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Russia: Will Country Get Its Own Defense of Marriage Act?

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

RussiaOne of Russia’s political parties wants to enshrine marriage inequality in the country’s constitution.

RT.com reports:

The head of the Russian Pensioners’ Party has come up with an initiative to change the Constitution and define marriage as only being between a man and a woman. Igor Zotov, who is also a Lower House MP on the ticket of the center-left Fair Russia Party has explained his move by his assertion that Russia’s traditional values were under threat from the latest modern tendencies.

“I got this idea from the members of the Pensioners’ Party branches in Chelyabinsk and Sverdlovsk [major industrial regions in the Urals]. These people were extremely concerned over the processes that are currently taking place all over the world, in particular by the fact that the laws allowing gay marriage have been passed in 15 different countries and four regions within larger nations. Granting the same status to gay and traditional couples leads to the destruction of the family institution because the community tends to perceive as natural those models approved at the state level,” the lawmaker has told the popular daily Izvestia.

Bashing the gays is a tried-and-true path to political power. And in homophobic Russia, it’s probably the closest thing to a sure bet right now.

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USA: Defense of Marriage Act 2?

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

Texas Representative Randy WeberA GOP congressman from Texas is introducing the successor to the Defense of Marriage Act – a bill that would partially reinstate DOMA’s prohibition on federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

The Huffington Post reports:

Despite the growing number of states allowing gay marriage, one Republican congressman filed legislation Thursday to limit the federal government’s power to recognize gay marriages in states. Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) introduced the “State Marriage Defense Act Of 2014,” which would require federal agencies to look into a person’s “legal residence” when determining marital status and how federal law would be applied. The bill would have the effect of reintroducing for gay couples some aspects of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman until the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in June. The bill also would undercut a Treasury Department decision in August requiring gay married couples in all states to be treated as married for federal tax purposes; Weber’s bill would force the federal government to treat such couples differently in states that don’t recognize gay marriage. In addition, the Social Security Administration announced in December that it would pay survivor benefits to members of gay marriages.

DOMA 2So far, 27 representatives have signed on to co-sponsor the bill, all (surprise) Republicans.

Joe.My.God reports:

Since the bill’s introduction, 27 GOP members of the House have signed on as co-sponsors. The list so far is a cavalcade of crackpottery: Michele Bachmann, Louis Gohmert, John Fleming, etc. Eleven of the 27 co-sponsors are from Texas. Weber, a freshman rep and former air conditioner repairman, has previously only authored one failed House resolution. Therefore I suspect his bill was actually written by the Family Research Council, who jointly announced its introduction yesterday with an appearance by Weber on Tony Perkins’ national radio show.

It’s a blatant assault on equality, and will go a long ways to cement the party’s reputation as the party of bigots, religious zealots, and small minded people.

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The Lay of the Land Post-Windsor and -Perry

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

With marriage equality now coming to Illinois and Hawaii, nearly 40% of the country lives in a marriage equality state. But just how federal and state governments will navigate the still-unsettled reality (and consequences) of marriage equality remains an open question.

Although Windsor invalidated Section 3 of DOMA, it left Section 2 in place, which allows states to refuse to recognize same gender marriages performed in other states. Marriages are not judgments or orders, and are therefore not entitled to equality under constitutional principles of full faith and credit among the states. This has the potential to impact benefits, parental rights, divorce, and other issues for same-sex couples depending on where they marry and where they live.

Read the full story on the MEUSA news blog…

MEUSA Thanks the More than One Million LGBT Service Members and Veterans For Their Service

Monday, November 11th, 2013

This Veterans Day, take a moment to thank a veteran for his or her service. Also, take a moment to think of the men and women who are abroad putting their lives at risk so we can rest easy at home. Now, take it further and think about the partners/husbands/wives of those LGBT Servicemembers out there who wait for their loved ones to return. Or the LGBT veteran who walks for the first time into the hospital hand in hand with his or her partner, a silent bundle of nerves waiting to be called out and shot down. Most importantly, thank a veteran. You could be the one person who makes his or her day.

Read the full story on the MEUSA news blog…

USA, New Jersey: How the DOMA Case Brought Marriage Equality to the Garden State

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

DOMA OverThe New Jersey marriage equality case provides important foreshadowing for other cases to come, in part because it relied heavily on the Supreme Court’s decision on the Defense of Marriage Act.

The National Journal reports:

Two court decisions lie at the heart of the case. The first is this summer’s Supreme Court ruling that found the Defense of Marriage Act–which prevented the federal government from extending benefits to same-sex marriages–unconstitutional. The second is Lewis v. Harris, a 2006 decision by New Jersey’s highest court that ruled civil unions must be afforded the same legal rights as other married couples. What both of the decisions have in common is that they ruled same-sex couples were entitled to certain rights and benefits afforded to opposite-sex married couples.

The case, it seems, all comes down to language. Basically, since the federal government extends rights to married same-sex couples the same way New Jersey’s state government extends rights to same-sex couples in civil unions, those unmarried individuals should have the right to marry. Otherwise, New Jersey’s civil union law is blocking citizens from receiving federal benefits.

It seems to me that the same logic applies to every state in the country that has a ban on marriage equality

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USA: LGBT Groups Issue Marriage Equality Fact Sheets for Same-Sex Couples

Friday, August 30th, 2013

After DOMA Fact SheetsIn the post-Defense of Marriage Act Section 3 environment, 11 LGBT groups have gotten together to issue a series of fact sheets for gay lesbian couples, to help navigate through the confusing current environment.

Lambda Legal reports:

After DOMA: What it Means For You” LGBT Organizations Fact Sheet Series details many of the ways federal agencies accord legal respect to married same-sex couples. The guide includes 14 factsheets on the following topics: Bankruptcy, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Federal Employee Benefits, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Immigration, Medicaid, Medicare, Military Spousal Benefits, Private Employment Benefits, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Taxes, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Veteran Spousal Benefits. “This is an exciting time and an historic step forward for the country. We want to make sure that same-sex couples have a guide to help them understand what it means for them,” said Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation for Lambda Legal.

You can find the fact sheets here.

We have such a patchwork of state and federal laws right now, and it’s great to have a new resource to help same-sex couples navigate them.

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USA: Businesses Want Clarification On Defense of Marriage Act Ruling

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

DOMA OverA new study has found that the US Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act left widespread confusion in the business community.

Pink News reports:

Two-thirds of US employers are in need of clarification and guidance on the impact of a Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) from earlier this year, a new study has found. The survey, conducted by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, asked employers following the Supreme Court ruling which struck down a key part of DOMA, potentially opening up 1,100 employee benefits to same-sex couples married in states which legally recognise equal marriage.

The study also showed that about a quarter of employers surveyed plan to extend benefits to all married same-sex couples, regardless of which state they live in. But another 40% are waiting for some kind of guidance before taking such a step.

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USA: Justice Ginsburg Thinks the Court Struck the Right Balance on Marriage Equality

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgLiberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg thinks the Supreme Court got it about right with the two marriage equality decisions earlier this year. Bloomberg reports:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the U.S. Supreme Court’s foremost champion of civil rights, said the court struck the right balance with two rulings that backed gay marriage without legalizing it across the country. Gay-rights supporters had urged the court to declare a constitutional right for same-sex marriage nationwide. Ginsburg, who has said the court was too bold in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion-rights ruling, said in an interview that the court was right to take a more limited approach in the gay marriage decisions. “The court handled both of those cases just the way they should have,” said Ginsburg, who was a leading advocate for women’s rights before she became a judge.

Do you think the court was right to take such an incremental step? Or should they have gone all the way and ruled for marriage equality in every state?

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USA: Ninth Circuit Dismisses Appeal, Lets Stand Federal Benefits Verdict for Lesbian Couple

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

DOMA OverA case brought by a federal employee seeking health benefits for her wife is over. The Advocate reports:

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal of a federal district court ruling in the case of Golinski v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management yesterday, citing the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling which struck down Section 3 of the so-called-Defense of Marriage Act, reports Lambda Legal… “What a wonderful day for Karen, her spouse, Amy Cunninghis, and their family,” Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Tara Borelli said in a statement.

We should see most of the rest of the current batch of DOMA cases wrapping up similarly. Next battle – DOMA’s ban on reciprocity – i.e.: our marriage is no good across state lines.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in California.

USA: Post DOMA Benefits Landscape Still Fuzzy for Many Same Sex Couples

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

DOMA OverAlmost one month after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to gut DOMA, legal analysts and experts are still trying to make sense as to how it specifically impacts same-sex couples and their benefits. While the decision was explicit in terms of including all “lawful marriages”, the situation remains less-than-clear for those living in what legal scholars refer to as the 36 “mini-DOMA” states, according to an editorial released in yesterday’s Washington Post.

According to Bloomberg, approximately one-third of the roughly 130,000 married same-sex couples live in such states that have laws in place forbidding the practice and/or recognition of same-sex marriage. As WaPo and SCOTUS Blog have already argued, this could certainly prove problematic for federal agencies wishing to determine which couples are “legally married”. Do said agencies use the guidelines laid down by the state of the couple’s residence, or the state that legally married them? WaPo has already pointed out that:

“Each agency has its regulations, and some define marriage based on where a couple resides rather than where the spouses were married — obviously inhospitable to same-sex couples living in the states that don’t recognize their marriages.”

Authored By RJ Aguir – See the Full Story at Towleroad.com

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