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Lambda Legal Files for Quick Overturn of Puerto Rico Marriage Equality Ban

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Puerto RicoLambda Legal is asking a District Court to overturn the territory’s ban on same sex marriage.

Joe.My.God reports:

Today in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, Lambda Legal filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to end the discriminatory ban on marriage for same-sex couples. Lambda Legal joined the lawsuit, Conde v. Garcia Padilla, in June on behalf of five gay and lesbian couples and Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, an organization that represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their families. Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, said: “All families deserve to have their love and commitment recognized in Puerto Rico; they need the protections only marriage can provide as soon as possible, without discrimination. Every day that passes, our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender family members are told they are inferior to our other family members. They are living, working and caring for each other now and need the dignity and respect of marriage.”

Now it’s spreading out to the territories…

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Puerto Rico.

Lambda Legal Sues Veterans Affairs Over Marriage Recognition

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Department of Veteran's Affairs logoLambda Legal has brought a new lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs seeking to force the agency to recognize same sex marriages in all 50 states.

The Washington Blade reports:

Lambda Legal, along with Morrison and Foerster LLP, filed the lawsuit on Monday on behalf of the LGBT military group known as the American Military Partner Association. The defendant in the lawsuit, which was filed before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, is Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert MacDonald. The litigation alleges the Obama administration’s decision to withhold certain spousal benefits to married same-sex couples in states without marriage equality runs afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision against the Defense of Marriage Act. “Having weathered the federal government’s past, longstanding discrimination against them, lesbian and gay veterans and their families find themselves once again deprived of equal rights and earned benefits by the government they served and the nation for which they sacrificed,” the complaint says.

One more piece of the Federal benefits puzzle…

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North Dakota Marriage Equality Fight Gets Second Lawsuit

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

North DakotaAnother lawsuit has been filed for North Dakota marriage equality.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

A second lawsuit has been filed in federal court challenging North Dakota’s ban on same-sex marriage. The 33-page complaint filed by Jan Jorgensen and Cindy Phillips, who live in Fargo and were legally married in Minnesota, says the couple is treated as “legal strangers” in their home state. Cases are currently pending in all 31 states with gay marriage bans.

This one’s filed by Lambda Legal.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in North Dakota.

USA, Arizona: Lambda Legal Files Marriage Equality Lawsuit

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Arizona mapLambda Legal also filed a second lawsuit for marriage equality in Arizona.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Lambda Legal announced Thursday it has filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Arizona on behalf of seven same-sex couples and the surviving spouses of two additional same-sex couples challenging the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. In the lawsuit filed Wednesday, Lambda Legal argues that the Arizona constitutional amendment and state statutes barring same-sex couples from marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. “Every day that same-sex couples in Arizona are denied marriage, the government sends a message that their families are not worthy of equal dignity and respect,” said Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Jennifer C. Pizer.

I love love love that the lead plaintiffs are in their 70’s and have been together for 55 years. Once again, look where we were a month ago in Arizona, with a Right to Discriminate bill threatened in the state. Amazing.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arizona.

USA, Indiana: Lambda Legal Files Federal Lawsuit for Marriage Equality

Friday, March 14th, 2014

IndianaAnother day, another lawsuit for marriage equality. This is the second in Indiana, this one in Federal court.

Lambda Legal reports:

Lambda Legal said Thursday it has a federal lawsuit on behalf of three same-sex couples who seek the freedom to marry in their home state of Indiana. The federal lawsuit was filed by Lambda Legal on behalf of three lesbian couples from Whitestown, Chesterton and Munster. The suit, filed on behalf of of three lesbian couples from Whitestown, Chesterton and Munster, argues that the couples’ equal protection rights are being violated because they can’t marry in Indiana and the state won’t recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. The suit was filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana; a similar lawsuit was filed last week by four couples from southern Indiana.

What a turnaround from a couple months ago, when it looked like a constitutional ban might be on the ballot in Indiana in November.

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Lambda Legal Sues Houston to Preserve Health Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses of City Employees

Friday, December 27th, 2013
“City employees who are married to same-sex spouses are doing the same work as coworkers who are married to different-sex spouses—at the end of the day this case is about equal pay for equal work.”

 By Melanie Nathan, 12/26/2013

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 8.30.45 PMLambda Legal today filed a federal lawsuit against Houston Mayor Annise Parker and the City of Houston seeking to preserve spousal benefits, including health insurance, covering the same-sex spouses of city employees. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on behalf three City of Houston employees legally married to same-sex spouses and follows notification these employees received recently that the City, one month after extending the employee coverage for their spouses, was being forced to withdraw these benefits and cancel the coverage.

“City employees who are married to same-sex spouses are doing the same work as coworkers who are married to different-sex spouses—at the end of the day this case is about equal pay for equal work.These employees, some who have worked for the City for manyyears, acted in good faith when notified the City was extending health coverage benefits to their legal spouses,” said Kenneth Upton, Senior Counsel in Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office in Dallas.

They enrolled for spousal benefits, including health insurance, paid the premiums, scheduled doctor visits and underwent treatments that will require ongoing care. Now, suddenly, the rug is pulled out from under them.”

Houston Mayor Annise Parker on November 20, 2013 announced that all lawfully-married city employees, including those who married same-sex partners in jurisdictions where such marriages are legal, would be eligible to enroll for spousal benefits, including health insurance coverage, under the City’s employee benefits health plan. The three plaintiffs named in Lambda Legal’s lawsuit enrolled their spouses as soon as they received notification of the policy change. Shortly thereafter, however, two Houston taxpayers sued the Mayor and the City in Family Law Court claiming the benefits were illegal and, without giving the Mayor or the City notice, secured a temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking extension of the benefits. The Cityis defending against the challenge to the Mayor’s decision to ensure equal employee benefits for all workers.

“The notice from the City was like a punch in the stomach,” said Noel Freeman, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, administrative coordinator with the City of Houston Public Works & Engineering Office and a nine-year employee of the City. “Brad and I were so excited when we learned we could enroll him on my plan that we signed him up within an hour of finding out. And now, just a month later, they tell us they’re going to have to take it away, that once again I will be paid less than my married heterosexual colleagues for the same work. How is this fair?”

In addition to Noel and Brad, who were married in Washington, DC, on Aug. 1, 2010, and have been together for more than 11 years, the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit are: Yadira Estrada, a City of Houston police officer who married her partner of seven and a half years, Jennifer Flores, in Maine this past June and signed up for spousal benefits about a week after the Mayor’s announcement; and Ron Reeser, a systems administrator for the City and eight-year city employee who married his husband, Vince Olivier, in Canada in 2008 after they had been together for three years.

“By refusing to recognize the legal marriage of same-sex couples for the purpose of providing employment benefits, the City deprives some Houston families of a critical safety net and financial security,” Upton added. “By stripping legally married gay and lesbian city employees of spousal benefits, including health insurance coverage, the City not only inflicts severe hardship, but sends a signal that their families are less worthy than those of their coworkers. This the Constitutional does not allow.”

Read the brief: http://lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/freeman_tx_20131226_plaintiffs-original-complaint

Learn more about the case, Freeman et. al. v. Parker and City of Houstonhttp://lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/freeman-et-al-v-parker-and-city-of-houston

USA, Alaska: Lambda Legal Appeals Same-Sex Survivor Benefits Case to State Supreme Court

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Alaska MapLambda Legal is pushing for Alaska to recognize survivor benefits for same-sex couples.

Towleroad reports:

Peter Renn, Lambda Legal Staff Attorney, said, via press release: “Alaska law traps same-sex couples in a Catch-22: they can’t marry, and then the state uses the fact they weren’t married to deny survivor benefits. Incredibly, under Alaska law even divorced couples can sometimes qualify for survivor benefits, while same-sex couples together for life can never do so. We have a safety net to catch families in crisis moments, and it shouldn’t cut out same-sex couples.” The appeal was filed on behalf of Debbie Harris, whose partner, Kerry Fadely, was killed two years ago by an ex-employee at her work. Harris said of the denial of benefits.

It’s a small, but important step for same-sex couples in Alaska.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Alaska.

USA, West Virginia: Lawsuit to Challenge State’s Marriage Equality Ban

Monday, September 30th, 2013

West VirginiaAnother day, another marriage equality lawsuit. This one’s in West Virginia.

Towleroad.com reports:

Now, West Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is going to have its day in court in a lawsuit to be announced tomorrow, the Charleston Gazette reports: Lambda Legal will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. in Huntington to announce the lawsuit, according to a release from the firm. The group was among those who filed a lawsuit in Virginia in August challenging that state’s ban on gay and lesbian marriage.

Marriage equality opponents must be feeling a lot like we did back in 2004. Gay marriage is breaking out all over!

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in West Virginia.

USA, South Dakota: Transgender Employee Wins Landmark Settlement

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Transgender FlagLambda Legal helped a transgender employee who was fired in South Dakota win a landmark settlement.

SDGGLN reports:

Lambda Legal today announced a landmark settlement for Cori McCreery, a transgender woman in South Dakota who was terminated from her job after she informed her employer that she would be taking steps to transition from male to female at work. Backed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Cori’s settlement includes $50,000, the maximum statutory amount for a business with under 100 employees, plus public notice on the EEOC website, public notice on the workplace bulletin board, a mandatory policy in the workplace on workplace protections, a yearly three-hour all-staff mandatory training on workplace protections, and a letter of apology and letter of recommendation for McCreery.

Congrats to Ms. McCreery – trans women like her are blazing a path for those who will follow.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in South Dakota.

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.

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