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Alabama in Turmoil After Marriage Equality Comes to State

Monday, February 9th, 2015

As the US Supreme Court declined to extend the stay on a Federal Judge’s ruling and as same sex couples started to marry in the state, opponents of marriage equality dug in their heels.

Things started off well enough, with many counties issuing licenses.

Joe.My.God reports:

According to local media it appears that the majority of Alabama’s 67 counties are issuing or prepared to issue same-sex marriage licenses. At this writing fewer than a dozen counties have confirmed that they are defying this morning’s order by the Supreme Court. Probate judges in several counties decided not to issue any marriage licenses at all – to same-sex or heterosexual couples. In some counties, including Butler County, Colbert County and Coosa County probate courts are taking marriage applications from all couples but not issuing licenses. In Coffee County, Jefferson County, Chilton County and Madison County, probate judges said they will issue marriage licenses to all couples, gay and straight, on Monday morning. Probate judges in other counties chose to follow the order issued late Sunday by Chief Justice Moore. Probate judges in Bibb County, Covington County, Cleburne County and Washington County decided not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Monday, but will still issue licenses to opposite-sex couples.

As the day wore on, more and more counties jumped on the anti-gay discrimination bandwagon.

Joe.My.God reports:

At the start of the day fewer than a dozen of Alabama’s 67 counties had been confirmed as refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. It appears that number has now about tripled. Most of the counties contacted by AL.com this morning have suspended issuing all marriage licenses in the wake of conflicting rulings from a federal judge and the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. The majority of counties across the state have either suspended the issuance of all marriage licenses or are only accepting applications. Probate judges have said it is the best compromise for the moment, until they determine which order to follow. Other probate judges have said that they may change their policies within hours or days. Counties colored red are not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Those colored green are issuing licenses to all couples. Those shaded in yellow are not issuing any marriage licenses and those colored orange are only accepting applications, but issuing no licenses.

Alabama Map

The Governor was no help.

Towleroad reports:

“This issue has created confusion with conflicting direction for Probate Judges in Alabama. Probate Judges have a unique responsibility in our state, and I support them. I will not take any action against Probate Judges, which would only serve to further complicate this issue. We will follow the rule of law in Alabama, and allow the issue of same sex marriage to be worked out through the proper legal channels.”

And the Attorney General took up the Chief Justice’s contention that probate judges could turn away same sex couples.

On Top Magazine reports:

In responding to a decision by the Supreme Court not to stay two federal judge’s rulings striking down Alabama’s ban on gay marriage, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange suggested that probate judges do not have to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Strange had asked the Supreme Court to delay Monday’s scheduled implementation of the rulings. In a 7-2 decision, the court denied Strange’s request.

The Human Rights Campaign called for the impeachment of Chief Justice Moore over his refusal to follow the federal court judgment.

The Dallas Voice reports:

The Human Rights Campaign has launched a petition to remove Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore from office. Moore urged the governor of Alabama and probate judges, who issue licenses in the state, to stand in the way of same-sex marriages despite an explicit order by a federal judge. The HRC petition calls on the Judicial Inquiry Commission to take action against Moore — who previously declared that homosexuality should be a punishable offense and grounds for losing parental custody — for shirking the law and the obligations of his office.

One of the plaintiff couples filed a contempt motion against the Mobile County probate judge for refusing to issue licenses.

Equality on Trial reports:

Mobile County, Alabama, is stalling in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The county has said there are some delays, and they’re not issuing licenses until those are worked out. They aren’t even opening the marriage license division. Attorneys for the couple who filed Searcy v. Strange have just filed a contempt motion requesting “an Order declaring the Honorable Don Davis to be in contempt, to further order law enforcement to open the marriage license division of Mobile County Probate Court, impose sanctions against the Honorable Don Davis, and any such further legal remedies this Court deems appropriate and just, the premises considered.”

The motion was promptly swatted down by a federal judge.

Joe.My.God reports:

“Probate Judge Don Davis is not a party in this case and the Order of January 23, 2015, did not directly order Davis to do anything. Judge Davis’s obligation to follow the Constitution does not arise from this court’s Order. The Clarification Order noted that actions against Judge Davis or others who fail to follow the Constitution could be initiated by persons who are harmed by their failure to follow the law. However, no such action is before the Court at this time.”

The couple responded with an amended complaint against pretty much everyone in Mobile County government.

Joe.My.God reports:

Mobile lawsuit

The Supreme Court’s decision to not extend the stay reinforces the trend they started in Florida.

USA Today reports:

The Supreme Court will decide whether to allow same-sex marriage nationwide later this year. But it’s leaving little doubt which way it’s leaning. The latest evidence came Monday, when the high court denied Alabama’s request that gay marriages be blocked while the state appeals a federal judge’s ruling that allowed gays and lesbians to wed. That was the same decision the justices reached in Florida two months ago, allowing the Sunshine State to become the 36th in the nation where same-sex marriage is legal. Alabama now becomes the 37th.

In one bit of excellent news, Paul Hard, a gay man who has been embroiled in a legal fight against his deceased husband’s mother as she tries to steal her son’s estate won the latest round.

Towleroad reports:

The state of Alabama has issued Hard a new death certificate for Fancher, this time listing Fancher as his husband. Said Hard, “Getting David’s death certificate was emotional. Just to finally see the wording on there that at the time of his death he was married, and he was married to me, corrects a hurtful wrong.”

This will make it much harder for the evil mother-in-law to get her hands on her son’s estate.

We’ll leave you with this cartoon, which draws a great parallel between the hateful men blocking the door to marriage equality and their counterparts in an earlier era.

Cartoon Birmingham News

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Alabama.

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.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Alabama.

All Florida Clerks Agree to Start Issuing Marriage Licenses to Same Sex Couples

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

Florida From SpaceAfter a statewide conference call, all clerks in the state have agreed to start issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples starting Tuesday.

Towleroad.com reports:

Following a conference call on Friday, all county clerks in the state of Florida have announced they will follow Judge Robert Hinkle’s New Years Day ruling and will begin issuing marriage license to same-sex couples starting Tuesday morning. Clerks in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties, meanwhile, have joined clerks in Baker, Clay, and Duval counties in discontinuing all courthouse wedding ceremonies rather than allow gay couples to use the same space for thier own weddings.

Towleroad.com also reports on the Florida Family Action lawsuit to stop the weddings:

In related news, the anti-gay Florida Family Action’s lawsuit seeking to stop marriage equality from going into effect on January 6 has been tossed out by a circuit judge. A second lawsuit filed against Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer in an effort to prevent him from officiating or issuing licenses is still pending….for now.

Marriage equality is coming to Florida next week!

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Florida.

As Marriage Equality Expands, the Gay Divorce Rate Is Increasing – And Happily Married Gay Couples Don’t Like It

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

When gay marriage was only legal in a very few places, gay divorce rates were very, very low. It made for lots of great news stories about how marriage equality would ultimately create more solid marriages nationwide, which have in recent history waivered at nearly 50 percent. Now that marriage equality has been enacted in so many different states, the statistics have started shifting. And happily-married gay couples are not at all pleased about it.

Frequently, former clients bring issues like this to my attention because they want to see the topic written about and the discussions that follow. In this particular case, a former client brought up the subject of the increase in gay divorces because it’s seriously bothering him.

While he and his husband have been happily married for several years, he has four sets of friends who haven’t been married very long and are currently in serious relationship trouble. Even in today’s society where marriage isn’t forever for so many people, it bothered him that he was close to four relatively-newly-married gay couples who are already getting divorced. That’s a lot of divorce in one social circle at one time.

“I think a lot are marrying for the vanity and to be the center of attention or for the party. Couples that only know each other a few months. You know the gays love a party,” he says. But he’s not joking despite his tone. He points out that gay icons Liz Taylor, Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli had 16 weddings between the three of them. Not the best examples to follow.

“They started to see other gay weddings and they looked like such fun, they wanted their own,” he opines. Next thing you know, couples who have only been together for a short period of time are getting legally married just because they can without giving enough consideration to what the word “marriage” means long term.

“I also don’t think the gays are co-mingling finances the way straights do, so divorce is easier on the financial front and the lack of children helps speed things along.” Basically, he says gay couples have fewer factors to consider when debating fixing or ending a relationship. It’s easier to get out of a gay marriage in most cases. That’s assuming they both still live in a state that acknowledges the legality of their marriage in the first place. When the state doesn’t recognize the union, there’s a whole new list of problems to encounter when splitting the blanket. But that’s a different blog.

He’s also concerned that gay men aren’t taking the vows of marriage as seriously as they should be. And he thinks it’s embarrassing to the marriage equality movement.

“One guy was telling me he was thinking of getting divorced while sitting on another guy’s lap,” was one example he cited. Notoriously “social,” some gay men have continued prior behaviors and not remained monogamous post-wedding ceremony. What was acceptable in the relationship before the wedding may no longer be okay with both partners once they’re wearing rings. This is a discussion to have before you say “I do.” While plenty of married couples (gay and straight) have “understandings” or “open marriages,” that’s something that has to be agreed upon by both partners before either one of them steps out on the other. Otherwise, it’s justified grounds for divorce.

Even more irritating to some is the fact that many single gay men appear not to understand that married gay men are off limits once they’ve gotten married. This problem with promoting infidelity is not new, according to my gay friends. In fact, more than one of them tell stories about gay friends who ask about their straight friends, only to be told “he’s married with three kids.” More often than not, my friends say the response is “So what?”

My lesbian friends and clients say infidelity isn’t their main problem but rather, finding a balance in a marriage and household is a constant stereotype struggle with both women wanting to be in charge. But we’ll come back to that.

When I first started planning and executing gay weddings years ago, the subject of divorce wasn’t even up for discussion. There were no statistics because it hadn’t been legal in enough places long enough to be analyzed. Even with the uptick in gay divorces, they’re still registering about half as many as straight divorces most places. But then again, most of the statistics reflect information about unions that have been legal for five years or less. While the success rate should be celebrated cautiously, it’s going to take another five years to learn whether there is truly a difference in marital longevity based on sexual preference.

The vast majority of my clients are committing themselves to each other here in the Caribbean, in full blown weddings or well-planned elopements, to signify that they are very serious about being married. Some of them went home and took legal steps to merge their lives in the same way a married couple would, just without the marriage license to go with it. Some got married legally if they could. Others were waiting for their home states to pass marriage equality.

Dwayne Byrum and Rodney Stroth became Mr. and Mr. on the beach in Vieques during the filming of TLC's "Wedding Island."

Dwayne Byrum and Rodney Stroth became Mr. and Mr. on the beach in Vieques during the filming of TLC’s “Wedding Island.”

Dwayne and Rodney Byrum were married on Vieques, Puerto Rico, on 12-12-12, the “last luckiest day of the century.” Afterward, they went home to Virginia and built their lives together. They waited patiently for their own state to legalize their union because, even though they could go across the bridge into Washington, DC, and get married, that legal union wouldn’t have been acknowledged just a few miles away at home.

Last summer, Virginia passed marriage equality and Dwayne and Rodney literally ran to the courthouse to get their marriage license. Just as quickly, the courts shut it down, and it wasn’t until months later when the Supreme Court upheld marriage equality in Virginia and a number of other states that they could actually get legally married. And they did. As quickly as they could before some little glitch made it impossible for them to get married, again. But the decision to get married wasn’t made in haste – it was something they’d been waiting almost two years to do. They didn’t need a big party to make it real – they’d already eloped in the Caribbean, on television.

After almost two years of patiently waiting, Dwayne and Rodney were married in Virginia as soon as they could.

After almost two years of patiently waiting, Dwayne and Rodney were married in Virginia as soon as they could.

“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” Dwayne explains. “The LGBT community has fought for marriage equality rights for decades, now that we have it in the majority of the United States, as a community, we need to take these new rights seriously.”

“Marriage, as a whole, is a serious endeavor which not only opens equal rights and opportunities for LGBT’s, it also opens us up to the same legal responsibilities and ramifications as everyone else who enters into a marriage. Not enough thought is being put into that,” he says.

It makes me wonder if the whole process of planning a serious marriage ceremony rather than jumping on the marriage bandwagon just because it’s suddenly been legalized makes a big difference in the survival rate of the relationship. To the best of my knowledge, all of my gay and lesbian clients who have gotten married in Vieques are still together. I know for a fact that some are planning to have (or adopt) several children, making the same kind of long-term life plans as all of my clients who aren’t gay.

Perhaps the planning time for their destination weddings (and not every wedding is big – but it is thought out and coordinated) gives LGBT couples more time to consider the implications of the big move they’re going to make. And as all brides and grooms know, actually planning a wedding is stressful and how you handle those obstacles as a couple can be a real learning experience. If you can’t agree on who to invite, what to serve, the budget, or your vows, that’s a sign that you’re not necessarily ready to get married. Once you’re married, life’s problems are usually significantly more real and challenging. If you can’t plan a wedding together, odds are that you’re not going to survive married to each other for very long.

Yes, it’s depressing to think of it that way for me as a wedding planner, but that opinion isn’t restricted to gay and lesbian marriages. It’s just as true for straight couples getting ready to take the plunge. If you cannot agree on how to handle your families, where you’re going to be in five years, or your long-term goals in general, you’re not ready to get married regardless of your sexual preference.

“You need to be sure of your decision and reasons for getting married, and also look at all the implications of doing so,” Dwayne continues, and adds this list of important issues couples should consider before taking the formal step of saying “I do.” He also points out that not everything about getting married is glitter and rainbows.

1) How long has the couple considering marriage been together? Is the person you’re about to marry really and truly the person you want to grow old with? How well do you truly know your partner? 

2) Getting married (LGBT or straight) without having dependents or owning property together will cost you a fortune in taxes versus remaining single and staying a couple. It may be better to have legal documents drawn up to protect your rights instead of actually getting married. 

3) Most people enter a marriage with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, you do have to think about, “what if it doesn’t work out. What are the implications of getting a divorce?”

While digging on the Internet to learn more about the subject of gay divorce rates, I learned that, interestingly, the rate of lesbian divorce is consistently twice that of gay men in the vast majorities of countries that have legalized gay marriage, including the United States. It’s an interesting statistic to keep in mind. And probably whole other blog to write eventually.

Gay men told me that lesbian marriages deal with fewer infidelity challenges – they feel the culture of lesbian relationships, even in the dating realm, is more monogamous, and frankly, a little less slutty. However, the lesbians I talked to thought there were bigger issues at stake (although they didn’t disagree with the less infidelity assessment). Women face challenges just by being women, and some of those carry over into a marriage or civil union and result in a split.

“My personal take is that for some reason, one or both women feel the need to be extra ‘masculine’ whereas gay men, I feel, tend to be sooooo soft intellectually and romantically inclined and apologetic and sensitive,” explains Janelle Fitzgerald, a lesbian who is currently separated from her wife. She says a lot of her gay and lesbian friends agree with her assessment.

“My men-friend couples have longggg lasting relations and babies and families while we lesbians try our damnedest, but I swear we walk in with the chips stacked against us,” Janelle explains. It sounds like there’s a greater struggle for who takes the leadership role in lesbian marriages. Many women spend all day trying to bust through the glass ceiling and don’t seem to let go of that at home with their spouses. It’s not an uncommon problem in straight relationships either, but when both partners are fighting against the same demons, the challenge is double.

Although Janelle is still in a civil union with her wife, they’ve been separated for almost two years.

“I swear if that stubborn straight-man gene and the immaturity straight men seem to possess in spades were non-existent, or at least balanced, we’d have a fighting shot,” she says. And she jokes that unfortunately, “we can’t all marry gay men if we are lesbians can we…?”

There are lots of other statistical reasons that lesbian marriages would struggle more than gay ones – disparity of income being the biggest and most damning. I see it in my wedding planning business where very few lesbian couples spend even half as much money as gay men do on their wedding plans. It’s not because they’re cheap (in most cases), it’s because they face greater daily life financial challenges. DINK (double-income-no-kids) boosts the household of two men far higher than it does for two women. And more of the women getting married already have children. With money problems being the biggest cause of divorce across the board for all marriages, it makes perfect sense that this could be detrimental for two women trying to make a life together.

Whatever the cause of the increasing gay divorce rate, marriage equality advocates would like to see it stop. After spending years fighting for the right to get married, they don’t want hear that it’s not working. Of course, not every marriage lasts and not every couple is mean to be together “til death do us part” regardless of vows. But gay and lesbian couples rushing out to get married legally just because they can isn’t a good reason for so many marriages to fall apart.

When a couple decides to get engaged and then married, they need to take some time to consider all factors and make sure they’re ready for the next step. Gay or straight, marriage isn’t easy. Getting married might be easier for straight couples, but staying married is equally hard for everyone who has exchanged rings. Doing it for the wrong reasons – like because you’ve always been dying to plan your wedding and you never thought you would be able to – will only result in catastrophe long term. Every couple getting married is entitled to celebrate and have the party, but you don’t have to run down the aisle to have that. A slow walk will get you to the same destination, and you won’t feel confused and out of breath.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Sandy Malone Weddings & Events!

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques and Sandy Malone Weddings & Events. She married Dwayne and Rodney Byrum in a commitment ceremony on Vieques Island on her TLC reality show "Wedding Island" on 12-12-12

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques and Sandy Malone Weddings & Events. She married Dwayne and Rodney Byrum in a commitment ceremony on Vieques Island on her TLC reality show “Wedding Island” on 12-12-12

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico.  She is also the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a company that provides traditional planning services but also provides consulting services to DIY brides and groom all over the world.She is also the star of TLC’s reality wedding show “Wedding Island.” Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 500 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands.  Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events.  She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004.  Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas.  She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada.  Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), and Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm). Sandy has a regular columns on the Huffington Post and in BRIDES and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!

South Carolina Supreme Court Lifts Marriage Equality Stay Early

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

UPDATE 7:20 AM: The US Supreme Court just turned the state away.

The Washington Blade reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court won’t stop same-sex marriages from taking place in South Carolina following a decision against the state’s ban on gay nuptials. A one-page order from the court on Thursday indicates the stay request from state officials to block same-sex marriages and presented to U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts was referred to the entire court and denied. However, the order notes U.S. Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas would have granted the stay.


South Carolina MapThings are moving along on the marriage equality front in South Carolina too. The state Supreme Court lifted the stay on the recent ruling early.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

The South Carolina Supreme Court has lifted an injunction that prohibited the state’s probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The order comes following a ruling on Tuesday by U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs in Columbia in favor of Highway Patrol Trooper Katherine Bradacs and U.S. Air Force retiree Tracie Goodwin, who sued to have the state to recognize their marriage performed in Washington, D.C. Childs ruled the state’s failure to recognize their marriage was unconstitutional.

At least six couples in Charleston immediately received marriage licenses.

On Top Magazine reports:

At least six gay couples received marriage licenses Wednesday in South Carolina. According to multiple local sources, Probate Judge Irvin Condon in Charleston issued the licenses. Within hours, Kristin Anderson and Kayla Bennett exchanged vows, making them the first gay couple to legally marry in the state. The women, together 4 years, wed in front of the Charleston County Courthouse in a ceremony officiated by Tobin Williamson.

Atty. Gen. Alan Wilson is still pinning his hopes on the US Supreme Court.

Fits News reports:

South Carolina is the only state in the fourth circuit blocking gay marriages. Its lawyers argue that conflicting lower court rulings (the sixth circuit court of appeals has upheld the right of states to ban gay marriage) necessitate the intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court. For his part, Wilson has said he’s just doing his job as the state’s top lawyer – but in the process he’s become a hero of the religious right. “Alan Wilson isn’t simply going through the motions,” said Oran Smith of the Palmetto Family Council – a group which opposes gay marriage. “He and his lawyers are crafting new strategies.”

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in South Carolina.

Marriage Equality Comes to Montana

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

MontanaA federal judge struck down the ban on marriage equality in Montana yesterday.

The Washington Blade reports:

In an 18-page decision, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris, an Obama appointee, struck down the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriage on the basis of an earlier decision in favor of marriage equality by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Montana. “No family wants to deprive its precious children of the chance to marry the loves of their lives,” Morris writes. “Montana no longer can deprive Plaintiffs and other same-sex couples of the chance to marry their loves.” Applying heightened scrutiny, or a greater assumption a law is unconstitutional, to Montana’s ban on same-sex marriage, Morris writes that state officials defending the marriage ban in court failed under that standard “to justify the discrimination engendered by the Montana laws that ban same-sex marriage.

No stay was issued on the ruling, so same-sex couples immediately started seeking marriage licenses.

The Charlotte Observer reports:

Gay couples were expected to line up for marriage licenses Thursday at county courthouses across Montana after a federal judge tossed out the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. At least two counties — Missoula and Park — started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples Wednesday, while court clerks elsewhere geared up to do so Thursday.

Among the first Montana couples to get their licenses on Wednesday were Amy Wagner, 56, and Karen Langebeck, 48, of Livingston, who have been together for 22 years. After hearing about the ruling at 2 p.m. MST, they got on the road to get their license. “Being able to get married and introduce Karen as my wife — that’s a big deal. Now I have a way to describe this relationship that everybody understands,” Wagner said.

Friend of the blog Matt Baume has compiled some of the best quotes from the decision, including:

Antigay attorneys love to rely on the Baker case, in which a 1972 dismissal from the U.S. Supreme Court stated that marriage equality wasn’t a federal issue. That was 42 years ago, and a lot has changed since then. Nevertheless, state attorneys keep bringing it up to try to persuade courts that they shouldn’t weigh in; and courts keep shooting that argument down. “Baker no longer precludes consideration of challenges to the constitutionality of laws that prohibit same-sex marriage,” Judge Morris wrote.

Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, is thrilled with the decision.

Joe.My.God reports:

“Today’s decision ensures we are closer to fulfilling our promise of freedom, dignity, and equality for all Montanans. It is a day to celebrate our progress, while recognizing the qualities that bind us as Montanans: a desire to make a good life for ourselves and our families, while providing greater opportunities to the next generation. I have instructed my administration to quickly take all appropriate steps to ensure that we are recognizing and affording the same rights and responsibilities to legally married same-sex couples that all married Montanans have long enjoyed.”

But the Montana Family Foundation is not.

Joe.My.God reports:

“I am heartbroken for the people of Montana who have had the redefinition of marriage forced on them by an out-of-control federal judiciary. I am also grieved for the children of same-sex couples who have no chance of growing up with a mom and a dad. While we mourn the direction of a misguided judiciary, we’re encouraged by the fact that natural marriage was enshrined in 31 state Constitutions, and a recent Pew poll showed that support for same-sex marriage has dropped by 5% in the past 3 months. While the courts believe same-sex marriage is a settled issue, it’s anything but settled in the hearts and minds of the people. While we’re disappointed in the decision, we will not despair, we will not throw in the towel and we will not give up. As Cicero once said, ‘Time obliterates the fictions of opinion and confirms the decisions of nature.'”

Republican Atty. Gen. Tim Fox has already vowed to appeal the ruling.

Joe.My.God reports:

“It is the attorney general’s sworn duty to uphold and defend Montana’s constitution until such time as there is no further review or no appeal can be made in a court of law. Fulfilling that duty, the state of Montana will appeal this ruling in light of the fact that there are conflicting federal court decisions and no final word from the U.S. Supreme Court.”

All we can say is “good luck with that.”

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Montana.

Will Marriage Equality Arrive in South Carolina Thursday?

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

South Carolina MapThe stay on a marriage equality ruling in South Carolina is due to expire on Thursday.

Joe.My.God reports:

Late last night the plaintiffs in that case filed a motion in opposition to state Attorney General Alan Wilson’s demand that the stay be continued while he flails about with appeals. Via the Post & Courier: “Currently 34 states permit same-sex couples to marry, or recognize marriages legally celebrated by same-sex couples in other states. If history is any indicator, the State’s claim of potential harm here is overstated, if not completely contrived,” the new filings says. Malissa Burnette, lead attorney in Condon’s case, has said she feels very optimistic the Fourth Circuit will uphold Gergel’s ruling. It is the same court that struck down Virginia’s constitutional gay marriage ban and was among those that triggered the recent cascade of legalized same-sex marriage across the nation.

All the motions and responses have now been filed with the Fourth Circuit.

Greenville Online reports:

The motion and response are in from the two sides of the gay marriage debate in South Carolina. Now it’s up to the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to decide whether to grant a stay – and stop marriages for same sex couples due to begin at noon on Thursday – as the state has asked.

The Atty. Gen. is latching onto the Sixth Circuit ruling against marriage equality, claiming that it means the US Supreme Court will have to weigh-in before the state is forced to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in South Carolina.

Marriage Equality Comes to Kansas – The Details

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

KansasAfter putting a temporary hold on marriage equality on Monday, the US Supreme Court cleared the way for weddings to begin yesterday.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

The nation’s highest court denied a request from Kansas to prevent gay and lesbian couples from marrying while the state fights the issue in court. The order is consistent with how the justices have handled recent requests from other states that have sought to keep their bans in place while they appealed lower court rulings in favor of gay and lesbian couples. However, Kansas’ emergency appeal was closely watched to see if the court would change its practice following last week’s appellate ruling upholding anti-gay marriage laws in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. Those cases now are headed to the Supreme Court, and the gay marriage issue nationwide could be heard and decided by late June.

As Lyle Denniston at Scotusblog notes, this time was a little different.

Joe.My.God reports:

The Court has issued a series of orders in same-sex marriage cases over the past eleven months, but the Kansas order marked the first time that members of the Court had recorded dissents. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas noted only that they would have granted the delay sought by the Kansas attorney general. Kansas officials had attempted to show that their case was different from others that the Supreme Court had chosen to leave undisturbed, arguing that the federal judge’s order was an invalid attempt to second-guess a Kansas Supreme Court order delaying the issuance of same-sex marriages. The federal judge had rejected that claim, but it may have been the one that drew the implied support of Justices Scalia and Thomas. The state still has an appeal pending at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, but that has little promise, because that appeals court has struck down bans in two other states in its region — Oklahoma and Utah. The Supreme Court refused to review those Tenth Circuit rulings on October 6. The Kansas ban is almost identical to those in other states.

Atty. Gen. Derek Schmidt is trying to limit the ruling to just two counties.

Joe.My.God reports:

Schmidt says that decision applies only in Douglas, a northeastern Kansas county, and Sedgwick, in south-central Kansas, where the court clerks are defendants. The American Civil Liberties Union contends the ruling applies in all 105 counties. The legal situation in Kansas is complicated by another case before the Kansas Supreme Court, which Schmidt filed last month. He persuaded the Kansas court to block marriage licenses for same-sex couples, at least while his case is heard. Marriage licenses in Kansas are issued by district court clerks’ offices after a mandatory three-day wait. In Johnson County, Court Clerk Sandra McCurdy said about 70 applications from same-sex couples are pending. “Until I hear something from the Kansas Supreme Court, I’m not issuing any marriage licenses,” McCurdy said.

Newly reelected Gov. Sam Brownback said he is not giving up on defending the ban.

LGBGQ Nation reports:

The Republican governor supports the ban and has said it is worth defending because voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution against gay marriage in 2005. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the governor issued a statement saying he took an oath to support the state constitution. He added that he would review the decision and consult with state Attorney General Derek Schmidt on “how best we continue those efforts.”

We’ll see how much they continue to dig in their heels until they finally give in to the inevitable.

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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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Judge Opens Door for Marriage Equality in St. Louis, State Appeals

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

St. Louis Arch - MissouriA state judge yesterday ruled that the ban on marriage equality was illegal, opening the door for same-sex couples to start marrying immediately in St. Louis.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison said in a written ruling that Missouri’s measure recognizing marriage only between a man and woman violates the due process and equal protection rights of the U.S. Constitution. The decision — which applies only in the city of St. Louis where Burlison has jurisdiction — mirrored ones handed down recently in several other states.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster immediately appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court, saying the constitutional challenge “must be presented to and resolved” at that level. But he said that his office wouldn’t seek a stay of the order, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant stays after same-sex marriage decisions in Idaho and Alaska. Koster previously chose not to appeal a ruling requiring Missouri to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Couples rushed to take advantage of the opportunity. Towleroad.com reports:

Following St. Louis, Missouri Circuit Judge Rex Burlison’s ruling today that officials in that city can issue marriage licenses to gay couples, same-sex couples turned up at city hall to say “I do.”… Check out some incredible images of marriage equality arriving in St. Louis, courtesy of CBS reporter Michael Calhoun’s incredible Twitter feed.

Happy day in St. Louis!!!

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