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Marriage Equality Back on in Alaska

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Alaska MapJust hours after marriage equality arrived in Arizona, it came back to Alaska after a few days on hold.

The Washington Blade reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Friday to delay any longer same-sex marriages in Alaska following a court decision against the state’s ban on gay nuptials. In a one-page order, the court indicates a stay request by state officials submitted to U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy was referred by him to the entire court, but was denied. The U.S. Ninth Circuit had issued its own temporary stay on the weddings, but that was set to expire on Friday at 3 pm unless the Supreme Court added to the delay by issuing its own stay. Now that the Supreme Court has declined to halt same-sex marriages any further in Alaska, gay couples are free to marry immediately.

The most amazing month for marriage equality since June of 2013 continues…

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Alaska Marriage Equality Back on Hold

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Alaska MapThe Ninth Circuit has put weddings in Alaska on hold once again until Friday as the Governor tries a hail-mary pass to the US Supreme Court.

The Washington Blade reports:

As the initial same-sex marriages took place in Alaska days after a district court ruling against the state’s ban on gay nuptials, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay halting additional weddings for the time being. According to the two-page order, same-sex weddings are stayed until Friday at 12 pm Pacific Time (3 pm Eastern Time) to give state officials the opportunity to obtain an additional stay from the Supreme Court. But if the Supreme Court declines to halt the weddings, the Ninth Circuit stay will dissolve by that deadline…

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell and Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty sought an emergency stay on same-sex marriages after U.S. District Judge U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess, who’s struck the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, refused to grant a stay on his ruling. After that denial, state officials took up the matter with the Ninth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Alaska. It’s hard to see how state officials will succeed in obtaining a stay from the Supreme Court given justices’ refusal to extend a similar stay on a Ninth Circuit decision in favor of same-sex marriage in Idaho.

Most likely this is just a bump in the road and couples will be able to marry in Alaska again shortly.

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Victory in Alaska – The 30th Marriage Equality State

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

We’re at 30 – a federal judge in Alaska just struck down the ban there.

The Washington Blade reports:

A federal judge struck down on Sunday Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage, building on the momentum for gay nuptials that followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal last week to hear court decisions on the issue. U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, ruled against Alaska’s prohibition on gay nuptials on the basis that it violates the right to equal protection and due process under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“Refusing the rights and responsibilities afforded by legal marriage sends the public a government-sponsored message that same-sex couples and their familial relationships do not warrant the status, benefits, and dignity given to couples of the opposite sex,” Burgess writes. “This Court finds that Alaska’s same-sex marriage laws violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment because no state interest provides ‘exceedingly persuasive justification’ for the significant infringement of rights that they inflict upon homosexual individuals.”

And so, of course, there’s a new Wikipedia map:

wikipedia-map

Another map coming soon!

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USA, Alaska: And Then There Were Two

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Alaska MapA new marriage equality lawsuit has been filed in Alaska.

On Top Magazine reports:

Five gay and lesbian couples on Monday filed a federal lawsuit challenging Alaska’s ban on gay marriage. Plaintiffs in the case are an unmarried couple and four couples who married in a state where such unions are legal. Plaintiff couples argue that Alaska’s 1998 voter-approved constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

That means only North Dakota and Montana are not facing marriage equality lawsuits.

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USA, Alaska: Supreme Court Affirms Property Tax Rights for Same Sex Couples

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

AlaskaIt ain’t marriage equality, but it’s a step in that direction…

Edge Boston reports:

Same-sex couples in Alaska are equally entitled to the same state property-tax exemptions for senior citizens and disabled veterans as married couples, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday. The decision upholds a 2011 Superior Court ruling on a taxation case involving three same-sex Anchorage couples who sued the state and municipality of Anchorage 2010 through the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska. Joshua Decker, executive director of ACLU of Alaska, hailed the opinion, saying it shows that discrimination has no place in the state. “Simply because you happen to be gay or lesbian, you should not be paying more taxes,” he said. “Your tax bill should not turn on who you happen to love.”

Alaska is one of only three remaining states that are not facing a marriage equality lawsuit. Doesn’t it seem like it’s time to start one?

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USA: 30 States Have Marriage Equality Lawsuits; 5 Left to Go

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Gay WeddingOnly five states that haven’t legalized marriage equality aren’t yet facing a marriage equality lawsuit – and two may be facing one soon.

The Washington Post reports:

Gay marriage is now legal in 17 states and bans are being challenged in 30, according to the latest count from Lambda Legal, a pro-gay marriage organization. (Hawaii and Illinois allow gay marriage, but legal technicalities to aspects of their laws are still being ironed out in the courts.) The five states with bans on gay marriage that stand unchallenged are: Alaska, Georgia, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. The five unchallenged state gay marriage bans may not stand for long. Already, a South Dakota couple has plans to challenge their state ban. And the Supreme Court could soon weigh in.

The other state of the five that may soon have its own suit:

“We have been working to identify the best course of action to bring marriage equality to Georgia,” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Beth Littrell tells GA Voice. “We will be announcing the result of that work very soon. I can assure you Georgia won’t be left behind when it comes to marriage equality.”

How long until we have marriage equality in all fifty states? Your best guess?

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USA, Alaska: Senate Minority Leader Wants Marriage Equality Ban Repealed

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Alaska Senator Hollis FrenchThere’s movement against a gay marriage ban in the US’s northernmost state.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

The minority leader of the Alaska Senate on Monday proposed to strike the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Alaska. Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, said that after reading a federal court decision from earlier this month that struck down a voter-approved constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Virginia, “it was just completely clear to me, that whether we act or we wait for a federal U.S. Supreme Court decision, this is happening. We really are in a long march toward marriage equality.” In a statement, French said passage of his constitutional amendment would let Alaska voters “remove this blot on our state constitution.”

The bill would have to get two-thirds support in both chambers, and then be voted on by the people of Alaska, unlikely with GOP control. But it’s a step in the right direction.

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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.

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USA, Alaska: State Personnel Board Votes For Inclusion of Same-Sex Partners As Family

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Alaska MapAlaska’s personnel board has decided to include partners of gay and lesbian employees as family for medical leave purposes.

Towleroad reports:

The board adopted new wording in regulations that allows state employees to take leave due to a serious health condition involving a same-sex partner and include same-sex partners in the definition of immediate family for that purpose. To be eligible, the rules state the same-sex partners must provide proof that they meet five of eight criteria, including such things as a joint mortgage or rental agreement, joint ownership of a vehicle or being named as the primary beneficiary in a partner’s will.

A small but certainly welcome step in the states not known for its gay friendly policies

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USA, Alaska: State Personnel Board May Include Same-Sex Partners In Definition of Immediate Family

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

AlaskaAlaska state employees may soon be able to take leave to care for a sick same-sex partner under a proposed rule change. Edge Boston reports:

The proposed change in rules would allow state employees to take leave due to a serious health condition of a same-sex partner. Same-sex marriage is not legal in Alaska because of a state constitutional amendment. Nancy Sutch, a deputy director within the state Division of Personnel and Labor Relations, said by email that the proposed change in rules stems from a recent review of a 2005 Alaska Supreme Court decision. That decision, in a case over health insurance and other benefits, found it is unconstitutional to offer valuable benefits to the spouses of public employees but not to same-sex domestic partners.

Another small but important step toward full equal rights for same-sex couples.

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