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USA, Arkansas: Judge Hears Marriage Equality Case, Will Rule in Two Weeks

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

ArkansasA Federal Jude heard the Arkansas marriage equality lawsuit today.

The Commercial Appeal reports:

Arguing for the plaintiffs, attorney Jack Wagoner said the voter-approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is itself unconstitutional. The state and federal constitutions guarantee “rights that can’t be taken away,” Wagoner argued. Wagoner said rights to due process and equal protection cannot be superseded even by a state constitutional amendment. “When the government is in the marriage business, same-sex couples have to be treated the same,” Wagoner said. “The fact that they’ve been historically discriminated against is less reason to have laws targeting them.”

The Judge says he will rule within two weeks.

The Advocate reports:

A ruling will come in about two weeks in a lawsuit challenging Arkansas’s ban on same-sex marriage, says the judge who heard arguments in the case today. Pulaski County Circuit Court judge Chris Piazza announced his anticipated time frame at the end of today’s proceedings, the Associated Press reports. He heard arguments from lawyers on both sides of the issue at the court in Little Rock.

Yay – one ruling we won’t have to wait months for!

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.

USA, Oklahoma: Tenth Circuit Hears Marriage Equality Case

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Tenth Circuit, Denver

Apple Maps

The 10th Circuit heard its second marriage equality case this month, after hearing Utah’s last week.

SDGLN reports:

In the second gay-marriage case to hit the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver in the past week, the three-judge panel heard oral arguments in the federal case that challenges Oklahoma’s ban on weddings for gay and lesbian couples. The Oklahoma case, Bishop v. Smith, is the oldest active gay-marriage case in the U.S., having been filed in 2004. Both the Oklahoma and Utah cases, which have been expedited because district court judges have declared the laws unconstitutional, are the first to be heard by a federal appellate court since last year’s historic Windsor decision that struck down a key portion of DOMA, the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.

The swing vote in the case seems to be leaning toward marriage equality.

The Sun Herald reports:

The two cases are the first to reach an appellate court since the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Since then, gay rights lawyers have successfully convinced eight federal judges that the ruling means courts must strike down laws against gay marriage because they deprive same-sex couples of a fundamental right. During Thursday’s hearing before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel, Holmes suggested he interpreted the Supreme Court’s ruling the same way. “The state cannot define marriage in any way that would trample constitutional rights, right?” Holmes asked Jim Campbell, the attorney representing the defendant in the case, the Tulsa County clerk.

Queerty also zooms in on Holmes’ line of questioning.

What’s significant is that the judge widely viewed as the swing vote on the panel, Jerome Holmes, seemed to tip his hand in favor of upholding the rulings. “The state cannot define marriage in any way that would trample constitutional rights, right?,” Holmes asked the attorney representing Oklahoma, which wants the ban to remain. That’s a pretty pointed question that gets to the heart of the legal issue. The other two judges on the panel, Carlos Lucero and Paul Kelly Jr., have already signaled that their votes. (Lucero for marriage equality, and Kelly against.) The state’s predictably lame response is that the voters overwhelmingly supported the marriage ban, so it is okay to trample constitutional rights. Also, opposite sex couples have ”natural procreative potential,” as if the state demands a fertility test to get a marriage certificate.

The Denver Post wonders whether the case will be thrown out on a technicality.

Oral arguments before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage Thursday had less to do with weddings than whether the plaintiffs sued the wrong person — again. “We don’t believe the plaintiffs have standing,” said Jim Campbell, attorney for defendant Tulsa County Clerk Sally Smith… The argument looms large because if defendants are correct, then the plaintiffs’ 10-year court odyssey that began in 2004 will have been in vain. “If the court agrees on our issue, that will end the case,” Campbell said.

LGBTQ Nation has the audio of the hearing.

Now we wait for a couple months in a ritual that has become all too familiar in these legal cases.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Oklahoma.

Prop 8 Defense Lawyer Evolving on Marriage Equality

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Prop 8 OverThe lawyer who argued before the Supreme Court in favor of upholding California’s ban on gay marriage learned while he was handling the case that one of his children is gay and now is helping her plan her wedding with another woman. Attorney Charles Cooper says his view of same-sex marriage is evolving after having argued in court that gay unions could undermine marriages between a man and a woman.

The revelation is an unexpected footnote in the years-long debate over Proposition 8, the California measure struck down by the Supreme Court last year. It is also offers a glimpse, through the eyes of one family, of the country’s rapidly shifting opinions of gay marriage, with most public polls now showing majorities in favor of allowing the unions.

Cooper learned that his stepdaughter Ashley was gay as the Proposition 8 case wound its way through appellate court, according to a forthcoming book about the lengthy legal battle. And with the Supreme Court ruling now behind him, Cooper cast his personal opinion on gay marriage as an evolving process.

Authored By Julie Pace – See the Full Story at Edge Boston

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

USA, Oregon: A Marriage Equality Timeline

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Oregon Gay MarriageHere in Oregon we’re days away from a marriage equality ruling and we’re waiting with baited breath… but should we be?

In January a federal Judge in Eugene consolidated two lawsuits that are challenging Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage. With the consolidation of these cases, U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane will be issuing a summary judgment on April 23, 2014, as to whether the ban on same-sex marriage in Oregon is actually constitutional.

This ruling is going to make a lot of difference in LGBTQ lives, especially for those that want to get married. Oregon already recognizes out of state same-sex marriages, so LGBTQ residents married elsewhere can at least obtain Oregon benefits. The fact of the matter, however, is that people should not have to travel to other states to gain legitimacy in getting married. Like heterosexual couples, marriage is a right that should be afforded to everyone regardless of their gender.

We are already in mid-April, so Judge McShane’s ruling will be coming shortly. So far in 2014 we’ve seen so much momentum in just a few short months that it’s worth charting out exactly what we’ve seen happen. We can see that there is a major shift with Judges with their rulings favoring marriage equality and recognizing the unconstitutionality of banning same-sex marriages.

It’s especially important here in Oregon to know how the courts are deciding, given that in just a few days we will have a ruling of our own. To see the general trend of other related rulings can be a good prediction of our own lawsuit. Federal judges have been making a point in siding with giving people equal rights rather than upholding institutionalized homophbia. Should we really we nervous for McShane’s ruling? Given the recent decisions we’ve seen across the U.S., I think that we should wait for McShane’s ruling with cautious optimism, rather than nail-biting trepidation.

Below are the United States’ marriage equality rulings and important associated events by month in 2014 (New filings of lawsuits excluded):

January:

6: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a stay in a Utah lower court’s decision that the Constitution forbids marriage equality discrimination.

14: U.S. District Judge Terence Kern ruled that Oklahoma’s ban on marriage equality was unconstitutional. The ruling was stayed pending appeal. /

21: The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that classifications based on sexual orientation must be subjected to “heightened scrutiny” under the constitution’s 14th amendment.

23: Virginia’s Attorney General, Democrat Mark R. Herring, stated that he believes the state’s ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional and he will not defend it. Herring joined lawsuits opposing the
ban.

26: 33 couples were married on-air at the Grammy Awards by Queen Latifah, including LGBT couples. Macklemore’s ‘One Love’ played during the ceremony.

February:

10: Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto announced she will not defend the ban on marriage equality in court.

10: Attorney General Eric Holder issued a statement that the Department of Justice will recognize same-sex marriages to the full extent of the law in all jurisdictions.

12: U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled Kentucky’s ban on recognizing out of state gay marriages was unconstitutional and that Kentucky must recognize those marriages.

13: U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen ruled Virginia’s ban on marriage equality was unconstitutional. The ruling included a stay pending appeal. /

14: ThinkProgress comes out with an article outlining that since DOMA was ruled unconstitutional, 5 federal courts have sided with marriage equality while 0 have sided with discrimination.

26: U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled Texas’ ban on marriage equality was unconstitutional. Gov. Rick Perry appealed the decision. /

March:

3: Colorado’s Democratic Governor, John Hickenlooper, announced his support his marriage equality in his state.

12: An Alabama judge denied a divorce by two women who married in Iowa in 2012. Their attorney stated they would appeal the decision.

22: Federal Judge Bernard Friedman struck down Michigan’s marriage equality ban. About 300 couples married before the ruling was almost immediately suspended by an appeals court. /

April:

8: Both of former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s daughters (Luci Baines Johnson and Lynda Bird Johnson Robb) state that their father would have supported marriage equality.

14: Federal Judge Timothy Black ruled that Ohio authorities must recognize the marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states where marriage equality is the law. Parts of the ruling were put on a stay immediately pending appeal. /

In 2012, Judge McShane was nominated by President Obama to replace Oregon District Judge Michael R. Hogan, who had retired. McShane attended Lewis & Clark College in Oregon, which is known for being a liberal educational institution. McShane is also openly gay, but that is not necessarily indicative of a pro-equality ruling. A judge’s job is to interpret and apply the law, not let personal feelings be the dictation of how a ruling will fall. With McShane being gay, though, it gives him the added perspective of having experienced marriage discrimination in Oregon and to see how Measure 36 has played out. Often these rulings come from judges who are privileged in that they have never experienced institutionalized discrimination because of who they want to marry.

Hopefully McShane will make the correct choice side with equality and fairness for Oregon LGBTQ people. Following other recent federal court rulings and how the laws are currently being interpreted, McShane finding that the ban on same sex marriage is constitutional would be surprising. While we wait to see on which side of history McShane will fall, we can take comfort in knowing that federal courts are siding with equality almost across the board. Why should McShane be any different?

Konrad Juengling lives in Oregon and writes for local blogs on LGBT rights and marriage equality. You can contact Konrad at konradjuengling@gmail.com.

Marriage Equality Round-Up 4/17/14

Thursday, April 17th, 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!

Canada: Anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera was let out of jail and headed back to the US. full story

India: Legal experts and LGBT rights advocates say the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of transgender citizens may help in the overall fight for LGBT rights. full story

Malta: The country is the first in Europe to write protections for its transgender citizens into its constitution. full story

Russia: The government is considering a law to fingerprint and track HIV positive citizens. full story

UK: The Church of England is having a major freak out over the wedding of a gay priest last weekend. full story

USA: Did Logo’s ban on the term “she-mail” on RuPaul’s Drag Race go to far? full story

USA: All proceeds made through purchases with Jesse Tyler Furgeson’s Tie The Knot will be donated to the American Foundation for Equal Right full story

Necrophilia MapUSA: Four US States ban sodomy, but not necrophilia. full story

USA, Massachusetts: Boston may soon cover gender reassignment surgery for its city employees. full story

USA, Massachusetts: 2,000 will march in support of a gay basketball player at the University of Massachusetts, in opposition to Westboro Baptist Church. full story

USA, Michigan: A Federal judge heard arguments Tuesday on a state law that bans benefits for domestic partners in the state. full story

USA, North Carolina: The state’s AG is asking for a delay in one mariage equality case because a ruling is due later this year in another. full story

USA, North Carolina: Guilford County Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen is uring a Federal Judge to rule quickly on a marriage equality lawsuit. full story

USA, Texas: The University of Houston Student Government approved a bill to allow transgender students to change their gender identification on their student records. full story

USA, Virginia: The American Sociological Association just filed a brief in favor of overturning the state’s ban on marriage equality. full story

Seriously?

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Seriously?Here’s the the latest in our ongoing series of some of the crazy things the anti-gay, anti-marriage equality folks are saying and doing around the world.

Why Does Everyone Keep Talking About the Gays?
Linda Harvey is sick of it all. “Enough is enough. Have you noticed that the promotion of homosexuality seems to be almost everywhere you look these days?” And yet, she seems to feel the need to talk about it herself over and over. And over. Why doesn’t she take her own advice?
full story

It’s OK to Be Friends With Creative Homosexuals
Pat Robertson, responding to a viewer who asked if it was ok to be friends with sinful gays, replied: “The Lord’s not going to punish you for having homosexuals as your friends. But I do think that when you read the Bible very carefully, homosexuality is condemned… there are some very, very creative homosexual people. They’re in the fashion industry, they’re in design, they’re in various types of creative arts. And you would almost need to leave the world not to associate with folks like that.” So it’s ok to be friends with gays, as long as you never forget they are godless sinners. Who wants a friend who thinks you are a godless sinner? Seriously.
full story

Most Gays Were Molested as Children
Flying in the face of studies by groups like the American Psychological Association, Southern Baptist Convention official Richard Land said that “the dirty little secret that nobody wants to talk about is that a high percentage of adult male homosexuals in America were sexually molested when they were children.” I call bullshit on this. I was never molested. My husband was never molested. Very few of the gay people I have ever known were ever molested. And then there are all those actual studies. But these folks never let inconvenient facts get in the way.
full story

I Will Destroy Your Homosexual Culture
A rich Romanian priest has amassed enough signatures to make him a candidate for the European parliament. “They want to be given some rights at the expense of our rights, of the Christian families’ rights.” There’s something wrong when a “priest” is the richest candidate for public office, and enters the race to strip away rights from the oppressed. Or is that just me?
full story

USA, Oklahoma: Tenth Circuit Hearing on State’s Marriage Equality Ban

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Tenth Circuit, Denver

Apple Maps

Another state, another hearing today on a marriage equality ban.

Edge Boston reports:

Lawyers for a couple challenging Oklahoma’s ban on gay marriage and the clerk who refused to grant them a license head to a federal appeals court Thursday with the rare opportunity to build on arguments the judges heard in a similar case just a week earlier… U.S. District Judge Terence Kern of Tulsa ruled in January that Oklahoma’s ban violated the equal protection clause in the U.S. Constitution. He immediately stayed his ruling, preventing any same-sex marriages from taking place while the ruling was appealed. In contrast, more than 1,000 gay couples in Utah married before the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in to issue a stay.

These cases are moving quickly – is it possible they will reach the US Supreme Court in time for 2015?

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

USA, Arkansas: Marriage Equality Hearing Today

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

ArkansasToday marriage equality gets a day on court in Arkansas.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Advocates of ending Arkansas’ ban on same-sex marriage are to make their case Thursday before a circuit judge in Pulaski County. More than three dozen people are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging Arkansas’ voter-approved ban on gay marriage. Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is to preside over the hearing at 1 p.m. in Little Rock. Late last year, Piazza refused to grant a motion by the state that sought to dismiss the lawsuit, but he also refused to grant a motion by the couples suing, who asked him to block enforcement of the ban.

It’s another blockbuster week on the ongoing US marriage equality saga.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.

USA, Arizona: Judge Won’t Combine Marriage Equality Lawsuits

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Arizona mapA Federal Judge has denied a request to combine two marriage equality lawsuits into one.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

A federal judge is refusing to combine two separately filed lawsuits challenging Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage. However, U.S. District Judge John Sedwick ordered that both cases be assigned to him. One already was assigned to Sedwick but a second was randomly assigned to a different judge.

Lawyers who filed the second lawsuit had requested consolidation, arguing that both cases involve the same issues. Lawyers who filed the first lawsuit responded by saying their case is further along and they also cited differences in the cases, including that they share only one common defendant.

Interesting that he had both cases assigned to himself but is trying them separately. Any hidden meaning here, legal tea readers?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arizona.

UK, Northern Ireland: Assembly Will Debate Marriage Equality

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Northern Ireland - google maps

from Google Maps

Northern Ireland is getting ready to at least discuss marriage equality.

Pink News reports:

The Northern Ireland Assembly will debate equal marriage on 29 April in a motion filed by several MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly)…. The motion states: “That this Assembly notes that other jurisdictions on these islands have moved forward with equal marriage rights for same-sex couples; believes that all couples, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, should have the same legal entitlement to marry”.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that has not yet approved marriage equality, and even Ireland to the south has planned a referendum for next year. But the DUP has steadfastly blocked every attempt – will this time be any different?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Northern Ireland.