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An Historic Marriage Equality Anniversary

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Rainbow Supreme Court

Today is the one year anniversary of the Windsor and Prop 8 decisions from the US Supreme Court, as well as the 11 year anniversary of the Lawrence v. Texas case.

And they were all very close calls, a fact that’s easy to forget now, looking back.

Keen News Service reports:

Kennedy’s words in both Lawrence and Windsor have been repeated in numerous court decisions since. And the powerful influence of words and decisions has almost obscured the fact that they were narrow victories.

In Lawrence, Kennedy wrote for just five of the six justices who considered sodomy laws to be unconstitutional; while Justice Sandra Day O’Connor provided a sixth vote in concurrence with the judgment, she did not join Kennedy’s opinion to the extent that it overruled the 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick (which had upheld state sodomy laws). O’Connor said she would simply strike Texas’ law on equal protection grounds. (“Moral disapproval of this group, like a bare desire to harm the group, is an interest that is insufficient to satisfy rational basis review under the Equal Protection Clause.”)

In Windsor, Kennedy wrote for just five justices. One of those five, Elena Kagan, had been on the bench for only two and a half years and apparently had to recuse herself from a similar DOMA challenge that had reached the high court sooner because she likely discussed it while serving as Solicitor General. If the court had taken that first case, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, the court likely would have rendered a tie vote and DOMA would still be in effect in most states.

Over at Time, Stuart Armstrong II looks at the impact the DOMA ruling had on LGBT finances:

The Supreme Court’s ruling last year on the Defense of Marriage Act has had a momentous impact on financial planning for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples. But the momentous impact has little to do with the case at issue. The focus of the landmark case, United States v. Windsor, was an estate tax issue. Given that it takes millions of dollars in assets to trigger federal estate taxes, hardly any Americans are subject to them. Yet the decision allowing for federal recognition of same-sex marriages has a major influence on the day-to-day financial lives of LGBT couples — not just the high-net-worth ones — affecting everything from income taxes to Social Security benefits.

And James Esseks at The Advocate looks at Windsor’s other effects:

…with a year’s hindsight, it’s clear that Windsor signaled more than just the end of DOMA, it also propelled us on an accelerated journey toward the freedom to marry nationwide.

In just the last year, Windsor has helped create incredible momentum for the freedom to marry:

– We’ve won six new marriage states since June 2013, bringing us to 19 states plus Washington, D.C., where gay couples can marry.

– Now 44 percent of the country lives in a freedom-to-marry state, up from 18 percent just a year ago.

– Polls show a clear majority nationwide supports marriage for same-sex couples.

– We’ve won 21 court rulings for marriage since Windsor, including two just yesterday (one from a federal appeals court covering Utah and another from a federal trial court in Indiana), and we’ve lost an incredible record on a “culture war” issue in the courts.

– There are now over 80 marriage equality cases pending in state and federal courts across the country, including in every state that doesn’t allow same-sex couples to marry and in seven federal appeals courts.

So happy birthday, US vs. Windsor – and we hope we’ll have a lot more to celebrate when you turn two.

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The Case Against 8 Premieres Tonight

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

The Case Against 8HBO’s documentary “The Case Against 8” premiers tonight on HBO. The documentary covers the legal fight against Prop 8, and some have accused the documentary of being too one-sided.

HBO’s been on a bit of a gay tear lately, withBehind the Candelabra, The Normal Heart, and now this show.

Here’s the trailer:

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USA, California: The Case Against 8 Trailer Released

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Prop 8 OverThe new trailer for the Case Against 8 has been released.

Dot 429 reports:

“The Case Against 8” takes an inside look at the groundbreaking Supreme Court case that overturned Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage. Five years in the making, with exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the powerhouse legal team of Ted Olson and David Boies, who previously faced off as opposing counsel in Bush v. Gore, along with the four plaintiffs in the suit, the film provides a definitive account of the battle that effectively ended marriage discrimination in California.

See the trailer here.

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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

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What Should We Do With the “Yes on 8” Donors?

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Prop 8 OverI know that in 33 states, workers can still be fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity. I remember the days after the Prop. 8 vote, misting up at random times when I remembered that a majority of my neighbors took away my right to marry. So I hope you’ll forgive the twinge of happiness I felt when Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich resigned over his $1,000 donation to “Yes on Prop. 8.”

Seriously, I hope you’ll forgive me. Because I wouldn’t wanted to be fired or asked to resign six years from now for a less than generous opinion that wouldn’t affect my ability to do my job. Unless I was the public face of an organization that couldn’t handle my views. Then it’s OK. I guess. Maybe.

I’ve read columns and reporting on both sides of the Eich resignation, and my main conclusion is that it is complicated. Let’s start with what’s simple.

Eich technically resigned, but reporting on the events, including his statements, suggest that it wasn’t entirely his idea. As the First Amendment prevents the government, not private companies, from impinging on free speech, there’s little doubt Mozilla could have fired him had they needed to.

Authored By Joel Trambley – See the Full Story at LGBT Weekly

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Brendan Eich Was a Victim of Market Forces

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Firefox - MozillaBrendan Eich is a tech legend, the inventor of Javascript–a programming language that powers much of what’s cool on the web. He is also a bigot, a donor to California’s successful Prop 8 effort in 2008 to enshrine hate in the state constitution by banning same-sex marriage.

Last week he was named as CEO of the Mozilla Foundation, a nonprofit organization best known for the Firefox browser. It is an organization in turmoil, as the mobile revolution makes desktop computers increasingly irrelevant, and with that, Mozilla’s core product.

The problem with Eich is that, well, he’s a bigot. And worse than that, he hasn’t “evolved” since 2008, like so much of America. He held steadfast to his beliefs, out-of-step with the world his product serves. So the Mozilla community erupted in anger, and after a half-assed effort to hang on, Eich resigned the position. So of course, you have people screaming about “persecution” from the usual conservative suspects to contrarians like Andrew Sullivan.

Authored By Markos “Kos” Moulitsas- See the Full Story at the Daily Kos

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Silicon Valley’s Prop 8 Donations By Company

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

Nate Silver Silicon Valley Prop 8 Graph

In the wake of Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich’s departure, gay uber statistician Nate Silver breaks down how Silicon Valley donated its money in the Prop 8 initiative race. Note: This is only a breakdown of the individuals who donated to either side of the Prop 8 initiative in Silicon Valley and who noted their company, not how the companies themselves donated.

Joe.My.God reports:

The list includes Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Cisco Systems, Apple, Google, Sun Microsystems, eBay, Oracle, Yahoo, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Symantec. I limited the search to donors who listed California as their location. In total between these 11 companies, 83 percent of employee donations were in opposition to Proposition 8. So Eich was in a 17 percent minority relative to the top companies in Silicon Valley. However, there was quite a bit of variation from business to business. At Intel, 60 percent of employee donations were in support of Proposition 8. By contrast, at Apple, 94 percent of employee donations were made in opposition to Proposition 8. The opposition was even higher at Google, where 96 percent of employee donations were against it, including $100,000 from co-founder Sergey Brin. There isn’t much data on Mozilla. Only four Proposition 8 donors listed it as their employer: Eich, who donated in support of the measure, and three others who opposed it.

It’s interesting to see the different corporate cultures reflected in these donation patterns.

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USA: Mozilla CEO Resigns in Prop 8 Donation Controversy

Friday, April 4th, 2014

The new CEO of Mozilla has resigned after it was revealed that he had donated to the backers of Prop 8.

Firefox - MozillaABC news reports:

“I have decided to resign as CEO effective today, and leave Mozilla,” Eich said in a statement provided by Mozilla. “Our mission is bigger than any one of us, and under the present circumstances, I cannot be an effective leader. I will be taking time before I decide what to do next.” Eich was previously chief technology officer of the company, but had been involved in Mozilla’s development starting from its conception in 1998. The previous acting CEO Jay Sullivan had left the company to pursue “new opportunities,” the company said.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I’m torn over it – on the one hand, it’s sad to see someone who is opposed to marriage equality running a progressive tech company. On the the other hand, have we just created another martyr for the religious right? He did step down, and was not fired, but such distinctions are often lost on our opponents.

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USA, Utah: Prop 8 Documentary Wins Prize at Sundance

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Prop 8 OverGreat news out of Utah (what is it with Utah and marriage equality news these days?).

Joe.My.God reports:

Yesterday The Case Against 8 won the Best Documentary Direction prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The Case Against 8 / U.S.A. (Directors: Ben Cotner, Ryan White) — A behind-the-scenes look inside the case to overturn California’s ban on same-sex marriage. Shot over five years, the film follows the unlikely team that took the first federal marriage equality lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court. Directors say they met at Sundance five years ago and also thank the “incredibly inspiring people we were able to follow around for 5 years.” They also thank HBO and the lawyers who “showed that civil rights know no boundaries.”

I really want to see this film – hope it makes the rounds of the film festivals this year.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Utah.

States forge ahead with SCOTUS ruling to allow same-sex marriages

Thursday, December 26th, 2013
Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 12.01.10 PM

Photo: GAY U.S.A. The Movie www.gayusathemovie.com

Brady McCombs and Mark Sherman of the Associated Press, and writing for The Seattle Times, have provided a composite analysis of how the States have now reinforced the SCOTUS rulings, forging the way to allow same-sex marriages. They have noted that advocates on both sides of the gay-marriage debate predicted that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that overturned part of a federal ban on gay marriage would create a pathway for states to act. Stating categorically, “They were right.”

The Article goes on to note:

“In the six months since the decision, the number of states allowing gay marriage has jumped from 12 to 18, a trend that started before the high-court ruling that’s been reinforced since. Judges in New Mexico, Ohio and, most surprisingly, conservative, Mormon-heavy Utah all ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in just the past week. Both Utah’s case and another in Nevada will next be heard by federal appeals courts, putting them on the path toward the high court. Ohio’s case, which recognized same-sex death certificates, also will likely be appealed.

The series of court decisions has many asking: When will the Supreme Court step in and settle the issue for good?

It may not be that simple.

The cases on the path to the Supreme Court now differ little from a case that justices refused to hear in June, at the same time they made their landmark ruling on the federal law denying tax, health and other benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

That case, from California, hinged on a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

If the justices had acted, it would have struck down gay-marriage prohibitions across the country.

Instead, the justices passed, relying instead on a technical legal argument to resolve the California case and clear the way for same-sex marriage in the state, which resumed at the end of June.

That convinces some legal scholars that the high court won’t take up the issue again so soon. In a way, they’ve already passed the buck to the states, some say, including language in their Defense of Marriage Act ruling saying it relegates same-sex marriages to second-class status, and “humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples.”

That language makes it clear state bans are ripe for challenge, said Andrew Koppelman, a professor of law and political science at Northwestern University. Language from both Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion and Justice Antonin Scalia’s biting dissent has appeared prominently in subsequent court challenges and rulings, including in Utah and Ohio. A federal judge in Ohio ordered officials to recognize gay marriages on death certificates.

“The Supreme Court has given them ammunition to go there if that’s where they want to go,” Koppelman said.

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