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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

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USA, Oklahoma/Utah: Arguments at the Tenth Circuit This Month

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Gay WeddingThe Tenth Circuit is due to hear two of the more than 50 marriage equality lawsuits that have popped up around the country recently.

The Washington Blade reports:

The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver is set to hear oral arguments on April 10 in Denver in the case of Kitchen v. Herbert, the lawsuit that brought marriage equality briefly to the state of Utah, and will hear arguments April 17 in Bishop v. Smith, in which a lower court ruled Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Doug NeJaime, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, said he expects arguments from attorneys on behalf of same-sex couples during these arguments to focus on the impact of the states’ marriage bans on children. “I expect we will see significant attention on the child centered rationales put forward by the state with responses regarding the detrimental impact on children raised by same-sex couples. Children are figuring prominently in these cases,” NeJaime said. “I also expect discussion about how Windsor affects the analysis of state bans on marriage.”

Will one of these cases be the next to reach the US Supreme Court?

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USA, Oklahoma/Utah: Tenth Circuit Panel Announced for Marriage Equality Cases

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Tenth CircuitThe judges who will hear the two marriage equality cases about to come before the tenth circuit were announced today.

Equality on Trial reports:

The Tenth Circuit has announced the three-judge panel that will hear oral arguments in Kitchen v. Herbert, the challenge to Utah’s same-sex marriage ban. The three judges will be Judge Paul J. Kelly, Jr., an appointee of President George H. W. Bush, along with Judge Carlos F. Lucero, appointed by President Bill Clinton, and Judge Jerome A. Holmes, appointed by President George W. Bush. The Tenth Circuit has previously said that the Utah case and the Oklahoma case, Bishop v. Smith, will be heard by the same panel, though the judge’s names aren’t listed on the case page for the Oklahoma case as of this writing.

Apparently the judges have a bit of a conservative bent.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

“My sense is this panel is slightly more politically conservative than an average 10th Circuit panel, but how any specific judge will resolve this issue is unclear and may not reflect political views,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond School of Law and a judicial appointment expert.

The Utah case will be heard on April 10th; the Oklahoma case on April 17th. Anyone wanna lay odds on which of the many cases makes it to the Supreme Court?

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USA: Hawaii: Another Day of Public Testimony on the Marriage Equality Bill

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

HawaiiSATURDAY AM UPDATE: The House will reconvene today for more public testimony – one of our FB sources says they reached the 3,000’s yesterday.

The House went through another long day of public testimony in the House after mote than 5,000 people signed up for 2 minute slots each to testify.

Edge Boston reports:

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee took a strict stance as a joint committee hearing resumed Friday morning, saying people absent when their number is called will not get to testify. But Rep. Karl Rhoads reversed course after complaints from lawmakers on the panel, shouting from audience members and a brief recess to talk the issue over. When the meeting resumed, Rhoads said everyone will get to speak in order of registration numbers given when they signed up. Rhoads says people who miss their number being called will be allowed to testify only after all 5,181 numbers have been called.

If everyone who signed up actually testified, it could draw the hearing out until the end of next week.

The Huffington Post reports on some of the strange questions asked at the hearings:

[Republican Rep. Bob] McDermott was obsessed with trying to figure out whether public schools would be required — should SB 1 become “the law of the land” — to provide textbooks that illustrated as normal the lives of homosexuals. He used the example of the “See Dick and Jane” books, inferring that the Department of Education would introduce books featuring two married men or two married women. Oshiro and Louie both said that the DOE has “opt-out” policies for the teaching of controversial materials, but that did not satisfy McDermott. That introduced a third trend of the day: Rhoads interrupting his colleagues to let others talk to move things along.

Once the testimony is finally finished, the bill may be amended to address religious liberty concerns:

With so many people left to testify, it was unclear when the House would end up voting on the bill. An amendment related to religious exemptions is expected, but it could easily be late next week before any decision-making happens if all the people signed up to testify actually do so… The House Judiciary and Finance committees each have the votes to pass SB 1. The question is if and how it will be amended, and if and how the Senate will accept the amendments.

President Obama jumped into the fight, urging the state to pass the bill.

Gay Star News reports:

President Barack Obama is advocating for marriage equality in Hawaii. ‘While the president does not weigh in on every measure being considered by state legislatures, he believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect, the White House’s Shin Inouye tells the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Inouye adds: ‘His personal view is that it’s wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships, and want to marry, from doing so.’

We’re waiting for more news from yesterday’s hearing – we’ll keep you posted.

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USA: Seven States Where Marriage Equality Could Move Ahead in the Next Two Weeks

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Gay WeddingWe’ve mentioned before that October was shaping up to be a big month for marriage equality. Buzzfeed has a great article this morning o the fights coming to a head this month in Michigan, New Jersey, Nevada, Illinois, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Virginia:

It’s been less than four months since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and put an end to California’s marriage amendment, but advocates have been busy over the summer — setting the stage for a very busy two weeks that could rock the marriage equality landscape and change the country.

The calendar for the rest of the month is packed with a dizzying array of potential developments: decisions and movement in lawsuits that are multiplying by the week, possible votes from lawmakers being prodded to action by governors in their states, and — for the state of New Mexico — a hearing at the state Supreme Court to resolve once and for all whether same-sex couples can marry in a state that doesn’t specifically ban or allow such marriages.

The coming weeks also will feature the first action in the federal appellate courts since the Supreme Court rulings, with a filing in the Ninth Circuit in a challenge to Nevada’s marriage law. The quick reemergence of a marriage case at the appellate level is notable because that’s the path back to the Supreme Court, where marriage equality advocates are still seeking a ruling that would bring marriage equality to all 50 states.

Head over to Buzzfeed to read the whole thing – it’s gonna be a crazy month!

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Side Effects: Beyond the Obvious

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Supreme Court Oral Arguments to Defeat Prop 8 and DOMA, March 26-27, 2013

At the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, there is a granite wall with some of his inspiring statements. After two days of oral arguments at the Supreme Court alongside two days of communing with fellow equality supporters at the steps of the Court, tears welled up in my eyes as I read:

JM Sorrell - Washington DC Rally

JM SorrellOn that final day, I also paid a visit to the White House where I stood for a long time with my sign to thank President Obama. I carried that sign at our local LGBT Pride march last May when the President said he was “evolving” on his views of marriage equality.

JM SorrellEach day, I arrived at 6:30am with my signs to stand with fellow supporters. Members of the press were intrigued by my signs and my work as a Massachusetts Justice of the Peace, and it was touching how gently they approached me and other activists as they participated in the profundity of the moment.

JM SorrellI ran into Rea Carey, one of the most prominent leaders of our movement. She is the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. For the events, she opted not to speak and to simply be amongst us as the spotlight belonged to couples, families, faith leaders and others. We had met at the NGLTF annual conference in 2012, and we connected immediately, so running into her was like seeing an old friend.

As plaintiffs and participants and attorneys walked in and out of the Supreme Courthouse, we cheered and watched and celebrated our communities.

What an incredible honor to be present for these landmark cases! The oral arguments took place in the morning, so each day I had time to wander about in DC. I wore my red t-shirt that proclaimed that it is time for marriage equality. It also happened to be spring break week for public schools, so many families were in town for vacation.

JM SorrellAn unexpected side effect happened over and over again during those two days. Average-looking mothers and fathers approached me and asked, “How did it go today?” They explained to their children that this was a momentous week to be in our nation’s Capital to fight for civil rights. I was in awe.

At Union Station the morning after oral arguments, I noticed a large contingent of young high schoolers. Their teachers told me they came from Hartford, CT and that many of these kids had never left the city or state before this trip. They were mostly African-American kids from impoverished families. Money was raised for the trip. The teachers took them to Howard University and monuments and museums. When I explained my reason for being there, the two teachers told me that they brought the kids to the Supreme Court even though it was not on their original agenda. They did not want them to miss history in the making and a fight for justice and equality. My eyes welled up.

When we hear that the tide is turning in our favor on the media, we hear from politicians and other famous people who have come forward to support full equality for lesbians and gay men. This is merely a reflection of what is happening on a deeper level: average people of all ages and backgrounds understand this as an issue of fairness.

Contemporary times are difficult on many levels. Love is no small thing. Allies are everything.

J.M. Sorrell is a 52 year old lesbian, Justice of the Peace, Massachusetts resident and global citizen.

USA: Prop 8 / Defense of Marriage Act Updates 4/3/13

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Defense of Marriage ActMore Prop 8 / Defense of Marriage Act news and analysis.

First off, at the Washington Blade, Jon Davidson, Legal Director at Lambda Legal, draws three lessons from the Supreme Court hearings:

First: We’ve come a very long way in a very short period of time. The Prop 8 argument took place exactly 10 years after arguments were heard in Lambda Legal’s Lawrence v. Texas case, which held the country’s remaining state sodomy laws unconstitutional. In 10 short years, we have moved from having 13 states that criminalized our sexual intimacy and none that provided our relationships any form of legal recognition to now having nine states and the District Columbia that allow same-sex couples to marry and nine more that provide same-sex couples virtually all the state law rights and responsibilities of marriage.

Second: This particular fight is not yet over. Notwithstanding Time magazine’s recent cover proclaiming “Gay Marriage Already Won,” at least with respect to these lawsuits, the arguments made clear that some justices whose votes are likely to be critical have not fully made up their minds.

Finally: Even a sweeping victory in these cases will not end our work. While ending bans on same-sex couples marrying has been an important goal for the movement, we need to continue fighting for the full civil rights of all people, married or not, as well as for the rights of transgender people, people living with HIV, LGBT parents and workers, those who are incarcerated or poor and our youth and elders.

Click the link above for the details.

Next, The Washington Blade reports on the flap HRC finds itself in after reportedly telling someone holding a transgender flag to put it down at the Supreme Court Rally:

LGBT rights advocates have criticized the Human Rights Campaign after a staffer reportedly asked a man not to waive a transgender flag during a pro-gay marriage rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on March 27. Former National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis wrote on Bilerico that he witnessed an HRC staffer and another person “having a less-than-friendly discussion.” Jerssay Arredondo of United We Dream’s Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project also claimed the organization removed references to his immigration status from the speech he gave at the same rally.

HRC has since apologized. At the vigil we attended in San Francisco, the transgender community was openly welcomed and praised for everything they’ve done for the movement, from Stonewall to today.

The Blade also talks about a forum on the hearings to be held in DC this month:

Former Acting U.S. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger and nationally recognized LGBT rights attorney Paul M. Smith are scheduled to speak at a forum in D.C. on April 15 titled, “After the Arguments: DOMA and Prop 8.” The D.C. chapter of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and the Human Rights Campaign are hosting the event, which will take place from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the HRC building at 1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W. Commentator Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post, who’s gay, will serve as moderator.

And finally, also at the Blade, Chris Johnson speculates on how each of the Justices might rule individually:

In addition to examining their comments during the arguments, the Blade has looked at how they ruled in other high-profile gay rights cases. One is the 1996 case of Romer v. Evans in which the Supreme Court struck down Colorado’s Amendment 2, which would have prohibited municipalities from passing non-discrimination ordinances protecting LGBT people. Another is the 2003 case of Lawrence v. Texas in which the Supreme Court struck down state sodomy laws. The Blade also looked at the court ruling in the 2010 case of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. In that case, the court upheld the Hastings College of Law’s non-discrimination policy against a challenge from Hastings Christian Fellowship, which sought to overturn the policy to maintain its status as an official school group while prohibiting LGBT people from holding positions as officers.

Two or three more months…

USA: Supreme Court Questioning Threatens 650,000 Same-Sex Couples And Their 250,000 Children

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

US Supreme CourtOur friend Ned Flaherty reports:

Five moral matters are about to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, in two of the many civil marriage disputes that have been percolating for 22 years in agencies, legislatures, and courtrooms across the nation.

The Court, yesterday and today, will hear oral arguments challenging two same-gender marriage bans. California’s Proposition 8 bans civil marriage for same-gender couples and families, and forces them into second-class domestic partnership. The federal Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) ignores civilly married couples and families whenever spouses are of the same gender, and denies them access to 1,138 federal programs, including most military pay and benefits. These are the first two marriage equality cases to get Supreme Court reviews since 1967, when all laws banning interracial couples from civil marriage were declared unconstitutional.

In these and many similar lawsuits now underway, looming over the cases, the judges, and America are five moral questions. In order to recognize the moral questions, one must first understand the disputes, and then hear the arguments.

Authored By Ned Flaherty- See the Full Story at The New Civil Rights Movement

UA: Prop 8 / Defense of Marriage Act Updates 3/26/13

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Defense of Marriage ActSo much to report as the Prop 8 hearing is underway in DC.

Over at the Maddow Blog, they take a look at presumed swing vote Kennedy:

At least going into oral arguments, there’s reason for cautious optimism when it comes to Kennedy. As Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, told Sahil Kapur several months ago, “There have been two decisions in American history expanding rights for gays and lesbians: Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas. Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion for the Court in both. He knows where history is going and that he faces the choice between writing the next Plessy v. Ferguson and the next Brown v. Board of Education. He wants to be on the right side of history.”

At WonkBlog, Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas look back at the last 8 years that led us here:

On November 14, 2004, just a few days after the election, the New York Times ran a story headlined “Groups Vow Not To Let Losses Dash Gay Rights.” The article was datelined “St. Louis,” and it recounted the first major post-election conference in which gay-rights organizers tried to regroup after an election “when voters in 11 states resoundingly approved amendments to their constitutions against same-sex marriage and gave a majority to a president depicted in one doctored video here as the Wicked Witch of the West.”

Joe.My.God reports that the Pro Prop 8 leader Andy Pugno is projecting confidence:

“But I’m confident that Tuesday morning, at 10 a.m Eastern time (7:00 a.m. Pacific), as the justices file into the courtroom, the buzz of the media will fade away and the focus will return to where it belongs—to the text of the United States Constitution and the key legal question of whether states must recognize same-sex relationships as ‘marriage.’

Gay Star News looks at what it all means:

Although it could be months before the US Supreme Court issues its rulings, this week’s hearings on California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) are already historic. It marks the first time the high court has ever decided to take on gay marriage cases and it does so as multiple polls show support of marriage equality at an all-time high.

LGBTQ Nation talks about those “free” tickets to the hearings:

Tickets to the two arguments are technically free. But getting them requires lining up days or hours ahead, or paying someone else to. The first people got in line Thursday, bringing the price of saving a seat to around $6,000.

The Washington Post offers three charts to illustrate why the battle is already, effectively, over:

In our Monday newspaper column, we declared the political fight on gay marriage over — even as the Supreme Court prepares to wade into the legal and policy debate this week. (Make sure to read our counter-argument on the issue here.) While we used 800 words (or so) to make the “it’s all over” case in the newspaper, we really can do it in just three charts.

LGBTQ Nation thinks the court will ultimately rule for equality:

The time is right. A majority of Americans support gay marriage. An ABC News/Washington Post poll found 58 percent of Americans now believe marriage should be legal for same-sex couples. Public support matters because the Court doesn’t want to issue another controversial decision like Roe v. Wade, which has been subject to attack for 40 years.

Lisa Keen at the Dallas Voice has a guide to the oral arguments on Prop 8 and DOMA:

Some of the players are already well known to readers, some are not. Certainly, the key issues in the case have occupied a central focus for the LGBT community for many years now and the resolution of both cases are of enormous consequence to LGBT people throughout the country. To help readers prep for the argument and the expected crush of media reporting on the cases, the following is a quick guide to the issues, the attorneys, and what to listen for.

Over at The New York Times, they’re taking a closer look at Justice Scalia and his disregard for all things gay:

With the Supreme Court set to hear oral arguments tomorrow and Wednesday in a pair of same-sex marriage cases, there are two questions preoccupying legal writers: How will Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court’s wild card, vote, and how will Justice Antonin Scalia behave? No one expects the conservative 78-year-old jurist to have a sudden equal-protection epiphany. He has made it abundantly plain that he has no use for same-sex unions; he thinks they are immoral. In his Lawrence v. Texas dissent, for instance, he said Americans have every right to enforce “the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct” in order to protect “themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.”

Think Progress reports that we could win, but still lose as progressives:

McConnell and Will are both arguing that, because the Constitution does not give the federal government power over “domestic relations” it follows that DOMA exceeds Congress’ lawful powers. This is similar to the argument conservatives raised against the Affordable Care Act, and it is also compete nonsense… If Congress does not have the power to decide who pays what tax rates and who receives what federal benefits, than the entirety of America’s safety net could be in danger. Retirement programs like Social Security cannot exist unless the government can limit it to persons of retirement age. Veterans benefits cannot exist unless the government can limit them to veterans. Even progressive taxation is in jeopardy under Will and McConnell’s theory, because the government must have the power to decide who pays more and who pays less taxes.

WDEL looks at how a ruling could affect states that offer civil unions:

When the U.S. Supreme Court hears the two gay marriage cases this week beginning today, one law professor believes there’s a chance states that have a civil union law like Delaware could be be front and center. Culhane thinks that the Supreme Court could order states that with civil unions to go to full gay marriage, or it strike civil unions all together depending on how it rules.

And the The New York Times looks at the possible political backlash a ruling might bring.

Winning in court too far in advance of public opinion can generate political backlash that retards a social reform movement. The Supreme Court’s provisional ruling against the death penalty in 1972 ironically generated tremendous support for capital punishment, as 35 states quickly enacted new death penalty statutes. Similarly, Roe’s aggressive defense of abortion rights fostered a right-to-life movement that fundamentally reshaped American politics and arguably made abortion reform more contentious and resistant to compromise. And marriage equality rulings in Hawaii in 1993 and Massachusetts in 2003 ignited potent political backlashes that culminated, respectively, in enactment of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and of constitutional amendments in more than 25 states barring same-sex marriage.

USA: Prop 8 / Defense of Marriage Act Updates 3/24/13

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Supreme Court Floor PlanLots more to report on the Prop 8 / Defense of Marriage Act front this morning. We’ll start with congress.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke out this week on DOMA, On Top Magazine reports:

“Around 2005, the Republicans, who were in the majority, passed legislation specifically related to DOMA, which had, as you know, passed some years before, in the 90s,” Pelosi told reporters. “But they came up with a specific bill relating to DOMA that stripped the courts of the right of judicial review. They said [that] Marbury v. Madison was wrongly decided, that the courts do not have right of judicial review, and therefore they were stripping the courts of judicial review. Why would they do that if they thought they had a constitutional bill – specifically related to DOMA?” she asked.

Senate Democrats seem to agree. On Top Magazine also reports that all 15 current Senate Dems who voted form Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 now oppose it:

All 15 sitting Senate Democrats who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) now oppose the law… Patty Murray of Washington state is among those senators who have had a change of heart. “My state voted, and I voted with them, to allow marriages between gay and lesbian couples,” Murray told NPR. “I’m very proud of my state.”

But even as these 15 realize the error they made, a number of current Democratic Senators don’t even want to talk about gay marriage. Buzzfeed reports:

Sens. Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu, Mark Begich and Mark Pryor, all moderate Democrats who will face fierce reelection battles during the midterm election cycle, either would not state their position on marriage, or declined to comment via their office. “I am really concerned right now about the budget, about jobs in my state,” Hagan, of North Carolina, responded when asked about her stance on marriage equality. Ironically, last year Hagan went on record opposing a same-sex marriage ban in North Carolina, saying it would have “far-reaching negative consequences.”

Profiles in cowardice.

Over at The Huffington Post, there’s a great article chronicling the change of heart, on a case-by-case basis, that many Americans have undergone on gay marriage, Take David Blankenhorn, at one time one of the staunchest opponents of marriage equality:

Last June, a year after that car ride, Blankenhorn wrote an op-ed in The New York Times announcing a shift in his views. “To my deep regret,” he wrote, “much of the opposition to gay marriage seems to stem, at least in part, from an underlying anti-gay animus.” His institute immediately lost half its funding — around a million dollars — and half the board resigned that same day. But Blankenhorn stuck by his new beliefs. “I’m an old Southern white guy,” he said, “and I grew up learning all the bad names about gay and lesbian people, all the stereotyped ideas. We were too busy fighting about race to really talk much about anything else, but I imbibed the stereotypical ideas that I think most of my generation did, and they weren’t pretty.” Blankenhorn has since issued a tract called “Marriage, A New Conversation,” a renunciation of the culture war signed by 74 activists, writers and scholars from both the left and the right. Rauch now sits on the board of his institute.

Read the whole article – it’s pretty powerful stuff.

At Edge Boston, Mark Sherman profiles one of the couples behind the Prop 8 case:

After 13 years of raising four boys together, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier are about to be empty nesters. Their youngest two children, 18-year-old twins, will graduate from high school in June and head off to college a couple of months later. “We’ll see all the movies, get theater season tickets because you can actually go,” Stier said in the living room of their bungalow in Berkeley. Life will not revolve quite so much around food, and the challenge of putting enough of it on the table to feed teenagers. They might also get married, if the high court case goes their way.

Over at NPR, Liz Halloran goes back in time to look at how Vermont helped get the whole marriage equality ball rolling back in 2000:

Democrat Howard Dean, governor at the time, had already made clear he’d veto any legislation labeled “marriage.” Suggestions like “domestic partner relationship” were too clunky; “civil accord,” they decided, evoked a car model. “We wanted something that sounded dignified,” says William Lippert, a Democrat who was vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee writing the law. “We were trying to give it as much stature as possible, since we wouldn’t be able to call it marriage.” Eventually, on a February day in 2000, they settled on “civil unions.”

It’s amazing to me how, in just 13 years, civil unions have gone from seeming like a trail-blazing idea to a sad half-measure for marriage equality supporters, and how, on the other side, they are now viewed as either a safer fall-back to delay full equality, or as a dangerous stepping stone.

Supreme Court JusticesAFER literally takes us inside the Supreme Court, with a great article on how the courtroom is laid out, where the justices will be sitting. and much more:

The nine Justices are seated by seniority. The Chief Justice occupies the center chair, the senior Associate Justice sits to his right, the second senior to his left, and so on, alternating right and left by seniority.

The article also lets you know how you can follow the proceedings Tuesday and Wednesday.

And Lisa Keen at Keen News also has a great guide to the proceedings:

Readers who are eager to absorb the arguments themselves but are unable to snare a courtside seat have two options: an audio recording and a transcript -both available at www.supremecourt.gov. (Click on “Oral argument” and choose either “Argument transcript” or “Argument recording.”) The public information office says both will be available on an expedited basis the same day as the argument–by 1 p.m. Tuesday and by 2 p.m. Wednesday. Some of the players are already well known to readers, some are not. Certainly, the key issues in the case have occupied a central focus for the LGBT community for many years now and the resolution of both cases are of enormous consequence to LGBT people throughout the country. To help readers prep for the argument and the expected crush of media reporting on the cases, the following is a quick guide to the issues, the attorneys, and what to listen for.

2 more days.