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Court rulings on LGBT rights and marriage equality

 

Italy’s High Court Rejects Marriage Equality

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Italy - Google MapsIn a disappointing move, the highest court in Italy found no right to marriage equality in the country’s constitution.

Gay Star News reports:

The Cassation Court has said there is nothing in the Constitution that requires the government to extend marriage rights to LGBTI people. However, it did say same-sex couples should have the same rights as unmarried Italian opposite-sex couples. The Constitution states: ‘All citizens have equal social dignity and are equal before the law, without distinction of sex, race, language, religion, political opinion, personal and social conditions.’

So, civil unions, maybe?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Italy.

Image via Google Maps

Alabama Marriage Equality Update 2/10/15

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

AlabamaAnother day, more controversy in Alabama as the marriage equality fight continues.

At least three counties have relented and started to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples:

It’s possible that these counties are reacting to a statement made last night by the governor. Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican and a Southern Baptist, said he believes strongly that marriage is between one man and one woman, but that the issue should be “worked out through the proper legal channels” and not through defiance of the law. The governor noted that Alabama is about to be in the spotlight again with the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was passed after civil rights marchers were attacked and beaten in Selma, Alabama — events chronicled in the Oscar-nominated movie “Selma.” “I don’t want Alabama to be seen as it was 50 years ago when a federal law was defied. I’m not going to do that,” Bentley said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press. The three counties (Limestone, Morgan, and Elmore) have a combined population of 280,000. That still leaves more than 50 counties who are not serving gay couples.

Attorney General Luther Strange filed his response to the plaintiffs’ amended complaint.

Equality on Trial reports:

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has filed his response to yesterday’s request from the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), who’s representing the plaintiffs in Strawser v. Strange, to amend their complaint, add new plaintiffs and defendants, and request a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order against the Mobile County Probate Judge. The filing notes that the attorney general can’t issue marriage licenses, nor can he order county probate judges to take any actions or open their offices. Because of that, he doesn’t oppose the addition of plaintiffs who are seeking marriage licenses from Mobile County, and the probate judge of the county as a defendant.

The judge in the case has scheduled a hearing for Friday.

Equality on Trial reports:

The federal district court judge who overturned Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban has scheduled a hearing for Thursday, February 12 on the request in Strawser for an injunction requiring Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis. The county is still refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and they’re see

Some straight couples have been caught in the crossfire:

Meanwhile, Governor Bentley made some conciliatory noises.

Equality on Trial reports:

The governor noted that Alabama is about to be in the spotlight again with the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was passed after civil rights marchers were attacked and beaten in Selma, Alabama — events chronicled in the Oscar-nominated movie “Selma.” “I don’t want Alabama to be seen as it was 50 years ago when a federal law was defied. I’m not going to do that,” Bentley said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.

“I’m trying to move this state forward.”

Chief Justice Roy Moore mouthed off again.

The Dallas Voice reports:

…on Monday, Feb. 9, Moore explained to ABC News that he has to stop same-sex marriage, because if loving, committed adult couples of the same gender are allowed to legally marry, then all hell is gonna break loose and then “men and their daughters or women and their sons” would be insisting they be allowed to get married too.

In a fitting tribute, the Klu Klux Klan came out in support of Moore today.

Joe.My.God reports:

From the website of the United Dixie White Knights: The Mississippi Klan salutes Alabama’s chief justice Roy Moore, for refusing to bow to the yoke of Federal tyranny. The Feds have no authority over individual States marriage laws. The fudgepackers from Hollywood and all major news networks are in shock that the good people from the heart of Dixie are resisting their Imperialist, Communist Homosexual agenda!

Lambda Legal is urging probate judges to ignore Moore.

SDGLN reports:

Lambda Legal today sent an open letter to the president of the Alabama Probate Judges Association and probate judges of counties that are not issuing licenses to same-sex couples urging them to disregard Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s legally incorrect and unfounded Administrative Order and instead issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and different-sex couples alike, after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the state’s request for a stay.

A woman in Autauga County was arrested after trying to perform a same sex wedding ceremony in the probate judge’s office.

Joe.My.God reports:

An Autauga County woman was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct Tuesday morning after offering to perform a same sex marriage inside the probate judge’s office. Anne Susan Diprizio, of the 300 block of Cambridge Street, is charged with disorderly conduct, said Dave Hill, chief deputy of the Autauga County Sheriff’s Office. She was being processed in the Autauga Metro Jail after her arrest and was unavailable for comment. Courthouse records show she doesn’t have an attorney. She was being held on a bond of $1,000, Hill said.

The state has put up the biggest fight against marriage equality so far.

AL.com reports:

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond School of Law professor who has tracked same-sex marriage litigation across the country, said he does not believe any other state has resisted the federal court system as aggressively as Alabama. He said the closest analogy probably is Florida, where clerks across the state initially insisted that a judge’s order striking down that state’s ban applied only in one county. “It never really culminated in this situation,” he said, referring to Monday’s wild day in Alabama. “The day came, and they were ready and everything went OK.”

US Senator Jeff Sessions jumped into the fray today.

Towleroad.com reports:

Sessions told CQ Roll Call that he believes judges’ rulings in favor of marriage equality have more to do with sentiment that an accurate interpretation of the U.S. Constitution: “I think it’s an unhealthy trend that judges feel that they’re somehow reflecting popular opinion when first of all, it’s not popular opinion, and secondly, who are they to be ruling on cases based on how they feel.”

Nate Cohn at the New York Times looks at the depth of opposition to gay marriage in Alabama:

…Those results suggest that Alabama would have voted overwhelmingly against same-sex marriage if it had been on the ballot there in 2012. I estimate the vote would have been roughly 73 percent to 27 percent against same-sex marriage. The estimate is based on the relationship between support for same-sex marriage in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington; educational attainment; population density; the number of evangelical Christians and African-Americans; and support for Mr. Obama. Support for same-sex marriage has increased further over the last two years, rising to about 54 percent last year from 49 percent in 2012, according to Pew and Gallup national polls. Nonetheless, a majority — and probably two-thirds — of Alabama voters most likely remain opposed.

Now we wait for Friday’s hearing and the judge’s ruling.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Alabama.

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: Judge Rules in Favor of Second Couple

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Alabama mapThe same judge that ruled in favor of marriage equality in a case where the plaintiffs married out-of-state just issued a second ruling for a couple denied a marriage license in Alabama.

SDGLN reports:

This case was filed by James Strawser, 51, and John Humphrey, 38, who live in Mobile. They met on Facebook and have lived together in Alabama since last year. After they applied for a marriage license and were turned down, they filed their case without the aid of lawyers, according to news reports…

The first case involved a lesbian couple who had a valid wedding ceremony in California and who sued for that marriage to be recognized in Alabama. In the second case, the gay couple were refused a marriage license. “Although the Plaintiffs in this case seek to marry in Alabama, rather than have their marriage in another state recognized, the court adopts the reasoning expressed in the Searcy case and finds that Alabama’s laws violate the Plaintiffs’ rights for the same reasons,” she wrote.

It’s a banner week for marriage equality in Alabama.

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.

Federal Judge Strikes Down Alabama Marriage Equality Ban With No Stay

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Alabama mapThe number of states with marriage equality just jumped to 37.

The Washington Blade reports:

A federal judge in Alabama has become the latest to strike down a state ban on same-sex marriage, ruling against the Yellowhammer State’s prohibition on gay nuptials on the basis that it violates the Fourteenth Amendment. In a 10-page decision on Friday, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade, an appointee of George W. Bush, issued summary judgement in favor of a plaintiff same-sex couple, finding Alabama marriage laws violate the couple’s right to due process and equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.

“There has been no evidence presented that these marriage laws have any effect on the choices of couples to have or raise children, whether they are same-sex couples or opposite-sex couples,” Granade writes. “In sum, the laws in question are an irrational way of promoting biological relationships in Alabama.”

We’re guessing that, absent a stay, couples will start Monday morning, unless a county clerk decides to open on the weekend. AG Luther Strange has asked the judge for a stay.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Alabama.

Marriage Equality Ruling in South Dakota

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

South Dakota mapA Federal Judge struck down South Dakota’s marriage equality ban yesterday.

The Washington Blade reports:

In a 28-page decision, U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier, a Clinton appointee, grants summary judgement to plaintiff same-sex couples in the case, saying the South Dakota’s marriage ban runs contrary to their rights to equal protection and due process under the U.S. Constitution. “In Loving, the Supreme Court addressed a traditionally accepted definition of marriage that prohibited Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving from marrying,” Schreier writes. “Because Virginia’s laws deprived that couple of their fundamental right to marriage, the Court struck down those laws. Little distinguishes this case from Loving. Plaintiffs have a fundamental right to marry. South Dakota law deprives them of that right solely because they are same-sex couples and without sufficient justification.”

Unfortunately, the judge stayed her own decision, so same sex couples in South Dakota will have to wait to get married.

Ari Ezra Waldman argues that there should have been no stay:

It no longer makes any sense, not after the Supreme Court refused to grant a stay in Florida pending appeal. As I argued previously, the Court’s refusal to extend the stay beyond January 5, 2015 was special because it was the first time the Court let stand a pro-marriage equality decision in a jurisdiction where the appellate court (11th Circuit, in this case) had not yet spoken. Everywhere else, in South Carolina, for example, or in Idaho, the Court let marriage equality go into effect because the Fourth and Ninth Circuits, respectively, had spoken.

South Dakota is in the Eighth Circuit, which has not had occasion to decide a marriage equality case in the post-Windsor world. Therefore, with respect to the stay, South Dakota is just like Florida: a state with a pro-equality federal district court decision that should not be stayed even though the superior circuit court has not yet spoken. It is a shame the stay was put into effect. The judge was probably just being cautious. But her caution extends the hours of discrimination and second-class citizenship for thousands of gay men and women.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in South Dakota.

Supreme Court Marriage Equality Case Conference Analysis

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

US Supreme Court ColorAs you know, the justices of the Supreme Court met in private today to discuss, among many other things, whether to take any of the marriage equality cases out of the Sixth Circuit.

If you recall, the Sixth Circuit upheld bans on the freedom to marry, making it the only federal appellate court in the post-Windsor world to do so. The plaintiffs in the various cases on appeal — from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee — appealed and asked the Supreme Court to take their cases and reverse the appellate court. The justice considered those petitions in conference today. But we didn’t get an order granting or denying review. That’s ok.

1. The justices had a lot to discuss. In addition to the other petitions waiting on the docket, they not only had to decide whether to take a marriage equality case, they had to decide which case to take. There are several, each with unique nuances that may make them better for review. Normally, the Supreme Court wants the cleanest case: the most straightforward facts, no procedural hurdles, clear legal questions. There is strategy involved here, too.

And there’s more! The justices also had to decide how to craft the legal question they will review. In every petition for certiorari at the Court, the parties frame the legal question they say the Court must address. As any lawyer (or story teller) will tell you, how you frame the question is a big deal: it could tip the entire case in one direction. The justices have to decide whether to take the legal question as framed by a party or to change it to their liking or to take it and add questions they want answered. That kind of grant happens often.

Authored By Ari Ezra Waldman – See the Full Story at Towleroad.com

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Florida Marriage Equality Round-Up – January 7th

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

More from Florida after same sex marriages have commenced.

Statewide: Attorney General Pam Bondi is dodging questions about whether or not she will drop her appeal of a marriage equality ruling. full story

Statewide: Several marriage equality opponents conceded the fight is over in the state. full story

Statewide: Towleroad.com has twenty great wedding pics from yesterday from Twitter. full story

Florida Wedding

Statewide: Queerty has more great wedding pics. full story

Statewide: Yesterday, more than 100 married in Miami Dade County, 183 in Broward, and 20 in Monroe. full story

Statewide: Orange county issued 164 licenses; Hillsborough 160; Pinnelas 67. full story

Statewide: The Sun Sentinel looks at the questions that remain around marriage equality in the state. full story

Brevard County: Rockledge residents Angelique Bonadio and Tiffany Gregg were one of the first couples to marry at the Brevard County Clerk of Courts branch office. full story

Lake County: A snowbird couple from Arkansas was the first same sex couple to marry in the county full story

Miami-Dade County: The Archdiocese of Miami is warning employees they could be fired for any conduct that is “inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church” in the wake of the start of same-sex marriages in Florida. full story

Miami-Dade County: Out celebrity chef Art Smith will be joining forces with the James Royal Palm Hotel in Miami to throw a special wedding officiated by a mystery celebrity on Saturday, February 21st for 101 lucky gay couples. full story

Osceola County: Watermark looks at the first weddings in the county. full story

Sarasota County: 10 News profiles one of the couples married yesterday, and says 33 licenses were issued. full story

Florida Marriage Equality Round-Up – December 6th

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

We’re doing a special edition of the round-up just for Florida marriage equality today – as same sex weddings begin.

Statewide: Attorney General Pam Bondi has conceded defeat, saying “The judge has ruled, and we wish these couples the best.” full story

Statewide: Watermark has a great guide to getting married in Florida. full story

Statewide: Watermark has also posted their own round-up of marriage equality ceremonies and celebrations in the state. full story

Statewide: Matt Baume profiles the guys still trying to stop Florida marriage equality. full story

Statewide: Jeb Bush has clarified his earlier statement on marriage equality: “We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law. I hope that we can show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue – including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty.” full story

Statewide: Now that Florida has marriage equality, 70% of Americans live in a marriage equality state. full story

Statewide: The new wikipedia marriage equality map features Florida. full story

Wikipedia Marriage Equality Map

Statewide: So does the Dallas Voice map. full story

Dallas Voice marriage equality map

Broward County: Joe.My.God has video of same sex couples marrying just after midnight in Fort Lauderdale. full story

Escambia County: Hundreds of marriage equality supporters filled Seville Quarter in Pensacola for a party honoring same-sex couples’ right to get married. full story

Hillsborough County: County Clerk of Court Pat Frank may waive the usual three day waiting period to get married. full story

Leon County: Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is inviting same sex couples in counties that have discontinued courthouse weddings to come to his city to get married. full story

Miami/Dade County: A state judge lifted her stay a day early in Miami, so same sex couples began marrying there first yesterday. full story

Miami/Dade County: Plaintiffs Karla Arguello and Cathy Pareto were the first to receive a marriage license in the county. full story

Monroe County: The gay Key West plaintiffs married at midnight. full story

Orange County: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer hosted a mass same sex wedding at 9 AM – video. full story

Orange County: Wedding planners say they expect Orlando to become a marriage equality mecca. full story

Palm Beach County: Marriage equality supporters held a mass same sex wedding in Palm Beach at midnight. full story