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South Carolina Marriage Equality Update

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

South Carolina MapThings are moving quickly in South Carolina. Yesterday, the Fourth Circuit declined to issue a stay on same sex weddings, which were slated to begin today.

Equality on Trial reports:

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has just denied South Carolina’s request for a stay of same-sex marriages pending their appeal of the district court decision striking down the ban. The request was made days ago, along with a request for a more temporary stay so that state officials could ask the Supreme Court for relief. The order notes that both the stay pending appeal and the temporary stay are denied.

Attorney General Alan Wilson then filed a “demand” to the US Supreme Curt to step in and block the impending weddings.

On Top Magazine reports:

South Carolina on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to stay a ruling striking down the state’s ban on gay marriage as it pursues an appeal. Within hours, Wilson filed a similar request with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who oversees federal courts in South Carolina. Wilson explained in a statement that the state continues “to believe the doctrine of federalism and the Tenth Amendment should allow South Carolina’s unique laws to be considered at the highest appropriate court of appeal.”

In the meantime, a judge has issued the first marriage licenses to same sex couples in the state.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

A judge has issued the first same-sex marriage licenses in South Carolina, ahead of a planned move by the state’s attorney general to block such unions. South-CarolinaEarly Wednesday, the office of Probate Judge Irvin Condon in Charleston said that he had issued six licenses to same-sex couples. The judge’s attorney, John Nichols, says the way was cleared for issuing the licenses by a decision in a case in Columbia. On Tuesday, the judge in that case ruled that South Carolina must recognize the marriage of a same-sex couple performed in Washington, D.C.

So by my count, we have three more states that are in the middle of the process of legalizing same sex marriage, where couples can get married in some counties but not others – Kansas, Missouri and South Carolina, and at least one more where a decision is imminent – Mississippi. All in the bible belt or Deep South. Amazing.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in South Carolina.

Will Marriage Equality Arrive in South Carolina Thursday?

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

South Carolina MapThe stay on a marriage equality ruling in South Carolina is due to expire on Thursday.

Joe.My.God reports:

Late last night the plaintiffs in that case filed a motion in opposition to state Attorney General Alan Wilson’s demand that the stay be continued while he flails about with appeals. Via the Post & Courier: “Currently 34 states permit same-sex couples to marry, or recognize marriages legally celebrated by same-sex couples in other states. If history is any indicator, the State’s claim of potential harm here is overstated, if not completely contrived,” the new filings says. Malissa Burnette, lead attorney in Condon’s case, has said she feels very optimistic the Fourth Circuit will uphold Gergel’s ruling. It is the same court that struck down Virginia’s constitutional gay marriage ban and was among those that triggered the recent cascade of legalized same-sex marriage across the nation.

All the motions and responses have now been filed with the Fourth Circuit.

Greenville Online reports:

The motion and response are in from the two sides of the gay marriage debate in South Carolina. Now it’s up to the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to decide whether to grant a stay – and stop marriages for same sex couples due to begin at noon on Thursday – as the state has asked.

The Atty. Gen. is latching onto the Sixth Circuit ruling against marriage equality, claiming that it means the US Supreme Court will have to weigh-in before the state is forced to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in South Carolina.

Federal Judge Invalidates Missouri Marriage Equality Ban; Decision on Hold

Saturday, November 8th, 2014

Missouri mapA federal judge struck down Missouri’s ban on marriage equality yesterday.

Think Progress reports:

District Judge Ortrie D. Smith, a Clinton appointee, dismissed the state’s argument that the ban promotes “consistency, uniformity, and predictability” as circular. “The State essentially argues,” he wrote, that “the restriction satisfies governmental interests because it creates a rule that can be applied by the recorders of deeds and others — but then, all restrictions create rules, so by the State’s logic any restriction is automatically constitutional simply because it creates rules that can be followed.” He concluded that there was “no real reason” for Missouri to ban same-sex marriage, because none of its interests were served by doing so.

This follows an earlier decision this week at the state level opening up marriage equality in St. Louis.

Missouri Atty. Gen. Chris Koster announced he would appeal the ruling.

Towleroad reports:

“The United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri today ruled that Missouri’s ban against same-sex marriage violates the equal protection and due process guarantees of the United States Constitution. We will appeal the ruling to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.” Earlier this week, Koster appealed a separate ruling striking down the state’s ban which applied only to St. Louis.

The ruling was stayed pending appeal, so we won’t see marriages all across Missouri just yet.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Kansas.

NOM Beats a Dead Horse in North Carolina Marriage Equality Case

Saturday, November 8th, 2014

NOM LogoProving it never gives up on a dead horse until it’s beaten, cut up, burned, and buried, The National Organization for Marriage is trying to appeal the settled North Carolina case.

Joe.My.God reports:

Anti-gay state lawmakers in North Carolina, joined by the National Organization for Marriage, have appealed Judge Max Cogburn’s October 10 ruling striking down the state’s gay marriage ban to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The News & Observer reports: Within hours of a split ruling by a 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel upholding gay marriage bans in four states, attorneys for North Carolina legislative leaders filed notice in the federal courts of their plans to appeal rulings in North Carolina that struck down a gay marriage ban. The court document, filed by John C. Eastman [right], a California lawyer and chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, outlines the plans of Phil Berger [left], president pro tem of the N.C. Senate, and Thom Tillis [middle], speaker of the state House, to appeal a ruling in October by U.S. District Judge William Osteen Jr. that nullified a 2012 amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

To go with another farm metaphor, talk about slamming the barn door when the horse is already gone.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in North Carolina.

Judge Opens Door for Marriage Equality in St. Louis, State Appeals

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

St. Louis Arch - MissouriA state judge yesterday ruled that the ban on marriage equality was illegal, opening the door for same-sex couples to start marrying immediately in St. Louis.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison said in a written ruling that Missouri’s measure recognizing marriage only between a man and woman violates the due process and equal protection rights of the U.S. Constitution. The decision — which applies only in the city of St. Louis where Burlison has jurisdiction — mirrored ones handed down recently in several other states.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster immediately appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court, saying the constitutional challenge “must be presented to and resolved” at that level. But he said that his office wouldn’t seek a stay of the order, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant stays after same-sex marriage decisions in Idaho and Alaska. Koster previously chose not to appeal a ruling requiring Missouri to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Couples rushed to take advantage of the opportunity. Towleroad.com reports:

Following St. Louis, Missouri Circuit Judge Rex Burlison’s ruling today that officials in that city can issue marriage licenses to gay couples, same-sex couples turned up at city hall to say “I do.”… Check out some incredible images of marriage equality arriving in St. Louis, courtesy of CBS reporter Michael Calhoun’s incredible Twitter feed.

Happy day in St. Louis!!!

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Missouri.

Idaho Governor Continues to Fight Marriage Equality

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Idaho Governor Butch OtterAfter having said he would not appeal the recent marriage equality decision, Idaho’s Governor Butch Otter has apparently had a change of heart.

SDGLN reports:

Idaho failed to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a stay that would have halted gay marriages in that state, so the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved its temporary stay and allowed gay weddings to resume a week ago. But instead of following the law, Gov. Otter is determined to try and try again. For a second time, he will file a petition with the Ninth Circuit seeking an en banc review of its ruling that went 3-0 in favor of marriage equality. En banc means that a larger panel of 11 judges would re-hear Idaho’s case. Legal observers said Idaho’s defense of the ban on gay marriage was lame at best. As of 4 pm PDT on Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit website makes no mention of Otter’s request.

Know the phrase “a snowball’s chance in hell”?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Idaho.

Marriage Equality in Fort Lauderdale This Week?

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Broward County Clerk Howard FormanIt’s possible, as a case there has passed its deadline for appeal.

Towleroad.com reports:

A Broward County, Florida clerk is contemplating whether to start issuing marriage license to same-sex couples starting next week following the passing of an appeal deadline in a case overturning the state’s gay marriage ban, Equality Florida reports: On August 4, Broward County Judge Cohen ruled Florida’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples unconstitutional – and included the state must recognize legal out of state marriages. The judge stayed the ruling allowing for a 30-day appeal period. But as of Thursday, the deadline has passed and no appeal was made to the ruling.

What will Broward County Clerk Howard Forman do? Let’s hope he comes down on the side of equality. He is due to decide early this week.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Broward County.

Indiana, Wisconsin Marriage Equality Decision Strikes Down Bans

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Seventh CircuitThree judges at the Seventh Circuit struck down Indiana and Wisconsin bans in a striking pro marriage equality decision, calling the bans “totally implausible”.

Equality on Trial reports:

In an opinion by Judge Richard Posner, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in Wolf v. Walker and Baskin v. Bogan that same-sex marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana are unconstitutional. Posner writes: “To return to where we started in this opinion, more than unsupported conjecture that same-sex marriage will harm heterosexual marriage or children or any other valid and important interest of a state is necessary to justify discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. As we have been at pains to explain, the grounds advanced by Indiana and Wisconsin for their discriminatory policies are not only conjectural; they are totally implausible.”

The decision also laid into the defense’s attempts to link the bans to “tradition”.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

There are “bad traditions that are historical realities such as cannibalism, foot-binding, and suttee, and traditions that … are neither good nor bad – such as trick-or-treating on Halloween,” the ruling says. “Tradition per se therefore cannot be a lawful ground for discrimination – regardless of the age of the tradition.” It also laid into another argument from the states that gays should not be allowed to marry because, on their own, they can’t procreate, saying that rationale “is so full of holes that it cannot be taken seriously.”

And finally, the ruling took on the argument that these bans are in place to protect children.

The Washington Blade reports:

“The argument that the states press hardest in defense of their prohibition of same-sex marriage is that the only reason government encourages marriage is to induce heterosexuals to marry so that there will be fewer ‘accidental births,’ which when they occur outside of marriage often lead to abandonment of the child to the mother (unaided by the father) or to foster care,” Posner writes. “Overlooked by this argument is that many of those abandoned children are adopted by homosexual couples, and those children would be better off both emotionally and economically if their adoptive parents were married… “Heterosexuals get drunk and pregnant, producing unwanted children; their reward is to be allowed to marry,” Posner continues. “Homosexual couples do not produce unwanted children; their reward is to be denied the right to marry. Go figure.”

Wisconsin’s attorney general has already said he will appeal the ruling to the US Supreme Court.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Wisconsin’s attorney general says he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a federal appellate ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s spokeswoman, Dana Brueck, said in an email to The Associated Press that Van Hollen has always believed the case will be decided in the that court.

And in Indiana, the Atty. Gen. plants asked the US Supreme Court for a stay.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Attorney General Greg Zoeller said Thursday that it seems clear the issue will have to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Zoeller says his office will seek a stay while it appeals the decision. Zoeller says he hopes the nation’s highest court will decide the issue “sooner rather than later.”

The Indiana family Institute is not happy about the decision.

Joe.My.God reports:

Today the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals sent a shocking and destructive message to Indiana lawmakers and all Hoosier citizens: Moms and Dads are optional. The 40 page decision departs from the constitutional role of the judiciary to interpret the law and instead the Court assumes a moral superiority over the people of Indiana and our elected leaders. The Court is correct that all people are capable of loving children, but it fails to realize that all the love in the world can’t turn a mother into a father or a father into a mother. Same-sex ‘marriage’ is at odds with the ideal. It harms society by encouraging more motherless and fatherless homes, when we should have fewer.

Funny how they’re trying some of the same arguments that the court just rejected.

There is no stay, but we’ll have to wait at least 21 days for the decision to take effect, more than enough time for the US Supreme Court to stay the decision.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Indiana.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Wisconsin.

National Organization for Marriage Knocked Down Again in Oregon

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

NOM LogoThe National Organization for Marriage faced another setback in their fight against marriage equality.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

A federal appeals court has dismissed the National Organization for Marriage’s effort to appeal an Oregon court ruling that allows same sex marriage. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision on Wednesday. Several same-sex couples sued the state of Oregon last year arguing the ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Who even knew they were still fighting Oregon marriage equality? It’s just sad.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Oregon.

Florida Marriage Equality Case Bounced Up to State Supreme Court

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Florida From SpaceA state appeals court is asking the Florida Supreme Court to rule on a Florida marriage equality case.

SDGLN reports:

Florida’s highest court is being asked to decide whether or not the state’s ban on gay marriage is constitutional. In an unusual decision, the state’s 2nd District Court of Appeal on Wednesday asked the Florida Supreme Court to settle the question due to “great public importance.” If the high court takes up the case, it could result in having the issue settled even before the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The ruling is connected to a Hillsborough County divorce case involving a same-sex couple who had been married in Massachusetts but since relocated to the Tampa area.

Will the court take the case, or bounce it back down?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Florida.