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Coakley is leading a coalition of states in filing a brief with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals arguing the laws violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and should be struck down. Coakley said the experience in Massachusetts, the first state to legalize gay marriage, shows that allowing same-sex couples to marry only strengthens the institution of marriage. Coakley led the filing of the amicus brief on behalf of Massachusetts and 13 other states, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.
Both cases are reaching the appeals stage at the same time.
Lambda Legal today filed its opening brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case on behalf of eight same-gender couples challenging the amendment to Nevada’s constitution and other state laws banning marriage for gay and lesbian couples. “The world has changed dramatically since we filed this lawsuit over a year ago,” said Tara Borelli, staff attorney in Lambda Legal’s Western Regional Office. “After the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down Section 3 of DOMA, Nevada’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples has become exponentially more harmful to same-sex couples who are barred from a sweeping array of federal benefits as well.”
It looks like the marriage equality lawsuits are outpacing the ballot initiatives in a number of states.
We’ve mentioned before that October was shaping up to be a big month for marriage equality. Buzzfeed has a great article this morning o the fights coming to a head this month in Michigan, New Jersey, Nevada, Illinois, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Virginia:
It’s been less than four months since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and put an end to California’s marriage amendment, but advocates have been busy over the summer — setting the stage for a very busy two weeks that could rock the marriage equality landscape and change the country.
The calendar for the rest of the month is packed with a dizzying array of potential developments: decisions and movement in lawsuits that are multiplying by the week, possible votes from lawmakers being prodded to action by governors in their states, and — for the state of New Mexico — a hearing at the state Supreme Court to resolve once and for all whether same-sex couples can marry in a state that doesn’t specifically ban or allow such marriages.
The coming weeks also will feature the first action in the federal appellate courts since the Supreme Court rulings, with a filing in the Ninth Circuit in a challenge to Nevada’s marriage law. The quick reemergence of a marriage case at the appellate level is notable because that’s the path back to the Supreme Court, where marriage equality advocates are still seeking a ruling that would bring marriage equality to all 50 states.
Head over to Buzzfeed to read the whole thing – it’s gonna be a crazy month!
On Top Magazine reports:
A majority of Nevada voters say they support an effort to repeal the state’s ban on gay marriage. According to a survey of 500 likely voters in Nevada conducted by Moore Information, a Republican-leaning opinion firm, and paid for by the Retail Association of Nevada (RAN), 57 percent favor removing the Protection of Marriage provision approved in 2002 from the state constitution, while 36 percent remain opposed.
Of course, Nevada has always had a strong independent streak. A move is underway to repeal the ban, but it will require a second vote in the legislature in 2015 and a vote of the people in 2016. There’s also a lawsuit in play.
A Las Vegas columnist thinks the challenge to Nevada’s ban on gay marriage has the potential to bring marriage equality to the whole country. Gay Star News reports:
Writing in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, [Steve] Sebelius argued that the Sevcik v. Sandoval challenge to the state’s voter passed ban on same-sex marriage mirrors the challenge to California’s Prop 8 because it was also passed by the voters. In that case the Supreme Court decided to send the case back to the state rather than ruling on it – thus allowing California to begin marrying same-sex couples as had been ruled by a lower court. However the ban on same-sex marriage in Nevada is different as the state’s Republican Governor Brian Sandoval is defending the ban, whereas the state of California refused to defend its law – meaning that if the case comes before the Supreme Court it will have to rule on it – potentially legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States.
Ironic that the gambling state could be taking a gamble that might ultimately allow same sex couples across the country to marry.
Just ran across this tidbit from Edge Boston – a lawsuit for marriage equality in Nevada was rejected by the US Supreme Court, sending it to be heard in the 9th district court. Edge Boston reports:
The other case, from Nevada, was a challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. A group opposing gay marriage filed the appeal, even though it won a judgment in federal district court. The Coalition for the Protection of Marriage wanted to bypass the federal appeals court in San Francisco, but that is where the case now will be considered.
Ironic – the group wanted to secure their victory in the district court so they appealed it to the Supremes; now they’re stuck with a new hearing in the most liberal circuit court in the country that already struck down Prop 8. Suckers.
In a moving speech before the Nevada Assembly yesterday, a teenager spoke out for marriage equality. Towleroad.com reports:
18-year-old Riley Roberts delivered an emotional, compelling speech before the Nevada Assembly yesterday before it voted 27-14 to pass a resolution advancing efforts toward marriage equality in the state. With, anger, love, and some tears, Roberts moved the room, and he will move you.
You can hear the raw emotion, love and anger in his voice – it’s very moving as he defends his lesbian parents.
The legislature just completed the first part of a three part, multi-year process to repeal its constitutional ban on marriage equality. Think Progress reports:
Today the Nevada Assembly voted 27-14 to approve a constitutional amendment that would repeal the 2002 amendment banning same-sex marriage. Combined with the Senate approval from April, this completes the amendment’s first phase of approval. Both chambers must approve the measure a second time during 2015 legislative session, following which it will be advanced to the ballot in November, 2016.
Only one republican voted for the measure. LGBTQ Nation reports:
The final vote ran along party lines with Republicans opposing. Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, voted with the Democrats for her mother, whom she recently revealed is gay. For many Republicans who voted against the measure in both the Senate and Assembly, personal beliefs and faith were at the center of their opposition. “I believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God – that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children,” Assemblyman Cresent Hardy, R-Mesquite, said. “My respect for others and their beliefs do not cause me to abandon my commitment to the truth which I understand.”
Voters enacted the ban in 2002. Now they will likely have a chance to undo it, 14 years later.
A few new stories to being you on the transgender rights front.
First, in Texas, a bill that would have potentially restricted the rights of transgender citizens to marry there was defeated. Dot429 reports:
But the bill, led by Senator Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), did not pass the House Judiciary or Civil Jurisprudence Committee, who struck it down before it could reach the higher chambers. In order to gain access to marry, a transgender individual has to submit an affidavit of change in sex. The proposed bill would have created another hurdle for the transgender community. If the bill had passed, the affidavit would no longer be accepted as valid ID.
Good riddance to this discriminatory measure.
In Nevada, there’s some positive progress for trans rights. LGBTQ Nation reports:
Crimes that target transgender person because of their sexual identity now carry an extra penalty in Nevada. Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval signed SB139 into law Tuesday. The new law adds a person’s “gender identity or expression” to the list of motivating factors interpreted as a hate crime. Defendants face the penalties for the actual crime committed, and up to an additional 20 years in prison because the motivation.
Wow, first the attempt to repeal Nevada’s ban on marriage equality, then this – who do they think they are? Minnesota?
Finally, Suzan Revah has a great column in the advocate about the “T” in LGBT:
Even though I’ve been screaming about equal rights for LGBT people since I was a tweenage fag hag, I never imagined my fight for tolerance and acceptance would one day include waving the trans flag as my own. I’m a grown San Fransexual woman proudly living in a gay man’s world, but I’ve routinely overcome skepticism at best and discrimination at worst. I’m still taken aback by just how long the road ahead is for true freedom of sexuality, gender, and identity.
Read the whole thing at the link above.