1721 posts categorized "Legal"

February 27, 2015

Rights groups thank Reid, Pelosi for opposing use of religion to discriminate

Today, 77 rights organizations sent a letter to Democratic Leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to thank them for opposing the use of religion to discriminate. GLAA is proud to be among them. The letter was coordinated by the Inter-Coalition Religious Refusals Working Group of the National Women’s Law Center. The text is as follows:

Dear Minority Leader Pelosi and Minority Leader Reid:

The undersigned organizations have come together to thank you for your strong stand protecting people from those who would misuse religion to harm others. Your continued leadership is critical to stopping any new legislative initiatives in this area in the 114th Congress. In fact, Congress has begun to consider these issues already, with a House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee for the Constitution and Civil Justice Hearing on “Oversight of the Religious Freedom Restoration Action and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act” on February 13, 2015.

The groups that have signed onto this letter include those working on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities; women; communities of color; youth; reproductive health; individuals facing issues around aging and end of life concerns; health care; people of faith and religious communities; secular beliefs; religious liberty; civil rights; labor; those affected by domestic violence; those living with HIV/AIDS; and a variety of other issues. Together, we represent many millions of Americans across this country.

Our nation’s laws have long protected the freedom of religion and belief – but not the right to impose those beliefs on others. The American people agree; 83 percent of adults believe that “people are entitled to their religious beliefs, but this does not give them the right to harm other people.”

The 77 organizations that have signed this letter, despite our different missions, hold in common the core principle that religion should not be used to discriminate. We thank you for doing the same. We, and the many millions of people we represent, stand with you in opposing any efforts to pass legislation that would allow religion to be misused in this way.

February 26, 2015

Stand with Mayor Bowser to defend #i71 - now the law in D.C.

NBC Washington reports:

Possessing small amounts of marijuana is now legal in the nation's capital, even after some members of Congress threatened prison time for D.C. Council members.

February 24, 2015

National Review executive editor Reihan Salam signs marriage equality statement

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(Photo by Kris Krug)

Reihan Salam, executive editor at the conservative National Review, has signed a statement drafted by David Blankenhorn that makes the conservative case for marriage equality.

I first encountered Salam when he worked for Andrew Sullivan's blog, so I sent Andrew a congratulatory note. He replies, "Reihan was my first intern. love the guy."

The ground has certainly shifted. Hooray for us.

Not OK: bill to protect parents' right to torture gay children advances in Oklahoma

Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern's bill to prohibit the state from regulating dangerous and discredited "ex-gay" therapy was approved by an Oklahoma House committee.

GLAA's testimony against conversion therapy is here.

Discriminatory Washington state florist chooses martyrdom over $2001 settlement

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(Photo: Alliance Defending Freedom)

The Blaze reports.

If the discriminators are the victims here, then erase my life.

February 23, 2015

Anti-gay #SB202 becomes law in Arkansas

Labor secretary announces same-sex couples will have access to FMLA

Labor Secretary Tom Perez announces a rule making to ensure access to the Family And Medical Leave Act for same-sex couples.

February 20, 2015

Texas Supreme Court: no more gay weddings

Travis County Clerk Dana Debeauvoir stated:

The Texas Supreme Court order on the Motion for Temporary Relief has stayed further proceedings in the trial court, and is not directed at the County Clerk. I have every reason to believe that the actions I took this morning were legally correct based on the trial court's order, and that the license my office issued was then and is now valid. There is no further action for me to take at this time.

Matt Baume explains the bakery wars

AFER's Matt Baume explains it all for you.

February 19, 2015

GLAA criticizes police sex work sting

The above tweet quotes from and links to a Blade story by Lou Chibbaro Jr. on a recent sting operation by the Metropolitan Police Department. Here is something I also said to Lou which was not quoted in the article:

Several local officials have privately agreed with us, but this law that only causes harm is considered politically untouchable. Incidentally, for the benefit of the hysterics at Family Research Council (who misrepresented our views), we are talking about consenting adults, not the victims of sex trafficking. Indeed, any resources in the area of sex crimes should go to keeping the former safe and rescuing the latter, not entrapping consenting adults. In these belt-tightening times, that public funds are expended on sting operations for victimless crimes should be considered scandalous. But the greater responsibility lies with the D.C. Council, which allows the laws that MPD uses for such operations to remain on the books.

These related GLAA documents may be of interest:

First same-sex couple marries in Texas

Boehner's heavy-handed attempt to take over foreign policy on Israel

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(AP photo)

Polls are showing that Speaker John Boener's invitation to Israeli PM Bibi Netanyahu to address Congress two weeks before he is up for re-election is unpopular with Americans. A recent story in Haaretz shows Boehner's dishonesty and recklessness:

House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday that he had asked Israeli Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer not to inform the Obama administration about their contact over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Congress speech so as to avoid "interference."

"I wanted to make sure there is no interference," Boehner told Fox News' Sunday morning program. "There is no secret here about the animosity that this White House has for Netanyahu and I didn’t want them getting in the way and quashing what I thought was a real opportunity,” Boehner continued.

How dreadful it would be for the president to interfere with Boehner's foreign policy. Pardon me, I seem to have fallen down a rabbit hole.

EEOC says Wal-Mart discriminated against lesbian

AP reports:

A federal agency says Wal-Mart discriminated against a lesbian employee who sought health coverage for her ailing wife and has ordered "a just resolution" for violating her civil rights.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ordered the retail giant to work with Jacqueline Cote of New Bedford, Massachusetts, who hopes the determination will help her pay off $100,000 in medical bills.

In a Jan. 29 EEOC ruling, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, the agency said Cote "was treated differently and denied benefits because of her sex."

Our colleague Craig Howell writes, "Now that Wal-Mart has entered the 21st century [See this and this], I hope they can settle this case promptly."

February 12, 2015

Jon Stewart on 'Wedding Crushers'

Jon Stewart takes on Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Federal judge orders Mobile County probate judge to issue same-sex marriage licenses

Campbell Robertson at NYT reports from Mobile:

A federal judge here on Thursday ordered that a county probate judge must comply with her earlier ruling and cannot refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The federal judge, Callie V. S. Granade of Federal District Court here, wrote that the county judge, Don Davis, of Probate Court in Mobile County, cannot deny a marriage license “on the ground that plaintiffs constitute same-sex couples or because it is prohibited by the sanctity of marriage.”

The decision was an effort to clarify that Judge Davis should follow Judge Granade's earlier ruling striking down a state ban on same-sex marriage, rather than a conflicting order from the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy S. Moore.

Read Judge Granade's ruling here.

The People's Brief for marriage equality

I have signed the people's brief. Will you?

February 11, 2015

Obama: critical mass reached, time for marriage equality nationwide

Whether he evolved or revolved on marriage, the president has it exactly right now.

Obama responds to Axelrod

Justin Sink at The Hill reports:

President Obama is denying a former top political adviser's contention that he intentionally deceived voters about his position on gay marriage in an interview published Wednesday.

The president said David Axelrod, his former senior adviser, was “mixing up my personal feelings with my position on the issue” when he said Obama publicly backed civil unions rather than gay marriage because it was more politically palatable.

“I always felt that same-sex couples should be able to enjoy the same rights, legally, as anybody else and so it was frustrating to me not to, I think, be able to square that with what were a whole bunch of religious sensitivities out there,” Obama said in an interview with BuzzFeed....

“I think the notion that somehow I was always in favor of marriage per se isn’t quite accurate,” Obama said.

Unfortunately, Mr. President, we have this evidence from 1996.

It's a good thing the president isn't a news anchor.

February 10, 2015

SPLC: New Jersey judge rules conversion therapy group can’t claim homosexuality is a disorder

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports excellent news:

A New Jersey Superior Court judge has ruled misrepresenting homosexuality as a disorder in marketing conversion therapy services violates the state’s consumer protection laws – a devastating ruling for the conversion therapy industry, which claims to “convert” people from gay to straight, the Southern Poverty Law Center announced today.

GLAA's 2015 policy brief discusses DC's bill prohibiting conversion therapy for minors, which is currently undergoing congressional review. We are part of a nationwide movement to protect youth from this fraudulent and harmful practice.

A critical mass

May it be so.

Obama comments on the freedom to marry in Alabama

February 09, 2015

Same-sex couples get marriage licenses in Alabama

Alan Blinder at NYT reports:

The United States Supreme Court said early Monday that it would not stop same-sex marriages in Alabama, as gay couples gathered outside courthouses across the state.

Justices on Monday morning denied a request by the Alabama attorney general to extend a hold on a judge’s ruling overturning the state’s ban on gay marriage. The attorney general, Luther Strange, had asked the United States Supreme Court to halt the weddings until the justices settle the issue nationwide when they take it up this year.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore defies federal courts

Alan Blinder at NYT reports on Roy Moore's latest lawlessness:

In a dramatic show of defiance toward the federal judiciary, Chief Justice Roy S. Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court on Sunday night ordered the state’s probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples on Monday, the day same-sex marriages were expected to begin here.

“Effective immediately, no probate judge of the State of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent” with the Alabama Constitution or state law, the chief justice wrote in his order.

February 03, 2015

Freedom to Marry runs marriage equality ad in Alabama

11th Circuit denies stay in Alabama marriage case

Also this:

'Death With Dignity' bill likely to get slow walk through D.C. Council

Yvette_Alexander
(Photo by Matt McClain for The Washington Post)

Mike DeBonis at WaPo reports on the Death with Dignity Act, introduced by Ward 3 CM Mary Cheh and endorsed by GLAA.

I am quoted in the article, which also links to GLAA's 2015 policy brief. Councilmember Yvette Alexander, to whose Health committee the bill was assigned, said her Catholic faith, which she cited in opposing marriage equality, will not influence her handling of this bill. That remains to be demonstrated.

February 02, 2015

Marriage Equality Watch

Matt Baume of AFER gives an update on the state of marriage equality efforts. Here's AFER's description:

Marriage could be starting next week in Alabama. Anti-gay officials are saying that they don’t have to let gay couples get married, but their reasoning isn’t exactly what you would call true. Oklahoma’s marriage equality backlash is getting dangerous, with a proposed law that would hand new victims to ex-gay predators. And the National Organization for Marriage thinks they’ll have an impact on the 2016 presidential election.

January 30, 2015

HRC releases 2014 State Equality Index

I am pleased to note that the District of Columbia has most of the boxes checked. More to come.

January 29, 2015

Surrender Dorothy

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(AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

Christian Science Monitor reports that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is testing the waters for a presidential run.

Seriously? The closet case who just this week demanded to know from AG nominee Loretta Lynch why gay marriage would not lead to polygamy? If you are that delusional, Senator, bring it on.

Heritage Action urges Hill action against pro-gay D.C. legislation

GLAA anticipated this sort of thing. Follow the link to the new Home Rule section of our policy brief, out this week. We have briefed Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and the Human Rights Campaign, and they are on the case.

January 27, 2015

Mormon church offers gay people some rights, with a condition

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(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

WaPo reports:

After years of behind-the-scenes meetings between LGBT advocates and top Mormon leaders, church officials Tuesday announced for the first time general support for legislation to protect LGBT people in areas such as housing and employment – as long as accommodations are made to protect the freedom of religious people who oppose such measures.

Experience teaches us not to trust vague "religious freedom exemptions." This article does not specify what that means in this case. I know what it meant to the Archdiocese of Washington in 2009--a sweeping exemption to the DC Human Rights Act. No. We are not demanding "all or nothing," we are demanding equality, and we keep pressing until we win. Partial steps are one thing, poison pills another. I don't want marriage with an asterisk.

January 25, 2015

Judge issues 14-day stay of order striking down Alabama marriage ban

January 23, 2015

Federal judge strikes down Alabama marriage ban

Marriage equality comes to the heart of Dixie.

January 22, 2015

Huckabee: states shouldn't follow SCOTUS gay marriage ruling

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(AP Photo / Susan Walsh)

Here's what Mike Huckabee told right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt, his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification:

If the courts make a decision, I hear governors and even some aspirants to the presidency say well, that's settled, and it’s the law of the land. No, it isn't the law of the land. Constitutionally, the courts cannot make a law. They can interpret one. And then the legislature has to create enabling legislation, and the executive has to sign it, and has to enforce it.

Dear Mike, no. Please check out the Supremacy Clause in Article VI of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court won't end the gay marriage debate for Republicans

Linda Greenhouse at NYT explains why.

"Hero of the supermarket" wins French citizenship

Lassana Bathily, a Malian Muslim immigrant who saved several lives from terrorist Amedy Coulibaly earlier this month at a kosher supermarket, has been granted French citizenship. He had applied for it last summer. Congrats to him. When we overgeneralize about Islam, and talk as if we are in a religious war, we play into the hands of people like Coulibaly and hurt people like Bathily. That makes no sense.

January 21, 2015

Reaction to gay marriage in Obama's 2015 State of the Union

As the President celebrates the advance of marriage equality, Speaker Boehner keeps his grim face, the six SCOTUS justices maintain their practiced neutrality (they have cases pending, and were not there as a partisan cheering section), and one of the heroes of Selma rises to his feet.

It is worth noting that by using the phrase "civil right" about gay marriage last night, the President moved the discussion forward. Those of us who have been on the front lines of the marriage equality fight have studiously avoided using that phrase, because it has been a sore point with African American voters. We used phrases like "equal rights" and "human rights" instead. Here in D.C., when the Foundation for All D.C. Families hired Celinda Lake to do a poll on marriage equality in 2006, this was one of the points we examined.

The issue of messaging, where you consider your audience when framing your message, may seem cynical and calculating, but when you are trying to persuade people and win their votes, it is not helpful to start by pissing them off. This is a linguistic point on which white gay activists have respectfully let black leaders like Rep. John Lewis and President Obama take the lead. And if there is a greater moral authority than John Lewis, I would like to know who.

January 20, 2015

AFA demands Ginsburg and Kagan recuse themselves from gay marriage case

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David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement reports:

The American Family Association has issued a call claiming two liberal Supreme Court justices should recuse themselves from ruling on the same-sex marriage cases the Court just accepted Friday.

"Kagan and Ginsburg: Recuse Yourselves!" reads the press release. "Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg should recuse themselves from making any same-sex marriage decisions because they have both conducted same-sex marriage ceremonies," it adds.

Other Supreme Court justices have officiated at different-sex weddings, so its unclear why officiating at a legal same-sex wedding should make any difference.

Hilarious. Dear Bryan Fischer: when you get Justices Scalia and Thomas to recuse themselves, come back and talk to me.

January 16, 2015

SCOTUS takes 6th Circuit marriage cases

Lyle Denniston reports at SCOTUSblog:

Taking on a historic constitutional challenge with wide cultural impact, the Supreme Court on Friday afternoon agreed to hear four new cases on same-sex marriage. The Court said it would rule on the power of the states to ban same-sex marriages and to refuse to recognize such marriages performed in another state. A total of two-and-a-half hours was allocated for the hearings, likely in the April sitting. A final ruling is expected by early next summer, probably in late June.

The Court fashioned the specific questions it is prepared to answer, but they closely tracked the two core constitutional issues that have led to a lengthy string of lower-court rulings striking down state bans. As of now, same-sex marriages are allowed in thirty-six states, with bans remaining in the other fourteen but all are under court challenge.

UPDATE 7:51 p.m. The Obama administration will file a brief in the same-sex marriage cases, supporting equal access to marital rights in all of the states, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

At last!

I really hope that counsel for our opponents boils it down during oral arguments by saying, "Your Honors, what about the chirren?!!" and sitting back down.

January 13, 2015

Court strikes down South Dakota gay marriage ban

The Blade reports:

A federal judge in South Dakota became the latest to rule against a ban on same-sex marriage on Monday, striking down the state’s law on the basis that it violates rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

In a 28-page decision, U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier, a Clinton appointee, grants summary judgement to plaintiff same-sex couples in the case, saying South Dakota’s marriage ban runs contrary to their rights to equal protection and due process under the U.S. Constitution.

“In Loving, the Supreme Court addressed a traditionally accepted definition of marriage that prohibited Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving from marrying,” Schreier writes. “Because Virginia’s laws deprived that couple of their fundamental right to marriage, the Court struck down those laws. Little distinguishes this case from Loving. Plaintiffs have a fundamental right to marry. South Dakota law deprives them of that right solely because they are same-sex couples and without sufficient justification.”

The decision is stayed pending appeal.