fifth circuit

...now browsing by tag

 
 

Texas Marriage Equality Update – February 20th

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Texas mapSo much going on in Texas after a Travis County judge overturned the state’s ban on marriage equality the other day.

First off, there was a legal same sex wedding in Austin.

On Top Magazine reports:

A lesbian couple together more than 30 years married Thursday in Texas. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant exchanged vows outside the Travis County Clerk’s Office. The ceremony was presided over by Rabbi Kerry Baker. The women were denied a marriage license eight years ago.

The Dallas Voice has more on the couple:

Sarah Goodfriend is a unpaid policy advisor to Austin state Rep. Celia Israel. She advises primarily on environmental and energy issues. Suzanne Bryant is an attorney in private practice in Austin. The two have been a couple for 31 years, and they exchanged their wedding vows in front of the Travis County Clerk’s office this morning with Rabbi Kerry Baker officiating.

The Dallas Voice also points out that probate court rulings in the state only apply to a single county:

According to the Dallas County Clerk’s office, probate rulings do not carry from one county to another, so a ruling in Travis County earlier this week does not apply in Dallas… Dallas County Clerk John Warren has said he hoped to be the first county clerk to issue marriage licenses in the state. His office has advised that nothing would prevent a Dallas County couple from following the same path as Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant in Travis County and filing suit in probate court here. In this case, they’d have two Travis County opinions to cite in their petition to the court.

Meanwhile, Attorney general Ken Paxton blasted the judge’s ruling and asked the state Supreme Court to issue a stay.

Towleroad.com reports:

“Texas law is clear on the definition of marriage, and I will fight to protect this sacred institution and uphold the will of Texans, who voted overwhelmingly in favor of a constitutional amendment defining the union as between one man and one woman. The probate judge’s misguided ruling does not change Texas law or allow the issuance of a marriage license to anyone other than one man and one woman.”

The Supreme Court wasted no time in shutting things down, but avoided voiding the first wedding that took place.

The Dallas Voice reports:

The Texas Supreme Court has issued a stay in the marriage between a Travis County couple following Attorney General Ken Paxton’s appeal. The order can be found here. However, this order apparently does not void Sarah Goodfriend’s and Suzanne Bryant’s marriage. Barbara Rosenberg, an attorney who works in the Dallas City Attorney’s Office, said her understanding is that the ruling can only stop future licenses from being issued.

The AG is arguing that the wedding should be voided.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Within hours, the Texas Supreme Court had blocked other gay couples from getting married under similar special exceptions – but didn’t address the women’s marriage, which Paxton said he considered void. But that remains in dispute, and Paxton’s spokeswoman, Cynthia Meyer, said their office will file additional paperwork with the state Supreme Court on Friday to argue their case. “Activist judges don’t change Texas law and we will continue to aggressively defend the laws of our state,” Paxton said in a statement.

In other state marriage equality news, the plaintiffs in a federal case are asking the court to lift a stay.

Equality on Trial reports:

In the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals case DeLeon v. Perry, which has been submitted for decision since arguments have been heard, the plaintiffs are asking the appeals court to lift the stay, or at least to do so for the plaintiffs who have children. The state has filed its opposition, and they claim in part that even if the stay is lifted, the preliminary injunction wouldn’t affect the couple who wants their names listed on their child’s birth certificate.

And in Eastern Texas, other same sex couples celebrated the ruling, but were left waiting yet again.

KYTX reports:

It’s been back and forth all day between a Travis County clerk and the Texas Attorney General after the clerk issued the state’s first same sex marriage license. However, that one license doesn’t change the situation for many other same sex couples in Texas. Karen Wilkerson and her partner have been ready to get married for a year now in Tyler. “I can’t plan a wedding, I can’t send out invitations, I cant book a place for our reception, I can’t start talking to a travel agent to plan a honeymoon because I don’t know when the decision will come down to make it legal for me to marry,” Wilkerson said. She’s happy for Austin couple Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, but says unfortunately that won’t help her case.

The state Supreme Court has only issued a stay, and hasn’t ruled on the merits of the case. We’re also waiting to see what the Fifth Circuit does in regards to its stay.

Nevertheless, it’s a crack in the dam in texas.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Texas.

Analysis of the Fifth Circuit Hearings

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

Fifth Circuit New OrleansThere are several great summaries out there about what happened yesterday at the Fifth Circuit, which heard marriage equality appeals from Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Among others, I recommend the summaries from Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade and Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed. I would like to go one step deeper. I have listened to the audio from the oral argument (as you can too, here). As with other oral arguments, I find the most insightful indication of how a judge is leaning is not the number of questions asked or to which lawyer he asks more, but the language and tone of those questions. I found that especially true with Judge Higginbotham (pictured, right) on Friday.

When analyzing oral arguments, I always caution that any connection between a judge’s questions and his or her ultimate decision is purely speculative. There are court-watchers who do studies about these things. But my reports on marriage equality hearings at the Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits, not to mention at the Supreme Court, suggest that we can draw conclusions. On all the metrics, it looks like marriage equality will win the day at the Fifth Circuit.

First, I will discuss those metrics. Then I will discuss where we go from here.

Questions Asked To Lawyers. This metric is based on the notion that appellate court judges tend to ask more questions to the side of the argument they are inclined to oppose. That makes some sense: you ask questions because you are skeptical. As a related point, the side peppered with more questions presumably has the tougher case to make, which makes it more likely to lose. Sometimes, a judge will lob a helping hand at a beleaguered attorney, but you can bracket those and come up with a simple analysis.

Authored By Ari Ezra Waldman – See the Full Story at Towleroad.com

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Image via Apple Maps

Fifth Circuit Marriage Equality Hearing Recap

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

Fifth Circuit New Orleans

The Fifth Circuit took on marriage equality cases from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi yesterday, and things look promising:

Hearing Times: Louisiana’s case was heard at 9 a.m., followed by Mississippi at 10 a.m. and Texas at 11 a.m full story

Photos from Outside: The Dallas Voice has some photos as people gathered for the trial outside the courthouse. full story

No Protests: Despite predictions, no one should up to protest against marriage equality outside the hearings. full story

Swing Vote Skeptical: From the tone and questions during the Louisiana hearing, it appears that Judge Higginbotham, considered the swing vote, will likely strike down the ban. full story

Second Judge Also Skeptical: Judge James Graves, an Obama appointee, also expressed skepticism about Louisiana’s ban. full story

Third Judge Cites 40 Year Old Case: Judge Smith, during the hearings, tried to justify the bans based on Baker, a Supreme Court decision from 1971 that many legal experts say has become outdated. full story

Marriage Equality “Novel” and “Risky”: Louisiana’s case to uphold its ban came down to calling same sex marriage “novel” and “risky”. full story

Louisiana Oral Arguments: Joe.My.God has the oral arguments from the Louisiana hearing. full story

150 Rally for Marriage Equality: About 150 people braved sub-freezing temperatures in Dallas to demand the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals srike down the bans. full story

Now we wait for the rulings in the three states.

Marriage Equality USA Community Call Tonight

Friday, January 9th, 2015

header

Join Marriage Equality USA and partners for a national COMMUNITY CALL to be held tonight, January 9th to discuss the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals marriage hearing. We will also talk about the current status of the marriage cases before the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

TIME OF CALL: 6pm PT / 7pm MT / 8pm CT / 9pm ET

SIGN UP NOW FOR THE JANUARY 9th CALL!

Today the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans will hear marriage equality cases Robicheax v. Caldwell from Louisiana, Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant from Mississippi and DeLeon v. Perry from Texas.

You are invited to our Community Call to discuss what occurred in court, to hear community reaction, and to ask questions about what the hearing might portend for the marriage equality movement. This call is open to all supporters of marriage equality and allies — feel free to share this info!

Participants on the call will include: Kathleen Perrin, Director, Equality Case Files and and host John Lewis, Director of Legal and Policy, Marriage Equality USA. (Additional panelists to be announced.) The call will be moderated by Brian Silva, Executive Director of Marriage Equality USA.

To receive the call in information, sign up now! All attendees will receive the call information on the morning of Friday, January 9.

~ The MEUSA Communications Team

Texas Marriage Equality Cases Stalled?

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Texas mapThree federal cases are moving slowly through the system. The first is awaiting a Fifth Circuit hearing.

The Dallas Voice reports:

In February, a federal San Antonio judge ruled the state’s amendment unconstitutional but stayed his decision after a hearing for a temporary injunction to allow one of the couples in the case to marry. The state appealed the ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. That court declined a petition to expedite the hearing last week, meaning it could take months before the case moves forward.

The other two federal cases may be held up until the first one is decoded, and have their own issues:

The other two Texas federal marriage cases are based in Austin. The state requested those be postponed pending the appeals court ruling in the other case. The Austin judge has yet to rule on the request. Those cases are further complicated because the plaintiffs in one of the cases, Chris McNosky and Sven Stricker, who are representing themselves, came out as straight in a recent interview with Dallas Voice.

There are also three divorce cases working through the system:

Meanwhile in state courts, same-sex divorce cases are moving forward. A San Antonio lesbian couple filed for divorce in March. The state tried to intervene, but a federal judge ruled that he cannot interfere. The couple has a child and wants the custody issue determined during court proceedings. Then in mid-May, a Tarrant County lesbian couple followed suit and filed to dissolve their union. Two same-sex divorce cases are currently being considered at the Texas Supreme Court. Hearings took place in November with a ruling expected in early summer before the court recess. But Jody Scheske, the couples’ attorney, said Texas doesn’t have a deadline for justices to issue a ruling. A controversial case they ruled on a few years ago took about four years before a decision was issued.

No word on if, or when any of these Texas marriage equality cases will be resolved.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Texas.