LGBT issues

  • June 25, 2014

    by Paul Guequierre

    Proponents of marriage equality garnered two major victories today. This morning U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young ruled Indiana’s ban on marriages by gay and lesbian couples unconstitutional and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld an earlier ruling that Utah’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. The Hoosier state’s marriage ban becomes the latest in a string of bans to be ruled unconstitutional since the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic rulings last year striking down Section 3 of DOMA and California’s Prop. 8. Utah’s marriage ban was struck down in December.

    According to the Human Rights Campaign, in Baskin v. Bogan, Lambda Legal and local private counsel sued the state on behalf of same-sex couples who argue that Indiana’s ban on marriage equality violates the U.S. Constitution.  In his ruling, Judge Young wrote, “In time, Americans will look at the marriage of couples such as Plaintiffs, and refer to it simply as a marriage – not a same-sex marriage. These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”   

    The Indy Star reports that Marion County Clerk Beth White is prepared to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in her office at the City-County Building in Downtown Indianapolis.

    Over in Utah, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that by upholding a Utah judge’s decision, the Tenth Circuit became the first appeals court to rule on the issue, setting a historic precedent that voter-approved bans on same-sex marriage violate the Fourteenth Amendment rights of same-sex couples to equal protection and due process. But the court stayed the implementation of their decision, pending a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court

    The split ruling affects all states in the Tenth Circuit: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.

    Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb ruled Wisconsin’s marriage ban unconstitutional. Hundreds of marriages took place in the Badger state before Crabb stayed her ruling. Just a week before Crabb’s ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block marriages of same-sex couples in Oregon.

  • June 9, 2014
    Although U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crab struck down Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriage Friday, some counties are still turning away same-sex couples. John M. Becker at The Bilerico Project describes the state of marriage equality in the Badger State.
     
    In an op-ed for The New York Times, ACS board member Linda Greenhouse pays a visit to the Berkshire International Film Festival and recommends two must-see legal documentaries.
     
    A new report released Friday reveals the immense preparation behind the Clinton administration’s nomination of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen BreyerTony Mauro and Todd Ruger at Legal Times comment on the report.
     
    At PrawfsBlawg Dan Rodriguez notes John McGinnis’ new article on the decline of lawyers entitled Machines v. Lawyers .
     
    At Jost on Justice, Kenneth Jost addresses allegations of inadequate health care for Arizona prisoners.

     

  • 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.