LGBT issues

  • June 6, 2014

    by Paul Guequierre

    This afternoon U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crab overturned Wisconsin’s ban on marriages by gay and lesbian couples.  The ban, which was approved by voters in 2006, is now opposed by the majority of Wisconsin voters.  A recent Marquette University Law School poll found 55 percent of registered voters statewide now favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, while 37 percent oppose it and 6 percent say they do not know.

    According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen acknowledged last month that he would not be surprised to lose the case. He had asked the judge to immediately stay her own decision if she ruled to invalidate the ban. The report notes that normally, lawyers wait until a judge rules before asking for a stay. The state was given until June 16 to submit a proposed injunction of the ruling.

    The Journal Sentinel also reports that clerks in Milwaukee, Dane, Waukesha and other counties say they were prepared for the ruling and for an expected stream of gay couples coming in to obtain marriage licenses.

    In 1982, Wisconsin became the first state in the country to enact a gay rights law, banning discrimination in employment and housing based on sexual orientation.

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday also refused to block marriages of same-sex couples in Oregon

  • June 5, 2014

    by Paul Guequierre

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to block marriages of same-sex couples in Oregon. In a one-sentence order, the Court rejected the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage’s request to stay the May 19 federal court ruling allowing gays and lesbians to marry in Oregon. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who rules on emergency cases in the western region of Oregon, referred the issue to the full court, which then declined to get involved without giving a reason. Proponents of marriage equality in Oregon are now likely to drop a proposed ballot measure they had planned to take to voters in November.

    The high court’s action is another blow to opponents of marriage equality. Since last summer when the Court ruled in Hollingsworth v. Perry that anti-equality forces in California did not have standing to appeal a ruling striking down Prop. 8 and, on the same day, struck down Section 3 of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor which prevented the federal government from recognizing legal marriages of same-sex couples, a string of trial court judges have struck down state bans on marriage equality. (At the 2014 ACS National Convention, lawyers for Edith Windsor will discuss their involvement in the landmark Windsor case, see convention schedule here.)

    According to the Human Rights Campaign, 19 states and the District of Columbia now issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Another two states provide the equivalent of state-level spousal rights to same-sex couples within the state, such as domestic partnerships or civil unions, and one state, Wisconsin, provides some statewide spousal rights to same-sex couples within the state.  Meanwhile, marriage bans have been struck down in Oklahoma, Virginia, Kentucky, Idaho, Michigan, Utah and Arkansas, but those decisions have been stayed pending appeal.   

    Some LGBT rights activists have said they expect marriage equality to be the law in every state within the next five years.  While that may be decided in the Supreme Court’s next term, there is little room for doubt that equality is marching forward.    

  • June 2, 2014
     
    Today, the Obama administration will announce new environmental regulations that will cut carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent. The regulations represent the “strongest actions ever taken by the United States government to fight climate change.” Coral Davenport at The New York Times explains how the action will affect environmental health and its implications for the American electricity industry.
     
    Pro-choice activists are working to counter the growing anti-abortion legislation sweeping the country as many expect the issue to reach the Supreme Court next term. Sophie Novack and Sam Baker at The National Journal explain why, if the issue reaches the Court, pro-choice activists may be “on the verge of a massive gamble.”
     
    At Bilerico, John M. Becker discusses Justice Anthony Kennedy’s response to the National Organization for Marriage’s recent efforts to block same-sex marriage in Oregon.
     
    A six-year old girl is recovering from being a victim of a stray bullet while playing at a local Washington, DC playground. NPR’s All Things Considered addresses how gun violence continues to trouble America’s inner cities. 
  • May 22, 2014
    Last night, the Supreme Court stayed the execution of Russell Bucklew, a Missouri inmate convicted of rape and murder. The Court granted the stay after Bucklew’s lawyers noted that his rare health condition would cause excruciating pain if he was executed via lethal injection. Robert Barnes and Mark Berman at The Washington Post discuss the role Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. played in the decision.
     
    On Tuesday, Judge John E. Jones III of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled that the state’s ban on gay marriage violated the Constitution. Gov. Tom Corbett (R-Penn.) announced that he will not appeal the decision. Trip Gabriel at The New York Times reports on the victory for gay and lesbian couples in the Keystone State. 
     
    Writing for TIME, Andrew Rossi comments on the state of higher education as it begins to benefit more private than public interests.
     
    At Jost on Justice Kenneth Jost explains why “the history of the fight for marriage equality is yet to be written.” 
  • May 19, 2014
    In 2008, before he was the Solicitor General of the United States, Donald B. Verrilli Jr. argued the dangers of administering the three drug lethal injection protocol in Baze v. Rees. Now, following the botched execution of Clayton D. Lockett, many of the risks highlighted by General Verrilli have come true. Writing for The New York Times, ACS Board Member Linda Greenhouse discusses the state of capital punishment.
     
     
    Adam Liptak at The New York Times describes the troubling case of Billy Wayne Cope, a man convicted of raping and murdering his 12 year-old daughter. After confessing three times to the crime, Cope’s lawyers are appealing his conviction, blaming intense police interrogation for his multiple confessions.
     
    The Utah Supreme Court has granted a stay in response to previous orders for the state’s Department of Health “to issue birth certificates in same-sex parent adoptions.” The Associated Press has this story.
     
    As we celebrate this year’s college graduates, Henry Louis Gates Jr. at The Root  introduces his readers to America’s “first black collegians who faced a system that explicitly favored the white elite.”
     
    Gerard Magliocca at Concurring Opinions examines the influence of M’Culloch v. Maryland and The Federalist