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Comparing the Sixth Circuit Marriage Equality Ruling to The Others

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Gay WeddingThe AP has a great breakdown of the Sixth Circuit marriage equality smack down versus earlier cases.

CBS Detroit reports:

Breaking ranks with rulings from other federal courts, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Ohio upholds gay marriage bans in four states, including Michigan, saying the courts aren’t the right place to legalize gay marriage. Here’s a look at some key passages and how they compare to previous federal rulings:

1. Children

The Latest: The 6th Circuit ruling says that limiting unions to being only between a man and a woman is a view shared “not long ago by every society in the world, shared by most, if not all, of our ancestors, and shared still today by a significant number of the States. People may not need the government’s encouragement to have sex or “propagate the species,” it says, but may need encouragement to “create and maintain stable relationships within which children may flourish.”

“Imagine a society without marriage. It does not take long to envision problems that might result from an absence of rules about how to handle the natural effects of male-female intercourse: children,” the opinion says. “May men and women follow their procreative urges wherever they take them? Who is responsible for the children that result?”

The judges acknowledge that gay and lesbian couples are equally capable of being in loving, committed relationships and effectively raising children. But those facts don’t mean states must suddenly believe gay marriage bans violate the constitution, the opinion says.

Earlier Rulings: The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit said the proposition that children suffer in same-sex households “reflects a crass and callous view of parental love and the parental bond that is not worthy of response. We reject it out of hand.”

The Denver-based 10th Circuit scoffed at the attempts by Utah and other states to use procreation as a justification for gay marriage bans. In a majority opinion written by Judge Carlos Lucero, the court pointed out that adoptive parents and opposite-sex couples who rely on assistance to get pregnant aren’t denied the right to marry. They said they don’t buy the contention that same-sex couples are inferior parents.

It’s a great breakdown – read the whole thing.

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Marriage Equality: What’s Going On in North Carolina

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

North Carolina MapNorth Carolina is another of the states that was impacted by the Supreme Court’s rejection of the Virginia case. Here’s what’s happening there.

There are two cases in the state that could bring down the ban once and for all. The News Observer reports:

Two federal judges – one in Asheville and another in Greensboro – have cases before them that could nullify North Carolina’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. News of a possible ruling in either case late Wednesday afternoon sent same-sex couples across the state to county offices with hopes of getting a marriage license and being a part of North Carolina history.

Stays in both cases were lifted. NBC reports:

A federal judge has lifted stays on two American Civil Liberties Union lawsuits that could clear the way for same-sex marriages in North Carolina. Judge William Osteen of the federal Middle District in Greensboro on Wednesday lifted a stay in two cases involving same-sex couples who wish to marry. Mike Meno, a spokesman for the ACLU of North Carolina, told WNCN that Osteen asked for a motion from the ACLU on the gay marriage issue. Meno said the ACLU expects Osteen to rule that gay North Carolinians may marry as soon as late Wednesday afternoon or Thursday. Federal courts generally close at 5 p.m., so Meno said the ACLU lawyers were working urgently to get a motion to the court in Greensboro.

But o rulings have been handed down yet. The News Observer reports:

In Wake County, Chad Biggs, 35, a sheriff’s deputy, was working inside the Justice Center in downtown Raleigh when he learned that marriage licenses might be available soon to same-sex couples. “I got the news, and I was the first one to rush here,” Biggs said. “This is historic, a truly memorable time for North Carolina.” But history did not happen before the register of deeds office closed for the day. There were no rulings on the ban from the federal courts in North Carolina before 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The GOP in the state is not giving up, yet:

Phil Berger, the N.C. Senate president pro tem, and Thom Tillis, the speaker of the N.C. House, said they planned to hire outside counsel and try to become parties in the lawsuits. By late Wednesday, though, the legislative leaders had not submitted court documents asking a judge to allow them to intervene.

So now we wait for the ruling or rulings.

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The Hidden Message in the Supreme Court’s Recent Marriage Rulings

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

US Supreme Court Color

When it comes to forecasting what the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are going to do, there are only two kinds of prediction: vague ones and wrong ones.

That’s because it’s simply impossible to guess how the highest court in the land will rule — no matter how clear the tea leaves seem, there will always be a surprise or two tucked in to any decision. Nevertheless, there is still meaning and import to be found in the court’s recent decisions around the freedom to marry.

It was in June of 2013 that the court ruled in the Proposition 8 and Defense of Marriage Act cases, effectively relegalizing marriage in California and gutting the federal marriage ban. Since then, the court has issued five very sparse rulings. None of those rulings has explicitly addressed the constitutionality of marriage, but each one contains a hint of the court’s attitude on the issue.

Authored By Matt Baume – See the Full Story at The Advocate

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On That Tennessee Marriage Equality Ruling

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Circuit Judge Russell E. Simmons, Jr.It finally happened. After a string of court victories for marriage equality, Circuit Court Judge Russell E. Simmons Jr., upheld Tennessee’s amendment against same-sex marriage, becoming the first jurist to uphold such a ban since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act last year.

Having not won a case in almost 14 months, opponents of same-sex marriage were understandably excited. Less expected was the fatalism of allegedly unbiased journalists and even some supporters of marriage equality. It seemed that the end of the streak was the end of all hope. People who were beginning to think there might not be a federal circuit court split were again certain that marriage equality was on its way back to the Supreme Court. A run of losses might be in the making.

Fortunately, that’s not how streaks work, with the possible exception of Lou Gehrig, who never played after the end of his 2,130 consecutive game streak. Most “endings” are a blip on the radar before the resumption of excellence. Cal Ripken Jr., had one of his best statistical seasons the year after he ended his Gehrig-besting streak at 2,632 games. Despite ending his hitting streak at 56 games, Joe DiMaggio was an All Star and the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1941, and went on to another MVP trophy, seven more All Star games, and the Hall of Fame. Muhammad Ali won 31 straight fights before losing to Joe Frazier in 1971, but went on to reclaim the heavyweight title.

Authored By Joel Trambley – See the Full Story at LGBT Weekly

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Marriage Equality Decision Day Events Planned Across Florida

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Equality FloridaFlorida’s LGBT community and supporters are still waiting for the ruling that could change their lives.

A lawsuit was filed back in January by six same-sex couples and the Equality Florida Institute in the state courts of Miami, stating that Amendment 2 in the Florida Constitution banning same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. Miami Dade Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel heard arguments in that case July 2 and has yet to issue a ruling.

A gay couple in Monroe County filed a similar lawsuit against Monroe County City Clerk Amy Heavilin for refusing to issue a marriage license to the couple because of the ban on same-sex marriage.

Equality Florida and other LGBT organizations are organizing “Decision Day” gatherings across the state to celebrate the cases regardless of the decisions. There are 11 gatherings planned across Florida on the day of the decision at 6 p.m.

Authored By Christal Hayes – See the Full Story at Watermark

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Even Conservative Judges Can’t Deny Marriage Equality

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

Gay WeddingWho would have thought, just a few years ago, that the states on the vanguard of marriage equality would be the deepest red states? But here we are: From December’s decision in Utah to the past two weeks in Arkansas and now Idaho, we’ve seen a string of a dozen decisions, largely in red and purple states, each declaring bans of same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.

How can this be happening? What was in recent memory one of the most hotly contested political and legal issues–an issue that continues to divide the parties at the state and national levels–has become a rare island of consensus in the courts. To be sure, cracks are likely to appear as the cases progress through the appellate process. But the degree to which liberal and conservative judges in red, blue, and purple states alike have agreed on this issue is stunning. What explains this turnabout?

Start with the legal reasons. Courts are implementing Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in last year’s Windsor v. United States, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. Many legal commentators were frustrated that Justice Kennedy avoided the doctrinal apparatus of “tiers of scrutiny” and “levels of review.” But these commentators were missing the point. Rather than hiding behind esoteric doctrinal tests, Kennedy focused directly on the core principle enforced by the constitutional guarantees of equality in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments–the principle of equal membership in the community.

Authored By Margo Schlanger – See the Full Story at the Daily Beast

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USA, New Mexico: Marriage Equality Fight Updates

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

New Mexico MapThere’s still a lot going on in New Mexico on the marriage equality front. Here are a few of the updates.

One County Clerk is explicitly saying she will not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, at least not until a judge tells her to. The Daily Times reports:

San Juan County has never issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Holmes said she has been advised by the county’s legal department not to issue them. “I’m waiting for someone to sue me, and that’s certainly something they can do,” she said. “I feel like I need to follow the law as I’ve been told how to do it.” Holmes said her staff has indicated that at least one same-sex couple “mentioned” suing the county on Monday because the clerk’s office didn’t give the couple a marriage license.

The Washington Post looks at the situation in the other counties:

But whether the rulings means same-sex marriage is legal throughout New Mexico is unclear. Attorney General Gary King (D) has said he will not appeal the rulings, and both Oliver and Salazar have said their offices won’t appeal. Clerks in the 28 other counties can choose to follow existing case law and issue their own same-sex marriage licenses, or they could wait to issue licenses until they are compelled by a court order to do so, according to Cathryn Oakley, an attorney for the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-gay rights group in Washington.

Edge Boston reports that the marriages, for now, may be legally valid:

In the meantime, recently married couples aren’t caught in legal limbo, according to Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, a professor of family law at the University of New Mexico. She said Wednesday the marriages are legally sound, even if the state Supreme Court were to override recent district judge’s rulings that ordered clerks to issue licenses. “In New Mexico, the legal policy is marriages are presumed valid until a court declares them invalid (on an individual basis),” said Sedillo Lopez.

And New Mexico’s Atty. Gen. Gary King extends the same line of reasoning to marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples in Sandoval County in 2004. LGBTQ Nation reports:

Attorney General Gary King says marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples in 2004 in New Mexico’s Sandoval County remain valid. King said Wednesday that licenses issued by a county clerk are “presumptively valid” unless voided by a court. King delivered the non-binding advice in a letter to the current Sandoval County clerk, who found that some of the 2004 licenses recorded in the clerk’s office were labeled as void or invalid.

In Dona Ana County, the county to start this all, County commissioners voted 4-1 to support the County Clerk and marriage licenses for same-sex couples. KRWG reports:

Both those in favor and those opposed had to come to terms with whether this was legal or not. That’s something the county commission would decide. On the agenda — item number 17 – a resolution supporting marriage equality and county clerk Lynn Ellins’ decision to issue licenses to same-sex couples. “The happiness that I and my dedicated staff…has seen has been overwhelming,” said Ellins… The commission approved the resolution 4 – 1. Ellins is allowed to continue issuing the licenses for now.

Not everyone is thrilled with the sudden rush to the altar. The Hill reports:

Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) said the decision would cause confusion and ultimately frustration, implying that the ruling would not hold up for long. “The reckless actions of this judge acting on personal opinion and ignoring legislative procedure threatens serious confusion, frustration, and pain for those who are being led to believe that the law has changed,” Pearce said in a statement to The Hill. District Judge Alan Malott’s ruling earlier this week cleared the way for county clerks in the state to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Activist judges blah blah blah – we’ve heard this all before.

What do you think will happen next? What do you think should happen next?

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Modern Family to Address Marriage Equality in First Episode This Fall

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Cam Mitchell Modern FamilyThe TV show Modern Family plans to deal with the US Supreme Court rulings on marriage equality this fall. reports:

Without revealing any plot spoilers, the first episode of Modern Family’s upcoming fifth season will take on the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in California. At tonight’s onstage “table read” of the episode for an audience of Emmy voters at Fox Studios, executive producer Steven Levitan pleaded with tweeters not to spoil any surprises while at the same time acknowledging that a plot tweet was likely to escape.

Can’t wait – the episode will air on September 25th.

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USA: Prop 8 / DOMA Last Minute Speculation & Analysis

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Defense of Marriage ActWe are literally down to the wire on the release of the US Supreme Court decisions on marriage equality. So we thought we’d wrap up the last few stories of speculative and analysis on the cases for the court rules.

We’ll start with Toby Plakas at the Sun-Sentinel, who thinks the GOP needs the Supreme Court to help them out on the issue:

Republicans are in dire need of a Supreme Court bailout on marriage. They need the Court to resolve this conflict for them, because doing it any other way will be the harder road to travel. After years of relying on marriage as a hot-button issue to drive voters to the polls, Republicans are now either running from the issue altogether, or coming out in support of same-sex marriage. As I’ve said before, “When your horse is dead, dismount. And never let anyone see you check for a heartbeat.”

Over at Joe.My.God, Joe points us to a video by the American Family Association’s Brian Fischer where he makes the strangely circular argument that it would be unconstitutional to rule DOMA unconstitutional.

NON Hate AvatarAnd in the wake of HRC launching the very popular red equality avatar, NOM is launching one of their own blue one. Joe.My.God reports:

The tweet: “Please make this your avatar as we prepare to #SpeaktheTruth about #marriage when the #SupremeCourt rules!”

NOM also checks in with this lie. Joe.My.God reports:

A broad ruling in favor of redefining marriage would be represent the most urgent threat to the religious freedom of pro-marriage Catholics and other Christians we have ever witnessed in this country. Countries that have redefined marriage (think Canada) are actively and aggressively fining and imprisoning Christian pastors and Catholic priests and bishops who continue to speak the truth about marriage and human sexuality from the pulpit.” – NOM communications director Thomas Peters, writing for Catholic Vote.

NOM also chimes in with another lie. As Joe notes:

The only Canadian pastor ever fined for anti-gay hate speech was Stephen Boissoin, whose 2002 penalty was overturned was in 2009. So not only has no Canadian religious figure ever been “imprisoned” for opposing gay marriage, not one has ever so much as paid a fine.

Over at ABC News, they have a primer on the two cases:

Prop 8: Two same-sex couples — Kristin M. Perry and Sandra B. Stier, and Paul T. Katami and Jeffrey J. Zarrillo — are challenging California’s ballot initiative that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Although the court could rule more narrowly, this case asks the question of whether there is a fundamental right to gay marriage.

And last but not least, we end on a hopeful note from out gay actor Zachary Quinto. Pink News reports:

“We’ll see what happens… I’m certainly not going to hazard against it to say what happens, but I hope it’s a galvanizing moment, and I’m hopeful that [equal marriage] will be supported and we’ll continue to move forward.”

Just over an hour left to go. Feel like I swallowed a net full of butterflies.

USA: No Supreme Court Ruling Once Again Today on Marriage Equality Cases

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

US Supreme CourtThe US Supreme Court seems to be saving the best for last. Over 116,000 people came to the SCOTUS Blog at 10 AM Eastern today to see if the Prop 8 and DOMA decisions were released.

Instead three other decisions were handed down, including a property rights dispute from Florida, one regarding an adopted child and the biological father’s rights, and the striking down of Section 4 of the Voting Rights act, a deep disappointment.

Now we wait for the final decision day – the Court just announced that it will be tomorrow, Wednesday, 6/26, at 10 AM.