Showing posts with label Gay Marriage Bans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Marriage Bans. Show all posts

June 9, 2016

Federal Judge Stops Alabama from Blocking Gay Marriage



Alabama Superior Court Justice Roy Moore pauses before addressing his supporters outside
   Alabama Superior Court Chief Justice Roy Moore pauses before addressing his supporters outside the Alabama Judicial Building where a monument of the Ten Commandments was put in place by Moore and in which he has refused to take down, August 21, 2003 in Montgomery, Alabama.               (Photo: REUTERS/TAMI CHAPPELL)                                                                                                                                                                          By the way those Commandments were removed as per court order The justice was allowed to put them in his office.
                                                                         


A federal judge is permanently barring Alabama from enforcing state laws to block gay marriage.
U.S. District Judge Callie Granade of Mobile issued the order Tuesday in litigation that followed the U.S. Supreme Court decision that effectively legalized same-sex weddings nationwide.
The judge writes that the order is needed because state laws against same-sex marriage remain on the books. She says the Alabama Supreme Court's willingness to issue decisions conflicting with the U.S. Supreme Court demonstrate the need for permanent action.
Judge Granade notes that though same-sex opponent Roy Moore is currently suspended from the office of chief justice, other state justices have indicated they believe laws banning gay marriages were constitutional.
Most counties already are issuing licenses to same-sex couples, so it’s unclear what impact the ruling will have but hopefully we have seen the end of Alabama judges to take the law into their own hands and ignored the Supreme Court of the United States. Someone down there is not living in this particular century.

Maybe the school children in Alabama instead of pledging alliance to the flag of the United States maybe they should pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States. Since they have shown an utter disregard for the constitution and our system of government a written document might have more meaning than what they might see as a cloth with colors on them.

May 21, 2016

5% Chinese Have Come Out-China and Gays

 It’s not easy when you love someone 
                                                                         






The vast majority of China’s lesbian, gay, and other sexual and gender minorities—some 95%—haven’t declared their orientation in public because they fear discrimination and abuse from their families and society, a recent study finds. 
The United Nation Development Program survey published Tuesday (May 17) on China’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) citizens found only 5% have disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity outside their families, and only 15% have the courage to tell their families.
By comparison, 59% of the US’s LGBT adults have told one or both of their parents their orientation, a 2013 survey from Pew Research shows. More than 18,000 Chinese LGBTI people across the country responded to the UN survey, the largest ever on the topic in China. Over half of them reported discriminated or abuse at school, work, and most commonly, within their own families Family members of LGBTI people most frequently remind them to watch their appearance, force them to change the way they dress, speak or act, and force them to enter into heterosexual relationships, the study found.
Nearly two thirds of the LGBTI people say they feel under great pressure from their families to get married and have children. Of those that are married, more than 84% are married to heterosexuals who don’t know about their orientation, and 13% are in a “cooperation marriage” in which a gay man and a lesbian woman (or vice-versa) agree to marry to appease their parents. Less than 3% are in same-sex marriages that were performed in foreign countries.
China doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage and lacks policies or laws to protect LGBT rights. Chinese censors have recently cracked down on documentaries, online dramas, and other media that depict or imply same-sex love. Homosexuality has recently been banned entirely on TVas it is deemed “abnormal sexual relations.”
The UN survey also found Chinese sexual and gender minorities have higher unemployment rates, receive lower benefits at work, and are less educated than their non-minority peers.
Gay rights activism is not common in China, but it appears to be on the rise in recent years. In April, a court from central China ruled against a gay couple who sued their local marriage registry office after their application for a license was rejected. It is still rare for Chinese courts to accept such a case in the first place. Last week, a transgender man failed in a lawsuit where he complained he was fired from his job because of discrimination.
FILE – A 2015 Pride Run in Shanghai celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. But most LGBT Chinese hide their sexual orientation, fearing discrimination, a new UN report finds.
A 2015 Pride Run in Shanghai celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. But most LGBT Chinese hide their sexual orientation, fearing discrimination, a new UN report finds.
 BEIJING—Families are willing to sign off to Shock Therapy and other abuses of the individual free will the UN Fears.
Ninety-five percent of lesbian, gay and other sexual and gender minorities in China hide their orientation because they fear discrimination and social abuse, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Discrimination against gay people and other sexual and gender minorities is not just restricted to education and the workplace but extends to official agencies and the judiciary, the U.N. body said after a major survey covering 30,000 people.
The report comes a week after a Chinese court rejected the first gender discrimination suit filed by a transgender person, identified as Mr. C, who complained he was fired from his job because of his self-identification. Mr. C’s employer told the labor court that the plaintiff's manner of dressing would negatively affect the firm.
Chinese censors recently removed a video about transgender people from the Internet, while Chinese filmmaker Zhang Wei complained he was finding it difficult to make China’s first movie on the subject.
"Physical and emotional violence is still a reality, especially within the family," the UNDP report said. "Discrimination continues to cost LGBTI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex] people jobs, lower their career prospects and their learning potential in schools. Sexual and gender minorities suffer from lower job stability and higher unemployment rates."
Government criticized
The U.N. body also was critical of the government. "China still lacks policies or laws that recognize sexual and gender minorities or protect them from discrimination and unfair treatment on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation," it said.
The Chinese Ministry of Justice recently told the United Nations that “China does not view LGBTI as a mental disease or require compulsory treatment for LGBTI people. They will not be confined in mental hospitals either.”
But the ministry acknowledged some problems. “Indeed, LGBTI people face some real challenges in terms of social acceptance, employment, education, health and family life," it admitted.
The UNDP found that gender diversity concerns are rarely covered in staff training and internal regulations of government offices and government-backed organizations.Only about 5 percent of gender minorities disclose their sexual orientation outside their families. Even within the family, "no more than 15 percent have the courage to do so," the report said.
Response on social media
Chinese social media greeted Tuesday’s release of the report with some calls for better treatment for LGBTI people and others questioning why the issue even comes up."Finally, attention is being paid to the living conditions of homosexuals!" said a social media commentator who goes by the user name seby1989.

One user on Sina Weibo, the country’s most followed Twitter-like platform, called for a referendum on whether LGBTI people should have protection and support in China, and asked the United Nations to help organize it.
Another one, named MXAU, promised “to promote the legalization of same-sex marriages."Critical comments came from a user who said, "Chinese will only pretend. But all [people] don't want to see it," adding that legalizing gay marriage would be ridiculous.
In China, relatives often pressure LGBTI people to undergo electric shock "conversion therapies," under the mistaken belief that such “treatment” might make them "straight." Therapies also include painful and expensive surgeries or a series of injections that leave patients weak and disoriented.
"Family pressure and rejection can have more serious consequences, with some LGBTI people being forced into psychotherapy and sometimes even ‘conversion therapy,’" UNDP said.
It said most gender minorities enter into heterosexual relationships, sometimes dubbed “cooperation marriages."
Outlook improving. But there is hope for LGBTI people. Younger Chinese take a more liberal approach and largely accept the fact of gender diversity, the UNDP survey suggested.
“The younger the respondents, the higher the proportion of those opposed to the pathological view of homosexuality, stereotype-based prejudices, gender binary ideas and even HIV-related stigma," it said. Among respondents to the survey, the highest proportion of those who said they would accept their own children as being LGBTI were young people. 
“Overall, it is clear that generational change represents the greatest opportunity for social emancipation of sexual and gender minorities in China.” the report said.
                              Voice of America [by Saibal Dasgupta]

September 4, 2015

KY. County Clerk in Jail {Latest}


                                                   
                                                                     



Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis made international headlines this week for her continued refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite a US supreme court order mandating otherwise.


Kentucky clerk jailed over refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples

But she’s not the only defecting clerk in Kentucky. Two other clerks, Casey Davis of Casey County and Kay Schwartz of Whitley County, are also still refusing to perform same-sex marriages.

“The idea of natural law superseding this court’s authority would be a dangerous precedent indeed,” U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning told Rowan County clerk Kim Davis.

Davis began a 440-mile trip across the state on bicycle last Thursday, with the intention of riding from Pikeville, located in eastern Kentucky, to the city of Paducah.

“I’m actually [biking] across the state to show support to [Kim Davis] and to raise awareness of what’s going on with this woman,” Casey Davis, who has no relation to Kim Davis, said in a phone interview.

As a hearing on Thursday approaches to consider whether Kim Davis should be held in contempt of court, Casey Davis dismissed the prospect of possible jail time for the clerk, saying “she’s not done anything wrong; she’s upheld her oath”.

“She’s standing for God like she think she should and I think she should,” Casey, 43, told the Guardian. “I don’t think a person should be threatened to be fined or threatened to go to jail because they’re Christian.”
 Gay couple confronts Kentucky clerk Kim Davis for denying marriage licenses – link to video
The vocal persistence of the clerks on Tuesday attracted the attention of Kentucky governor Steve Beshear, who again declined to call a special session to address the conflict – a prickly issue for Davis’s supporters.
  
“Regardless of whatever their personal feelings might be, 117 of our 120 county clerks are following the law and carrying out their duty to issue marriage licenses regardless of gender,” Beshear, a Democrat, said in a statement.

He added: “The General Assembly will convene in four months and can make any statutory changes it deems necessary at that time. I see no need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money calling a special session … when 117 of 120 clerks are doing their jobs.”

Casey said he doesn’t see the need to wait for the legislative change, which he called a “simple idea”. The proposed bill would allow clerks to not play a role in officiating a marriage; it would only require they keep the records on hold. And he said a bipartisan coalition of legislators is ready to back him up.

At Davis’s office on Wednesday, a familiar scene played out: her supporters coalesced on one side of the entrance, occasionally praying and singing as someone held a tall American flag. Across the entrance, her vocal, noticeably younger, critics held signs that said: “You are being used by a hate group, Liberty Counsel”, a jab at the clerk’s attorneys from the Christian non-profit.

It was a noticeable divide that reflects Kentucky’s sharp split on gay marriage: ever since the state’s marriage ban was struck down this summer, a July poll showed 50% of registered voters oppose same-sex marriage, with 37% in support – however, the opposition has slowly whittled away throughout the year.

Around 10.30am on Wednesday, a couple from Ohio joined hands and walked into the courthouse to obtain a marriage license.

The pair woke up early and gathered their birth certificates, social security cards and passports before making the roughly three-hour commute. After a 25-minute altercation, Davis turned them away.

“I saw something that was reminiscent of a KKK rally,” said Robbie Blankenship, 45, who has been together with Jesse Cruz, 42, for 20 years.

Davis and the two other clerks haven’t issued marriage licenses since the supreme court’s 26 June decision to legalize same-sex marriage. Schwartz, who didn’t return requests for comment by the Guardian, said her opponents have transformed into bullies ever since.
“There’s a law against bullying and that’s what this has turned into,” she told the State Journal of Frankfort, Kentucky. “I’ve had a couple calls and when I’ve looked those people up, they didn’t even live in my county.”

In July, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and the Louisville-based Fairness Campaign, a civil rights group, “cast a net” in counties across the state that denied licenses, said Chris Hartman, director of the campaign. “But the only counties where plaintiffs responded to the request were in Rowan County,” Hartman said.

“Any of these county clerks could have become Kim Davis,” he said. “It just so happened Kim Davis became Kim Davis.”

Casey offered a similar explanation: “Well, Kim’s been sued; Kay nor I have been.”
Their supporters echoed the clerk’s call for change outside Davis’s office on Wednesday.

“The way to settle it is to not have the county clerk sign the form,” said Don Bair, a Davis supporter who turned out in support of the embattled clerk.

David Hamm, also a Morehead resident, chimed in: “All I got to say is it’s the governor’s fault.”

The saga of Davis – a longtime bureaucrat and native of Morehead, attracted increasing attention last month, when a federal judge ordered her to abide by the supreme court’s June decision. Governor Beshear has also ordered county clerks across the state to fall in line with the ruling.

Tension heightened last week after Davis continued to refuse licenses to couples; on Friday, she filed a request to the supreme court to stay the lower court’s decision. Late Monday, the high court denied her request in a one-sentence ruling. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday at 11am in US district judge David Bunning’s courtroom on a contempt motion in one of several cases involving Davis, which asks the court to impose a financial penalty – not incarceration. Davis and her staff were ordered by Bunning to appear in court to explain why the clerk wouldn’t be jailed for contempt.

But attorneys for Davis filed an emergency motion on Wednesday afternoon, in what appears to be a last-ditch effort to obtain the right to reject same-sex marriage licenses. Bunning last month declined to hear the motion.

The request for an injunction asks Bunning to block Beshear’s order. It’s unclear what, if any, impact it could have on the contempt hearing; attorneys for Davis didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Davis could face a charge of official misconduct, a misdemeanor that could bring up to a year in jail. A request for a special prosecutor to review the allegations is pending before Kentucky attorney general Jack Conway, a Democrat. Conway’s office declined additional comment on Tuesday.

Republican presidential candidates also jumped into the fray on Wednesday. Rand Paul appeared to side with Bevin, the Republican nominee for the Kentucky gubernatorial race, and said in a radio interview that Davis’s protest is “part of the American way”.

“There never should have been any limitations on people of the same sex having contracts, but I do object to the state putting its imprimatur to the specialness of marriage on something that’s different from what most people have defined as marriage for most of history,” Paul told Boston Herald radio.

“So one way is just getting the state out completely and I think that’s what we’re headed towards, actually.”

Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and TV personality, said he spoke with Davis on Wednesday and praised her actions.

“She is showing more courage and humility than just about any federal office holder in Washington,” Huckabee said in a statement to the Associated Press.

By not calling a special session, several of Davis’s supporters said those are characteristics Governor Beshear clearly doesn’t embody.

“If the governor would simply do his job, then [same-sex couples] could go to Rowan county and they could get their license,” said clerk Casey. “And [Davis] wouldn’t have to be violated while she was getting them.”

But Blankenship, who fought back tears moments after being turned away by Davis’s office on Wednesday, said he wants Kentucky – a state he has a long history with and where several family members live – to simply accept everyone.

“I want Kentucky to recognize our love,” he said. “Whoever is refusing our love needs to stop.”

 in Morehead, Kentucky
The Guardian
photo: USA Today


Appearing on MSNBC’s The Last Word (with guest host Alex Wagner) last night, columnist and gay rights activist Dan Savage summed up what he sees as Kentucky court clerk Kim Davis’ “hypocritical” stand against gay marriage.
In Savage’s words:
“I think Kim Davis is waiting to cash in. I predicted from the beginning that she would defy all the court orders, defy the Supreme Court, she would ultimately be held in contempt of court, lose her job, perhaps go to prison for a short amount of time. And then she will have written for her, ghostwritten books. She will go on the right-wing lecture circuit and she’ll never have to do an honest day’s work ever again in her life. This is about someone hypocritically cashing in, and she is a hypocrite.”

September 3, 2015

KY.Clerk Married 4 Times ‘now’ Denies Marriage to Gay Couples


                                                                     
I do_divorce_I do_divorce-I do_divorce I do_divorce_ No Marriage for you under my law. She doesn’t obey her god but she will make you obey her

A controversial US court clerk who has cited “God’s law” while refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses has herself been married four times, it has been revealed.

Rowan County courthouse clerk Kim Davis has defied a US supreme court order demanding she issue marriage licenses to couples – both gay and straight – at her office in Kentucky.

Davis, who was only elected clerk last fall, has publicly claimed her duty to God overrides the law of the United States.

“I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage,” Davis said in a statement.

“To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience.”

But records obtained by the Guardian show Davis has been divorced three times before she “surrendered” her life to religion, which she said happened four years ago. “Divorce is rare,” according to a website on the Apostolic Christian religion, which Davis follows.

“I am not perfect,” Davis said. “No one is. But I am forgiven and I love my Lord and must be obedient to Him and the Word of God.”
Her argument was not well-received by David Ermold and David Moore, a gay couple of 17 years who live in Moreland.

The pair first went to Davis’s office in late June, after the US supreme court handed down its landmark decision that legalized same-sex marriage. Ermold, 41, told the Guardian he sent Davis’s office a letter immediately after the court’s ruling was handed down, “letting them know we were going to come down for a license”.

“We just wanted to get a license and have it done,” Ermold said. “Unfortunately, that’s not the way it turned out.”

The couple has since been turned away from Davis’s office three additional times, a “frustrating” experience in light of the high court’s decision to enshrine the right for gay couples to marry.

Moore, whose verbal altercation with Davis on Tuesday was captured on video and shared widely on social media, said the incident put him in a precarious position as a “very introverted person”.

“I don’t get angry … in front of lots of people hardly ever,” he said. “I’m beyond the point just being polite now. I’m not happy.”

Davis’s history as documented in her marriages may now raise charges that she is hypocritical in the application of her beliefs.

In 1984, Davis married store clerk Dwain Wallace, records show. More than a decade later, she divorced and married Joe Davis, her current husband. The couple’s relationship apparently fizzled out sometime around 2007, when Davis married Thomas McIntyre Jr, a construction worker. When she rejoined Joe Davis, 49, on 24 August 2009, it was her fourth marriage.

The 49-year-old mother of four worked at the clerk’s office for 27 years before winning her seat last November by only 465 votes.

Her quest to adhere to a strict interpretation of the Bible, and avoid issuing same-sex marriage licenses, is perhaps unsurprising given how her religious convictions run deep: in her statement on Tuesday, Davis said her choice to deny marriage licenses was not “a light issue for me. It’s a Heaven or Hell decision”.

But the Moreland native’s past raises questions of whether she is a hypocrite in the application of her faith.

For instance, Davis gave birth to twins after divorcing Wallace, according to the US News & World Report. McIntyre was the father, the news outlet said, but Davis ended up adopting them.

The decision stunned residents of Moreland who spoke with the Guardian, saying Davis didn’t allude to her strong religious ties while running for office last November.

Though Davis said on Tuesday her relationship with God precluded her duty as clerk to issue marriage licenses, she told the Moorehead News after winning the race last November: “[I] will be the very best working clerk that I can be and will be a good steward of their tax dollars and follow the statutes of this office to the letter.”

A town of about 6,800, Morehead is situated along a roadway, about 65 miles from the city of Lexington. Residents described the saga over Davis’s decision to disregard an order form the supreme court as an unusually high-profile story in a typically quiet town.

For Ermold and Moore, the developments in recent days still came as a surprise. The people in Moreland were “fairly nice”, said Moore. “We’re just finding out the government is a little different.”

The decision to reject their request for a license burned the couple deeply, as Moore and Ermold supported Davis’s election bid last November.

“If we had known [how she’d respond to their license request] we wouldn’t have voted for her,” said Ermold. “She ran on a Democratic ticket, but clearly she’s not Democratic.”

Last month, a federal judge ordered Davis to abide by the court’s June decision; Kentucky governor Steven Beshear also ordered county clerks across the state to fall in line with the ruling.

But last week, Davis refused to issue licenses and on Friday night filed a request with the supreme court to stay the lower court’s decision. The supreme court denied her request on Monday night. Davis’s claim rests on her belief that issuing licenses to gay couples would infringe on her freedom of conscious.

In response to Tuesday’s maneuver by Davis, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed a contempt motion with US district judge David Bunning. The request asks the court to impose financial penalties – not incarceration. Davis and her staff were ordered by Bunning to appear on Thursday at 11am to explain why she shouldn’t be jailed for contempt.

Additionally, the clerk risks a potential charge of official misconduct, a misdemeanor that could bring up to a year in jail. A spokeswoman for attorney general Jack Conway, a Democrat, said the Rowan County attorney was recently approached by a couple who were denied a marriage license.

“They informed the county attorney that they believe Ms Davis was violating state statute by refusing to issue licenses,” said Allison Martin, communications director for Conway.

The attorney expressed he had a conflict of interest because “he was representing the county in lawsuits regarding this issue”, and asked Conway to appoint a special prosecutor to review the allegations. The request is currently being reviewed.

By late Tuesday, the scene outside the clerk’s office along Main Street had quieted, besides the presence of one news truck. Earlier, supporters and critics had spilled across either side of the building’s entrance, hurling words back and forth on a warm September day.

The Christian non-profit group representing Davis, Liberty Counsel, posted on Facebook decrying the plaintiffs who filed suit against Davis as “militant homosexuals who … will be on her front step FORCING her to choose between obeying Scripture or going to jail”.

While a strong contingent turned out in support of Davis, a crowd funding campaign the clerk apparently launched this week has drawn little support: as of early Wednesday, it had raised $0.

 in Morehead, Kentucky

Update:

(CNN)The ACLU of Kentucky filed a motion in federal court Tuesday asking a judge to hold county clerk Kim Davis in contempt of court for failing to comply with the Supreme Court and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
In court papers, the ACLU lawyers note that following the Supreme Court's order late Monday night, the plaintiffs in their case went to the Rowan County Clerk's office at 8 a.m. Tuesday to obtain a marriage license.
"Unfortunately , they were again denied by a deputy clerk who asserted that no marriage licenses would be issued," the ACLU said in a statement. The lawyers argue that Davis has "violated a definite and specific order" and that the Court is left "with no choice but to hold her in contempt."
Davis, of the Rowan County Clerk's office, has refused to issue any marriage licenses since the U.S. Supreme Court decision -- Obergefell v. Hodges -- came down. She is an Apostolic Christian who says that she has a sincere religious objection to same-sex marriage. Other clerks in the state have expressed concern, but Davis is the only one turning away eligible couples.
The ACLU said they do not compel her compliance through incarceration, but instead they urge the court to impose financial penalties "sufficiently serious" to compel her immediate compliance without further delay.
The lawyers also ask the judge to "state unambiguoulsy" that his original injunction applies to marriage licenses for all couples, not just the plaintiffs in the case.
A Kentucky judge has called for a hearing for Davis for 11 a.m. on Thursday in Ashland.
The Supreme Court on Monday night denied an emergency application from Davis who has been refusing to issue marriage licenses because of her religious objections.
The order marks the first time the issue of same-sex marriage has come back to the justices since they issued an opinion last June clearing the way for same-sex couples to marry nationwide.

November 11, 2014

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says to pay attention to decisions on state gay marriage bans


                                                                             

N SEPTEMBER, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told an audience at the University of Minnesota Law School that the public should pay close attention to any upcoming decision on state gay marriage bans in the Sixth Circuit of the US Court of Appeals. A decision by the federal appeals court in Cincinnati allowing same-sex marriage bans to stand, she said, would mean “there will be some urgency” for the Supreme Court to step in and make a definitive ruling on same-sex marriage — something that the justices so far have dodged. 
That decision came Thursday, when a panel of Sixth Circuit judges ruled, 2-1, to overturn lower court decisions in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee that favored same-sex marriage. The judges’ decision, which was immediately condemned by gay rights groups as mean spirited and political in nature, seems likely to set up an appeal before the nation’s highest court next year, just as Ginsburg predicted. In fact, the trajectory of this issue now seems inevitable. As CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin put it, “They can’t duck it anymore.” And the American Civil Liberties Union said it would immediately file for a review by the nation’s highest court. This is the proper forum to settle the legal dispute and extend a fundamental human right to all Americans.
Last month, decisions in three other federal appeals courts went the other way, when judges struck down same-sex marriage bans in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Indiana. All told, gay couples can marry in 32 states and the District of Columbia — so a majority of Americans already have access to the benefits of equal marriage and the stability it brings to their families. Polls also show a welcome generational shift: 78 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 support gay marriage. 
The Sixth Circuit opinion, written by Judge Jeffrey Sutton, an appointee of George W. Bush, seems to turn on the question of whether the decision is best left to “state democratic processes” or the Supreme Court, rather than the appeals court system. The Supreme Court has long recognized the fundamental nature of the right to marry, and for many courts, that has compelled recognition of same-sex marriage. In Loving v. Virginia in 1967, a landmark case that invalidated state laws prohibiting interracial marriage, the court notably stated: “Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry or not marry a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.” In 1978, the court picked up on this theme in Zablocki v. Redhail, which involved marriage and child support. The justices wrote: “Although Loving arose in the context of racial discrimination, prior and subsequent decisions of this Court confirm that the right to marry is of fundamental importance for all individuals.”
It would be welcome news to gay and lesbian families across the country if the high court resolves the question of same-sex marriage as a matter of constitutional law. Although the ultimate outcome of a Supreme Court ruling is far from certain, hopefully justices will be unwilling to undo a fundamental right that has now been recognized in a majority of states. It is time that equal marriage be applied uniformly throughout the nation.

July 11, 2014

What is Next for US Gay marriage after Utah’s Appeal?


                                                                       

Utah's decision to ask the nation's highest court to review a federal appeals court ruling in favor of gay marriage nudges the issue closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.
State officials said Wednesday they plan to ask the justices to review a June 25 ruling from a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found Utah's same-sex marriage ban violates the Constitution. It was the first time an appellate court found a Supreme Court decision last year means states cannot deny gays the right to wed.
The high court is under no obligation to the take the case, and it may wait for rulings from one or more of the five other appellate courts with pending gay marriage cases. But the pressure is mounting with same-sex marriage bans falling across the country.
Including Wednesday's by a judge in Colorado who struck down that state's ban, gay rights activists have won 20 court cases over the past year. Here are some key things to know about the gay marriage movement and where it's headed:
———
WHEN DOES THE ISSUE RETURN TO THE SUPREME COURT?
Legal experts say the Supreme Court eventually will take a gay marriage case, even though it is not required to take up the issue. But they say it won't do so until 2015 at the earliest.
The 10th Circuit panel is the first to rule out of six circuits hearing appeals. In any of the appellate cases, the losing party can appeal directly to the Supreme Court, or first ask for the entire appellate court to review the ruling.
It's unclear which case would reach the high court first. The Supreme Court also could hold off and see how the nation's appellate courts rule. It often waits until there is a conflict between appellate courts before taking a case.
———
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF GAY MARRIAGE CASES IN OTHER APPEALS COURTS?
Judges in a total of six federal appeals courts and one state appeals court are hearing appeals of lower court rulings that overturned gay marriage bans or ordered states to recognize out-of-state marriages.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments about Virginia's ban in early May, and a ruling is expected soon. Arguments are scheduled for Aug. 6 in the 6th District Court of Appeals to discuss cases out of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee; and Sept. 8 in the 9th District Court of Appeals for cases out of Nevada and Idaho.
The ruling by the 10th Circuit panel is now law in the six states covered by the court: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. But gay marriages won't be happening in those states — at least not right away — because the 10th Circuit immediately put its decision on hold pending an appeal.
———
WHAT TRIGGERED THE SERIES OF PRO-GAY MARRIAGE DECISIONS?
The Supreme Court last year found that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that forbade the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage improperly deprived gay couples of due process. That ruling came as polls showed a majority of Americans now support gay marriage.
Lower-court judges repeatedly have cited that decision when striking down gay marriage bans.
So far, federal and state judges have ruled against bans in Arkansas, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana and Colorado. They have ordered Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.
Gay marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
By BRADY McCOMBS and NICHOLAS RICCARDI Associated Press

May 16, 2014

Judge Strike down ALL anti gay marriage bans in Arkansas


                                                                            

A day after being overruled by the Arkansas Supreme Court, the county judge who struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage issued a broader decision Thursday that clears the way — at least temporarily — for such unions to resume.
In Idaho, a federal appeals court stepped in to halt same-sex marriage, which was to begin Friday. Tuesday, a U.S. judge declared the state's ban unconstitutional.
In Arkansas, the attorney general said he would appeal Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza's ruling, which voids a constitutional ban on clerks issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Wednesday, the state's top court said his decision Friday striking down constitutional and statutory bans on same-sex marriage did not affect the licensing law.
Piazza refused to suspend his earlier decision, saying same-sex marriages would not harm the state.
"A stay would operate to further damage Arkansas families and deprive them of equal access to the rights associated with marriage status in this state," he wrote.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, a Democrat who supports gay marriage but is defending the state's law, will ask the high court to suspend Piazza's latest order.
Pulaski County planned to resume issuing licenses to same-sex couples immediately. Washington County, the only other jurisdiction that had issued licences before the Supreme Court's intervention, did not follow suit Thursday.
Out west, the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals suspended a federal judge's order declaring Idaho's 2006 voter-approved ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.
"I appreciate the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stepping in to ensure Idaho will not have to endure the same kind of chaos and confusion that Utah faced after a similar lower-court decision," Gov. Butch Otter said in a statement. "Today's ruling stays the federal magistrate's order and maintains the status of marriage as defined by the Idaho Constitution – between one man and one woman."
Same-sex marriage is legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia
Michael Winter, USA TODAY
Contributing: Associated Press

March 22, 2014

Michigan Judge Strikes Down Ban on Gay Marriage



 In a historic ruling that provided a huge morale boost to the gay-rights movement, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman today struck down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage, making it the 18th state in the nation to allow gays and lesbians to join in matrimony, just like their heterosexual counterparts.


And unlike other federal judges who have decided similar cases across the country, Friedman did not stay his ruling, prompting Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to file an emergency stay request to prevent gay couples from marrying right away. That includes the two plaintiffs in the case: Hazel Park nurses April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who fought for the right to marry and adopt each other’s special needs children.
"It's just amazing," said DeBoer, who wiped tears and hugged her parnter after learning of Friedman’s ruling. “This is what we’ve wanted for our family and families like ours…we are just so happy ... We got our day in court and we won."
Rowse was overwhelmed.
“We’re going to actually be a legalized family, a recognized family by everybody,” she said.
In his 31-page ruling, Friedman heavily criticized the state’s position that the will of the voters should have been upheld, noting that just because voters approve something doesn’t make it right, especially when it violates the Constitution.
“In attempting to define this case as a challenge to ‘the will of the people,’ state defendants lost sight of what this case is truly about: people.
“No court record of this proceeding could ever fully convey the personal sacrifice of these two plaintiffs who seek to ensure that the state may no longer impair the rights of their children and the thousands of others now being raised by same-sex couples,” Friedman wrote.
“It is the court’s fervent hope that these children will grow up to ‘understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.’
“Today’s decision is a step in that direction, and affirms the enduring principle that regardless of whoever finds favor in the eyes of the most recent majority, the guarantee of equal protection must prevail.”
Schuette, meanwhile, vowed to continue to fight to uphold the Michigan Marriage Amendment Act, which 2.7 million voters approved in 2004 when they decided that marriage can only be defined as a union between a man and a woman.
“In 2004 the citizens of Michigan recognized that diversity in parenting is best for kids and families because moms and dads are not interchangeable. Michigan voters enshrined that decision in our State constitution, and their will should stand and be respected,” Schuette said following today’s ruling.
Schutte said he expects the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals will grant his request for a stay, noting the U.S. Supreme Court intervened in Utah’s gay-marriage case and granted that state’s request for a stay.
“Given the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Utah case, I fully expect our request for stay to be granted,” said Schuette.
The state has long argued that the will of the voters should not be drowned out by a single judge. The state also argues that it has a “legitimate” interest in preserving the traditional family structure because — it claims — children thrive best when raised by married moms and dads.
Friedman, though, sided with the plaintiffs.
Today’s ruling, which came just as courts were closing, at first dashed hopes for the handful of gays who waited hours to be married.
"We've been waiting years and years -- I thought the judge would've thrown us a bone," said Laura Quinn, 46, of Royal Oak. Friday was the 18th anniversary of her relationship with her partner, who stayed home while Quinn waited four hours hoping to obtain a marriage license for the couple, she said. When the courthouse closed, she trudged off, vowing to return Monday to try again.
And minutes after she'd driven off, the judge's ruling came down, making it likely that Quinn and many other gays will be lining up Monday morning outside the office of Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown.
DeBoer and Rowse, are raising three special needs children together and want to get married. The also want to adopt each others’ children, but can’t because Michigan doesn’t allow same-sex couple adoptions. Rowse has two preschool-age boys; DeBoer has a 3-year-old daughter.
The two women filed their lawsuit in January 2012, initially raising only the adoption issue but then challenging the gay marriage prohibition as well.
Unlike most federal judges who have taken up the gay-marriage issue, Friedman opted last fall to hold a trial and give both sides the chance to present their arguments and scientific evidence – the bulk of which focused on same-sex parenting studies and child outcomes of children raised in such family structures.
The state’s experts said that their studies show that children of same-sex couples have poorer outcomes than kids raised by married moms and dads.
Friedman didn’t find the state’s experts credible, stating in his ruling that the testimony of one state witness was “entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration.” He said the states four witnesses “clearly represent a fringe viewpoint that is rejected by the vast majroity of their colleagues across a variety of social science fields.”
Friedman, however, said he did find the plaintiffs’ experts to be credible. They said their research showed that there were no real differences in the outcomes of children raised by same-sex couples compared to those raised by moms and dads.
Friedman said he was convinced, stating that one expert’s research “convincinlgy shows that children of same-sex copules do just as well in school as the ch ildren of heterosexual married couples, and that same sex couples are just as stable as heterosexual couples.” He also wrote that denying same-sex couples the ability to marry “has a manifestly harmful and destablilizing effect” on their children.
The plaintiffs also argued that child outcomes should have nothing to do with the marriage issue anyway because having kids isn’t a prerequesite for getting married.
Friedman agreed, stating in his ruling: “Even today, the stae of Michigan does not make fertility or the desire to have children a prerequisite for obtaining a marriage license.’
Meanwhile, legal experts believe the gay-marriage debate ultimately will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has not yet issued a definitive ruling on same-sex marriage. In June 2013, the nation’s highest court did strike down a key part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in declaring that gay couples married in states where it’s legal must receive the same federal benefits as their heterosexual counterparts. But it stopped short of finding that all gay people have a fundamental right to marriage. That same day in 2013, the high court also left in place a lower court decision that said California’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. That ruling made sex-sex marriage legal in 13 states and the District of Columbia, and allowed four other states to follow suit.
Dana Nessel, one of the lawyers for DeBoer and Rawse, said the patchwork of legislation involving same-sex marriage has led to chaos, specifically for same-sex couples who are legally recognized in one state, but then move to another and have no legal recognition. It’s especially problematic come tax time, she said, noting same-sex couples, depending on where they live, have to file separately because their marriage isn’t recognized.
“This has to be resolved,” Nessel said. “This can’t continue. You can’t have this patchwork system anymore.”
 Tresa Baldas:

February 15, 2014

Fed Judge Rules VA, Gay Ban Unconstitutional

Demonstrators protest for equal marriage outside the Walter E. Hoffman U.S. Courthouse in Norfolk, Virginia, which has overturned a ban on the customVirginia yesterday became the first state in the southern U.S. to overturn a ban on same-sex marriage, a victory for gay and lesbian campaigners in a socially conservative part of America. 
U.S. federal Judge Arenda Wright Allen ruled that a ban was unconstitutional. However, gay couples in Virginia will still not be able to marry because the ruling is pending appeal by opponents of gay marriage.   
'The court is compelled to conclude that Virginia's Marriage Laws unconstitutionally deny Virginia's gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry,' Justice Wright Allen wrote in her ruling. 
‘Government interests in perpetuating traditions, shielding state matters from federal interference, and favoring one model of parenting over others must yield to this country’s cherished protections that ensure the exercise of the private choices of the individual citizen regarding love and family,' she added.


  
Supporters of the state ban on same-sex marriages issued statements decrying Wright Allen's ruling.
"It appears that we have yet another example of an arrogant judge substituting her personal preferences for the judgment of the General Assembly and 57 percent of Virginia voters,'' said Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council. "Our nation's judicial system has been infected by activist judges, which threaten the stability of our nation and the rule of law.''
Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage, called the ruling ``another example of an Obama-appointed judge twisting the constitution and the rule of law to impose her own views of marriage in defiance of the people of Virginia.''
Opponents of the Virginia ban say the issue resonates in Virginia in particular because of a landmark 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision involving a Virginia couple and interracial marriage.
Mildred and Richard Loving were married in Washington, D.C., and lived in Virginia when police raided their home in 1958 and charged them with violating the state's Racial Integrity law. They were convicted but prevailed before the Supreme Court.
During verbal arguments in the gay marriage case, Virginia Solicitor General Stuart Raphael said that ban is legally indistinguishable from the one on interracial marriage. He said the arguments used to defend the ban now are the same ones used back then, including that marriage between two people of the same sex has never been historically allowed. Wright Allen concurred with that assessment in her ruling.
"Tradition is revered in the Commonwealth, and often rightly so. However, tradition alone cannot justify denying same-sex couples the right to marry any more than it could justify Virginia's ban on interracial marriage,'' she wrote.
Raphael also said supporters have failed to prove how allowing gay marriage would make heterosexual couples less likely to marry.
Nationwide, there are more than a dozen states with federal lawsuits challenging state bans on same-sex marriage.
 Sources: NBC and AP
  

Just Like Slavery left The South so Are The Gay Marriage Bans






Same-sex marriage may soon be coming to the South.
A federal judge struck down part of Kentucky’s same-sex marriage ban on Wednesday, joining a string of similar rulings in conservative states that have put the future of the country's remaining bans in doubt.

District Judge John G. Heyburn ordered that Kentucky recognize same-sex marriages that had been legally performed in other states and opened the door wide for activists to strike down Kentucky’s ban entirely.

No federal judge has ruled in favor of such bans since a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on the issue last summer. Recent judicial decisions have overturned or chipped away at state laws banning gay marriage that once passed with the great popular support of voters and state legislatures.
It wasn’t immediately clear how Heyburn's ruling will be received in deeply conservative Kentucky, whose voters approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2004 with 74% of the vote.

A spokeswoman for Atty. Gen. Jack Conway told the Los Angeles Times that his office was still reviewing Heyburn's decision.
The judge, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, perhaps aware of the outrage his ruling might raise, connected his arguments against the state's ban with allusions to the country's past civil rights struggles against sexism and racism.
Protecting tradition, Heyburn wrote, no matter how ancient or deeply held, was not good enough of defense for laws that create different rules for different groups of people.

"For years, many states had a tradition of segregation and even articulated reasons why it created a better, more stable society," Heyburn wrote, in what may likely become one of the most frequently-quoted passages of his decision. “ imilarly, many states deprived women of their equal rights under the law, believing this to properly preserve our traditions.

"In time, even the most strident supporters of these views understood that they could not enforce their particular moral views to the detriment of another's constitutional rights. Here as well, sometime in the not too distant future, the same understanding will come to pass.

Kentucky joins Utah and Oklahoma in a small avalanche of similar findings by state and federal judges across the country who have followed a legal path tenuously laid out by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last summer.
Several judges, including Heyburn, have signaled some uncertainty in exactly how to decipher the logic of the high court’s decision, which threw out part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act but didn't say whether state bans were outright constitutional.

But how those judges have ruled have made one thing clear: The Supreme Court's ruling gave a significant amount of legal ammunition for gay and lesbian couples to challenge those bans in even the country's most conservative states.
The Kentucky decision will likely draw some attention in neighboring Missouri, where the American Civil Liberties Union filed a similar lawsuit in state court Wednesday requesting that Missouri recognize legal same-sex marriages performed in other states.
In the lawsuit that prompted Wednesday’s decision in Kentucky, longtime couples had asked not for the right to marry in Kentucky, but to have their marriages elsewhere recognized by state officials, partially for the sake of getting legal benefits.

Heyburn ruled accordingly and hinted that Kentucky’s remaining restrictions on the practice may be doomed if someone files a lawsuit requesting the right to marry inside state borders: There was "no doubt" that the Supreme Court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act "suggest a possible answer to that question," Heyburn noted.

What about a definitive answer? That may be coming soon too, as many legal analysts expect that the nation’s highest court may be asked to weigh in more decisively about whether states can constitutionally prevent same-sex couples from marrying each other.

In a portion of his decision directed toward Kentuckians who might be upset at his ruling, Heyburn wrote that the legal arguments supporting same-sex marriage have been building for decades, and that "sometime in the next few years at least one other Supreme Court opinion will likely complete this judicial journey."



Matt Pearce
http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow 

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