11-year struggle continues another 1-2 years.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

ILLINOIS  •  On 27 September 2013, in Darby v. Orr, IL circuit court judge Sophia Hall ruled that a lawsuit by 25 same-gender couples can proceed.  Plaintiffs have asked for an expedited decision in their favor, but the judge did not indicate when she would rule on that request.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source 

HAWAII  •  On 26 September 2013, in Natasha Jackson et al. v. HI Governor Neil Abercrombie et al., the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the plaintiffs’ request to extend deadlines in a marriage equality lawsuit, since the legislature may legalize same-gender civil marriage in a special session starting 28 October 2013.  Plaintiffs’ opening briefs now are due 22 November 2013, defendants’ brief is due 23 December, and reply briefs are due 6 January 2014.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source 

MISSISSIPPI  •  On 11 September 2013, in Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham v. Dana Ann Melcon, Ms. Czekala-Chatham asked MS to first recognize their CA marriage, and then grant a MS divorce involving property, alimony, children, and inheritance.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source


STATE LEGISLATION & POLLS

ALASKA  •  On 19 September 2013, the AK Division of Personnel and Labor Relations revised the definition of “immediate family” to include the same-gender partner of any state employee who takes leave because of that partner’s serious health condition.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source 

HAWAII  •  On 9 September 2013, Governor Neil Abercrombie called for a special, 4-day legislative session on marriage equality starting 28 October 2013.  If approved, the proposed law would allow nuptials to begin by 18 November 2013.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

WASHINGTON  •  On 5 September 2013, the Colville, WA Tribal Council became the 6th Native American tribe to adopt marriage equality.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

NEW JERSEY  •  On 16 September 2013, 3 additional state lawmakers (Assembly members Holly Schepisi, Wayne DeAngelo, Gabriela Mosquera) voiced support for full marriage equality.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source 

NEW JERSEY  •  On 19 September 2013, Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon supported full marriage equality, so only 11 more lawmakers are needed (3 Senators, 8 Assembly members) by January 2014 to override the governor’s 2012 veto.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source 

ARIZONA  •  On 24 September 2013, the Sedona, AZ City Council adopted a same-gender civil union law similar to laws in Tucson, AZ, Bisbee, AZ, and Jerome, AZ.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

NORTH CAROLINA  •  On 20 September 2013, Elon University surveyed 701 NC voters on same-gender civil marriage, and reported that 47% oppose it, 43% support it, and 11% don’t know.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

MICHIGAN  •  On 5 September 2013, the University of Michigan polled 2,568 heterosexual sophomores, juniors, and graudate students about marriage rights, and reported that 68% support marriage equality, 22% oppose it, and 10% are neutral.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

ILLINOIS  •  On 26 Setember 2013, the IL chapter of AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest federation of labor unions, voted and urged the IL House to pass the same-gender civil marriage bill.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

CALIFORNIA  •  On 25 September 2013, Public Policy Institute of California surveyed 1,703 adult residents on marriage equality, and reported that 64% of likely voters favor it, 61% of all adults favor it, 55% of people 55 and older favor it, and the only group opposing it is Republicans (53%).  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source   

MASSACHUSETTS  •  On 26 September 2013, Public Policy Polling surveyed 616 MA voters on marriage equality, and reported that 60% support it, 29% oppose it, and 11% remain unsure.  Regarding the impact of legalizing civil marriage in 2003, 25% report a positive impact, 15% a negative impact, and 60% no impact.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source


STATE BALLOTS & POLLS

OREGON  •  On 10 September 2013, Oregon United for Marriage reported that it had collected 81,000 of the 116,284 petition signatures required to place same-gender civil marriage on the November 2014 statewide ballot.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

OREGON  •  On 11 September 2013, the Portland Business Alliance endorsed the campaign to legalize same-gender civil marriage.  •  MEUSA Summary  •   News Source

OHIO  •  On 9 September 2013, Why Marriage Matters Ohio launched a campaign for marriage equality in 2016 (sponsored by ACLU, Equality Ohio, Freedom to Marry, and Human Rights Campaign), but refusing to join WMM is Freedom Ohio, which hopes to collect 386,000 valid signatures to put marriage equality on the 2014 ballot, a goal which WMM does not support.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

FLORIDA  •  On 13 September 2013, Equal Marriage Florida suspended its ballot campaign until 2016, after suspicion about the effort’s origins, strategy, and the motives of GOP strategist Tim Mooney.  Mooney and FL Campaign Manager Vanessa Brito are refusing all requests for interviews.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source  

INDIANA  •  On 24 September 2013, Freedom Indiana surveyed 800 registered voters about a proposed constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage, and reported that 46% oppose it, and 43% support it.  Separately, 64% oppose changing the IN constitution, but 36% do not.  Also, 75% support some legal recognition for same-gender couples.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

MICHIGAN  •  On 5 September 2013, the University of Michigan polled 2,568 heterosexual sophomores, juniors, and graudate students about marriage rights, and reported that 68% support marriage equality, 22% oppose it, and 10% are neutral.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

ARKANSAS  •  On 17 September 2013, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel rejected, for the 3rd time, the wording of an AIME-sponsored ballot proposal to repeal the 2004 constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage and make it legal.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source 

ARKANSAS  •  On 18 September 2013, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel approved the wording of an AFE-sponsored ballot proposal to only repeal the 2004 constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage, without making it legal.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

ARIZONA  •  On 17 September 2013, Why Marriage Matters Arizona (led by Equality Arizona, Human Rights Campaign, and ACLU Arizona) launched a grassroots campaign to repeal the AZ constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage in 2016.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source 


Send questions and comments to:  NFlaherty@MarriageEquality.org.

 

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