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Alabama Supremes Challenge Federal Courts on Marriage Equality

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

AlabamaThe Alabama Supreme Court has weighed in on the marriage equality question, and it’s about what you’d expect.

The Dallas Voice reports:

The Alabama Supreme Court late today (Tuesday) ordered all of the state’s probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in defiance of orders from a federal district court judge overturning the Alabama same-sex marriage ban, and a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court refusing to block the district judge’s order… The state’s highest court said Alabama wasn’t bound by this “new definition” of marriage, though marriage equality has “gained ascendancy in certain quarters of the country,” including the federal judiciary. The supreme court’s ruling said: “As it has done for approximately two centuries, Alabama law allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman. Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty.”

The Court has given probate judges five days to respond to the new order.

The case was brought by two anti-gay groups.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

The court’s ruling came in response to a request from the Southern Baptist-affiliated Alabama Citizens Action Program and the Alabama Policy Institute, a conservative think tank, which asked the justices to halt same-sex unions.

Joe Godfrey, executive director of the Alabama Citizens Action Program, said he was very excited about the decision. “We are concerned about the family and the danger that same-sex marriage will have. It will be a devastating blow to the family, which is already struggling,” Godfrey said. He said the decision will provide some stability in Alabama until the U.S Supreme Court rules later this year. The nation’s high court will hear oral arguments in April and is expected to issue a ruling by June regarding whether gay couples nationwide have a fundamental right to marry and whether states can ban such unions.

Mat Staver at the Liberty Counsel is over the moon about the decision.

Joe.My.God reports:

The ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court is historic, and is one of the most researched and well reasoned opinions on marriage to be issued by any court in the country. The legitimacy of the judiciary is undermined when a judge legislates from the bench or usurps the power reserved to the states regarding natural marriage. This decision of the Alabama Supreme Court is very well reasoned, which is quite rare from today’s courts. The decision not only affirms natural marriage but also restores the rule of law.

Meanwhile, the legislature is considering a “right to discriminate” bill.

SDGLN reports:

HB 56 would allow religious organizations to refuse solemnizing and recognizing any marriage, and prevents the government from penalizing organizations for their refusal to recognize marriage. In addition, the bill broadly defines religious organizations to include social service organizations. Because Alabama has no LGBT non-discrimination protections, this bill would exempt organizations from the general rules applicable to spouses, and could allow, for example, a religious hospital to refuse to recognize the spouse of a patient.

It’s gpnna be a crazy day down in Alabama.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Alabama.

Alabama Marriage Equality Update – 2/13/15

Friday, February 13th, 2015

AlabamaMore counties got on board the marriage equality bandwagon today, and opponents gnashed their teeth. Hey, haters gonna hate.

As of this morning, the number of counties issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples had jumped again, in response to the Federal Judge’s chastising of Mobile County.

Joe.My.God reports:

“With 40 counties confirmed to be issuing #marriage licenses, 75% of #Alabama population lives in county with freedom to marry.” Yesterday’s ruling in Mobile County is having the predicted effect and more than a dozen other counties have relented this morning.

A little later in the day, that number had jumped to 47.

ABC News reports:

About 20 of Alabama’s 67 counties allowed gays and lesbians to wed on Monday. By Friday that number had jumped to at least 47, the Human Rights Campaign said. Other counties said they would revisit the decision next week.

HRC expects that to grow by next week.

The Advocate reports:

As of 4 p.m. local time on Friday, 47 counties in Alabama were issuing marriage licenses to all couples, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which has been tracking the situation since U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade’s pro-equality rulings took effect Monday. Those 47 counties contain 82 percent of the state’s population, and by next week, a full 50 counties will allow same-sex couples to legally marry, reports HRC.

LGBT has the details county by county:

Issuing to all couples: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Blount, Bullock, Butler, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chilton, Coffee, Colbert, Conecuh, Coosa, Crenshaw, Cullman, Dale, Dallas, Dekalb, Elmore, Escambia, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Green, Henry, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee Limestone, Lowndes, Macon, Madison, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Perry, Russell, St. Clair, Sumter, Talladega, Tuscaloosa, Wilcox and Winston. 82 % of population; 47 counties

Will start next week: Hale, Marion, Marshall, 3%; 3

Issuing to only straight couples: Chambers, Choctaw, Clay, Cleburne. Covington, Houston, Marengo, Pickens, Shelby, Washington. 10%; 10

Not issuing licenses to any couples: Bibb, Clarke, Geneva, Pike, Randolph, Tallapoosa, Walker. 5%; 7

Meanwhile, the state Supreme Court is asking probate judges to respond in a lawsuit brought by the anti-gay Liberty Counsel.

Equality on Trial reports:

The Alabama Supreme Court has issued an order requiring the probate judges in counties who are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and named as defendants in a pending action filed by Liberty Counsel to “file answers and,if they choose to do so, briefs, addressing issues raised by the petition, including, but not limited to, any issue relating to standing or otherwise relating to this Court’s subject-matter jurisdiction, and any issue relating to the showing necessary for temporary relief as requested in the petition.” The order is addressing the petition filed by Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBT organization, attempting to force county probate judges who are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples to stop issuing them.

Speaking of haters, here’s our first one.

Joe.My.God reports:

Cedric Hatcher, an outspoken street evangelist and regular at Birmingham City Hall, took to the lectern during the public comment portion of today’s meeting to express his disapproval of the marriages that took place just across Linn Park and around the state Monday. “To me yesterday was one of the most bizarre scenes I’ve ever seen in the city,” Hatcher said. “It was one of the most comedic scenes I’ve ever seen in public when I witnessed men with size 13 and 14 shoes out there kissing each other in the mouth in front of little kids. It was like a freak scene going on, that’s what I call it.” Like his previous statements on social issues, Hatcher didn’t soften his approach when criticizing the legalization of same-sex marriage. He delivered an abrasive critique instead. Hatcher cited several Bible passages and decried the presence of children in ceremonies he believed were abominable. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But the worst part? There are no batteries to be found on the shelves of Birmingham stores. Because gay marriage.

And Bryan Fischer, the AFA’s drama queen, was ranting about “slavery” and the “gay gestapo”.

Joe.My.God reports:

“When you are ordered by an agent of the government to violate your own conscience in something that you do, that is slavery. If you are forced to violate your conscience to do work, that is slavery. If you are forced to violate your conscience that is tyranny…that is the gay gestapo at work, ‘you either do what we tell you or you’re gonna get punished.'”

And the chair of the state GOP is NOT HAPPY.

The Dallas Voice reports:

The chair of Alabama’s Republican Party thinks God is pissed because same-sex couples can marry in his state. “The state of Alabama and the United States of America will reap God’s wrath if we embrace and condone things that are abhorrent to God, such as redefining marriage as anything other than a union between one man and one woman,” Alabama Republican Party Chair Bill Armistead wrote this week.

To take the sour taste out of your mouth, check out this great celebratory video from Freedom to Marry, including moments from the first day of Alabama same sex weddings.

Alabama Marriage Equality Update 2/10/15

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

AlabamaAnother day, more controversy in Alabama as the marriage equality fight continues.

At least three counties have relented and started to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples:

It’s possible that these counties are reacting to a statement made last night by the governor. Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican and a Southern Baptist, said he believes strongly that marriage is between one man and one woman, but that the issue should be “worked out through the proper legal channels” and not through defiance of the law. The governor noted that Alabama is about to be in the spotlight again with the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was passed after civil rights marchers were attacked and beaten in Selma, Alabama — events chronicled in the Oscar-nominated movie “Selma.” “I don’t want Alabama to be seen as it was 50 years ago when a federal law was defied. I’m not going to do that,” Bentley said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press. The three counties (Limestone, Morgan, and Elmore) have a combined population of 280,000. That still leaves more than 50 counties who are not serving gay couples.

Attorney General Luther Strange filed his response to the plaintiffs’ amended complaint.

Equality on Trial reports:

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has filed his response to yesterday’s request from the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), who’s representing the plaintiffs in Strawser v. Strange, to amend their complaint, add new plaintiffs and defendants, and request a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order against the Mobile County Probate Judge. The filing notes that the attorney general can’t issue marriage licenses, nor can he order county probate judges to take any actions or open their offices. Because of that, he doesn’t oppose the addition of plaintiffs who are seeking marriage licenses from Mobile County, and the probate judge of the county as a defendant.

The judge in the case has scheduled a hearing for Friday.

Equality on Trial reports:

The federal district court judge who overturned Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban has scheduled a hearing for Thursday, February 12 on the request in Strawser for an injunction requiring Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis. The county is still refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and they’re see

Some straight couples have been caught in the crossfire:

Meanwhile, Governor Bentley made some conciliatory noises.

Equality on Trial reports:

The governor noted that Alabama is about to be in the spotlight again with the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was passed after civil rights marchers were attacked and beaten in Selma, Alabama — events chronicled in the Oscar-nominated movie “Selma.” “I don’t want Alabama to be seen as it was 50 years ago when a federal law was defied. I’m not going to do that,” Bentley said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.

“I’m trying to move this state forward.”

Chief Justice Roy Moore mouthed off again.

The Dallas Voice reports:

…on Monday, Feb. 9, Moore explained to ABC News that he has to stop same-sex marriage, because if loving, committed adult couples of the same gender are allowed to legally marry, then all hell is gonna break loose and then “men and their daughters or women and their sons” would be insisting they be allowed to get married too.

In a fitting tribute, the Klu Klux Klan came out in support of Moore today.

Joe.My.God reports:

From the website of the United Dixie White Knights: The Mississippi Klan salutes Alabama’s chief justice Roy Moore, for refusing to bow to the yoke of Federal tyranny. The Feds have no authority over individual States marriage laws. The fudgepackers from Hollywood and all major news networks are in shock that the good people from the heart of Dixie are resisting their Imperialist, Communist Homosexual agenda!

Lambda Legal is urging probate judges to ignore Moore.

SDGLN reports:

Lambda Legal today sent an open letter to the president of the Alabama Probate Judges Association and probate judges of counties that are not issuing licenses to same-sex couples urging them to disregard Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s legally incorrect and unfounded Administrative Order and instead issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and different-sex couples alike, after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the state’s request for a stay.

A woman in Autauga County was arrested after trying to perform a same sex wedding ceremony in the probate judge’s office.

Joe.My.God reports:

An Autauga County woman was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct Tuesday morning after offering to perform a same sex marriage inside the probate judge’s office. Anne Susan Diprizio, of the 300 block of Cambridge Street, is charged with disorderly conduct, said Dave Hill, chief deputy of the Autauga County Sheriff’s Office. She was being processed in the Autauga Metro Jail after her arrest and was unavailable for comment. Courthouse records show she doesn’t have an attorney. She was being held on a bond of $1,000, Hill said.

The state has put up the biggest fight against marriage equality so far.

AL.com reports:

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond School of Law professor who has tracked same-sex marriage litigation across the country, said he does not believe any other state has resisted the federal court system as aggressively as Alabama. He said the closest analogy probably is Florida, where clerks across the state initially insisted that a judge’s order striking down that state’s ban applied only in one county. “It never really culminated in this situation,” he said, referring to Monday’s wild day in Alabama. “The day came, and they were ready and everything went OK.”

US Senator Jeff Sessions jumped into the fray today.

Towleroad.com reports:

Sessions told CQ Roll Call that he believes judges’ rulings in favor of marriage equality have more to do with sentiment that an accurate interpretation of the U.S. Constitution: “I think it’s an unhealthy trend that judges feel that they’re somehow reflecting popular opinion when first of all, it’s not popular opinion, and secondly, who are they to be ruling on cases based on how they feel.”

Nate Cohn at the New York Times looks at the depth of opposition to gay marriage in Alabama:

…Those results suggest that Alabama would have voted overwhelmingly against same-sex marriage if it had been on the ballot there in 2012. I estimate the vote would have been roughly 73 percent to 27 percent against same-sex marriage. The estimate is based on the relationship between support for same-sex marriage in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington; educational attainment; population density; the number of evangelical Christians and African-Americans; and support for Mr. Obama. Support for same-sex marriage has increased further over the last two years, rising to about 54 percent last year from 49 percent in 2012, according to Pew and Gallup national polls. Nonetheless, a majority — and probably two-thirds — of Alabama voters most likely remain opposed.

Now we wait for Friday’s hearing and the judge’s ruling.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Alabama.

Alabama in Turmoil After Marriage Equality Comes to State

Monday, February 9th, 2015

As the US Supreme Court declined to extend the stay on a Federal Judge’s ruling and as same sex couples started to marry in the state, opponents of marriage equality dug in their heels.

Things started off well enough, with many counties issuing licenses.

Joe.My.God reports:

According to local media it appears that the majority of Alabama’s 67 counties are issuing or prepared to issue same-sex marriage licenses. At this writing fewer than a dozen counties have confirmed that they are defying this morning’s order by the Supreme Court. Probate judges in several counties decided not to issue any marriage licenses at all – to same-sex or heterosexual couples. In some counties, including Butler County, Colbert County and Coosa County probate courts are taking marriage applications from all couples but not issuing licenses. In Coffee County, Jefferson County, Chilton County and Madison County, probate judges said they will issue marriage licenses to all couples, gay and straight, on Monday morning. Probate judges in other counties chose to follow the order issued late Sunday by Chief Justice Moore. Probate judges in Bibb County, Covington County, Cleburne County and Washington County decided not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Monday, but will still issue licenses to opposite-sex couples.

As the day wore on, more and more counties jumped on the anti-gay discrimination bandwagon.

Joe.My.God reports:

At the start of the day fewer than a dozen of Alabama’s 67 counties had been confirmed as refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. It appears that number has now about tripled. Most of the counties contacted by AL.com this morning have suspended issuing all marriage licenses in the wake of conflicting rulings from a federal judge and the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. The majority of counties across the state have either suspended the issuance of all marriage licenses or are only accepting applications. Probate judges have said it is the best compromise for the moment, until they determine which order to follow. Other probate judges have said that they may change their policies within hours or days. Counties colored red are not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Those colored green are issuing licenses to all couples. Those shaded in yellow are not issuing any marriage licenses and those colored orange are only accepting applications, but issuing no licenses.

Alabama Map

The Governor was no help.

Towleroad reports:

“This issue has created confusion with conflicting direction for Probate Judges in Alabama. Probate Judges have a unique responsibility in our state, and I support them. I will not take any action against Probate Judges, which would only serve to further complicate this issue. We will follow the rule of law in Alabama, and allow the issue of same sex marriage to be worked out through the proper legal channels.”

And the Attorney General took up the Chief Justice’s contention that probate judges could turn away same sex couples.

On Top Magazine reports:

In responding to a decision by the Supreme Court not to stay two federal judge’s rulings striking down Alabama’s ban on gay marriage, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange suggested that probate judges do not have to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Strange had asked the Supreme Court to delay Monday’s scheduled implementation of the rulings. In a 7-2 decision, the court denied Strange’s request.

The Human Rights Campaign called for the impeachment of Chief Justice Moore over his refusal to follow the federal court judgment.

The Dallas Voice reports:

The Human Rights Campaign has launched a petition to remove Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore from office. Moore urged the governor of Alabama and probate judges, who issue licenses in the state, to stand in the way of same-sex marriages despite an explicit order by a federal judge. The HRC petition calls on the Judicial Inquiry Commission to take action against Moore — who previously declared that homosexuality should be a punishable offense and grounds for losing parental custody — for shirking the law and the obligations of his office.

One of the plaintiff couples filed a contempt motion against the Mobile County probate judge for refusing to issue licenses.

Equality on Trial reports:

Mobile County, Alabama, is stalling in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The county has said there are some delays, and they’re not issuing licenses until those are worked out. They aren’t even opening the marriage license division. Attorneys for the couple who filed Searcy v. Strange have just filed a contempt motion requesting “an Order declaring the Honorable Don Davis to be in contempt, to further order law enforcement to open the marriage license division of Mobile County Probate Court, impose sanctions against the Honorable Don Davis, and any such further legal remedies this Court deems appropriate and just, the premises considered.”

The motion was promptly swatted down by a federal judge.

Joe.My.God reports:

“Probate Judge Don Davis is not a party in this case and the Order of January 23, 2015, did not directly order Davis to do anything. Judge Davis’s obligation to follow the Constitution does not arise from this court’s Order. The Clarification Order noted that actions against Judge Davis or others who fail to follow the Constitution could be initiated by persons who are harmed by their failure to follow the law. However, no such action is before the Court at this time.”

The couple responded with an amended complaint against pretty much everyone in Mobile County government.

Joe.My.God reports:

Mobile lawsuit

The Supreme Court’s decision to not extend the stay reinforces the trend they started in Florida.

USA Today reports:

The Supreme Court will decide whether to allow same-sex marriage nationwide later this year. But it’s leaving little doubt which way it’s leaning. The latest evidence came Monday, when the high court denied Alabama’s request that gay marriages be blocked while the state appeals a federal judge’s ruling that allowed gays and lesbians to wed. That was the same decision the justices reached in Florida two months ago, allowing the Sunshine State to become the 36th in the nation where same-sex marriage is legal. Alabama now becomes the 37th.

In one bit of excellent news, Paul Hard, a gay man who has been embroiled in a legal fight against his deceased husband’s mother as she tries to steal her son’s estate won the latest round.

Towleroad reports:

The state of Alabama has issued Hard a new death certificate for Fancher, this time listing Fancher as his husband. Said Hard, “Getting David’s death certificate was emotional. Just to finally see the wording on there that at the time of his death he was married, and he was married to me, corrects a hurtful wrong.”

This will make it much harder for the evil mother-in-law to get her hands on her son’s estate.

We’ll leave you with this cartoon, which draws a great parallel between the hateful men blocking the door to marriage equality and their counterparts in an earlier era.

Cartoon Birmingham News

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Alabama.

All Florida Clerks Agree to Start Issuing Marriage Licenses to Same Sex Couples

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

Florida From SpaceAfter a statewide conference call, all clerks in the state have agreed to start issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples starting Tuesday.

Towleroad.com reports:

Following a conference call on Friday, all county clerks in the state of Florida have announced they will follow Judge Robert Hinkle’s New Years Day ruling and will begin issuing marriage license to same-sex couples starting Tuesday morning. Clerks in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties, meanwhile, have joined clerks in Baker, Clay, and Duval counties in discontinuing all courthouse wedding ceremonies rather than allow gay couples to use the same space for thier own weddings.

Towleroad.com also reports on the Florida Family Action lawsuit to stop the weddings:

In related news, the anti-gay Florida Family Action’s lawsuit seeking to stop marriage equality from going into effect on January 6 has been tossed out by a circuit judge. A second lawsuit filed against Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer in an effort to prevent him from officiating or issuing licenses is still pending….for now.

Marriage equality is coming to Florida next week!

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Florida.

South Carolina Supreme Court Lifts Marriage Equality Stay Early

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

UPDATE 7:20 AM: The US Supreme Court just turned the state away.

The Washington Blade reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court won’t stop same-sex marriages from taking place in South Carolina following a decision against the state’s ban on gay nuptials. A one-page order from the court on Thursday indicates the stay request from state officials to block same-sex marriages and presented to U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts was referred to the entire court and denied. However, the order notes U.S. Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas would have granted the stay.


South Carolina MapThings are moving along on the marriage equality front in South Carolina too. The state Supreme Court lifted the stay on the recent ruling early.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

The South Carolina Supreme Court has lifted an injunction that prohibited the state’s probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The order comes following a ruling on Tuesday by U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs in Columbia in favor of Highway Patrol Trooper Katherine Bradacs and U.S. Air Force retiree Tracie Goodwin, who sued to have the state to recognize their marriage performed in Washington, D.C. Childs ruled the state’s failure to recognize their marriage was unconstitutional.

At least six couples in Charleston immediately received marriage licenses.

On Top Magazine reports:

At least six gay couples received marriage licenses Wednesday in South Carolina. According to multiple local sources, Probate Judge Irvin Condon in Charleston issued the licenses. Within hours, Kristin Anderson and Kayla Bennett exchanged vows, making them the first gay couple to legally marry in the state. The women, together 4 years, wed in front of the Charleston County Courthouse in a ceremony officiated by Tobin Williamson.

Atty. Gen. Alan Wilson is still pinning his hopes on the US Supreme Court.

Fits News reports:

South Carolina is the only state in the fourth circuit blocking gay marriages. Its lawyers argue that conflicting lower court rulings (the sixth circuit court of appeals has upheld the right of states to ban gay marriage) necessitate the intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court. For his part, Wilson has said he’s just doing his job as the state’s top lawyer – but in the process he’s become a hero of the religious right. “Alan Wilson isn’t simply going through the motions,” said Oran Smith of the Palmetto Family Council – a group which opposes gay marriage. “He and his lawyers are crafting new strategies.”

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in South Carolina.

Marriage Equality: What’s Going On in Kansas

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

KansasKansas is one of the last hold-outs on marriage equality in the group of states affected by the US Supreme Court’s non-decision earlier this week. Here’s what’s going on there.

Johnson County started the ball rolling Tuesday, accepting applications for marriage licenses. LGBTQ Nation reports:

So far, only Johnson County has announced plans to issue licenses to gay couples. The county could be poised to issue the state’s first same-sex marriage license as soon as Friday, two days after Chief District Judge Kevin Moriarty ruled the county could no longer deny the applications. Kansas has a three-day waiting period before licenses can be granted, but although Moriarty issued his ruling Wednesday, the county accepted one application Tuesday from a same-sex couple, said Sandy McCurdy, the county’s court clerk. By late Thursday afternoon, the county had accepted 42 applications.

Also Tuesday, the Kansas Office of Judicial Administration suggested that counties let judges make the determination. LGBTQ Nation reports:

Some counties initially refused to even hand out marriage license paperwork to same-sex couples until the lawyer for the Kansas Office of Judicial Administration sent an email Tuesday to chief judges suggesting that counties accept the applications and noted that litigation was likely. “My recommendation is that judges, not clerks, make the decision to grant or deny a marriage license under existing Kansas law, rather than requiring a district court clerk to do so and then be required to defend a civil lawsuit,” said the email from Martha Coffman.

On Wednesday, a district court judge told clerks and judges in the state to start issuing licenses to same sex couples. LGBTQ Nation reports:

…[on Wednesday] district court Chief Judge Kevin Moriarty directed clerks and other judges to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples – even though the Kansas Constitution bans gay marriage under a provision voters approved in 2005. Moriarty acted after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from five other states seeking to preserve their gay-marriage bans.

On Thursday, Riley County accepted a marriage license from a same sex cuple, only to have a judge turn it down Friday. LGBTQ Nation reports:

A Kansas judge has denied a marriage license for a same-sex couple who said their application had been accepted with open arms a day earlier. KMAN-AM reports that Darcie Bonhenblust and her partner, Joleen Hickman, found out Friday morning their application had been denied. The two say the Riley County clerk told them Thursday when they filed their application there was a three-day waiting period and they could come back Tuesday to pick up their license. But on Friday morning they received an order from Judge Meryl Wilson denying the license.

By Friday, Johnson County actually handed out a marriage license to one couple. LGBTQ Nation reports:

A court office in Kansas’ most populous county issued a marriage license Friday to a gay couple, believed to be the first such license in the state. Liz Dickinson, a member of the gay-rights group Equality Kansas, said she was at the county courthouse Friday when the couple received their license. The Johnson County District Court clerk’s office confirmed that a license was issued. The clerk declined to identify the couple.

The couple quickly married, becoming the only legally married same sex couple in the state. Gay Star News reports:

According to the Associated Press, the Johnson County newlyweds are identified only Kelli and Angela. The women asked to be identified only by their first names to help protect their privacy. The marriage took place in Johnson County after Chief Judge Kevin Moriarty directed other judges and court clerks to approve marriage licenses for gay couples. The ceremony was officiated by the couple’s pastor at the courthouse in Olathe, Kansas, and after they exchanged vows, the women both returned to work. ‘Kelli and Angela are grateful for the outpouring of congratulations, well-wishes, and support from around our great state and nation,’ the Kansas Equality Coalition said in a statement.

Also on Friday, the Kansas Attorney General asked the state Supreme Court to block the issuance of any more licenses. Towleroad.com reports:

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has asked the state Supreme Court to stop gay marriages from taking place in Johnson County – the state’s most populous county… “The Johnson County Court’s decision is an outlier,” Schmidt said in a statement accompanying his filing. “Numerous other Kansas Courts have concluded, as I have, that the law in Kansas remains unchanged and same-sex marriage remains unlawful unless and until a Court of competent jurisdiction, deciding a properly presented case or controversy, holds otherwise as a matter of federal constitutional law. Because that has not happened, I have concluded the Judge’s decision to order the issuance of licenses is unlawful and I now have no choice but to ask the Kansas Supreme Court to set it aside.”

The Kansas Supreme Court complied with the request, putting everything on hold for now. NBC News reports:

The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday ordered a clerk in that state to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses, after a lower court judge allowed them after other courts struck down bans on gay marriage similar to the one in Kansas. The state Supreme Court Friday evening granted a request by the Kansas attorney general that the marriage licenses be put on hold, but allowed clerks to accept applications for licenses.

SF Gate has more details:

…the victory for supporters of the Kansas Constitution’s ban on gay marriage could be short-lived. The state’s highest court signaled in its brief order that it has questions about whether the ban is permissible under recent federal court rulings, and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn it… The state’s highest court blocked the granting of further marriage licenses for gay couples “in the interest of establishing statewide consistency,” said its order, signed by Chief Justice Lawton Nuss. But the court cited recent federal court decisions striking down other states’ bans and said it would consider arguments on whether the ban remains permissible under the U.S. Constitution. The court set a hearing for Nov. 6 — two days after the general election.

Governor Sam Brownback, fighting for his political life in the state, reiterated his support for the ban. SDGLN reports:

Embattled Gov. Sam Brownback, a far-right Republican fighting for re-election, said in a statement that he would uphold the state constitution. Voters amended the state constitution to ban gay marriage. Brownback and Schmidt are waging a fruitless battle to stop gay marriages because of the 10th Circuit ruling, which the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let stand as the law. Critics say they are playing politics in an election year and wasting taxpayer money to fight a losing cause.

So now we wait to see which gets there first – the Supreme Court hearing or the Federal one.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Kansas.

Nevada Weddings Finally Begin

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Nevada mapIt’s been a bumpy road over the last several days, but weddings have finally begin for same sex couples in Nevada.

Here’s what happened yesterday. First off, the Supreme Court admitted it had mistakenly blocked marriage equality in the state when it issued its stay for Iowa.

The Huffington Post reports:

The Supreme Court spokeswoman says Justice Anthony Kennedy mistakenly blocked the start of same-sex marriage in Nevada in an order that spawned confusion among state officials and disappointment in couples hoping to be wed. Spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said Thursday that Kennedy’s order issued a day earlier was an error that the justice corrected with a second order several hours later. By that time, however, Nevada officials had decided to hold off on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples until they could be certain the legal situation was settled.

Then the group that had tried to intervene to preserve the ban dropped its challenge. SDGLN reports:

An anti-gay group that on Wednesday filed paperwork with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in Nevada’s gay-marriage case on Thursday withdrew its motions. The anti-gay Coalition for the Protection of Marriage did not give a reason for the withdrawals, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Lambda Legal, which challenged Nevada’s ban in district and appellate courts, confirmed to the newspaper that the motions were withdrawn on Thursday morning. One reason could be that the group has no legal standing in the court to defend “traditional” marriage between one man, one woman. The State of Nevada has declined to defend the ban, agreeing with both the district court and Ninth Circuit ruling that the ban is unconstitutional.

Then a Federal Judge signed an injunction to allow weddings to begin in the state. The Reno Gazette Journal reports:

The legal filing states the state and its political subdivisions cannot enforce any law that prevents “otherwise qualified same-sex couples from marrying, or denying recognition to marriages celebrated in other jurisdictions which, if the spouses were not of the same sex, would be valid under the laws of the state.”

Governor Sandoval and Attorney General Masto agreed it was a done deal. The Reno Gazette Journal reports:

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto issued joint statements on Thursday evening after a federal judge signed an injunction allowing gay marriage in Nevada. “This action brings finality to the issue of same sex marriage in Nevada,” Sandoval said. Cortez Masto said: “Based on this most recent action from the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada there are no remaining legal requirements that prevent Nevada county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples.”

Then the Ninth Circuit concurred. The Reno Gazette Journal reports:

A federal appeals court has again declared that same-sex couples can get married in Nevada. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Thursday that its ruling striking down Nevada’s gay marriage ban is “in full force and effect.” The appeals court ordered a trial court judge in Las Vegas to adopt its ruling as soon as possible.

Las Vegas weding chapels are ready for the new newlyweds. Watermark reports:

Las Vegas saw this moment coming and prepared accordingly. The county’s marriage licenses went gender-neutral a couple weeks ago, just in case. The Chapel of the Flowers had its photographers practice with models to see how they might best shoot two brides in gowns. Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapels, which is gay-owned and operated, already hosts about 500 same-sex commitment ceremonies each year, said General Manager Brian Mills, who doubles as an officiant, often times in costume. In October, one of the chapel’s busiest months, he could be Dracula for one couple and the Grim Reaper the next.

And wedding licenses are now being officially issued to same sex couples in the state. On Top Magazine reports:

Nevada officials in one county have started issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, two days after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco struck down restrictive marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho.

Wedding bells are now starting to ring all across Nevada!

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Nevada.

Marriage Equality: What’s Going On in South Carolina

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

South Carolina MapOK, now we turn to another hotbed in the marriage equality fight, South Carolina. Here’s what’s going on there.

The US Supreme Court’s inaction on the Virginia marriage equality case meant that South Carolina, in the same circuit, would soon be subject to the VA ruling. The Attorney General, Alan Wilson, vowed to continue the fight, and then a judge issued a marriage license to two Charleston County women. The AP reports:

A South Carolina court has issued a marriage license to a same-sex couple despite the state’s constitutional ban against the practice and the attorney general’s pledge to defend it. Charleston County Probate Judge Irvin Condon issued the license Wednesday morning to two women: Charleston County Councilwoman Colleen Condon and Nichols Bleckley. Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal of a ruling allowing same-sex marriage by a federal appeals court with jurisdiction over South Carolina. In a statement, Condon said that as a result, his court is required to accept and issue marriage licenses.

The AG tried to get the state Supreme Court to block the license. LGBTQ Nation reports:

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson is asking the state Supreme Court to stop a Charleston County judge from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Wilson’s office filed its petition late Wednesday afternoon. Attorneys for the state say that the legal issues around whether same-sex marriage is legal in South Carolina remains unsettled. They cite a Wednesday decision by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy temporarily blocking gay marriage in Idaho and a pending South Carolina case.

Then several counties themselves got into the act. The State reports:

Richland and Charleston counties are accepting marriage license applications from same-sex couples starting Wednesday despite the state’s constitutional ban against the practice and the attorney general’s pledge to defend it. Richland County Probate Judge Amy McCulloch said she accepted applications for the first time because, “I believe it’s time for this to change. It’s a fundamental right to be with who you want to be with,” McCulloch said. McCulloch said she changed categories on the county’s marriage license paper application from “bride” and “groom” to “Applicant 1” and “Applicant 2.” Like Charleston County Probate Judge Irvin Condon, McCulloch said she is waiting to see how the S.C. Attorney General’s office or S.C. Supreme Court reacts to taking marriage-license applications from same-sex couples. The S.C. Attorney General’s office had no comment, a spokesman said.

There’s a 24 hour waiting period on marriage licenses in the state. The deadline has passed, but the State Supreme Court is meeting this morning. Joe.My.God reports:

Yesterday more than a dozen same-sex couples were issued marriage license applications in South Carolina. The one day waiting period for the licenses to become valid elapsed at 9AM. The local ABC News affiliate reports on Twitter that the state Supreme Court is meeting right now to consider state Attorney General Alan Wilson’s motion to block those licenses. Stand by.

So just as in Idaho and Nevada, we wait.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in South Carolina.

Nevada Same Sex Weddings to Begin at 2 PM Wednesday

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Bellagio Las Vegas, NevadaOne county is moving ahead right away with same sex weddings after the state’s marriage equality ban was struck down this morning.

8 News Now reports:

Clark County said it will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting at 2 p.m. Oct. 8. Originally, they had planned to start issuing them Oct. 28. Cheers and applause erupted inside The Center, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization, moments after the county announced the marriage licenses would be available sooner than originally thought. The Tuesday order by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to the federal court in Nevada for a final order invalidating the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Las Vegas should be a gold-mine for marriage equality, don’t you think?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Nevada.