South Carolina Supreme Court Lifts Marriage Equality Stay Early

Written by scott on November 20th, 2014

UPDATE 7:20 AM: The US Supreme Court just turned the state away.

The Washington Blade reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court won’t stop same-sex marriages from taking place in South Carolina following a decision against the state’s ban on gay nuptials. A one-page order from the court on Thursday indicates the stay request from state officials to block same-sex marriages and presented to U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts was referred to the entire court and denied. However, the order notes U.S. Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas would have granted the stay.


South Carolina MapThings are moving along on the marriage equality front in South Carolina too. The state Supreme Court lifted the stay on the recent ruling early.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

The South Carolina Supreme Court has lifted an injunction that prohibited the state’s probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The order comes following a ruling on Tuesday by U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs in Columbia in favor of Highway Patrol Trooper Katherine Bradacs and U.S. Air Force retiree Tracie Goodwin, who sued to have the state to recognize their marriage performed in Washington, D.C. Childs ruled the state’s failure to recognize their marriage was unconstitutional.

At least six couples in Charleston immediately received marriage licenses.

On Top Magazine reports:

At least six gay couples received marriage licenses Wednesday in South Carolina. According to multiple local sources, Probate Judge Irvin Condon in Charleston issued the licenses. Within hours, Kristin Anderson and Kayla Bennett exchanged vows, making them the first gay couple to legally marry in the state. The women, together 4 years, wed in front of the Charleston County Courthouse in a ceremony officiated by Tobin Williamson.

Atty. Gen. Alan Wilson is still pinning his hopes on the US Supreme Court.

Fits News reports:

South Carolina is the only state in the fourth circuit blocking gay marriages. Its lawyers argue that conflicting lower court rulings (the sixth circuit court of appeals has upheld the right of states to ban gay marriage) necessitate the intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court. For his part, Wilson has said he’s just doing his job as the state’s top lawyer – but in the process he’s become a hero of the religious right. “Alan Wilson isn’t simply going through the motions,” said Oran Smith of the Palmetto Family Council – a group which opposes gay marriage. “He and his lawyers are crafting new strategies.”

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in South Carolina.

 

Marriage Equality Comes to Montana

Written by scott on November 20th, 2014

MontanaA federal judge struck down the ban on marriage equality in Montana yesterday.

The Washington Blade reports:

In an 18-page decision, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris, an Obama appointee, struck down the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriage on the basis of an earlier decision in favor of marriage equality by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Montana. “No family wants to deprive its precious children of the chance to marry the loves of their lives,” Morris writes. “Montana no longer can deprive Plaintiffs and other same-sex couples of the chance to marry their loves.” Applying heightened scrutiny, or a greater assumption a law is unconstitutional, to Montana’s ban on same-sex marriage, Morris writes that state officials defending the marriage ban in court failed under that standard “to justify the discrimination engendered by the Montana laws that ban same-sex marriage.

No stay was issued on the ruling, so same-sex couples immediately started seeking marriage licenses.

The Charlotte Observer reports:

Gay couples were expected to line up for marriage licenses Thursday at county courthouses across Montana after a federal judge tossed out the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. At least two counties — Missoula and Park — started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples Wednesday, while court clerks elsewhere geared up to do so Thursday.

Among the first Montana couples to get their licenses on Wednesday were Amy Wagner, 56, and Karen Langebeck, 48, of Livingston, who have been together for 22 years. After hearing about the ruling at 2 p.m. MST, they got on the road to get their license. “Being able to get married and introduce Karen as my wife — that’s a big deal. Now I have a way to describe this relationship that everybody understands,” Wagner said.

Friend of the blog Matt Baume has compiled some of the best quotes from the decision, including:

Antigay attorneys love to rely on the Baker case, in which a 1972 dismissal from the U.S. Supreme Court stated that marriage equality wasn’t a federal issue. That was 42 years ago, and a lot has changed since then. Nevertheless, state attorneys keep bringing it up to try to persuade courts that they shouldn’t weigh in; and courts keep shooting that argument down. “Baker no longer precludes consideration of challenges to the constitutionality of laws that prohibit same-sex marriage,” Judge Morris wrote.

Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, is thrilled with the decision.

Joe.My.God reports:

“Today’s decision ensures we are closer to fulfilling our promise of freedom, dignity, and equality for all Montanans. It is a day to celebrate our progress, while recognizing the qualities that bind us as Montanans: a desire to make a good life for ourselves and our families, while providing greater opportunities to the next generation. I have instructed my administration to quickly take all appropriate steps to ensure that we are recognizing and affording the same rights and responsibilities to legally married same-sex couples that all married Montanans have long enjoyed.”

But the Montana Family Foundation is not.

Joe.My.God reports:

“I am heartbroken for the people of Montana who have had the redefinition of marriage forced on them by an out-of-control federal judiciary. I am also grieved for the children of same-sex couples who have no chance of growing up with a mom and a dad. While we mourn the direction of a misguided judiciary, we’re encouraged by the fact that natural marriage was enshrined in 31 state Constitutions, and a recent Pew poll showed that support for same-sex marriage has dropped by 5% in the past 3 months. While the courts believe same-sex marriage is a settled issue, it’s anything but settled in the hearts and minds of the people. While we’re disappointed in the decision, we will not despair, we will not throw in the towel and we will not give up. As Cicero once said, ‘Time obliterates the fictions of opinion and confirms the decisions of nature.'”

Republican Atty. Gen. Tim Fox has already vowed to appeal the ruling.

Joe.My.God reports:

“It is the attorney general’s sworn duty to uphold and defend Montana’s constitution until such time as there is no further review or no appeal can be made in a court of law. Fulfilling that duty, the state of Montana will appeal this ruling in light of the fact that there are conflicting federal court decisions and no final word from the U.S. Supreme Court.”

All we can say is “good luck with that.”

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Montana.

 

Marriage Equality Round-Up – November 20th

Written by scott on November 20th, 2014

Here’s our daily quick round-up of the marriage equality and LGBT rights stories that don’t warrant a full posting on the blog, or that we just didn’t have time to add. We’re able to get more news and analysis to you this way every day – enjoy!

MyDoorSign-300x240International:MyDoorSign.com will expand its all-gender toilet sign donations to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom. full story

International: LGBT weekly profiles the work that the Alliance Defending Freedom is doing to promote anti-gay “sodomy” laws around the world. full story

Australia: Liberal MP Don Harwin, Senior politician, just came out as gay. full story

China: A rural gay couple who overcame gossip, exorcists, and arrange marriage is profiled. full story

France: Former President Sarkozy has been condemned by some of his key allies for saying he would try to repeal the marriage equality law. full story

Gambia: Amnesty International calls the crackdown on the LGBT community in the country unacceptable. full story

Jamaica: As LGBT activists push for their rights in the country, the Jamaica Observer has been publishing homophobic articles. full story

UK, England/Wales: Pink News has a great Q&A on converting your civil partnership to marriage. full story

USA: The Human Rights Campaign says that the National Organization for Marriage’s funding dropped by more than 50% in 2013. full story

USA: A group of pastors has signed a pledge that they will no longer sign marriage licenses for anyone because of their disagreement with marriage equality. full story

USA: The latest Wikipedia marriage equality map shows a solid block of Western states, now that Montana has joined the club. full story

Wikipedia Map

USA: Many Americans still disapprove of public displays of affection by gays and lesbians, a new poll says full story

USA, Alaska: The state has spent more than $100,000 defending its marriage equality ban in court. full story

USA, Arkansas: The state Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the marriage equality lawsuit today. full story

USA, Arkansas: Josh Dugger, the oldest child of the “19 Kids and Counting” TV family, led an anti-gay marriage rally in Little Rock yesterday. full story

USA: Jason Collins, the first openly gay player in the NBA, has announced his retirement. full story

USA: Freedom to Marry campaign director Marc Solomon says the group will disband once its work is done. full story

USA, California: A Bay Area photographer has decided to stop photographing weddings altogether after turning away a same-sex couple. full story

USA, Florida: Atty. Gen. Pam Bondi is asking for an extension of the stay on a marriage equality ruling past the current January 5th date. full story

USA, Missouri: A Springfield school district will begin granting benefits to married same-sex couples next month. full story

USA, Ohio: LGBT activists are pushing for a statewide non-discrimination law. full story

USA, Texas: The gay couple booted out of Big Earl’s Restaurant in Texas got the last laugh yesterday. full story

Vatican: A series of anti-gay clips being shown at the Vatican “family” conference this week were filmed by discredited researcher Mark Regnerus. full story

 

Remembering #RyanWhite and the Gay Men Who Died During the #Aids Crisis

Written by Sean Sala on November 19th, 2014

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Remembering Ryan White and the millions of gay men who died during the darkest days of our AIDS crisis

By C.L. Frederick

Featured on SeanSala.com

It’s easy for the LGBTQ community to forget the past, since we are always looking forward and breaking down the societal barriers that have held us back for eons.  I for one have been guilty of forgetting our past struggles for the sake of moving our community forward socially and, in all honesty, because I never believed our history applied to my life.

Then I was diagnosed with HIV. That was certainly was expectedly a life changing experience, but it also changed the way I looked at the gay community.  Stories from our past became my saving grace.

I found myself being re-introduced to the era of the death sentence and I realized that I owed a debt of gratitude to those who came before me during the early days when medicine and treatments were not advanced enough to save lives, those who died during the time when HIV/AIDS was looked at as the “gay disease,” when hate and ignorance were mixed into one’s fight to live.

I was just a boy when AIDS began to enter the public consciousness, and I acutely remember hearing news reports and adults in my life discussing this “gay epidemic.” I just wanted to know why so many people were dying and why people on the news and the grown-ups I respected lacked sympathy for them.

I picked up on the vitriol being spewed at gay men with HIV/AIDS and it was jarring for me. News reports on TV seemed to shame these men and I was confused as to why that was. Then a few years later I heard about a boy named Ryan White who acquired HIV/AIDS through a blood transfusion.

He was a boy close to my age and I found myself paying attention to his story.  He seemed so strong and was so well spoken.  Here was a boy fighting for his life, growing gravely ill from his disease and treatments, a boy who encountered a great deal of hate and ostracism from all over the country because he wanted to simply go to school and be a part of his community.

Such hostility aimed a boy who did nothing to deserve the social prejudice added to his fight to live!

I could identify with Ryan and I continued to follow every bit of information concerning his journey as a youth with AIDS. This was not an interest that I could share with my family or friends, but my soul was rooting for him.

Ryan did not survive his fight against HIV/AIDS and when I learned of his death I was quietly heartbroken. Ryan’s life was quite possible the first human interest story to have an impact on my own humanity.

The years following Ryan White’s death saw HIV/AIDS treatments advance and prolong lives.  I began to come into my own as a gay man and started to forget about those who had died. People with HIV/AIDS were living longer and issues like LGBTQ equality and gay marriage were on the cusp of national and worldwide attention.

I would think of Ryan’s life from time to time, but I failed to realize how globally impactful his story was and should continue to be.

After learning I was HIV-positive, I found myself searching for stories to relate to, stories to comfort me in my time of need.

One night I watched the HBO movie The Normal Heart, and I was reminded of the struggles gay men with HIV/AIDS dealt with at the onset. I don’t cry much, but watching the movie was an emotional rollercoaster for me.  I have never been moved to that extent or cried so much because of a film.

To be reminded of those who came before me was a painful and humbling moment. The cards were stacked against them during that time: medications that would put a body through hell, men fighting to live only to be beaten down by society and ignorance in the process, and the fact that most knew they were dealing with a death sentence.

I am able to live a fairly normal life as a positive man today because of their voices, their fight and their bravery to live in the face of so many painful obstacles constantly working against them. Living with HIV/AIDS today still has its challenges. It is still a mountain of obstacles to overcome to remain healthy and get access to medications and treatment.

But the fact is that I only deal with a fraction of the challenges that those who came before me encountered. We have lost millions of voices that could have told us billions of stories. And I can’t help but think how different life would be today if we never had to lose any of those men.

What plays would have been written? What art created? Would one have become our first gay president? Was one my soul mate?

I get to live today, but I fully realize that all who have died of AIDS deserved to live just as much as I do.  I will never again forget the legacy of Ryan White and the men who came before me.

 

South Carolina Marriage Equality Update

Written by scott on November 19th, 2014

South Carolina MapThings are moving quickly in South Carolina. Yesterday, the Fourth Circuit declined to issue a stay on same sex weddings, which were slated to begin today.

Equality on Trial reports:

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has just denied South Carolina’s request for a stay of same-sex marriages pending their appeal of the district court decision striking down the ban. The request was made days ago, along with a request for a more temporary stay so that state officials could ask the Supreme Court for relief. The order notes that both the stay pending appeal and the temporary stay are denied.

Attorney General Alan Wilson then filed a “demand” to the US Supreme Curt to step in and block the impending weddings.

On Top Magazine reports:

South Carolina on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to stay a ruling striking down the state’s ban on gay marriage as it pursues an appeal. Within hours, Wilson filed a similar request with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who oversees federal courts in South Carolina. Wilson explained in a statement that the state continues “to believe the doctrine of federalism and the Tenth Amendment should allow South Carolina’s unique laws to be considered at the highest appropriate court of appeal.”

In the meantime, a judge has issued the first marriage licenses to same sex couples in the state.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

A judge has issued the first same-sex marriage licenses in South Carolina, ahead of a planned move by the state’s attorney general to block such unions. South-CarolinaEarly Wednesday, the office of Probate Judge Irvin Condon in Charleston said that he had issued six licenses to same-sex couples. The judge’s attorney, John Nichols, says the way was cleared for issuing the licenses by a decision in a case in Columbia. On Tuesday, the judge in that case ruled that South Carolina must recognize the marriage of a same-sex couple performed in Washington, D.C.

So by my count, we have three more states that are in the middle of the process of legalizing same sex marriage, where couples can get married in some counties but not others – Kansas, Missouri and South Carolina, and at least one more where a decision is imminent – Mississippi. All in the bible belt or Deep South. Amazing.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in South Carolina.

 

Marriage Equality Round-Up – November 19th

Written by scott on November 19th, 2014

Here’s our daily quick round-up of the marriage equality and LGBT rights stories that don’t warrant a full posting on the blog, or that we just didn’t have time to add. We’re able to get more news and analysis to you this way every day – enjoy!

International: International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach Is recommending that the group add sexual orientation to the list of protected classes in the Olympic Charter. full story

Iraq: A new report says LGBT Iraqis are under threat of imminent death in areas under ISIS control. full story

Ireland: Irish comedian Dara O’Briain has come out in support of the upcoming marriage equality referendum. full story

Qatar: Despite its anti-gay laws, Qatar has been granted the 2019 World Athletics Championships. full story

Russia: A married gay couple from Russia is applying for asylum in the US. full story

UK, England/Wales: The House Of Lords has approved the regulations for converting civil partnerships to marriages. full story

USA: Joe.My.God has the latest Wikipedia marriage equality map, showing the uncertainty in Kansas and Missouri. full story

Wikipedia map

USA: The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is unlikely to be passed during this lame-duck session, congressional sources say. full story

USA: All four states in the Sixth Circuit have now had their marriage equality cases appealed to the US Supreme Court, likely in time to be decided by June if the court takes up any of the cases. full story

USA: Several organizations have launched the “LGBT Health Care Bill of Rights”. full story

USA: The portrayal of transgender characters on television is improving, according to a new report from GLAAD. full story

USA: Procter & Gamble has come out in favor of marriage equality. full story

USA: According to the Human Rights Campaign, the National Organization for Marriage is late on its 2013 donor reporting. full story

USA, Arkansas: Both the state Supreme Court and a federal judge will hear arguments in marriage equality cases in Arkansas this week. full story

USA, Florida: The anti-gay Family Research Council is planning a rally in Little Rock against marriage equality today. full story

USA, Florida: Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said during an interview Monday that she is “proud” of her transgender son. full story

USA, Florida: A gay couple in Florida is fighting the state’s attempts to take away their drivers licenses because they legally changed their names after getting married out of state. full story

USA: The Alachua County Commission has joined the city of Gainesville and other local governments in signing a friend-of-the-court brief in favor of marriage equality. full story

USA, Kansas: As of today, with marriage quality supposedly legal in the state, only 19 counties are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. full story

USA, Kansas: The Wichita Eagle has some photos of the mass same-sex wedding ceremony in the city on Monday. full story

USA, Kansas: The state Supreme Court lifted the stay on same-sex weddings in Johnson County, but is not yet ruled on the issue overall. full story

USA, Louisiana: Lambda Legal is joining the appeal of the Louisiana marriage equality case to the Fifth Circuit. full story

USA, Mississippi: Equality on Trial has the transcript from the Mississippi marriage equality hearing. full story

USA, Mississippi: Gov. Phil Bryant has vowed to appeal the forthcoming marriage quality ruling if it strikes down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. full story

USA, Oklahoma: Former ex-gay leader John Smid just married his same-sex partner. full story

USA, Oklahoma: The state has now had its first same-sex divorce, a couple who married several years ago out of state. full story

USA, Texas: Freedom to Marry is launching a new statewide marriage equality campaign in Texas. full story

Vatican: Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Church in eastern San Diego County, called gay marriage “clearly demonic” at a Vatican meeting this week. full story

Vatican: Pope Francis made some fuzzy statements on marriage and the family that were taken as positive by both sides of the marriage equality debate. full story

 

Single Dad Asks for Advice on Helping Son Come Out

Written by scott on November 18th, 2014

nowpostThis story will warm your heart – a father accidentally discovered his son was gay, and then asked the internet how to help him come out.

Pink News reports:

Reddit user HeMeYou was left “overwhelmed” by advice from online strangers after accidentally discovering his son might be gay. Buzzfeed reports the 38-year-old father posed the question to Reddit after finding Google searches on his son’s iPad suggesting he wanted to come out. He said: “I found out my 13 y/o son is gay… He hasn’t told me, but I want to support him. What can I do?”

Ultimately, the father opened up the conversation with his son:

At the dinner table the same day, while we were eating we had a couple minutes of silence, not much was heard apart from the cutlery and my son finally said “I actually wanted to tell you something in the car, but I was afraid you’d get in an accident..”

I looked up from my plate and looked at him straight in the eyes… I could see he was thinking about something and all I could think of was “OMG this is it…”

He said “Dad..” with a couple seconds of silence “..I’m gay”.

I looked at him and couldn’t help myself from smiling, and I told him “____, you know I love you so much… right?” and I got up and gave him a huge hug. He even started to cry on my shoulder and because of that I couldn’t help myself but shed a couple tears.

What an awesome Dad.

Concluding his post, he said: “After dinner and after he finished his homework we both lay in our pyjamas on the sofa, while I was watching the Cooking Channel and he was playing on his iPad. “I had my arm around him and he was leaning his head on my chest, and all I could think of was that I’m the happiest father on earth right now.”

 

UK: New Poll Shows Conservative Opposition to Marriage Equality Dropping

Written by scott on November 18th, 2014

titleA new YouGov poll shows that only a bare majority of the country’s most conservative voters now oppose marriage equality.

Pink News reports:

A YouGov survey into the views of supporters of political parties uncovered data suggesting that people who vote for UKIP are increasingly at odds with some of the party’s right-wing members. The data found that just 51 percent of the party’s supporters remain opposed to equal marriage – with 39 percent now in favour. Same-sex marriage has the support of the majority in all other parties, however, with 77 percent of Lib Dems, 68 percent of Labour voters and 53 percent of Conservatives in favour. Marriage equality is opposed by 35 percent of Tories, 21 percent of Labour supporters, and just 14 percent of Liberal Democrats.

Marriage equality came to England and Wales, and the sky didn’t fall. That tends to take a lot of the wind out of the opposition’s sails.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in the United Kingdom.

 

Will Marriage Equality Arrive in South Carolina Thursday?

Written by scott on November 18th, 2014

South Carolina MapThe stay on a marriage equality ruling in South Carolina is due to expire on Thursday.

Joe.My.God reports:

Late last night the plaintiffs in that case filed a motion in opposition to state Attorney General Alan Wilson’s demand that the stay be continued while he flails about with appeals. Via the Post & Courier: “Currently 34 states permit same-sex couples to marry, or recognize marriages legally celebrated by same-sex couples in other states. If history is any indicator, the State’s claim of potential harm here is overstated, if not completely contrived,” the new filings says. Malissa Burnette, lead attorney in Condon’s case, has said she feels very optimistic the Fourth Circuit will uphold Gergel’s ruling. It is the same court that struck down Virginia’s constitutional gay marriage ban and was among those that triggered the recent cascade of legalized same-sex marriage across the nation.

All the motions and responses have now been filed with the Fourth Circuit.

Greenville Online reports:

The motion and response are in from the two sides of the gay marriage debate in South Carolina. Now it’s up to the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to decide whether to grant a stay – and stop marriages for same sex couples due to begin at noon on Thursday – as the state has asked.

The Atty. Gen. is latching onto the Sixth Circuit ruling against marriage equality, claiming that it means the US Supreme Court will have to weigh-in before the state is forced to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in South Carolina.

 

Marriage Equality Roundup – November 18th

Written by scott on November 18th, 2014

Here’s our daily quick round-up of the marriage equality and LGBT rights stories that don’t warrant a full posting on the blog, or that we just didn’t have time to add. We’re able to get more news and analysis to you this way every day – enjoy!

LGBT-AfricaAfrica: Thom Senzee takes a look at the state of LGBT rights in Africa. full story

Ireland: Conservative Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was just demoted by the Pope, says he will deny communion to any politicians who support marriage equality. full story

Ireland: Three Democratic Unionist Members of Parliament have launched a petition in support of the bakery that refused to make a marriage equality cake. full story

Morocco: The government has dropped all charges against the gay British tourist who was jailed briefly this summer for “homosexual acts”. full story

Romania: Newly elected president Klaus Iohannis has opened the door for discussion of LGBT rights and marriage equality in the country. full story

Turkey: The country has a new umbrella organization for LGBT rights. full story

UK, Scotland: Independent candidate Philip Mitchell has pledged to “easily” stop same-sex marriages from happening if he is elected. full story

UK, Wales:The Liberal Democrats are leading a debate tomorrow on transgender issues in the country. full story

USA: Openly gay football player Michael Sam has been chosen for the cover of GQ’s men of the year issue. full story

Michael Sam GQ Cover

USA, Florida: Atty. Gen. Pam Bondi has formally appealed two marriage equality rulings. full story

USA, Kansas: 15 same-sex couples married in Wichita on the first full day of marriage equality in the state. full story

USA, Kansas: The mass wedding was interrupted by a protester chanting, “God says no.” The crowd full of gay rights activists chanted back saying, “God says yes.” full story

USA, Kansas: A state judge ordered three southeastern Kansas counties to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. full story

USA, Kansas: Now that the US Supreme Court has refused to step in, the Kansas Supreme Court is weighing the marriage equality issue. full story

USA, Michigan: The Detroit Free Press has some excerpts from the petition that marriage equality advocates filed with the US Supreme Court. full story

USA, Mississippi: The Human Rights Campaign has released the second in its “All God’s Children” marriage equality ad series. full story

USA, Missouri: A Christian homeless center has said that it will not allow married same-sex couples to stay together under its roof. full story

USA, North Carolina: The ACLU is challenging the GOP’s appeal of an already settled marriage equality case. full story

USA, Ohio:GOP Sen. Rob Portman says he feels “very comfortable” talking about his position of support for marriage equality. full story

USA, West Virginia: Officials at a West Virginia high school have reversed course, and will now allow a Gay Straight Alliance. full story