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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.

Virginia Marriage Equality Updates

Monday, August 18th, 2014

VirginiaVirginia marriage equality took some twists and turns today.

First off, the ACLU is asking the US Supreme Court to allow weddings to go ahead later this week.

SDGLN reports:

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Virginia and Lambda Legal today will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to deny the motion filed Thursday by Prince William County Clerk Michele McQuigg seeking to stay the recent Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Schaefer v. Bostic striking down Virginia’s discriminatory marriage ban. They will join the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the primary sponsor of the Bostic case. Chief Justice John Roberts, the Circuit Justice for the Fourth Circuit, is overseeing the request, and last Friday he set a deadline of 5 pm Monday EST for responses.

But according to NBC4, the AG may have cut a deal to delay the weddings.

NBC4 reports:

Gay marriage in Virginia was set to begin on Thursday — but now, the state’s Attorney General has said he agrees to a delay. Attorney General Mark Herring also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case quickly and settle the issue. The move seems designed to prevent what has happened in states including Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Wisconsin, where gay-marriage bans have been struck down by courts and then reinstated on appeal.

The Washington Blade explains the state’s position:

Virginia Solicitor General Stuart Raphael, who takes a different approach in the 19-page filing he submitted before the Supreme Court, saying harm may occur either way and a stay on Virginia same-sex marriages is the best option. “Irreparable harm is threatened whichever way the Court decides the stay request, although determining if the harm is irreparable depends on whether Virginia’s ban is unconstitutional,” Raphael writes. “Under these circumstances, the balance of hardships favors a stay. The unintended consequences and injury to third parties if this Court were to permit the district court’s injunction to take effect prematurely and later uphold Virginia’s ban are greater than the injury to the named plaintiffs if the stay is granted but the ban is later invalidated.”

Does the state’s capitulation make it much more likely a stay will be issued?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Virginia.

Virginia Marriage Equality Ruling Updates

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

VirginiaYesterday, the Fourth Circuit struck down the Virginia marriage equality ban.

But we’re not there yet, as Lambda Legal’s Jon Davidson cautions.

Joe.My.God reports:

Today’s 4th Circuit decision is not yet final. It won’t be final until at least August 18th (it could be longer if a petition for rehearing is sought) and, of course, a stay of today’s decision by the 4th Circuit or the Supreme Court might be sought by the clerks who defended the Virginia marriage ban. In addition, while nothing in the decision is unique to Virginia law and, once it becomes final, it will be binding precedent on the district courts in North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia, the decision itself does not order the clerks in North Carolina, South Carolina or West Virginia to do anything. Nonetheless, just as the Boulder County clerk decided to allow same-sex couples to marry once the 10th Circuit issued its decision invalidating Utah’s marriage ban, clerks in North Carolina, South Carolina or West Virginia might conclude that their obligation to follow the mandates of the U.S. Constitution (as now explicated by the 4th Circuit) overrides their duty to follow state law.

So we could see same sex weddings as soon as 8/18 in the three states, although it is unclear if they will ultimately be declared valid.

Queerty flags five great quotes from the ruling, including:

The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.

In neighboring West Virginia, the AG is taking a wait-and-see approach, as Dave Boucher tweets:

“Office of @WestVirginiaAG (arguing in support of same-sex marriage ban in WV case) is “withholding comment on Va. case until decision final… West Virginia’s case remains pending so… marriage laws are still in effect as enacted by the legislature.”

Now we wait to see if a stay is enacted in the Virginia case.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Virginia.

Wisconsin Marriage Equality Updates

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Wisconsin MapThe battle over Wisconsin marriage equality marches on. A few new developments:

The Seventh Circuit muddied the waters a bit yesterday.

The Journal-Sentinel reports:

…the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago issued two orders that canceled one another out. In so doing, the appellate court underlined the fact that for now it is up to county and state officials and, potentially, state courts to decide whether same-sex unions continue and are recognized. In a one-sentence order issued late Monday, the 7th Circuit had asked parties in the case to file papers by 5 p.m. Wednesday addressing whether the appellate court has jurisdiction in the federal lawsuit that resulted in the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage being struck down.

But after further review, the panel of appellate judges Richard A. Posner, Michael S. Kanne and Ilana Diamond Rovner issued two more orders Tuesday responding to a motion by Van Hollen that sought a temporary halt to same-sex unions happening around Wisconsin. The three-judge panel noted in one of Tuesday’s orders that the judge in the original court in Madison has yet to issue a final order in the case. They ordered Van Hollen to respond by June 23 on whether the appellate court can even take up any appeal before Crabb issues an injunction blocking state officials from enforcing the marriage ban.

“The (district) court has yet to determine the specifics of the injunctive relief which it intends to enter,” the 7th Circuit order reads. “…In short, this case is not at an end in the district court.” But the panel then quickly vacated this Tuesday order, saying it had been issued in error. It was unclear whether the error was in the legal reasoning of the order or simply in an administrative goof that resulted in the order’s premature release.

So clear as mud.

In other news, as of the last count, 49 of the state’s 72 counties were now issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Watermark Online reports:

The number of Wisconsin counties issuing licenses to same-sex couples who want to get married is up to 49. Shawano County Clerk Rosemary Rueckert and Eau Claire County Clerk Janet Loomis said June 10 that their offices are now accepting applications for licenses. At nearly the same time, an employee in the Sawyer County clerk’s office said the clerk there had decided to wait until there was more definite direction from the state.

Meanwhile, the state is holding on to the marriage licenses and not yet processing them.

Dot429 reports:

Wisconsin is currently electing to hold rather than process same-sex couples’ marriage licenses, due to conflicting statements on the legality of marriage equality in the state. A spokesperson for the Wisconsin Vital Records Office, Jennifer Miller, told the Journal Times that they are waiting on legal guidance from Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen… Dane County Register of Deeds Kristi Chlebowski pointed out that legally speaking, a couple is considered to be married after they have held a ceremony, their marriage license is completed by their wedding officiant, and it is signed by two witnesses, whether or not their state’s office files a record of the license.

Surprisingly, even some conservatives are supporting marriage equality in the state/

The Cap Times reports:

“Conservatives, it’s time to let gay marriage go,” declared an article promoted by RightWisconsin, a leading conservative website run by Milwaukee talk radio host Charlie Sykes. The author of the article, who writes under the pseudonym Conservative Consigliore, wrote that the fight against gay marriage was “a loser politically, an embarrassment socially, and a raving hypocrisy morally.”

We’re still waiting on word of when the Seventh Circuit will rule on a stay. Will all the gays and lesbians in the state be married by then? 🙂

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Wisconsin.

Transgender Updates 4/26/14

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Transgender FlagThere’s a lot happening these days involving transgender rights – here are some of the stories from the last 24 hours.

Indonesia: A school for transgender women that had to close when its founder passed away last month has reopened in a new location. full story

USA, Connecticut: A 16-year-old transgender girl who was transferred into adult prison is speaking out about the experience. full story

USA, Pennsylvania: Philadelphia Representative Mark Cohen plans to introduce a series of transgender rights bills to get the conversation started in the state. full story

USA, Texas: A transgender teacher who was suspended in Texas after parents complained will be allowed to return to work, but will not be permitted to work with kids. full story

Marriage Equality Round-Up 10/13/13

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Gay RightsHere’s our daily quick round-up of the stories we don’t have time to add as individual blog posts. Hopefully we’ll be able to get more news and analyses to you this way. Let us know what you think!

Egypt: Fourteen men were arrested at a medical center for “homosexual acts”. full story

Russia: A gay rights rally in St. Petersburg, Russia descended into violence when the protesters were attacked. full story

Thailand: It’s time for marriage equality in Thailand, one student says. full story

United Kingdom: A new poll shows that one in 6 gays has been the victim of a hate crime. full story

USA: LGBTQ Nation profiles human rights activist Mandy Carter. full story

USA: Fifteen years after the brutal death of Matthew Shepard, his mother reflects on how much hasn’t changed. full story

USA, Utah: KUTV tells us more about the briefs filed by both sides in the marriage equality lawsuit. full story

Transgender Updates – Washington DC, Delaware, US Military

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Some updates on the transgender rights front today. First off, from Washington DC, a bill to make it easier to change your sex on your birth certificate advanced this week. The Washington Blade reports:

The bill, written by Council member David Catania (I-At-Large), is called the JaParker Deoni Jones Birth Certificate Equality Amendment Act of 2013 in honor of the transgender woman who was murdered in February 2012 while waiting for a bus in Northeast D.C. “D.C. only allows trans people to change their birth certificate if those requesting changes have had sex-reassignment surgery,” Andy Bowen of the D.C. Trans Coalition told the Council’s Committee on Health at a May 16 hearing on the bill. “This surgery costs many thousands of dollars,” Bowen said. “It is out of reach for the primarily low-income transgender population. It is not covered by most insurance policies. And it is not medically safe for some people.” Bowen and other transgender advocates and their supporters told the committee that for many transgender people, surgery isn’t necessary for them to transition to another gender.

In Delaware, the state Senate voted to add gender identity to hate crimes laws. Think Progress reports:

The Delaware Senate voted 11-7 Thursday to approve a bill that will add gender identity to the state’s hate crimes and nondiscrimination laws. This includes protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations. It now goes to the House for consideration. When Delaware approved marriage equality earlier this year, the Senate’s vote was 12-9.

And finally, a former Navy Seal who has transitioned gave interview to Andersen Cooper at CNN:

After years spent fighting in some of the world’s worst wars, former U.S. Navy SEAL Kristin Beck says she knows what she wants. “I want to have my life,” she told CNN’s “AC360” in an exclusive Thursday night. “I fought for 20 years for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I want some happiness.” Beck recently came out as transgender.

One more – a bill in Arizona that would have undone transgender protections in Phoenix has been dropped. On Top Magazine reports:

Republican Representative John Kavanagh’s original bill introduced in March sought to make it a misdemeanor for a person to use a public bathroom, shower, or locker room associated with a gender other than what it states on his or her birth certificate… According to the AP, Kavanagh said that he was tabling the measure for this session after some members in his caucus had expressed concern about some of his proposed definitions.

This one has the potential to create real change. What profession is more macho than being a Navy Seal? And if one of these guys can come out as transgender, who can’t? Slow but steady steps toward equality…

UK: Updates on the Marriage Equality Bill

Friday, June 7th, 2013

LondonA few new things coming out of the UK on the pending marriage equality bill.

First off, a former MP is trashing Prime Minister Cameron over the bill. Pink News reports:

Former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe says she wouldn’t have enjoyed being in the current Coalition Government because of its support for equal marriage. Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, Ms Widdecombe said: “I wouldn’t have enjoyed coalition. I certainly would not have been at one with him [Cameron] over gay marriage, and I don’t like this thing of image, image, image.” … “Marriage isn’t about two people; it is the basis for the family. That’s why it’s unique, and therefore I think society can say we’re keeping marriage for a man and a woman.”

Pink News also reports that Labour Lord Alli is advising caution, even though the House of Lords passed the bill on its second reading:

We won the vote, but there is still a long way to go. The further stages of the bill will see opponents deploy every tactic and wheeze to try and scupper the legislation. I am grateful to all of you who have put so much effort into supporting marriage equality, lobbying peers and delivering that fantastic 390 – 148 we saw on Tuesday. But we can’t stop now. The bill comes back in committee the week commencing 17th June, it will have its report stage 8th July and third reading on the 15th July. We need all our supporters with us every step of the way. Please write to those who voted for the bill to thank them. Say how much this legislation means to you. And urge them to be there for the crucial votes that are still to come.

The infamous Lord Dear may also try to “wreck” the bill again. Pink News reports:

In an email to Labour peers, seen by City A.M., Lord Alli states that Lord Dear “has asked for his supporters to be ready” on 17 June to vote for the removal of clause one from the bill. This clause includes the crucial statement that “marriage of same-sex couples is lawful”. A separate email sent to Labour peers says: “We are aware that Lord Dear is intending to put down an amendment to oppose Clause 1 of the bill. This is likely to come fairly early on Monday 17th.”

And finally, also from Pink News, a new poll shows that voters are unlikely to vote for a different party over the marriage equality vote:

A total of 2,060 adults were interviewed online, and 1,007 by telephone, between 31 May and 2 June for the survey. 12% said they were in favour of the government legalising equal marriage and would be more likely to vote for a party that changed the law to allow same-sex marriage. 33% said they were in favour of the idea but that the issue would not make any difference to how they would vote in an election. 23% have no opinion either way and 18% are opposed to the idea but it would not make any difference to them at the ballot box. Only 15% would be less likely to vote for a party that changed the law to allow same-sex marriage.

One more: The Catholic Church says they are not done fighting the bill, unlike the Church of England. Pink News reports:

The Catholic Church says it plans to continue actively opposing the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill on the grounds of religious “protections” following this week’s vote in the House of Lords. A spokesman for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said: “The Church’s principled objection to the legal re-definition of marriage is consistently and clearly set out. “Following the bill’s second reading in the House of Lords, the Church’s aim is to ensure the bill, as it goes to committee stage, is amended so that it effectively delivers the protections that the government promised to provide for schools, religious organisations and individuals.”

No dates yet for the next stages of the bill in the UK. We’re waiting…

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in the United Kingdom.

USA: Senate Marriage Equality Updates – Senator Pryor Opposed; Senator Collins Hedges

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

CongressOne of the three remaining democratic Senate holdouts on marriage equality, Arkansas’ Senator Mark Pryor, clarified his stance yesterday – it’s a no. Towleroad.com reports:

“I am opposed to gay marriage,” he said in an e-mail. “In the interview with KFSM done on April 5, I also discussed whether gay couples should receive benefits if they work for the federal government. On the benefits issue, I said to ‘put me down in the undecided category.’ By that I meant that, depending on what the U.S. Supreme Court decides, I will evaluate whether federal benefits should be available to gay couples. Of course, I will consider the impact any extension of benefits would have on the federal budget.”

Meanwhile, a GOP Senator whom many had thought might be the next one to endorse marriage equality is firmly on the fence, for now. Towleroad.com reports:

“My view is the same that it’s always been,” Collins told The Huffington Post. “I think this is a matter of state law.” Collins, a moderate Republican up for reelection in 2014, said states have traditionally handled family law and should continue to do so. She noted that she voted twice, in 2004 and in 2006, against federal constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage because, “I believe it should be left up to the states.”

One of the, by now standard squishy positions.

NY: Updates on the Marriage Equality Bill

Friday, June 24th, 2011

As you may have heard, the Senate closed down last night around 11 pm to reconvene this morning at 10 am with a conference at 9:30. There are still plenty of measures left to address including marriage equality.

I know this has been going on forever, but one more call to those Senators will really help. Here are a bunch of updates to get you up to speed:

New Yorkers United for Marriage released a statement late last night after the Senate decided to adjourn demanding that a vote be taken on marriage equality, reports Politics on the Hudson:

The Senate adjourned about 11 p.m. because lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo haven’t reached an agreement on the mandate-relief portion of an omnibus bill that will also include a property-tax cap and renewal of rent-control laws. Senate Republicans, who control the chamber, had planned to conference on gay marriage after finishing its other business, but the bills won’t be ready for hours.

Full Story from Towleroad.com

Click here for gay marriage resources in New York.

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