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Prop 8 Defense Lawyer Evolving on Marriage Equality

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Prop 8 OverThe lawyer who argued before the Supreme Court in favor of upholding California’s ban on gay marriage learned while he was handling the case that one of his children is gay and now is helping her plan her wedding with another woman. Attorney Charles Cooper says his view of same-sex marriage is evolving after having argued in court that gay unions could undermine marriages between a man and a woman.

The revelation is an unexpected footnote in the years-long debate over Proposition 8, the California measure struck down by the Supreme Court last year. It is also offers a glimpse, through the eyes of one family, of the country’s rapidly shifting opinions of gay marriage, with most public polls now showing majorities in favor of allowing the unions.

Cooper learned that his stepdaughter Ashley was gay as the Proposition 8 case wound its way through appellate court, according to a forthcoming book about the lengthy legal battle. And with the Supreme Court ruling now behind him, Cooper cast his personal opinion on gay marriage as an evolving process.

Authored By Julie Pace – See the Full Story at Edge Boston

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USA, Virginia: Did Marriage Equality Just Come to Virginia?

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

VirginiaThe Virginia Senate, as expected, just killed a bill that would have let the legislature defend the gay marriage ban.

Pink News reports:

The bill, which passed in the House, would have allowed Virginia to appoint lawmakers to defend its gay marriage ban if the governor or attorney general refused to do so. Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring announced last month that the state would side with same-sex couples who are seeking to have the ban struck down, rather than defend it.

Pink News notes the ruling for marriage equality was held pending a possible appeal:

A US federal judge on Valentine’s Day overturned Virginia’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. The ruling by Judge Arenda Wright Allen did not immediately apply pending a possible appeal, but now that this bill has failed, it is unlikely that an appeal will take place.

So is that it? Can same sex couples marry shortly in the state? Maybe Virginia really is for lovers.

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USA, Oregon: AG Won’t Defend Marriage Equality Ban; Poll Shows 55% Support

Friday, February 21st, 2014

titleOregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced yesterday that she will not defend the state’s ban on gay marriage in court.

The Washington Blade reports:

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced on Thursday she won’t defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage against a legal challenge, saying the law cannot withstand judicial scrutiny “under any standard of review.” Meanwhile, the campaign led by Oregon United for Marriage to bring marriage equality to the state via ballot measure in November says it is holding the surplus of signatures already collected pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

The hearing in the case is set for April 23rd.

Also, from Oregon United for Marriage, the polling looks good:

The campaign also released updated polling today, showing that 55 percent of likely November voters favor allowing gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry, with just 41 percent opposed. “This is tremendous news. The Attorney General has taken a close look at the facts, and came to the same conclusion that courts around the country and freedom-minded Oregonians have: there is no reasonable or legal justification to exclude committed gay and lesbian couples from marriage,” campaign manager Mike Marshall says. “The dramatic increase in Oregonians’ support for the freedom to marry–from 42 percent support in May 2010 to 55 percent support today–mirrors the movement we’re seeing nationally. More and more people understand that no one should be denied the freedom to marry the person they love.”

So marriage equality in Oregon by 2015? That would lock up the West Coast…

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USA, Nevada: Attorney General Gives Up Fight Against Marriage Equality

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez MastoNevada’s AG has given up the fight to keep the state’s ban on gay marriage, with the Governor’s blessing.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, in a motion filed with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, said Nevada’s legal arguments in defense of the voter-approved prohibition are no longer viable in light of the court’s recent ruling that said potential jurors cannot be removed from a trial during jury selection solely because of sexual orientation. “After thoughtful review and analysis, the state has determined that its arguments grounded upon equal protection and due process are no longer sustainable,” Masto said in a statement.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican seeking re-election this year, said he agreed with the attorney general’s action. “Based upon the advice of the attorney general’s office and their interpretation of relevant case law, it has become clear that this case is no longer defensible in court,” Sandoval said in an email to The Associated Press.

So what happens now? Do we get marriage equality in Nevada right away? Or does someone else step in to full the gap?

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USA, Virginia: Marriage Equality Hearing Rescheduled for February 4th

Friday, January 31st, 2014

VirginiaThis week’s marriage equality hearing, which was postponed by a snowstorm, has been rescheduled for next week.

Equality on Trial reports:

The hearing in Bostic v. Rainey, one of the challenges to Virginia’s same-sex marriage in federal court, has been rescheduled and will now take place on Tuesday, February 4. The hearing was initially scheduled for January 30 but had to be postponed due to bad weather. The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) joined the plaintiffs in the challenge, and the plaintiffs’ case will be argued by Ted Olson and David Boies.

In related news, the case was given class action status by the judge, so a ruling will apply to all VA couples.

Gay Star News reports:

The decision by a federal district court in Virginia extends the scope of those represented in the lawsuit. It now not only includes the two original couples named as plaintiffs but also all same-sex couples in the state who cannot legally marry or whose legal marriages performed elsewhere are not recognized in Virginia. ‘We want to be clear that we’re fighting for families across the state,’ said Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia which filed the lawsuit along with the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the law firm Jenner and Block.

The GOP is not sitting this one out – they’re pushing a bill in the house that would let them defend the law in court.

Joe.My.God reports:

Del C. Todd Gilbert’s measure, which will be on the House floor for a final vote Monday, includes an amendment by Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William [PHOTO]. The amendment would also give the House of Delegates, the state Senate or the entire General Assembly standing to file suit in federal court. “We do not want to end up in a position like the people of California who voted for Proposition 8 and were abandoned by their attorney general and their governor,” Marshall said. Del. Joseph D. Morrissey, D-Henrico, questioned the proposal’s constitutionality. “No state legislature can give itself such standing,” Morrissey said. “This bill cannot under any circumstance withstand a challenge in federal court. If you don’t want to embarrass yourselves, you will resist the temptation and move that finger from the green to the red,” he said.

Governor McAuliffe has promised to veto the bill.

So my take – it looks like it will be a positive decision, and the state government will not defend the ban after this court. If that’s the case, we could have permanent marriage equality in Virginia in the next few weeks. Am I wrong?

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USA, Virginia: GOP Lawmakers Seek to Defend Gay Marriage Ban

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

VirginiaIn the wake of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s statement that he would not defend the ban on marriage equality in the state, the state GOP is attempting to hire lawyers to defend the law.

The Washington Blade reports:

A Virginia House of Delegates committee on Friday approved a bill that would allow any state lawmaker to defend a law if the governor and attorney general decline to do so. The 13-7 vote in the House Courts of Justice Committee on the measure that state Dels. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah County) and Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County) introduced on Jan. 7 took place a day after Attorney General Mark Herring announced he would not defend the state’s constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage.

The move mirrors the one House Republicans in Washington DC took when President Obama refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act – a move that ultimately failed.

In related news, the legal team that fought for the repeal of Prop 8 is urging a judge in the state’s marriage equality case to immediately rule in favor of marriage equality.

Joe.My.God reports:

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the sole sponsor of Bostic v. Rainey, the federal constitutional challenge to Virginia’s discriminatory Marriage Amendment, issued the following statement regarding U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen’s order seeking Status Reports from all parties in the case regarding whether oral argument on the issues presented is warranted or whether the Court should rule promptly on the briefs without a hearing: “Every day these discriminatory laws remain in effect is another day gay and lesbian Virginians and their families are harmed and treated as second-class citizens,” said AFER Executive Director Adam Umhoefer. “We urge Judge Allen to proceed immediately to judgment and find Virginia’s laws banning marriage for gay and lesbian couples unconstitutional.”

Will Virginia’s anti-marriage equality law be a next one to fall?

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USA, South Carolina: Governor Haley to Defend Marriage Equality Ban in Court

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

South Carolina's Governor Nikki HaleyAfter a lesbian couple announced a lawsuit to push for marriage equality in South Carolina, the Governor has said she plans to defend the discriminatory law.

The State reports:

Gov. Nikki Haley will mount a defense in federal court against a challenge by two Lexington County women to the state’s 1996 Defense of Marriage Law and a section of the state constitution that bans gay marriages in South Carolina. “Gov. Haley, like the majority of South Carolinians, supports traditional marriage as defined between one man and one woman, and in accordance with state law, will continue to uphold those values. The legislature has spoken on this issue, the people have spoken on this issue, and the governor remains resolute in her support of South Carolina’s Constitution and state’s rights and this lawsuit doesn’t change that,” said Haley spokesman Doug Mayer in an email Tuesday.

History won’t look kindly on Governor Haley and her ilk.

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USA: House GOP Will No Longer Defend DOMA Cases

Friday, July 19th, 2013

DOMA OverThe House GOP decided yesterday to no longer defend the remaining cases against Defense of Marriage Act. The Washington Post reports:

In a court filing, the House’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which played a lead role in attempting to force the Obama administration to enforce DOMA and is controlled by Republicans, said it is withdrawing from McLaughlin v. Panetta — a case in which gay members of the U.S. military challenged the constitutionality of the law and similar statutes when it comes to spousal benefits… “the House has determined, in light of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Windsor, that it no longer will defend that statute. Accordingly, the House now seeks leave to withdraw as a party defendant.”

That’s good, if not unexpected, news, and hopefully means these cases can be wrapped up fairly quickly (remembering that “quickly” in legal time is not the same as “quickly” in everyday time).

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USA, Pennsylvania: Updates on the Marriage Equality Fight

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

As Pennsylvania gears up to become one of the next marriage equality hot-spots, we have a few updates for you from the state.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom CorbettFirst off, State Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s announcement that she won’t defend the state’s gay marriage ban has put republican Governor Tom Corbett in a tough spot. Politico reports:

Corbett faces a rock-and-hard place decision. If he opts to defend the law — he’s expressed support for it in the past — Corbett will draw ire from a Democratic base that already despises him. If he chooses not to defend it, he risks alienating the members of his own party he needs for reelection next year. “Corbett will defend [the law],” said Franklin & Marshall pollster Terry Madonna. “He opposes gay marriage and his conservative base would be furious with him if he does not.” On the other hand, the suit over the state’s same-sex marriage ban comes at a time when Pennsylvania public opinion on the issue has seen a major shift. A Franklin & Marshall poll from earlier this year found 52 percent of registered voters support same-sex marriage, while 41 percent oppose it.

Also in Pennsylvania, and anti-gay pastor was arrested for stalking the AG. reports:

Pastor Bill Devlin “failed to sign in with an officer” at the Harrisburg office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane and was found attempting to reach her upstairs office yesterday, when he was confronted by Capitol Police, the Philadelphia Daily News reports: When officers confronted Devlin, he laid down in an elevator with the door open and refused to move. “The police asked him to get up, he did not, so they handcuffed him and they carried him out of the building,” Lubart said. Devlin, an activist who has, among other things, gone on a hunger strike to protest the church ban in NYC schools, was trying to reach Kane to confront her about the announcement she made this week.

We’ll keep you posted as things move ahead – next to watch for – does the Governor appoint someone to defend the law?

USA, Pennsylvania: Attorney General Will Not Defend Marriage Equality Ban

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen KanePennsylvania’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane is following in the footsteps of California’s Kamala Harris, and will not defend her sate’s ban on gay marriage. reports:

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane won’t defend the state’s ban on gay marriage in court, according to sources speaking with the Philadelphia Daily News: Multiple sources confirmed that Kane, who is named along with Gov. Corbett as a defendant in the suit, plans to make the announcement at the National Constitution Center.

Unlike California, however, Pennsylvania has a GOP governor – could he appoint a special counsel to defend the law?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Pennsylvania.