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ACLU LGBT rights and marriage equality news

 

National LGBT Groups Drop ENDA Support

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

New Human Rights Campaign President Ready to Wade Into More Marriage Equality FightsIt started yesterday with an announcement from NGLTF.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Six of the nation’s leading LGBT rights advocacy groups on Tuesday announced they were withdrawing their support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), fearing that broad religious exemptions included in the current bill could compel private companies to cite objections similar to those that prevailed in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week.

The withdrawal was first announced earlier Tuesday by The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and by mid-afternoon the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and the Transgender Law Center issued a joint statement that they would no longer support the current version of ENDA because it provides “religiously affiliated organizations … a blank check to engage in workplace discrimination against LGBT people.”

The issue has been simmering for awhile, but the Hobby Lobby decision last week brought it to a boil.

Towleroad.com reports from the NGLTF press release:

“The morning after the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, we all woke up in a changed and intensified landscape of broad religious exemptions being used as an excuse to discriminate. We are deeply concerned that ENDA’s broad exemption will be used as a similar license to discriminate across the country. We are concerned that these types of legal loopholes could negatively impact other issues affecting LGBT people and their families including marriage, access to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention and access to other reproductive health services. As one of the lead advocates on this bill for 20 years, we do not take this move lightly but we do take it unequivocally – we now oppose this version of ENDA because of its too-broad religious exemption. We cannot be complicit in writing such exemptions into federal law.”

The lone hold-out? HRC.

Pink News reports:

Despite the shift, the Human Rights Campaign – which tackled anti-gay discrimination – has maintained support for the bill. Human Rights Campaign Vice President Fred Sainz said yesterday: “HRC supports ENDA because it will provide essential workplace protections to millions of LGBT people.”

Is HRC hanging on because it has spent years and years failing to get this thing passed, and now fears seeing the whole thing go down in flames?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Wisconsin Marriage Equality Lawsuits Expected Over Validity of Marriages

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Wisconsin MapNow that a federal judge has stayed her Wisconsin marriage equality ruling, lawsuits are expected to enforce the validity of weddings performed before the stay.

Edge Boston reports:

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union in Wisconsin are looking at whether to file lawsuits on behalf of same-sex couples who got married after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on gay marriages. ACLU spokeswoman Molly Collins said Tuesday no decision has been made yet on the next step to ensure those marriages are recognized as legal, even though the ruling striking down the ban is on hold.

The Federal Government has stepped in to recognize marriages in similar circumstances, in Utah and other states.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Wisconsin.

USA, North Carolina: ACLU Files New Marriage Equality Lawsuit

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Ellen and PearlHilighting same sex couples facing serious health issues, the ACLU filed another marriage equality lawsuit in the state.

ABC News reports:

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday launched a new legal assault on North Carolina’s constitutional ban on recognizing same-sex marriage, urging a federal judge to quickly negate it to help children and gay couples suffering from urgent health problems. The civil rights group said it was seeking to speed up a decision in lawsuit filed in 2012 by citing the urgent health needs of a child who suffers from cerebral palsy who was adopted by one of the lesbian couples involved in the case. The ACLU also filed a new lawsuit on behalf of three other lesbian couples struggling with health conditions made more difficult because they lack legal recognition of their marriages performed in other states, said ACLU staff attorney Elizabeth Gill.

Towleroad.com highlights two of the plaintiffs in the new lawsuit, an adorable lesbian couple:

“We don’t have time to wait,” said High Point resident Ellen “Lennie” Gerber, 78, one of the plaintiffs in the suit. “Pearl is 89 and frail. We’ve been treated nicely in High Point, but what if we call 911 in another city? What if I’m not allowed to be there? It would be beyond intolerable if that should happen.” Gerber and Pearl Berlin have been together for 48 years, and married legally last year in Maine. But a hospital could deny Gerber visitation rights because she is not legally recognized as a family member or next of kin in North Carolina.

And why should they have to wait? The case hilights the real damage done to same sex couples by the ban on marriage equality. We shouldn’t have to rely on the kindness of strangers.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in North Carolina.

USA, Michigan: ACLU May Sue State to Force Recognition of 300 Married Couples

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

ACLU LogoOK, that was fast – the ACLU may take the state to court to force it to recognize the 300+ new same sex marriages that the Governor called legal and valid, but said he won’t recognize.

Pink News reports:

Now the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in the state of Michigan, slammed the Governor for his position, and the organisation is talking to couples who married on Saturday to explore the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the state. Michigan LGBT project attorney Jay Kaplan said the couples were still being treated as “second class citizens”.

“It’s very disconcerting that in one breath, he’s saying these marriages are legal, and yet he’s saying the state will deny any benefits, protections or recognitions associated with the marriage. How can you talk out of both sides of your mouth? These people have legal marriages, and under the laws of our state, as well as the constitution, you have to treat them equally.”

Good for the ACLU – the state’s stance makes absolutely no sense at all – let’s call them on it.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Michigan.

USA, Florida: Another Marriage Equality Lawsuit for Florida, Too

Friday, March 14th, 2014

FloridaAnd yet another lawsuit – that’s three new ones in one day! This one out of Florida, as the ACLU seeks recognition for same sex couples married elsewhere.

SDGLN reports:

Eight same-gender couples have sued the State of Florida for refusing to recognize their marriages. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Florida filed a lawsuit Wednesday night in federal court on behalf of gay couples and SAVE, an LGBT rights organization based in South Florida, challenging the state’s refusal to recognize the couples’ marriages, which were performed in other states and recognized by the federal government.

One of the couples — Sloan Grimsley, a firefighter from Palm Beach Gardens, and her wife Joyce Albu, a consultant assisting parents of children living with developmental disorders — are seeking protections for their children, the youngest of whom is 2 years old. Sloan and Joyce have been together for nine years and were married in August 2011 in New York. The couple is concerned that if something were to happen to Sloan in the line of duty, Joyce would not receive the support the state offers to spouses of first responders who make the ultimate sacrifice, and thus would struggle to provide for their family’s needs.

Can you say “slam dunk”? I mean, seriously, one’s a firefighter? How do you not give benefits to a firefighter and her wife who works with kids with developmental disorders?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Florida.

USA, Pennsylvania: New Marriage Equality Campaign Kicked Off in State

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Pennsylvania mapFreedom to Marry and the ACLU are teaming up for a new marriage equality campaign in Pennsylvania.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

News conferences trumpeting the Why Marriage Matters Pennsylvania campaign, sponsored by the national advocacy group Freedom to Marry and the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, were held in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. “Pennsylvania’s ban on marriages for same-sex couples is harmful and indefensible. We look forward to continuing our efforts to make sure that every Pennsylvanian will be free to marry the person he or she loves,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the state ACLU.

The group will concentrate on changing hearts and minds with “neighbor to neighbor” conversations across the state. The campaign starts against the backdrop of six marriage equality lawsuits that are proceeding through the state courts.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Pennsylvania.

Marriage Equality USA Launches the National Equality Action Team (NEAT)

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

New York • 3 October 2013 ― Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) is launching the National Equality Action Team (NEAT), a coalition of almost 50 local, state and national organizations and individual organizers mobilizing volunteers to win the freedom to marry in states with active marriage equality campaigns.

Volunteers are able to sign up on the NEAT website to join events near them and also to phone bank from virtually anywhere.

“The National Equality Action Team is unique in that it gives passionate marriage equality advocates across the country — especially those in marriage equality states who want to pay it forward — a chance to play an important role in our national movement to win the freedom to marry,” said MEUSA Program Director Tracy Hollister.

“NEAT shows what organizations and individuals can do when we come together as a coalition to empower our community to take individual action in support of all 50 states,” said Marriage Equality USA Executive Director Brian Silva. “Until everyone can marry the person they love, we all have work to do.”

“NEAT is a continuation of our work over the past year in winning campaigns in Minnesota, Maine, Maryland, Washington, Rhode Island and Delaware, where we hosted almost 150 phone banks and made approximately 100,000 calls for marriage equality,” said MEUSA Board President Jane Wishon. “Our goal is to continue this work and leverage our communities’ collective power to secure marriage equality by working side by side with our NEAT partners.”

Click to continue »

USA: LGBT Groups Issue Marriage Equality Fact Sheets for Same-Sex Couples

Friday, August 30th, 2013

After DOMA Fact SheetsIn the post-Defense of Marriage Act Section 3 environment, 11 LGBT groups have gotten together to issue a series of fact sheets for gay lesbian couples, to help navigate through the confusing current environment.

Lambda Legal reports:

After DOMA: What it Means For You” LGBT Organizations Fact Sheet Series details many of the ways federal agencies accord legal respect to married same-sex couples. The guide includes 14 factsheets on the following topics: Bankruptcy, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Federal Employee Benefits, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Immigration, Medicaid, Medicare, Military Spousal Benefits, Private Employment Benefits, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Taxes, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Veteran Spousal Benefits. “This is an exciting time and an historic step forward for the country. We want to make sure that same-sex couples have a guide to help them understand what it means for them,” said Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation for Lambda Legal.

You can find the fact sheets here.

We have such a patchwork of state and federal laws right now, and it’s great to have a new resource to help same-sex couples navigate them.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

USA, Virginia: Marriage Equality Lawsuit Filed By ACLU and Lambda Legal

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

VirginiaThe ACLU and lambda Legal just filed their marriage equality lawsuit in Virginia, that if successful will extend gay marriage down the Atlantic Coast into the South. SDGLN reports:

The case was filed on behalf of Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff of Staunton and Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd of Winchester and seeks to represent all same-sex couples in Virginia who wish to marry here or who have married in other jurisdictions. “Virginia is home for us. Our families are here, our jobs are here, and our community is a great support for us, but it makes us sad that we cannot get married where we live,” said Joanne Harris, a lifelong Virginian and the daughter of Bedford, Va. farmers. “It hits me in the gut that two hours from our house same-sex couples in Maryland and D.C. can marry. I have a serious medical condition and we’ve had to spend lots of money to try to make sure that Jessi can make decisions for me if there were ever a crisis.”

Let’s get New Jersey too for an unbroken line of states form the Canadian Border down to Virginia. 🙂

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Virginia.

USA, Florida: ACLU, Equality Florida Prepare Lawsuit to Overturn Marriage Equality Ban

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Equality FloridaTwo organizations have teamed up to overturn Florida’s ban on gay marriage via a lawsuit. Watermark reports:

A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s marriage ban may be the most viable option, but according to Equality Florida, that option must be pursued with care. “The wrong case poorly timed could do more harm than good,” the organization said in a statement. Currently, Equality Florida is soliciting stories from Florida couples who are willing to be potential plaintiffs in a legal challenge to the amendment.

Which of these new lawsuits will work its way through the courts first?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Florida.