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The Marriage Equality Cases Before the US Supreme Court

Friday, January 30th, 2015

US Supreme Court ColorLast time, we spoke about the importance of framing the case through the Questions Presented. I argued that despite some concern, the two questions posed in the Supreme Court’s order do not indicate that the justices are looking for a way out. They are ready to rule. Before we discuss the substance on which the justices will rule, let’s review the four cases that will decide the marriage equality question.

This matters because not all cases are fungible. Some come with better facts, others come with messy complications; some come with sympathetic plaintiffs, others have unfortunate optics. Especially when it comes to appellate review, the record on appeal can even tilt the outcome of the case. Plus, the cases are fun to talk about at nerdy cocktail parties.

Bourke v. Beshear is the Kentucky case and it was one of the earlier (though not the earliest) post-Windsor pro-equality decisions from a federal district court. It is about both the right to have a valid out-of-state marriage recognized in a home state and Kentucky’s own in-state ban. The judge, the Honorable John G. Heyburn, relied heavily on Windsor and found that Kentucky’s marriage laws discriminated against gay persons in violation of the Equal Protection Clause as applied to the states. Using rational basis review — the lowest form of scrutiny that only requires a rational connection between a law and a legitimate government objective — the court said there was no rational reason to treat gays this way. He struck down the anti-recognition law.

Authored By Ari Ezra Waldman – See the Full Story at

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Marriage Equality Round-Up – January 30th

Friday, January 30th, 2015

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

Belarus: A newly appointed head of marketing for a soccer club was fired after fans told the club they didn’t want ‘fags’ as part of the team. full story

Ireland: A powerful letter from a mother fighting for marriage equality rights for her gay son is going viral in Ireland. full story

Italy: The Catholic Church condemned a vote by Rome city council to allow a register of gay civil unions, dubbing the move an “ideological bluff”. full story

Italy: Italian independent filmmaker Roberto Laureri shot a short film about “simplicity about love, how it’s the same for every one”, set to the Italian classic “Estate” (Summer) by Bruno Martino. full story

Lithuania: A gay couple who posted a picture of them kissing on Facebook is being told by a court to not complain about death threats because they were asking for it. full story

Gay Kiss Lithuania

Nigeria: Growing up gay in Nigeria. full story

Slovakia: Slovaks will vote in a referendum on 2/7 that is designed to show lawmakers how they feel about recognizing same-sex relationships and adoption by gay couples in the EU member state. full story

USA: The AFA’s Bryan Fischer may no longer be director of analysis or spokesperson, but he has retained his radio job. full story

USA: The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) will once again ask presidential candidates to sign a pledge to work against marriage equality. full story

USA: The Navy has officially approved a transgender woman’s request for a name change on what’s known as a DD-214 — the military form that veterans present as proof of service whenever they apply for jobs or a variety of veteran benefits and services. full story

USA: The film Ted 2 will reportedly deal with civil rights and marriage equality. full story

USA: Yesterday, a bill aimed at protecting and increasing the rights of LGBT people all over the world was re-introduced in the US Senate. full story

USA: A White House Petition to pass “Leelah’s law” preventing conversion therapy for youth nationwide has assed the required 100K threshold for a White House response. full story

USA, Alabama: Ellen DeGeneres is calling for donations to help pay off the legal depts of the Alabama plaintiffs. full story

USAm Alabama: Attorneys for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) will join one of the challenges to the state’s marriage equality ban, Strawser v. Strange. full story

USA, Alabama: A trial lawyers’ group says state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s criticisms of the federal marriage equality ruling are “unfair” and “unjustified.” full story

USA, Idaho: The GOP on an Idaho House committee killed a bill that sought to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s Human Rights Act. full story

USA, Illinois: A gay couple has filed a discrimination complaint against Yellow Cab with the Illinois Department of Human Rights on Wednesday for ejecting them from a cab for kissing last summer. full story

USA, Iowa: The Gortz Haus Gallery in Grimes has settled a complaint with a same-sex couple whose wedding it declined to host, dropped its lawsuit challenging Iowa’s nondiscrimination law, and agreed not to host weddings for any couple moving forward. full story

USA, Louisiana: Lawyers from both sides urged the state Supreme Court to rule soon on a marriage equality case, even though other cases are pending before SCOTUS. full story

USA, Michigan: A Michigan man recently employed as a contractor for the Ford Motor Company has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying he was fired because of his religious beliefs after he ranted about the company’s support for “sodomy”. full story

USA, New Jersey: Republican congressman Chris Smith has been condemned for saying that he does “not construe homosexual rights as human rights.” full story

USA, New York: Harlem hate Pastor James David Manning announced that his church will soon march against “sodomite cannibals” in Manhattan because the gays are planning to become Night Of The Living Dead homo-zombies. full story

USA, New York: The AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT UP) and other HIV activist organizations will protest the neglect of the AIDS crisis by mainstream LGBT organizations at the annual gala held at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City by Human Rights Campaign (HRC). full story

Act Up HRC Protest

USA, Oklahoma: Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin won’t say if she believes businesses should be allowed to refuse service to gays. full story

USA, Oklahoma: Anti-gay Oklahoma Representative Sally Kern has withdrawn her “right to discriminate” bill. full story

USA, Pennsylvania: A transgender woman’s lawsuit tests whether the Americans With Disabilities Act includes transgender people. full story

USA, Tennessee: Pastor Stan Mitchell of GracePointe Evangelical Church in Nashville has come out in support of marriage equality. full story

USAm Virginia: The state will pay $520,000 in legal fees to the lawyers for two same-sex couples who successfully challenged the state.s gay marriage ban. full story

USA, Virginia: A House subcommittee killed a “right to discriminate” bill. full story

Vietnam: Nearly 80% of LGBT people say society had changed positively toward them over the last five years, according to a new poll. full story

Vietnam: Transgender women have been banned from participating in the National Women’s Football Championship in Vietnam. full story

Marriage Equality Round-Up – January 29th

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

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

Chile: A civil unions bill on Wednesday received final approval in the country’s Congress. full story

France: France’s highest court closed a loophole in the marriage equality law, ruling that a gay French-Moroccan couple are allowed to marry despite the North African country’s refusal to recognize marriages between two men. full story

Ukraine: The parliament has thrown out the Russian-style “gay propaganda” bill. full story

UK: The headteacher of a leading independent school in Brighton has criticized the government for failing to include LGBT rights in its push to promote “British values” in schools. full story

UK: Vodafone is lifting a filter on gay content on some public wifi systems, but claims that the block was not discrimination: “These systems are automated and therefore do not discriminate in any way.” full story

USA: The New York Times looks at how marriage equality foes are diggingh in at the state level. full story

USA: Sen. Lindsey Graham questioned Attorney General candidate Loretta Lynch “What is the legal difference between a state – a ban on same-sex marriage being unconstitutional but a ban on polygamy being constitutional?” full story

USA: The “Leelah’s Law” White House petition to ban conversion therapy for LGBT youth across the country needs just 6,500 more signatures by 2/2. full story

USA: A coalition of journalism organizations and NGOs urged the Supreme Court to allow cameras in the courtroom during the coming landmark marriage equality case.
full story

USA: Bloomberg Politics reports on infighting among attorneys in the marriage equality cause. full story

USA: Rachel Maddow is reporting that Bryan Fischer, virulently anti-gay Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association, has been fired from his position. full story

USA, Alabama: The judge who ruled in favor of two same sex couples has clarified that her original order applies to all counties in the state. full story

USA, Alabama: In response, the Alabama Probate Judges Association reversed course and released a statement that same-sex couples can apply for marriage licenses if a stay is lifted. full story

USA, Alabama: The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has filed an ethics complaint against Chief Justice Roy Moore. full story

USA, Alabama: looks at what may happen next. full story

USA, Florida: Team G Events, along with the City of Dunedin and Equality Florida, will host a series of scheduled same sex weddings throughout the day at Weaver Park. full story

USA, Florida: An Orange County judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Florida Family Action that was trying to stop the Orange County Clerk from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The group is appealing the dismissal. full story

USA, Michigan: Officials in the Detroit suburb of Southfield have just passed an ordinance prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. full story

USA, North Carolina: The Senate’s top leader pushed for religious exemptions for some court officials from marriage duties as the new legislative session started. full story

USA, Oklahoma: Representative Sally kern, who has filed no less than three anti-gay bills for the upcoming session, insists she doesn’t hate the gays. full story

USA, North Dakota: The state Senate is again considering a nondiscrimination bill that would protect LGBTQ people from being discriminated in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. full story

USA, South Carolina: GOP South Carolina House member Jonathon Hill wants to know about the “personal relationship” that would-be state judges have with the “Supreme Being,” whether they would perform a gay marriage and how they would rule if a woman sued for equal pay. full story

USA, Texas: Fort Worth city officials just announced that the city will extend spousal benefits legally married same-sex spouses of city employees, starting on February 1st. full story

USA, Virginia: On an 8-7 party-line vote Tuesday, a GOP-controlled Senate Committee voted to keep the discredited marriage equality ban in the state constitution. full story

USA, Washington DC: President Obama’s “lifestyle choice” remark from the State of the Union speech and the upcoming Supreme Court hearing on marriage equality came up at yesterday’s wWhite House press briefing. full story

Alabama: Judge Rules in Favor of Second Couple

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Alabama mapThe same judge that ruled in favor of marriage equality in a case where the plaintiffs married out-of-state just issued a second ruling for a couple denied a marriage license in Alabama.

SDGLN reports:

This case was filed by James Strawser, 51, and John Humphrey, 38, who live in Mobile. They met on Facebook and have lived together in Alabama since last year. After they applied for a marriage license and were turned down, they filed their case without the aid of lawyers, according to news reports…

The first case involved a lesbian couple who had a valid wedding ceremony in California and who sued for that marriage to be recognized in Alabama. In the second case, the gay couple were refused a marriage license. “Although the Plaintiffs in this case seek to marry in Alabama, rather than have their marriage in another state recognized, the court adopts the reasoning expressed in the Searcy case and finds that Alabama’s laws violate the Plaintiffs’ rights for the same reasons,” she wrote.

It’s a banner week for marriage equality in Alabama.

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New Poll Shows 7% of LGBT Community Opposes Marriage Equality

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

titleAn interesting new poll shows that a small sliver of the US LGBT population opposes marriage equality.

The Washington Post reports:

A new chart from Pew, based on 2013 data, shows that 7 percent of LGBT Americans said they oppose same-sex marriage. And another 18 percent said they favor it, but that they didn’t feel strongly. Perhaps most striking, 39 percent of the LGBT community said the marriage fight was taking focus off other issues of import to them.

Opposition to gay marriage in the LGBT community, such as it exists, is driven by three groups: LGBT blacks, LGBT Republicans, and bisexual Americans.

While 12 percent of the black LGBT community opposed gay marriage, nearly one in five (19 percent) Republicans did, too. Only 45 percent of LGBT Republicans said they strongly favored gay marriage — the lowest of any group. Fifty-eight percent of LGBT blacks said they strongly favor it.


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Marriage Equality Round-Up – January 28th

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

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

Italy: Rome has approved a civil unions registry for gay and lesbian couples. full story

Nigeria: Nigerian authorities on Monday arrested a dozen people who were reportedly attending a same-sex wedding. full story

Uganda: Nine young gay men, who were attacked by a homophobic mob, were arrested by Uganda police and tortured while in jail. full story

UK: David Cameron’s Holocaust Commission has recommended that a new National Memorial should recognise all victims of Nazi persecution, including gays. full story

UK, Scotland: More than 500 same sex couples have married since the marriage equality law came into effect. full story

USA: The Mormon Church now says it will support LGBT protections in housing and the workplace – but only if “religious freedom” measures are passed as well. full story

USA: Marriage equality will continue to divide the right even after a potential yes from the US Supreme Court, James Hohmann at Politico says. full story

USA: Equality Federation, along with 30 statewide LGBT groups, will launch #DiscriminationExists, a week-long education campaign to highlight the fact that many states still need to update their laws to protect LGBT people from discrimination. full story

USA: Actress Lena Dunham and her boyfriend are waiting for US marriage equality before they get married. full story

USA: For coverage starting in 2015, any insurance company that offers health coverage to opposite-sex spouses via the ACA exchanges must do the same for same-sex spouses. full story

USA, Alabama: two men who applied for a marriage license in Jefferson County were denied, but the county clerk told them to return when the stay is lifted. full story

USA, Alabama: The couple fighting for adoption rights and marriage equality in the state has incurred more than $40,000 in legal bills. full story

USA, Alabama: Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, fervently anti-gay, says states don’t have to follow federal judges’ orders when they rule for marriage equality. full story

USA, California: A transgender woman was reportedly denied access to a women’s restroom in Balboa Park. full story

Georgia: The marriage equality case in the state has been put on hold pending the US Supreme Court’s decision on the issue. full story

USA, Mississippi: A study conducted by The Williams Institute says that $10.8 million in revenue would be generated for the state in three years, with $6.9 million coming in the first year alone, if same-sex marriage is legalized. full story

USA, Nebraska: A federal district court judge has denied the state’s request to put the challenge to its marriage ban on hold pending the outcome of Supreme Court review of the issue. full story

USA, North Carolina / South Carolina / Virginia: Statewide advocacy groups in the three states will officially launch a campaign that seeks to highlight LGBT-friendly businesses. full story

USA, Oklahoma: Two of the state’s most prominent LGBT groups are merging to fight a number of “hate-filled” measures filed for the 2015 session. full story

USA, Texas: Another anti-gay bill in Texas – but this one would strip cities of more than just LGBT rights. full story

Marriage Equality Round-Up – January 26th

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

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

Online: Photographer Michael Stokes was banned from Facebook for 30 days for posting a photo of two male cops kissing, fully clothed. full story

Gay Police

Online: Google has issued an apology – after a translation tool suggested a number of offensive translations for the word “gay”, including poof, queen, faggot and fag. full story

Google Translate

Greece: Could the radical left-wing Syriza party bring marriage equality to Greece? full story

Egypt: A court dismissed the case against men arrested in a gay bathhouse in December. full story

India: LGBT activists are calling for US President Barack Obama to help end India’s anti-gay law during his visit to the country. full story

Ireland: Ireland’s Equality Minister Aodhan O. Riordain said that religious-run schools and hospitals will by Easter be prevented from firing staff for being gay, divorced or an unmarried parent. full story

Philippines: Historic Vigan has become the lastest city in the Philippines to ban anti-gay hate. full story

Puerto Rico: Lambda Legal on Monday formally asked a federal appeals court to overturn a ruling that upheld the territory’s marriage equality ban. full story

UK: The Financial Ombudsman Service has ordered a bank to pay compensation, after a trans woman was blocked from her account because of her deep voice. full story

USA: John Gallagher at Queerty recaps the homophobic overtones of the GOP presidential candidates so far. full story

USA, Alabama: Bill Armistead, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, has blamed President Barack Obama for a federal judge’s ruling striking down the state’s ban on gay marriage, even though the judge was appointed by President George W. Bush. full story

USA, Alabama: The Editorial Board of the Birmingham Times just stood up for marriage equality. full story

USA, Alabama: State officials have just filed their notice of appeal in Searcy v. Strange to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. full story

USA, Alabama: The state’s only openly gay legislator is putting her anti-gay colleagues on notice: If they keep espousing family values rhetoric as a reason to oppose marriage equality, she’ll start making their affairs public. full story

USA, Arkansas: Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to hold new oral arguments in the lawsuit challenging the state’s gay marriage ban. full story

USA, Arkansas: The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday warned the state that its appeal in a ruling that struck down the state’s ban on marriage equality is at risk of being dismissed over an overdue fee. full story

USA, Arizona: A trans woman who became a cause célèbre after being convicted in Phoenix Municipal Court for “walking while trans” has won the appeal of her case. full story

USA, California: Leadership Long Beach and The Long Beach LGBTQ Center are planning a free public forum on transgender awareness and issues on Feb. 3rd, from 7-10 pm at the Aquarium of the Pacific. full story

USA, Idaho Legislators heard from both sides in a debate about adding LGBT prople to the state’s non-discrimination laws. full story

USA, Maryland: After a flap over the delaying of non-discrimination provisions in Medicaid, Governor Hogan re-issued his Executive Order to reflect current state law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. full story

USA, New York: Saks Fifth Avenue has withdrawn a court filing in which the department store chain alleged it has a right to discriminate against transgender workers. full story

USA, Oklahoma: LGBT Weekly recaps the 8 anti gay bills working their way through the state legislature. full story

USA, Texas: The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance went on trial on Monday, as opponents tried to repeal it. full story

USA, Virginia: Richmond Judge Designate T.J. Markow ordered the Office of Vital Records in the Virginia Department of Health to amend the birth certificates to show a lesbian couple as the “only parents of the children.” full story

USA, Virginia: The state Senate General Laws and Technology Committee on Monday approved a measure that would ban anti-LGBT discrimination against state and local government employees. full story

USA, Wisconsin: The state Department of Justice says it doesn’t have any records of how many hours it spent defending the state’s gay marriage ban, making the full cost of fighting the case impossible to determine. full story

A Best-Case, Worst-Case Look at the Supreme Court’s Options

Monday, January 26th, 2015

US Supreme Court Color

In just a few months, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in four marriage equality cases, and while it’s impossible to accurately predict how the nine justices may rule, it’s also impossible to avoid speculating. This much is certain: Whatever the court decides will be the most important turning point ever seen in the marriage equality battle — and will radically alter the lives of millions of people.

What Exactly Will the Court Decide?

The court is going to focus on two questions, asking attorneys on both sides to address the inquiries with the merits of their individual cases. Those questions are:

Does the Constitution require states to issue licenses to same-sex couples?

Does the Constitution require states to recognize out-of-state marriage licenses from jurisdictions with marriage equality?

These questions may seem straightforward, but the court’s answer could be (and probably will be) more than just a yes or no. When the justices rule, a complex decision could settle those questions while also providing detailed guidance for future litigation. That’s one reason why it’s so hard to predict: there are an infinite number of ways the justices can answer even the simplest of questions.

Authored By Matt Baume – See the Full Story at The Advocate

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Marriage Equality Round-Up – January 26th

Monday, January 26th, 2015

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

China: A photo of a man proposing to his boyfriend on the streets of Shanghai has gone viral on Chinese social media. full story

China: A gay man has filed what’s believed to be the country’s first-ever sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit. full story

USA: Another day, another color for Alabama on the Wikipedia marriage equality map. full story

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 6.46.43 AM

USA, Alabama: The couple whose lawsuit toppled Alabama’s gay marriage ban plans to refile their adoption paperwork that was denied before the lawsuit. full story

USA, Alabama: The plaintiffs have also asked the Judge in the marriage equality case to clarify if her ruling affects only them or all LGBT Alabamans. full story

USA, Idaho: The state House is about to hold its forst-ever conference on adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s Human Rights Act. full story

USA, Iowa: Speaking to reporters at Rep. Steve King’s Iowa Freedom Summit yesterday, former neurosurgeon and potential 2016 presidential candidate Ben Carson said some bakers may put poison in wedding cakes for same sex couples. full story

USA, Iowa: Chris Christie’s antigay track record was a selling point at the Iowa Freedom Summit, where he was praised for vetoing a marriage equality bill. full story

USA, Maryland: In his first day in office, Republican Governor Larry Hogan Hogan held up regulation that would have banned Medicaid providers in the state from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity full story

USA, Tennessee: There are two lawsuits in Tennessee: one in state court and the other in federal court. The Advocate recaps the marriage equality situation in the state. full story

Vatican: A transgender man from Spain, who a local priest had called “the devil’s daughter”, had a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday. full story

Alabama Ruling Stayed – No Weddings For Two Weeks

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Alabama mapIn an overabundance of caution, an Alabama Judge stayed her own marriage equality ruling, giving the state two weeks to present its case to the Eleventh Circuit.

The Washington Blade reports:

In a six-page order, U.S. District Judge Callie V. S. Granade, an appointee of George W. Bush, says she agrees for the time being to a request from Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange to stay her decision, which was issued on Friday. Granade writes Luther is unlikely to succeed on appeal and same-sex couples in the state would be harmed by a stay, but nonetheless puts a hold on the ruling to give the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Alabama, a chance to weigh in.

“[T]he court recognizes the value of allowing the Eleventh Circuit an opportunity to determine whether a stay is appropriate,” Granade writes. “Accordingly, although no indefinite stay issues today, the court will allow the Attorney General time to present his arguments to the Eleventh Circuit so that the appeals court can decide whether to dissolve or continue the stay pending appeal (assuming there will be an appeal.) The preliminary injunction will be stayed for 14 days.”

This is the same Eleventh Circuit that declined to place a stay on a Florida decision last month. And shortly after that, the Supremes voted 7-2 to allow weddings proceed in that state.

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