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Marriage News Watch – NOM Clueless Before US Supreme Court

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Matt BaumeWe have more details about the Supreme Court arguments at the end of the month.

The National Organization for Marriage has fumbled yet another brief.

And two public officials are suing for the right to discriminate.

Authored By Matt Baume – See the Full Story at AFER

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Michigan Marriage Equality Lawsuit Gets a Boost – From the GOP

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

MichiganA group of republicans, including the former House leader who pushed for a ban on Michigan marriage equality, has submitted a brief in favor of it.

The Macomb Daily reports:

An unlikely coalition of Republicans, business executives, military officials, religious leaders and the former Michigan Speaker of the House who initially pushed for a ban on gay marriage has filed briefs in federal court supporting the March 21 ruling that briefly struck down Michigan’s restrictions on same-sex couples’ right to marry… “As conservatives, moderates and libertarians we embrace the individual freedoms protected by our Constitution,” said Rick Johnson, the former GOP speaker who paved the way for the gay marriage issue to make its way to the 2004 statewide ballot. “We embrace Ronald Reagan’s belief that the Republican Party must be a ‘big tent.’ We believe in the importance of limited government, individual freedom and stable families. We believe that these values are advanced by recognizing civil marriage rights for same-sex couples.”

Ever so slowly, Republicans are coming around to marriage equality.

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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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USA, Oregon: Oregon United for Marriage Calls for Quick Ruling on Marriage Equality

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Oregon Gay MarriageBoth the group pushing for a marriage equality vote in November and a group of corporations in favor of it made news yesterday.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Sponsors of a ballot measure to legalize gay marriage in Oregon asked a federal judge on Tuesday to make a speedy ruling in a case that challenges the state’s ban on same-sex weddings. At the same time, top Oregon employers such as Nike and Intel threw their support to ending the restrictions. OregonThe campaign said in a court filing that it won’t go forward with its initiative if U.S. District Judge Michael McShane overturns the ban quickly. Otherwise, the sponsors said, they would press ahead with the campaign — at great time and expense. McShane has scheduled oral arguments for April 23 on two consolidated lawsuits challenging the gay marriage prohibition. The campaign must submit 116,284 valid signatures by July 3 to make the November ballot, and organizers say they have more than enough names.

What do you think? Will marriage equality come to Oregon by judicial ruling or by public vote?

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USA, Utah: AG Needs More Money for Ban Defense; Churches Weigh In

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Utah Attorney General Sean ReyesA couple stories out of Utah today – first off, the state’s new Attorney General wants more money to defend the state’s ban on marriage equality.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes says his office is seeking extra money from lawmakers to help pay for the state’s legal fight over same-sex marriage. Reyes is spending up to $300,000 on three outside attorneys to assist Utah’s defense of its ban on same-sex marriage as it heads to a federal appeals court. He says his office is covering the cost now but has limited resources he’d like to use elsewhere. Reyes on Tuesday asked lawmakers to help pay for additional attorneys in his office to reduce the regular workload on other staff.

Aren’t there better things he could be spending the state’s money on?

In related news, a number of church groups, including Mormons, Baptists, Catholics and others, filed a brief on the pending Utah and Oklahoma cases.

Think Progress reports:

“…the religious groups argue that their beliefs about marriage “have nothing to do with homosexuality.” The brief largely ignores any discussion of the gay community, leaving open the question of what banning same-sex couples from marrying actually does to the marriages of straight couples. Instead, the brief comes off as wholly passive-aggressive, implicating same-sex couples for hurting marriage without explicitly saying so… by arguing that there was, in fact, a purpose for the amendment other than discrimination against same-sex couples: namely, that it helps protect husband-wife marriage, which is good for society. The implication is that marriage has to be protected from same-sex couples, without any explanation as to why.”

Because there is no why. Briefs like these from marriage equality opponents are all fluff and air – there’s no “there” there.

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Grasping at Straws to Fight Marriage Equality

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Gay WeddingLeave it to the folks in Utah to come up with one of the lamest, but most highly predictable, responses to the issue of gay marriage.

A recent federal court decision struck down that state’s ban on same-sex nuptials because the prohibition was, of course, unconstitutional. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,400 gay couples got married before the U.S. Supreme Court put a hold on the decision, pending further arguments before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Attorneys for the state, which is dominated by the Mormon church, filed their arguments in a bid to uphold good, old-fashioned man-woman marriage, and they’re doing it for the children.

That’s right. It’s all about protecting the kids of Utah.

See the Full Story at the Observer-Reporter

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USA, New Jersey: Group of Gay Couples Files Brief Urging Go Ahead for Weddings

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

New Jersey mapA brief filed today urged the state Supreme Court to allow same sex weddings to begin next week while the case is litigated.

Edge Boston reports:

A group of gay couples is stating in legal papers why they want the state to grant them marriage licenses, even while the state’s top court weighs whether it has to allow same-sex marriage. The brief due today is the latest in a flurry of court filings in New Jersey on gay marriage. A state judge ruled last month that the state must recognize same-sex nuptials starting Monday. But Gov. Chris Christie’s administration has appealed the order and asked that the implementation date be put on hold while the court decides the overall case.

Here’s hoping the weddings begin in New Jersey next week!

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USA, Virginia: AG Cuccinelli Files Brief in Marriage Equality Case

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Virginia Attorney General Ken CuccinelliThe state of Virginia just filed its first legal brief in the marriage equality lawsuit there. It follows familiar right-wing dogma about marriage.

Think Progress reports:

Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli (R) is charged with defending Virginia’s bans on same-sex marriage from various lawsuits, and his office has filed its first defense brief. Cuccinelli has a long history of anti-gay viewpoints, which his brief unsurprisingly reflects. Like many anti-equality briefs filed before it, the state of Virginia argues that marriage should be specially reserved for opposite-sex couples because only they can procreate:

Traditional marriage is the institution that provides the greatest likelihood that both biological parents will nurture and raise the children they beget, and it is rational to consider this to be optimal for children and society at large. Marriage links potentially procreative sexual activity with child rearing by biological parents. Through civil recognition of marriage, society channels sexual desires capable of producing children into stable unions that will raise those children in the circumstances that may rationally be viewed as having been proven optimal.

Yes, optimal for right wing candidates who rely on a conservative base to get elected.

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USA, New Jersey: Christie’s Anti Marriage Equality Brief is Incoherent

Monday, August 5th, 2013

New Jersey Governor Cris ChristieNew Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration filed a brief last week defending the state’s 2006 Civil Union Act, which grants gay couples all the benefits of marriage yet bars them from actually getting married. The brief is Christie’s first official legal statement on same-sex marriage. Given his apparent aspiration to be the next Republican nominee for president, it is especially too bad that the brief also may be the most incoherent defense of heterosexual supremacy yet. That’s saying something in an era in which lawyers have tied themselves in logical pretzels to defend indefensible anti-gay laws. Even by that low standard, the brief reads like a student paper written during an all-nighter. You’d think an aspiring president would take the task more seriously.

The Christie brief was filed in state Superior Court, in a suit brought by six couples who sued New Jersey for the right to marry in 2011. After the Supreme Court’s June ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act–the 1996 law that denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples–the New Jersey plaintiffs asked the superior court to allow gay marriage in the state to begin right away. They argue that civil unions are inherently unequal now that the Supreme Court has tossed the key component of DOMA. The feds are now granting benefits to gay spouses, but New Jersey’s civil union law prevents gay partners from receiving those benefits.

Christie’s brief defends civil unions in three ways. First, it argues that the state can rationally restrict the label “marriage” to heterosexual unions because it is “preserving” the definition of the word. Second, it contends that it’s actually the feds who are now blocking gay equality by withholding benefits to civil union partners. And third, it claims that the state courts should move very cautiously when contemplating a major change in social institutions–all fine and well except that, as the state itself admits, calling a gay union a marriage isn’t much of a change anymore. In fact, throughout the brief, what’s most striking is that every last argument Christie’s administration makes, it then proceeds to blatantly contradict.

Authored By Nathaniel Frank – See the Full Story at

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USA, Pennsylvania: Montgomery County Not Backing Down on Marriage Equality

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce HanesGo Montgomery County! Now the whole county is getting into the marriage equality act, backing up county clerk D. Bruce Hanes. reports:

Arguing that the Pennsylvania Health Department lacks jurisdiction, Montgomery County on Friday morning filed its response to the department’s suit that seeks to block the county from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The filing in Commonwealth Court reiterates much of what Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes has said about the state’s law. The county aruges that the law defining marriage between a man and a woman violates the both the state and U.S. Constitutions because it denies civil rights to a class of people.

It’s fantastic that the county is taking this step… could this case end up bringing marriage equality to Pennsylvania sooner rather than later?

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