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USA, Tennessee: Federal Judge Says Tennessee Must Recognize Same Sex Marriages

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Tennessee mapThree same sex couples won temporary recognition of their marriages in the state, pending a hearing.

Equality on Trial reports:

A federal judge in Tennessee Friday ordered state officials to recognize the marriages of three same-sex couples during the consideration of their lawsuit challenging the validity of the state’s ban on recognizing such marriages. In considering the request for a preliminary injunction, U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger wrote that “all relevant federal authority indicates that the plaintiffs in this case are indeed likely to prevail on their claims that the Anti-Recognition Laws are unconstitutional.” The preliminary injunction was requested in November, and the plaintiffs asked for a status update in the case this month. Yesterday, EqualityOnTrial reported that the judge noted that a decision was being worked on.

Another red state, another, albeit small, victory.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Tennessee.

USA, Virginia: Federal Judge Strikes Down Marriage Equality Ban

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

VirginiaThis just in from AFER – the judge in the marriage equality case struck down the state’s ban.

AFER reports:

The Federal District Court ruled that Virginia’s marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution. It said that loving couples like our plaintiffs, Tim Bostic & Tony London and Carol Schall & Mary Townley are entitled to the same basic rights and protections as every other American. This is a monumental victory—for Virginia and our country—and the first of its kind for a state in the South. The anti-equality legal group Alliance Defending Freedom—which worked to get Prop. 8 on the ballot in California and defend it in court— is representing the defendant-intervenor in our case and will try to get this decision overturned. We can’t let them win.

Wow – what a week for marriage equality. Next, the appeal.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Virginia.

USA, Oklahoma: Federal Judge Rules in Favor of Marriage Equality

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Oklahoma Marriage Equality Case in Legal LimboOf course, he immediately stayed his ruling pending appeal. But still…

The Washington Blade reports:

U.S. District Judge Terence C. Kern of the Northern District of Oklahoma said the state constitutional amendment that says marriage “shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman” violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin and Susan Barton and Gay Phillips challenged the ban shortly after Oklahoma voters approved it in 2004. “Judge Kern has come to the conclusion that so many have before him – that the fundamental equality of lesbian and gay couples is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “With last year’s historic victories at the Supreme Court guiding the way, it is clear that we are on a path to full and equal citizenship for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.”

Oklahoma’s Governor is not happy.

Towleroad.com reports:

“In 2004, the people of Oklahoma voted to amend the state’s constitution to define marriage as ‘the union of one man and one woman.’ That amendment passed with 75 percent support. The people of Oklahoma have spoken on this issue. I support the right of Oklahoma’s voters to govern themselves on this and other policy matters. I am disappointed in the judge’s ruling and troubled that the will of the people has once again been ignored by the federal government.”

Neither is Tony perkins.

Joe.My.God reports:

This activist judge is overrunning both the constitution and the rule of law in a drive to fundamentally alter America’s moral, political and cultural landscape. He is substituting his own ideology for the three quarters of Oklahomans who voted to preserve marriage in their constitution as it has always been defined.

Ever notice how a judge is only an activist when he rules against you?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Oklahoma.

USA, Pennsylvania: Judge Clears the Way for Marriage Equality Trial

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Pennsylvania mapA Federal judge in Pennsylvania rejected challenges to the marriage equality lawsuit there.

The Huffington Post reports:

A federal court challenge to Pennsylvania’s 17-year-old law banning the recognition of same-sex marriages took an important step toward a trial Friday when a judge rejected two different attempts to block the lawsuit. U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III denied the motions to dismiss the lawsuit by Pennsylvania’s secretaries of the departments of Health and Revenue and Bucks County’s register of wills. It is a strong sign the case is headed to trial and, potentially, the U.S. Supreme Court. In a note at the end of his 10-page decision, Jones set a Nov. 22 conference and advised lawyers in the case to be “fully prepared” to discuss the starting date of a trial.

With the victory on New Jersey, Pennsylvania is now the only Northeastern US state that doesn’t allow marriage equality, and even its neighbor to the west, Ohio, looks likely to vote on the issue next year. Amazing how far we’ve come in just a year or two.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Pennsylvania.

USA, Michigan: Federal Judge to Hear Arguments In Marriage Equality Case Next Month

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

MichiganA federal judge in Michigan has moved a trial date for the marriage equality case there from October 1st to October 16th.

Equality on Trial reports:

A federal judge will hear oral arguments in the challenge to Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage in mid-October. Arguments on the merits were originally scheduled for October 1, but in a new order issued last Tuesday, the hearing has been rescheduled for October 16. According to the filing, the October 16 hearing relates to motions for summary judgment, i.e. on the merits, filed by plaintiffs and defendants.

So let’s see – in October, we have the New Mexico Supreme Court hearing, the Hawaii special session, the Illinois veto session, and now this hearing in Michigan. October’s shaping up to be a big month for marriage equality.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Michigan.

USA: Federal Judge Strikes Down Ban on Veterans Benefits for Same-Sex Couples

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Department of Veteran's Affairs logoJust a couple days ago, we reported that same-sex military couples would be banned receiving veterans benefits by Title 38. Well, a federal judge just struck that down.

Buzz Feed reports:

A federal judge in California on Thursday found that, as with the ban on federal recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages, federal veterans’ benefits laws that limit those benefits to opposite-sex spouses are unconstitutional. Finding no rational basis for the definitions in Title 38 of the U.S. Code that limit provision of veterans’ benefits to opposite-sex couples, Judge Consuelo B. Marshall found those statutes unconstitutional — echoing the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this summer striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.

One by one, these blatantly discriminatory laws are being brought down in the courts.

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USA, Ohio: Judge Extends Marriage Equality Order for Gay Couple

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

OhioA gay couple who married in Maryland and is suing the state of Ohio got an extension on an order from a federal judge. Edge Boston reports:

A federal judge on Tuesday extended a temporary restraining order preventing state authorities from enforcing their ban on gay marriage against two men who got married in another state as one of them nears death. Judge Timothy Black extended his previous order, set to expire in less than a week, until Dec. 31, which will protect John Arthur and James Obergefell’s marriage as their lawsuit against state and local authorities proceeds. The order prevents authorities from recording Arthur, who’s dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease, as “single” on his death certificate and not listing Obergefell as his spouse.

This is an amazing case – I mean, how do you justify denying a dying man his dignity?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Ohio.

USA, Ohio: Federal Judge Orders State to Recognize Gay Couple’s Marriage

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Jim & John - OhioIn a move that forces the state of Ohio to treat a dying man with some dignity, a federal judge ordered the state to recognize a marriage between two men. Buzzfeed reports:

A federal judge in Ohio ordered state officials Monday to recognize the marriage of two men that was performed in Maryland on the death certificate of an Ohio resident in hospice care who the judge says “is certain to die soon. The end result here and now is that the local Ohio Registrar of death certificates is hereby ORDERED not to accept for recording a death certificate for John Arthur that does not record Mr. Arthur’s status at death as ‘married’ and James Obergefell as his ‘surviving spouse,'” Judge Timothy Black wrote in granting the couple a temporary restraining order Monday. “By treating lawful same sex marriages differently than it treats lawful opposite sex marriages,” the judge concluded, Ohio’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages and Ohio’s statute addressing the same issue “likely violate[] the United States Constitution.”

Their case underlines what’s at stake for many same sex couples, for whom waiting is not an option. Kudos to the judge for offering a bit of dignity to this dying man and his partner.

On a related note, Joe Hallett at the Columbus Dispatch wonders if Ohio is now ready for marriage equality:

Ohioans’ certitude about gay marriage a decade ago has given way to ambiguity, potentially setting the stage next year for a second major battle on one of the most divisive social issues of our time. Some backers of a constitutional amendment to allow two consenting adults to marry regardless of gender want to go to the statewide ballot in the 2014 gubernatorial election, a roll of the dice on a question that 62 percent of voters answered in 2004. They amended the constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman, effectively prohibiting same-sex marriages in Ohio. Since then, polling shows a shift in Ohioans’ views, and there have been high-profile Republican defectors to the pro-gay-marriage side, including U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Cincinnati and former Ohio attorney general and state auditor Jim Petro — both of whom changed their positions after each had a child come out.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Ohio.

USA, Arkansas: Federal Judge Recuses Himself From Marriage Equality Case

Friday, July 19th, 2013

ArkansasA federal judge has decided to step aside from the marriage equality lawsuit in Arkansas that seeks to overturn the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage. Edge Boston reports:

U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes on Thursday ordered that the lawsuit challenging the ban be assigned to another judge. Holmes cited personal and professional relationships with leaders who drafted and campaigned for the ban that was approved by voters in 2004. Holmes wrote that the relationships developed in 1980s working on issues similar, but not identical, to the gay marriage ban.

We give him a lot of credit for recognizing the possible conflict of interest – it seems to be a rare trait these days (and yes, we’re looking at you, Justice Scalia).

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.

Oregon, USA: Federal Judge Says State’s Ban on Marriage Equality Unconstitutional

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Portland SkylineAdding fuel to the fire in Oregon’s effort to repeal its gay marriage ban, a federal judge ruled Wednesday that the ban violates the U.S. Constitution. On Top Magazine reports:

“Under rational basis review, Measure 36 does not pass constitutional muster,” Judge Harry Pregerson wrote in his ruling. “Here, Oregon does not state any reason for preventing same-sex couples from marrying. While other possible objectives for Measure 36 exist, I can see no objective that is rationally related to banning same-sex marriages, other than the objective of denigrating homosexual relationships. This objective amounts to a desire to harm a minority and is therefore impermissible under [Supreme Court cases] Romer and Cleburne. … Thus, Measure 36 reveals itself to be ‘wholly without any rational basis’ and is therefore unconstitutional.”

One by one, these bans will come falling down, because there’s no rational basis to support them.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Oregon.