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Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg: Court Won’t Duck Marriage Equality Issue

Friday, August 1st, 2014

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgSupreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg indicated yesterday that the Court is ready to tackle marriage equality head-on.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

The 81-year-old Ginsburg said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday that she expects a same-sex marriage case to be heard and decided by June 2016, and possibly a year earlier. Attitudes have changed swiftly in favor of same-sex marriage, which is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia, Ginsburg said in her wood-paneled office on the court’s main floor. She predicted that the justices would not delay ruling as they did on interracial marriage bans, which were not formally struck down until 1967. “I think the court will not do what they did in the old days when they continually ducked the issue of miscegenation,” Ginsburg said. “If a case is properly before the court, they will take it.”

In the past, Ginsburg has publicly worried about the Supreme Court getting too far ahead of public opinion, so this is a refreshing change. She also officiated the wedding of a same sex couple last year.

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New Nevada Marriage Equality Group

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Freedom NevadaThere’s a new Nevada marriage equality group, and they are pushing for same sex marriage in the state within two years.

The Las Vegas Review Journal reports:

Freedom Nevada, a nonprofit coalition, this month formed a statewide 20-member advisory committee that includes lawmakers, attorneys, religious organizations and equal opportunity organizations, among others. “People have a fundamental right to form families,” said Bishop Dan T. Edwards with the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada, which has taken “heat” for its position of this issue. “This is a matter of civil rights when it comes to state law.”

They plan a 2016 referendum on marriage equality. Will the US Supreme Court beat them to the punch?

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USA, Michigan: Marriage Equality Ballot Initiative Planned as State Submits New Brief

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

MichiganThe campaign to put marriage equality on the ballot in 2016 will kick off today.

The Detroit News reports:

Community activists, religious leaders and other supporters of same-sex marriage in Michigan are expected to kick off a campaign Thursday for a 2016 ballot initiative to legalize gay marriage in the state. The initiative will be called Michigan for Marriage, organizers said. In Metro Detroit, organizers will kick off their effort at noon at the Oakland County Board of Commissioners’ Auditorium, located at 1200 N. Telegraph in Pontiac. Petition drives will also be launched in Lansing and Grand Rapids.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a new brief with the 6th Circuit supporting the ban, but one thing was notably absent.

Joe.My.God reports:

Yesterday Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a brief with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in defense of that state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Notably missing from Shuette’s brief is any mention of debunked social researcher Mark Regnerus, who was brutally slapped down by the judge who ultimately overturned the ban.

In another interesting twist, he also points to the US Supreme Court’s upholding of the state’s affirmative action ban last month:

Mlive reports:

“The district court’s decision, to use (U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony) Kennedy’s recent words, demeans democracy,” the state asserted, referring to the plurality opinion in the case that Schuette argued in defense of the affirmative action ban. “It denies each of those voters the dignity of a meaningful vote, labels each with the stigma of irrationality, and treats Michigan’s electorate as incapable of deciding this profound and sensitive issue.”

Kennedy wrote in his opinion on Schuette vs. Coalition to defend Affirmative Action: “It is demeaning to the democratic process to presume that the voters are not capable of deciding an issue of this sensitivity on decent and rational grounds… Freedom embraces the right, indeed the duty, to engage in a rational, civic discourse in order to determine how best to form a consensus to shape the destiny of the Nation and its people. These First Amendment dynamics would be disserved if this Court were to say that the question here at issue is beyond the capacity of the voters to debate and then to determine.”

I haven’t seen this particular argument before, at least not with this basis… it will be interesting to see if it is taken seriously by the 6th Circuit.

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The GOP’s Gay Marriage Conundrum

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

GOPAmid rising momentum in favor of legalizing gay marriage, Bob Vander Plaats, the Iowa conservative activist who helped both Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum win the last two Republican caucuses in his state, said he would strongly oppose any Republican presidential candidate who backed same-sex unions and predicted such a person would not be able to win in Iowa or capture the GOP nomination overall.

“I don’t think they would get a foothold anywhere and they would definitely get beat in Iowa,” Vander Plaats said of any Republican who supported gay marriage. And Vander Plaats said he and other social conservatives there would “do their due diligence” in pressing any Republican who comes to Iowa to pledge both now and in the future that they will support marriage only between a man and a woman.

The comments, in an interview with me, were a bit of a warning shot to potential Republican 2016 candidates. Vander Plaats, runs a social conservative group called The Family Leader in Iowa, and is an influential enough figure that six of the Republican 2012 candidates attended a forum on faith and politics his group sponsored during the campaign.

Authored By Perry Bacon Jr. – See the Full Story at The Grio

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USA, Indiana: Public Vote on Marriage Equality Ban Put Off Until 2016

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

IndianaFrom a Marriage Equality USA press release:

Today, just before Valentine’s Day, a conservative Indiana legislature gave some love to same-sex couples and their families by voting to keep an extreme anti-gay constitutional amendment off the state ballot this November. Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) and the coalition it chairs, the National Equality Action Team (NEAT), are proud of the thousands of phone calls we made as part of this successful campaign.

Today’s vote deferring the amendment from final consideration by the legislature until 2016 is the result of a successful grassroots coalition effort, thousands of individual conversations, and thoughtful deliberation on the part of Indiana legislators. NEAT volunteers from everywhere participated in phone banks that enabled Hoosiers from across Indiana to wage this successful campaign. During the campaign NEAT volunteers had almost 2,000 conversations with Indiana voters in key districts, resulting in those voters making nearly 600 calls to their representatives to oppose the amendment. Almost every legislator these Indiana residents contacted voted to postpone the amendment, or abstained.

“I am proud of what our NEAT volunteers and the Freedom Indiana coalition accomplished! Today, thousands of LGBT families in the Hoosier state do not have to face a discriminatory and divisive amendment, and the country’s undeniable momentum toward marriage equality continues. We join Freedom Indiana in celebrating this win!” stated MEUSA Program Manager Tracy Hollister.

“It feels so good to have contributed to yet another win in our country’s state-by-state efforts to win the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, and to protect them from harmful anti-marriage equality amendments,” said Carol Stern from NEAT partner organization Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation.

Work remains to be done as the Indiana legislature did approve an altered version of the amendment that still defines marriage as excluding LGBT families. Moving forward, MEUSA will continue to work with our partners in Indiana to fight to eliminate this language and bring the freedom to marry to all Hoosier families.

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US, Ohio: Marriage Equality Group Has More Than Enough Signatures to Make the Ballot

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

OhioA group pressing for a 2014 or 2016 vote on marriage equality has gathered almost twice as many signatures as they need for the ballot, but are pushing for more.

The Columbus Dispatch reports:

The group pushing to overturn Ohio’s 12-year-old constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a man and a woman says it has 650,000 signatures on a petition to put a gay-marriage measure on the statewide ballot. FreedomOhio’s goal: a million signatures by this summer’s filing deadline for the November election. Only 385,247 valid signatures are needed. “We see strongest support amongst women, single moms, minority and youth voters, which is also termed the ‘rising American electorate,'” said the group’s leader, Ian James. “At FreedomOhio, we call these folks ‘the base.'”

But even if the group gets the million names, the decision on whether to go to the ballot in 2014 or 2016 remains up in the air. It will depend, James said, on “having the resources to identify and mobilize majority support.”

The last poll we’ve seen, from last April, favored marriage equality 48-44%.

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USA, Florida: Equality Florida To Push for Marriage Equality By 2016

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Equality FloridaThis just in from Equality Florida:

“In the fight for LGBT equality, Florida leads among Southern states and has become the new frontline,” says Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida, the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s LGBT community. “The next three years are primed for huge breakthroughs in this battleground state that will ripple nationwide.”

Florida leads among southern states in support for marriage equality and workplace nondiscrimination.
More than 100 Florida municipalities have LGBT protections in place. More than half our state’s residents now live in places with nondiscrimination laws and nearly 70% of students go to schools with LGBT inclusive anti-bullying policies.

In Florida, 73% of people support adding LGBT people into nondiscrimination laws, and public support for the freedom to marry IN FLORIDA reached an all time high of 54%!

The election of two out gay state representatives has changed the tone in Tallahassee, where support for LGBT protections are at an all-time high.

For the first time, the “Families First” bill, which would allow domestic partnerships statewide, passed through its first committee with bipartisan support, and dozens of local policies have passed across Florida, even in traditionally hostile areas of the state.

The Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA), aimed at ending anti-LGBT discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations, launched with such bipartisan support that the bill would pass if leadership allows a vote.

Equality Florida has announced plans to keep this momentum going in 2014 and beyond. This includes stepping up efforts towards marriage equality, an end to discrimination in the workplace and working with local municipalities, one victory at a time, to build a solid foundation for statewide equality.

In communication to supporters, Equality Florida outlines three specific goals:

GOAL #1: FULL MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN FLORIDA IN THREE YEARS

It won’t be easy. It will take a fight like we’ve never seen before, but with a growing, bipartisan majority of Floridians on our side, we are gearing up to win. We have screened more than one thousand potential plaintiffs and are preparing to go to court to challenge Florida’s marriage ban.

And through our Get Engaged campaign, we are shifting public opinion so that if we do have to take a new constitutional amendment to the Florida ballot, we will have the support to win.

Just prior to the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA, Equality Florida launched Get Engaged, a statewide call to action with the goal of securing full marriage equality in the state of Florida. In partnership with Freedom to Marry, the heart of the campaign is to engage Floridians in honest conversations about the harm inflicted on real families who are denied the freedom of marriage equality, including our friends, neighbors, family, politicians, celebrities and athletes; standing up and proclaiming their support for marriage equality.

GOAL #2: STATEWIDE EMPLOYMENT PROTECTION

No one should be fired from their job for being LGBT. Unfortunately, under state and federal law, that is still legal in Florida and 30 other states. Florida is poised to become the breakthrough state in the South.

We have the votes to pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act that would ban discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations, but it will take all of us and our growing coalition of business allies to push for a vote on the floor in the State Capitol.

Support for ending discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace has never been higher, as an overwhelming majority of the nation’s largest employers already offer these protections. Equality Florida has opened conversations with business leaders and with legislators throughout the state, playing a role in shaping policies as well as bipartisan support for the FCWA.

In 2010, Equality Florida formed Equality Means Business to spotlight major employers in Florida that have adopted comprehensive non-discrimination policies and have demonstrated their commitment to valuing, and proactively including, all employees. The organization’s goal is to improve Florida’s national and international reputation as a welcoming and inclusive place to live, work and visit. Equality Means Business supports and provides resources to Florida employers who understand that diversity brings the skills, perspective and other assets that are essential to attracting and retaining a competitive workforce.

GOAL #3: KEEP WINNING LOCALLY

Local victories are the foundation on which our statewide wins are built. Florida leads the South and has passed more than 100 local policies banning discrimination, providing domestic partner benefits and/or protecting LGBT students from bullying.

In 2014, we will continue our push for policies that provide immediate and vital benefits, even in the least hospitable areas of our state. To win Florida, we have to fight in every city, every county, every neighborhood, and in our State Capitol.

Throughout the state, Equality Florida’s staff, board members and volunteers have been actively involved in nearly every effort to pass LGBT equality legislation. Whether lobbying in Tallahassee, collecting signatures at events, facilitating anti-bullying measures or speaking at a commission meeting, Equality Florida will continue to step up efforts in every corner of the state until ALL Floridians have equal rights under the law.

USA, Arkansas: Attorney General Finally Approves Marriage Equality Initiative

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDanielAfter a number of rejections, the Arkansas Attorney General has finally given the go-ahed for an initiative that would legalize marriage equality in the state.

Joe.My.God reports:

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel yesterday approved the wording for a petition drive to place marriage equality to a public vote in 2016. In September he also approved the wording for a separate initiative that would repeal the state’s constitutional ban. The new petition does both. McDaniel’s office certified the wording of the proposed constitutional amendment submitted by the Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality. McDaniel’s certification is required before the group can pursue the 78,133 signatures from registered voters needed to place the proposal on the ballot. “We’re all ready to go, full steam ahead,” said Jack Weir, the group’s founder, who said he hoped to begin gathering signatures soon.. “We couldn’t be more happy.”

A second initiative to repeal the constitutional ban has already been approved to start collecting signatures.

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USA: Freedom to Marry Says Marriage Equality Fight Will Likely Cost $100 Million

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Freedom to MarryFreedom to Marry has laid out a roadmap for marriage equality in the rest of the USA, and thinks it will cost $100 Million. SDGLN reports:

The strategy calls for accelerated goals for winning more states, ending federal discrimination, and growing and diversifying public support. Based on work to date nationally and in the states, including what it takes to do public education groundwork and build and run successful ballot campaigns, Freedom to Marry estimates the cost of this push to finish the job to be more than $100 million, of which Freedom to Marry is determined to raise and contribute one quarter or more, building on its success at becoming the nation’s largest funder of marriage work.

By 2016, the goal is to increase public support above 60%, finish the repeal of DOMA, and have more than 50% of Americans living in a state that recognizes marriage equality. The 2 1/2 year plan is here.

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Michigan, USA: Marriage Equality Supporters Have a Plan

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

MichiganMarriage equality activists in Michigan are gearing up for a petition drive to put the issue on the ballot. MLive reports:

Ah, but the times they are a changing, contends Emily Dievendorf, who is piecing together a 25-member coalition that aims to slap this back on the 2016 ballot. This time, she predicts it’s the church that will go down for the count… She contends there is a nationwide mood shift as more and more states legalize gay marriage and common folks discover the world did not end. She points to a complete flip-flop in Michigan with 58% of the votes now backing it… Ms. Dievendorf has set a cool $12 million budget to collect 600,000 names to place this on the ballot and prove to Mr. Glenn that he is wrong.

Yes, three years is a long time to wait – but how many more minds will have been changed by then?

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