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The 1958 US Supreme Court Ruling That Started it All

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

One

The road to gay rights at the U.S. Supreme Court began not in San Francisco or New York, but in a small downtown Los Angeles office, where volunteer writers and editors in 1953 launched a new “magazine for homosexuals.”

ONE, as it was called, offered thoughtful articles, defiant editorials and none of the racy photos or sex ads often found in the gay press. “The first issue was sold in bars in the Los Angeles area for 25 cents, about the price of a draft beer,” said Michael C. Oliveira, an archivist at the magazine’s archives housed at the USC Library.

Yet in an era when FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was routing out “sex deviates” from the government and homosexuality was a crime in every state, the journal quickly drew negative attention, culminating with a U.S. Post Office ban of the magazine as “obscene.” The cover story of the first issue censored by the postmaster proved decades ahead of its time, asking “Homosexual Marriage?”

To the rescue came a young, straight California attorney fresh out of law school.

Authored By David G. Savage – See the Full Story at The Los Angeles Times

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Supreme Court Marriage Equality Case Conference Analysis

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

US Supreme Court ColorAs you know, the justices of the Supreme Court met in private today to discuss, among many other things, whether to take any of the marriage equality cases out of the Sixth Circuit.

If you recall, the Sixth Circuit upheld bans on the freedom to marry, making it the only federal appellate court in the post-Windsor world to do so. The plaintiffs in the various cases on appeal — from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee — appealed and asked the Supreme Court to take their cases and reverse the appellate court. The justice considered those petitions in conference today. But we didn’t get an order granting or denying review. That’s ok.

1. The justices had a lot to discuss. In addition to the other petitions waiting on the docket, they not only had to decide whether to take a marriage equality case, they had to decide which case to take. There are several, each with unique nuances that may make them better for review. Normally, the Supreme Court wants the cleanest case: the most straightforward facts, no procedural hurdles, clear legal questions. There is strategy involved here, too.

And there’s more! The justices also had to decide how to craft the legal question they will review. In every petition for certiorari at the Court, the parties frame the legal question they say the Court must address. As any lawyer (or story teller) will tell you, how you frame the question is a big deal: it could tip the entire case in one direction. The justices have to decide whether to take the legal question as framed by a party or to change it to their liking or to take it and add questions they want answered. That kind of grant happens often.

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

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USA: Does Florida Mean Marriage Equality is a Done Deal?

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

US Supreme Court ColorThe US Supreme Court just turned down Florida’s request for an extension of the stay on a marriage equality ruling on a 7-2 vote. Is this the end for anti gay marriage forces?

John Gallagher at Queerty thinks so:

This time, however, the entire court considered the request for a stay. And in a telling action, only two justices-Antonin Scalia (of course) and Clarence Thomas-would have taken the request. That means seven justices let marriage equality take effect in Florida, including two-Chief Justice John Roberts and Samuel Alito-who dissented from the Supreme Court’s Windsor ruling.

Now, it’s entirely possible that Roberts and Alito saw the request as a narrow legal issue that the Court had no reason to get involved with. But in general they’re not especially willing to place legal reasoning above political ideology. Apparently, they don’t object to marriage equality on legal principle, or at least not enough to try to stop it in its tracks. If they wanted to take a stand, this would have been the chance. Instead, they took a pass. Which is a pretty strong signal that the majority feels that the issue is largely settled. Because there are conflicting rulings, the Court will have to weigh in on the issue at some point.

Even the strongly anti-gay Attorney General, Pam Bondi, is now conceding defeat in her state.

Pink News reports:

In a statement shortly after, Bondi – who has spent much of the past year defending her aggressive action against same-sex marriage – finally admitted defeat. She said: “Tonight, the United States Supreme Court denied the State’s request for a stay in the case before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Regardless of the ruling it has always been our goal to have uniformity throughout Florida until the final resolution of the numerous challenges to the voter-approved constitutional amendment on marriage. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court has now spoken, and the stay will end on January 5.”

Chris Johnson at The Washington Blade puts in his own two cents:

The refusal from the Supreme Court to stay same-sex marriages in Florida is noteworthy because although justices have denied similar requests to halt same-sex marriages in Alaska, Idaho, South Carolina and Kansas, they’ve never done so before in a state where a federal appeals court has yet to rule on the issue. The decision with regard to Florida could be a sign the Supreme Court is ready to rule in favor of nationwide marriage equality no matter what the federal appeals courts decide in the interim.

The fat lady may not have sung, but she’s backstage about to go on.

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Florida Marriage Equality on 1/6 After Supreme Court Declines to Extend Stay

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Rainbow FloridaMarriage equality will come to Florida next month after the US Supreme Court declined to extend the stay on a pro same sex marriage ruling.

Watermark reports:

Same-sex weddings may soon begin in Florida after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block them. The court said Friday it wouldn’t block the marriages. A federal judge previously declared Florida’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional and said same-sex marriage licenses could start being issued in the state after Jan. 5 unless the Supreme Court intervened. Most federal judges and appeals courts have ruled against state bans and gay marriages are occurring in about three dozen states. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati has upheld the right of four states to decide whether to allow gay marriage.

Florida becomes the 36th state with marriage equality, and the biggest in awhile, with large LGBT populations in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Key West.

Full Story at Watermark Online | Florida Wedding Vendors

USA, Louisiana: US Supreme Court to Look at State’s Marriage Equality Case

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Louisiana mapThe US Supreme Court has decided to at least consider taking another marriage equality case.

Equality on Trial reports:

The Supreme Court, in a brief update to the docket page for the Louisiana marriage case Robicheaux v. George, has noted that the case will be taken up in its next conference, on January 9. The case is the only one involving marriage equality that is currently listed for that conference, but the Court has a few more opportunities to add the rest of the cases.

Interestingly, the Court will consider taking the case on the same day that the Fifth Circuit hears it.

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Momentum Builds for Review of Same-Sex Marriage

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

US Supreme Court Color

A second state — Louisiana — told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the Justices should consider taking on the constitutional dispute over same-sex marriage without waiting further. It is important, the state said in urging prompt review of a federal judge’s decision upholding Louisiana’s ban on such marriages, that the Court examine the dispute in a broad context to reach all of the issues.

With the filing of Louisiana’s views, paralleling the suggestion for early review made by Michigan in another case, the Supreme Court now has two new cases nearly ready for early consideration, perhaps in time for a final decision before the end of the current Term. Other cases on the issue are pending, but if the Court waits for all of the filings to be submitted in all of the cases, that could slow the process.

If the Court does move now to review any of the new appeals, Louisiana — like Michigan — wants its own ban on same-sex marriages upheld, its new filing made clear. But, at this stage, the two states have stressed the importance of advancing the controversy toward a final resolution by the only court with authority to do that, in a case or cases which lay out the issues that will shape the outcome.

Authored By Lyle Denniston – See the Full Story at Scotus Blog

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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.

South Carolina Marriage Equality Update

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

South Carolina MapThings are moving quickly in South Carolina. Yesterday, the Fourth Circuit declined to issue a stay on same sex weddings, which were slated to begin today.

Equality on Trial reports:

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has just denied South Carolina’s request for a stay of same-sex marriages pending their appeal of the district court decision striking down the ban. The request was made days ago, along with a request for a more temporary stay so that state officials could ask the Supreme Court for relief. The order notes that both the stay pending appeal and the temporary stay are denied.

Attorney General Alan Wilson then filed a “demand” to the US Supreme Curt to step in and block the impending weddings.

On Top Magazine reports:

South Carolina on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to stay a ruling striking down the state’s ban on gay marriage as it pursues an appeal. Within hours, Wilson filed a similar request with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who oversees federal courts in South Carolina. Wilson explained in a statement that the state continues “to believe the doctrine of federalism and the Tenth Amendment should allow South Carolina’s unique laws to be considered at the highest appropriate court of appeal.”

In the meantime, a judge has issued the first marriage licenses to same sex couples in the state.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

A judge has issued the first same-sex marriage licenses in South Carolina, ahead of a planned move by the state’s attorney general to block such unions. South-CarolinaEarly Wednesday, the office of Probate Judge Irvin Condon in Charleston said that he had issued six licenses to same-sex couples. The judge’s attorney, John Nichols, says the way was cleared for issuing the licenses by a decision in a case in Columbia. On Tuesday, the judge in that case ruled that South Carolina must recognize the marriage of a same-sex couple performed in Washington, D.C.

So by my count, we have three more states that are in the middle of the process of legalizing same sex marriage, where couples can get married in some counties but not others – Kansas, Missouri and South Carolina, and at least one more where a decision is imminent – Mississippi. All in the bible belt or Deep South. Amazing.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in South Carolina.

Will Marriage Equality Arrive in South Carolina Thursday?

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

South Carolina MapThe stay on a marriage equality ruling in South Carolina is due to expire on Thursday.

Joe.My.God reports:

Late last night the plaintiffs in that case filed a motion in opposition to state Attorney General Alan Wilson’s demand that the stay be continued while he flails about with appeals. Via the Post & Courier: “Currently 34 states permit same-sex couples to marry, or recognize marriages legally celebrated by same-sex couples in other states. If history is any indicator, the State’s claim of potential harm here is overstated, if not completely contrived,” the new filings says. Malissa Burnette, lead attorney in Condon’s case, has said she feels very optimistic the Fourth Circuit will uphold Gergel’s ruling. It is the same court that struck down Virginia’s constitutional gay marriage ban and was among those that triggered the recent cascade of legalized same-sex marriage across the nation.

All the motions and responses have now been filed with the Fourth Circuit.

Greenville Online reports:

The motion and response are in from the two sides of the gay marriage debate in South Carolina. Now it’s up to the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to decide whether to grant a stay – and stop marriages for same sex couples due to begin at noon on Thursday – as the state has asked.

The Atty. Gen. is latching onto the Sixth Circuit ruling against marriage equality, claiming that it means the US Supreme Court will have to weigh-in before the state is forced to allow same-sex couples to marry.

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Marriage Equality Comes to Kansas – The Details

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

KansasAfter putting a temporary hold on marriage equality on Monday, the US Supreme Court cleared the way for weddings to begin yesterday.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

The nation’s highest court denied a request from Kansas to prevent gay and lesbian couples from marrying while the state fights the issue in court. The order is consistent with how the justices have handled recent requests from other states that have sought to keep their bans in place while they appealed lower court rulings in favor of gay and lesbian couples. However, Kansas’ emergency appeal was closely watched to see if the court would change its practice following last week’s appellate ruling upholding anti-gay marriage laws in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. Those cases now are headed to the Supreme Court, and the gay marriage issue nationwide could be heard and decided by late June.

As Lyle Denniston at Scotusblog notes, this time was a little different.

Joe.My.God reports:

The Court has issued a series of orders in same-sex marriage cases over the past eleven months, but the Kansas order marked the first time that members of the Court had recorded dissents. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas noted only that they would have granted the delay sought by the Kansas attorney general. Kansas officials had attempted to show that their case was different from others that the Supreme Court had chosen to leave undisturbed, arguing that the federal judge’s order was an invalid attempt to second-guess a Kansas Supreme Court order delaying the issuance of same-sex marriages. The federal judge had rejected that claim, but it may have been the one that drew the implied support of Justices Scalia and Thomas. The state still has an appeal pending at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, but that has little promise, because that appeals court has struck down bans in two other states in its region — Oklahoma and Utah. The Supreme Court refused to review those Tenth Circuit rulings on October 6. The Kansas ban is almost identical to those in other states.

Atty. Gen. Derek Schmidt is trying to limit the ruling to just two counties.

Joe.My.God reports:

Schmidt says that decision applies only in Douglas, a northeastern Kansas county, and Sedgwick, in south-central Kansas, where the court clerks are defendants. The American Civil Liberties Union contends the ruling applies in all 105 counties. The legal situation in Kansas is complicated by another case before the Kansas Supreme Court, which Schmidt filed last month. He persuaded the Kansas court to block marriage licenses for same-sex couples, at least while his case is heard. Marriage licenses in Kansas are issued by district court clerks’ offices after a mandatory three-day wait. In Johnson County, Court Clerk Sandra McCurdy said about 70 applications from same-sex couples are pending. “Until I hear something from the Kansas Supreme Court, I’m not issuing any marriage licenses,” McCurdy said.

Newly reelected Gov. Sam Brownback said he is not giving up on defending the ban.

LGBGQ Nation reports:

The Republican governor supports the ban and has said it is worth defending because voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution against gay marriage in 2005. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the governor issued a statement saying he took an oath to support the state constitution. He added that he would review the decision and consult with state Attorney General Derek Schmidt on “how best we continue those efforts.”

We’ll see how much they continue to dig in their heels until they finally give in to the inevitable.

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