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Which Marriage Equality Case Will the US Supreme Court Choose?

Friday, August 29th, 2014

US Supreme Court bw

It’s getting so you can’t tell the potential Supreme Court cases on same-sex marriage without a scorecard.

When the justices sit down for their first fall conference Sept. 29, they will consider the initial requests from states to review decisions striking down gay-marriage bans. Unless they quickly agree to hear one or more cases, those petitions won’t be the last.

Lawyers on both sides predict the justices will act soon to decide the issue by next June. That makes it likely they will choose from among the three cases pending. Some of the nation’s premier Supreme Court advocates, sensing history in the making, have signed on to represent gay couples or state officials.

“The issue is moving so fast,” says John Bursch, a former Michigan solicitor general defending Utah’s gay-marriage ban. “People want an answer soon, and I think the court is going to want to give it to them.”

Authored By Richard Wolf – See the Full Story at USA Today

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North Carolina Marriage Equality Stayed Until Virginia Decision

Friday, August 29th, 2014

North Carolina MapA federal judge just put the brakes on North Carolina marriage equality until the US Supreme Court either takes up or passes on the Virginia case.

Joe.My.God reports:

Yesterday a federal court stayed any further action on North Carolina’s same-sex marriage battle until SCOTUS rules on Virginia’s Bostic case. According to the order, should SCOTUS decline to hear Virginia’s case, the stay will be lifted. Also yesterday AFER followed Virginia AG Mark Herring and the Alliance Defending Freedom in asking SCOTUS to hear Bostic.

If the Supremes take up the case, this means no marriage equality North Carolina until next year. If it doesn’t, the stay will be lifted shortly thereafter.

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Florida Marriage Equality Case Bounced Up to State Supreme Court

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Florida From SpaceA state appeals court is asking the Florida Supreme Court to rule on a Florida marriage equality case.

SDGLN reports:

Florida’s highest court is being asked to decide whether or not the state’s ban on gay marriage is constitutional. In an unusual decision, the state’s 2nd District Court of Appeal on Wednesday asked the Florida Supreme Court to settle the question due to “great public importance.” If the high court takes up the case, it could result in having the issue settled even before the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The ruling is connected to a Hillsborough County divorce case involving a same-sex couple who had been married in Massachusetts but since relocated to the Tampa area.

Will the court take the case, or bounce it back down?

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Indiana, Wisconsin Marriage Equality Hearing Tomorrow

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Seventh CircuitTwo more states, Indiana and Wisconsin, will go before an appeals court this week.

WLFI reports:

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in the Indiana gay marriage case in a Chicago courtroom Tuesday morning beginning at 10:30 Lafayette time. There will be 20 minutes set aside for attorneys for same sex couples and another 20 minutes for the state. Solicitor General Thomas Fisher will make those arguments. Then, both sides in a Wisconsin case will get the same opportunity. A three judge panel that will be drawn from the 10 judges in the 7th Circuit will decide the case. Seven of them were appointed by Republican Presidents, Three by Democrats.

Ten states are urging the judges to uphold the bans.

Chicago pride reports:

Ten states have joined in filing an amicus brief in support of gay marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana. The states are urging the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to uphold restrictive marriage bans in two challenges to be heard before the court on Tuesday… States involved in the brief include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah.

The Wisconsin plaintiffs got a send-off in Madison.

WBAY reports:

Two gay couples suing for the right to marry are off to Chicago to listen to oral arguments before a federal appeals court. Carol Schumacher and Virginia Wolf and Judi Trampf and Katy Heyning boarded a bus Monday morning after a send-off at the OutReach LGBT Center in Madison. About two dozen people showed up to see them off.

So did the Indiana plaintiffs, in Indianapolis.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Gay couples heading to Chicago to challenge Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban told supporters Monday that they believe they are on the right side of history. Nearly 100 supporters at a rally sponsored by Hoosiers Unite for Marriage gathered at the City Market in downtown Indianapolis to wave off the four couples as they left to attend legal arguments before a federal appeals court on Tuesday. The couples planned to attend other rallies in support of same-sex-marriage along the way in Lafayette, Munster and Chicago and said they hoped supporters and plaintiffs would join their convoy en route.

All eyes are on the Seventh Circuit tomorrow.

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Lambda Legal Sues Veterans Affairs Over Marriage Recognition

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Department of Veteran's Affairs logoLambda Legal has brought a new lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs seeking to force the agency to recognize same sex marriages in all 50 states.

The Washington Blade reports:

Lambda Legal, along with Morrison and Foerster LLP, filed the lawsuit on Monday on behalf of the LGBT military group known as the American Military Partner Association. The defendant in the lawsuit, which was filed before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, is Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert MacDonald. The litigation alleges the Obama administration’s decision to withhold certain spousal benefits to married same-sex couples in states without marriage equality runs afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision against the Defense of Marriage Act. “Having weathered the federal government’s past, longstanding discrimination against them, lesbian and gay veterans and their families find themselves once again deprived of equal rights and earned benefits by the government they served and the nation for which they sacrificed,” the complaint says.

One more piece of the Federal benefits puzzle…

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Another Indiana Marriage Equality Ruling

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

IndianaAnother judge struck down the Indiana marriage equality ban yesterday.

Think Progress reports:

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young, a Clinton appointee, issued a follow-up marriage equality ruling in Indiana, ordering that the state must also recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state. Young’s brief follow-up decision does not further weigh the merits of the right for same-sex couples to marry, but it does take aim at Gov. Mike Pence (R) for doing “what he claimed he could not do.” Pence had explained in a filing last year that he had no authority to enforce the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, so the court agreed to remove him as a defendant. In the wake of Young’s earlier marriage equality ruling, however, he demonstrated just the opposite — what Young described as a “bold misrepresentation.”

So are we in now for another streak of wins? Or will things be a little more mixed in the wake of the recent Tennessee ruling against marriage equality?

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US Supreme Court Justice John Roberts Sets Monday Deadline in Virginia Case

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Chief Justice John RobertsUS Supreme Court Justice John Roberts gave attorneys for the plaintiffs in the Virginia marriage equality case until Monday to reply to a request to stay same sex weddings in the state pending appeal.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has set deadline of Monday at 5 p.m. EDT for attorneys representing two same-sex couples to respond to a request to stay a federal appeals court ruling striking down Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban. Attorneys representing a county clerk in northern Virginia on Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond. The request came after the federal appeals court on Wednesday refused to delay the ruling issued in late July while it’s appealed to the high court.

So far, at least, the Court has always granted a stay in similar cases. Any reason to think it will be different in this one?

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Tennessee Marriage Equality Ruling Breaks Streak

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Circuit Judge Russell E. Simmons, Jr.A judge in a Tennessee marriage equality case became the first in the US to rule against same sex marriage since the US Supreme Court ruled on DOMA and Prop 8 last year.

Dot429 reports:

Circuit Judge Russell E. Simmons, Jr. of Roane County said in his decision, “neither the Federal Government nor another state should be allowed to dictate to Tennessee what has traditionally been a state’s responsibility.” The case was brought by two gay men, both Tennessee residents, who had married in Iowa four years previously and are now seeking a divorce. Granting it would require recognizing them as married, something Simmons refused to do on the grounds that under Tennessee law, “if another state allows persons to marry who are prohibited from marriage in Tennessee, then that marriage is void and unenforceable in Tennessee.”

Though Simmons’ ruling can only apply to “cases involving a divorce when the marriage itself is not recognized,” according to SCOTUSblog, “he ruled in sweeping terms.” His decision relied in part on a Supreme Court summary decision from 1972, which he said the court had never overruled. When it was argued that said precedent has been undercut by more recent cases, especially in regards to LGBT rights, Simmons responded that the issue needs to be addressed by a higher court.

That sounds pretty desperate to me – reaching back 42 years to find a precedent to support his ruling.

It should also be noted that the city of Chattanooga voted overwhelmingly to take rights away from its LGBT citizens this last week. Tennessee is clearly vying for the title of “most homophobic state.”

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Tennessee Marriage Equality Setback: Judge Upholds Ban in Divorce Case

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

Tennessee mapA judge in the case of two men seeking a divorce has upheld the Tennessee marriage equality ban.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

A Tennessee judge has ruled that two men who married in Iowa and later moved to Tennessee cannot be granted a divorce because the state doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage. In his ruling, Roane County, Tenn., Circuit Court Judge Russell E. Simmons Jr., upheld Tennessee’s ban on same-sex marriage and said state laws now in effect don’t violate the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection and due process rights, reports the Knoxville News Sentinel. “The battle is not between whether or not marriage is a fundamental right but what unions are included in the definition of marriage,” according to Simmons’ ruling.

The judge basically hid behind a state’s rights defense. It’s sad that a couple can be denied a divorce because that would offend someone’s sensibilities about marriage equality.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Tennessee.

Will Sixth Circuit Be First to Rule Against Marriage Equality?

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

Sixth Circuit

Andrew Sullivan collects some of the views from pundits who see a possible end to the winning streak for marriage equality in the courts.

The Dish reports:

At one rather awkward point, Sutton launched into a strange monologue about the gay rights movement’s tactics, one that seemed barely tethered to the merits of the case at hand:

I would’ve thought the best way to get respect and dignity is through the democratic process. Forcing one’s neighbors, co-employees, friends, to recognize that these marriages, the status deserves the same respect as the status in a heterosexual couple. … If the goal is to change hearts and minds … isn’t it worth the expense? Don’t you think you’re more likely to change hearts and minds through the democratic process than you are through a decision by five justices of the U.S. Supreme Court?

These words should be very unnerving for supporters of same-sex marriage. Don’t come to us with your demands for equal protection and fundamental rights, Sutton implied; take your case to the voters instead. Being a legal stranger to your spouse and child isn’t so bad, he suggests, that you need to turn to the federal courts for relief.

How soon will the court rule? And if it does rule against marriage equality, will this help to create incentive for the US Supreme Court to step in?

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