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Supreme Court Grants 24 Hour Stay in Kansas Marriage Equality Case

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Justice Sonia SotomayorSame-sex couples in Kansas will have to wait little bit longer before they can get married, after Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted a short stay in the marriage equality case.

MSNBC reports:

With just over 24 hours to go until a ruling striking down Kansas’ same-sex marriage ban was due to take effect, Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Monday granted an emergency request for a stay from the state’s Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt. The stay might not last long; Sotomayor, the justice assigned to the 10th Circuit (which has jurisdiction over Kansas,) granted the request “pending receipt of a response, due on or before Tuesday, November 11, 2014, by 5 p.m. ET.” “She’s granted what sounds like a 24-hour stay,” said Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, to msnbc. “It’s real hard to say what’s going to happen next.”

Kansas lawyers cited the 6th Circuit ruling five times in their stay application, according to the Associated Press, in an attempt to convince the justices that the issue was not yet settled nationally and should be put on hold until the high court rules. That logic has worked in the past, with the Supreme Court granting stays in similar cases out of Utah and Virginia.

We’re not sure what wonderful new arguments the state is going to come up with to try to preserve its ban. But ultimately, it may make little difference, as weddings could not have began today anyway since clerks’ offices are closed for Veterans Day.

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There’s No Guarantee the Supreme Court Will Take Another Marriage Equality Case

Monday, November 10th, 2014

US Supreme Court Color

Now that a dissident federal appeals court has upheld same-sex marriage bans in four states, legal commentators say intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court — to resolve the conflicts among lower courts and set a uniform constitutional standard on the right to marry — is very likely. But it’s not inevitable.

The court faced another set of conflicting lower-court rulings on marital rights in 1955. The issue then was interracial marriage. When Virginia’s highest court upheld the state’s ban on whites marrying nonwhites — seven years after the California Supreme Court had become the nation’s first state to strike down a prohibition on interracial marriage — the ruling was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which under Chief Justice Earl Warren had declared school segregation unconstitutional the previous year. The court’s rules at the time required it to accept and decide such cases if they involved constitutional rights. But the justices found a way to sidestep the Virginia case, heeding the advice of Justice Felix Frankfurter that another incendiary racial decision could result in “thwarting or seriously handicapping the enforcement” of the school desegregation ruling. It wasn’t until 1967, in another Virginia case, that the court finally declared bans on interracial marriage unconstitutional, overturning laws in 16 states.

“The court chose to wait until national opinion was clearly on its side,” R. Richard Banks, a constitutional law professor at Stanford Law School, said Friday. “In the same-sex marriage context, it seems clear which way we’re moving. … The court might be content to let things percolate for another year, or two or three. Then there might be more support for a judicial ruling than there is now.”

Authored By Bob Egelko – See the Full Story at SFGate

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Comparing the Sixth Circuit Marriage Equality Ruling to The Others

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Gay WeddingThe AP has a great breakdown of the Sixth Circuit marriage equality smack down versus earlier cases.

CBS Detroit reports:

Breaking ranks with rulings from other federal courts, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Ohio upholds gay marriage bans in four states, including Michigan, saying the courts aren’t the right place to legalize gay marriage. Here’s a look at some key passages and how they compare to previous federal rulings:

1. Children

The Latest: The 6th Circuit ruling says that limiting unions to being only between a man and a woman is a view shared “not long ago by every society in the world, shared by most, if not all, of our ancestors, and shared still today by a significant number of the States. People may not need the government’s encouragement to have sex or “propagate the species,” it says, but may need encouragement to “create and maintain stable relationships within which children may flourish.”

“Imagine a society without marriage. It does not take long to envision problems that might result from an absence of rules about how to handle the natural effects of male-female intercourse: children,” the opinion says. “May men and women follow their procreative urges wherever they take them? Who is responsible for the children that result?”

The judges acknowledge that gay and lesbian couples are equally capable of being in loving, committed relationships and effectively raising children. But those facts don’t mean states must suddenly believe gay marriage bans violate the constitution, the opinion says.

Earlier Rulings: The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit said the proposition that children suffer in same-sex households “reflects a crass and callous view of parental love and the parental bond that is not worthy of response. We reject it out of hand.”

The Denver-based 10th Circuit scoffed at the attempts by Utah and other states to use procreation as a justification for gay marriage bans. In a majority opinion written by Judge Carlos Lucero, the court pointed out that adoptive parents and opposite-sex couples who rely on assistance to get pregnant aren’t denied the right to marry. They said they don’t buy the contention that same-sex couples are inferior parents.

It’s a great breakdown – read the whole thing.

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Three Lessons from the Midterm Election Results for LGBT Equality

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

CongressAlthough likely disheartening for many Towleroad readers, the 2014 election results may offer both tests and even some opportunities on our long journey to equality. The media postmortem today is pretty standard: some are calling it a Republican “wave”; thoughtful pieces are reminding us that such a conclusion is a bit over the top. Some are fawning over how the Republicans did it, others are reminding us that it was a lot of money, a lot of fear, a dash of Ebola, a whole lot of nonsense, and a health dose of Obamizing local races. Chris Johnson has a fine piece up at the Washington Blade on what the election may mean for LGBT equality.

There are hints of truth in lots of these analyses, but I think they miss the mark by focusing only on the results. That sounds counter-intuitive. Results matter, and they matter a lot. But we can learn from how this campaign was conducted and we do a better job next time. Here are three lessons from the 2014 midterm elections for LGBT equality.

1. Conservative LGBTers and organizations like the Log Cabin Republicans are really the ones on the hot seat.

Conservative members of the LGBT community have an opportunity to press our cases before those in power. Ostensibly, they have the access and the goodwill and the connections to Republican leaders, and they have long argued that much of the more progressive LGBT movement is party-oriented, not progress-oriented. I don’t think that’s true, but the Republican victories in the midterm elections give Log Cabiners an opening. If they truly have access, they should open the doors to us. Employment nondiscrimination offers the Log Cabin Republicans a true test. And I will offer them a challenge: I don’t expect the House or Senate to pass anything; that’s too much to ask of these people. But we should be able to get more Republican co-sponsors to a new employment nondiscrimination bill that is not torn apart by a wide chasm of a religious exemption. If the Republicans won’t even do that, then I’m not sure Republican members of our community have any data to support their allegiance.

Authored By Ari Ezra Waldman – See the Full Story at

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New US Poll: 55% Think LGBT Employment Protections Should Cover All Employers

Friday, October 31st, 2014

titleA new poll shows that a majority of Americans believe LGBT protections should cover all employers:

SDGLN reports:

Twenty years after its introduction, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is still being debated in Congress and across the United States. While most Americans continue to give the bill strong support, a new national survey shows that most Americans simply don’t believe that employer exemptions are justified when it comes to basic workplace safeguards for LGBT Americans. Slightly over half (55%) of all adults don’t believe that any employers should be exempt if federal law were expanded to include protection from job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. When asked specifically, some Americans do agree with certain exemptions. The latest survey shows 35% of all adults believe churches or other houses of worship should be exempt, and 30% believe privately held businesses with owners citing religious beliefs should be exempt. Also, 21% of adults believe publicly held businesses citing religious beliefs should be exempt, and 19% believe small businesses generally should be exempt.

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New US Marriage Equality Maps

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

We have three new US marriage equality maps for you. For the first time (at least for me) it really looks like the marriage equality states are dominant on the map:

Pew Forum has a great interactive map (with a slider) showing marriage equality by state over time. See the Interactive Map

Pew Map

Think Progress also has a new marriage equality map. full story

Think Progress Map

Wikipedia has a new marriage equality map too. full story

Wikipedia Map


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New Poll Refutes Purported “Drop” In Marriage Equality Support

Friday, October 17th, 2014

titleA new poll shows strong support for the US Supreme Court action on marriage equality, mirroring an earlier poll by the same organization on marriage equality in general.

ABC News reports:

Most Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll support the recent U.S. Supreme Court action allowing gay marriages to go forward in several states – including a bare majority in the 11 states in which such marriages have begun in the past week and a half. Overall, 56 percent of Americans support the court’s action, while 38 percent oppose it – exactly matching opinions on whether or not gay marriage should be legal, asked in an ABC/Post poll in June. These results reflect the public’s dramatic shift in support of gay marriage the past decade.

Even the 11 states affected by the non-decision decision show majority support, at 51%. But more importantly, this poll refutes the results of an earlier Pew Poll, which seemed to show a drop in national marriage equality support. That poll is looking more and more like an outlier.

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New Maps Show How Far We Have to Go on Transgender Rights in the US

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

The fight for marriage equality in the US may be almost over, but the fight for transgender rights is just starting.

Vocative has five maps and the story:

…as important as visibility is for creating awareness, it’s just one step toward equality. For all the positive changes taking place, transgender Americans are still treated as lesser-thans when it comes to policy and legislation that affords them legal rights and protections. “The recent media attention that the trans community has received is a helpful starting point for working toward greater rights and equal rights,” says Arli Christian, policy counsel at the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). “Now we have all of these legal and policy changes that really need to be made. And looking at the number of states that have more accessible trans policies versus the states that need to improve their policies, we have a ways to go.”

Here are a couple of the maps to back up that point.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 10.38.11 AM

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Final Answer on US Marriage Equality in 2015?

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

US Supreme Court ColorThe unexpected decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to refuse to consider rulings favorable to marriage equality from three separate circuit courts has shaken up the timeline for an expected resolution of the issue, but legal observers still predict a nationwide answer by the end of 2015.

Before last week, the assumption was the Supreme Court would take a lawsuit seeking marriage equality to deliver a decision binding on all 50 states by the middle of next year. Now, although the sense of timing is just about the same or just slightly longer, observers say the same goal can be achieved after a series of circuit court rulings in favor of marriage equality.

James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project, envisioned the possibility of each of the outstanding circuit courts without marriage equality — the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Eleventh — ruling unanimously in favor of gay nuptials by fall 2015. “And if that happens, I don’t think the Supreme Court takes the issue, I think they just let all the circuit courts fall in line, and then we’ve got a national rule that’s just kind of a whole series of decisions,” Esseks said.

Authored By Chris Johnson – See the Full Story at The Washington Blade

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Do We Even Need the Supreme Court to Rule on Marriage Equality?

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

US Supreme Court ColorBack in June, I argued that there may never be a need for the Supreme Court to take a marriage equality case.

We have marriage rights in Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Indiana, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The Ninth Circuit just declared the bans on marriage equality in Idaho and Nevada unconstitutional. Both states will have to comply in short order. Since there is no reason to stay those cases given the Supreme Court’s recent denials of review, we will soon have marriage equality in at least 32 states!

The Supreme Court has denied review in cases out of the Fourth, Seventh, and Tenth Circuits. That leaves marriage equality lawsuits on appeal at the Fifth (the Texas case) and Sixth (the Michigan case). Marriage equality is almost a sure bet in, at least, the entire Ninth Circuit now. At some point, the conventional wisdom says, all these cases will lead back to the Supreme Court.

Not necessarily. Looking at the map and our string of marriage equality victories, I wonder whether we will need the Supreme Court at all. A nationwide freedom to marry could be a fait accompli without five justices of the Supreme Court.

Authored By Ari Ezra Waldman – See the Full Story at

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