1610 posts categorized "Legal"

October 22, 2014

NYT Columnist Apologizes For Attending Fundraiser For Anti-Gay Legal Group

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I am quoted in this article by Carlos Maza and Joe Strupp at Media Matters. They report:

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat apologized for appearing at a fundraising event for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an extreme anti-gay legal group working to criminalize homosexuality....

As Media Matters noted, ADF is one of the most extreme anti-gay legal groups in the country, fighting against even basic legal protections for LGBT people and working internationally to repress LGBT human rights, including supporting Belize's draconian law criminalizing gay sex.

On Wednesday, Douthat explained that he did not know ADF's event was a fundraiser and said he plans to decline the honorarium he received from the event.

I note that my quote (follow the link) was given before word of Douthat's apology. I am glad that he apologized and will not accept the honorarium.

October 21, 2014

The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel controversy

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(Donald and Evelyn Knapp, owners of the Hitching Post Chapel. Photo credit: Alliance Defending Freedom)

The anti-gay Alliance Defending Freedom is suing the City of Coeur D’Alene, Idaho in a "gays are bullies" case. Last Friday, ADF attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order against the city. Here is an excerpt:

This case is about the City of Coeur D’Alene unconstitutionally coercing two Christian ministers, Donald and Evelyn Knapp, to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies at The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in violation of their religious beliefs, their ordination vows, and their consciences. Coeur D’Alene does so by imposing a Hobson’s choice on the Knapps through City Ordinance §9.56, which bars sexual orientation discrimination in public accommodations: the Knapps can either violate their religious convictions and ministerial vows by performing same-sex wedding ceremonies or follow their religious convictions and vows by declining to perform same-sex ceremonies and face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
This was reported by Todd Starnes of Fox News: City threatens to arrest ministers who refuse to perform same-sex weddings

The story was given legs by Eugene Volokh at WaPo: Can ministers who make a living by conducting weddings be required to conduct same-sex weddings?

The claim that those awful gays are bullying ministers does not survive closer inspection. Here are several stories to check out:

A quick Google search shows that the right wing is going nuts over this story. We have to fight back with the truth.

October 17, 2014

Sen. Cruz attacks Mayor Parker over Houston Equal Rights Ordinance


The battle over the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance continues, with Sen. Ted Cruz demagoguing (see video below) and the city clarifying its subpoena.

Arizona gets marriage equality


Good news from Arizona! Lily Hiott-Millis at Freedom to Marry reports:

Today, October 17, U.S. District Court Judge John Sedgwick ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in Arizona in two federal legal cases that challenged the state’s anti-marriage constitutional amendment.

Attorney General Horne has said that he will not appeal the ruling meaning that marriage licenses could be issued as soon as today.

In celebration of hermaphroditic snails

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("Snail Shell on Keys" by Garry Gay)

In an update on my earlier post regarding the new snail species Aegista diversifamilia, Manon Verchot at Treehugger.com quotes me, including my new lyrics channeling Cole Porter:

Bi-curious whales do it, quails do it,
New hermaphroditic snails do it.
Let's do it, let's fall in love.

Below, though sadly without benefit of my special lyrics, Billie Holiday gives her rendition. Use your imagination.

October 12, 2014

Gay Marriage Obstacles Fall in Conservative States

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(AP Photo/Las Vegas News Bureau, Brian Jones)

AP surveys the remarkable legal developments of the past week. Here's a portion:

The U.S. Supreme Court issued an order Friday that appears to have cleared the way for gay marriages in conservative Idaho. Gay rights supporters are cheering in Boise as state officials were trying to determine when weddings might take place. At least one county clerk in Idaho began issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Meanwhile, a federal judge in North Carolina has struck down the state's gay marriage ban, opening the way for the first same-sex weddings in the state to begin immediately. The ruling follows Monday's announcement by the U.S. Supreme Court that it would not hear any appeals of cases before the 4th Circuit Court, which has jurisdiction over North Carolina.

As our opponents continue to make noise and talk about the downfall of civilization, it is good for us to savor the simple happiness and decency of so many families gaining legal protections and recognition that they never had before. In winning these battles, we are helping make America live up to its founding principles. This is not the end of the struggle for marriage equality, but it is a sweet moment.

Texas AG: gay marriage ban reduces out-of-wedlock births

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(Greg Abbott poses with 10 Commandments at state capitol. Photo by Jana Birchum, Getty Images)

Houston Chronicle reports on the brief that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican nominee for governor, filed with the Fifth Circuit on Friday in that state's fight against marriage equality:

Writing in a brief filed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, Abbott said the state was not obligated to prove why gay marriage might be detrimental to the economic or social well-being of Texans. It was only required to show how opposite-sex marriage would be more beneficial for its citizens.

“The State is not required to show that recognizing same-sex marriage will undermine heterosexual marriage,” the brief read. “It is enough if one could rationally speculate that opposite-sex marriages will advance some state interest to a greater extent than same-sex marriages will.”

Abbott may not be charged with contempt of court, but the contempt he shows for the court, the truth, and real families in his preposterous brief could hardly be more clear. It must at last be recognized: we are no longer talking about disagreements, but about lies. Desperate, insulting, cynical lies. Stopping me from marrying the man I love does nothing to advance any state interest. The notion that straight people's marriages are somehow devalued by allowed gay couples to wed should leave any decent and honest person's mouth agape. The final resolution of this nonsense cannot come soon enough.

Go Wendy.

October 09, 2014

Justice Kennedy's busy day

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Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy issued a temporary stay Wednesday to the Ninth Circuit's ruling that same-sex marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada are unconstitutional. Later in the day, he lifted the stay on Nevada.

Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed discusses it.

My main reaction is: Hey thanks, Justice Kennedy, for jerking us around. By all means, take your sweet fucking time while thousands of families' lives are up in the air. Would you like more coffee? I just put a fresh pot on. Have another scone.

Update: And now this:

October 06, 2014

SCOTUS declines marriage appeals from five states

The Supreme Court of the United States today declined to hear appeals in marriage equality cases from Oklahoma, Utah, Indiana, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Chris Johnson of the Blade reports.

Gay marriages began in Virginia this afternoon. Today's high court ruling will also mean equality in six other states, which are in the same federal appeals circuit courts as the five directly affected. This will bring the U.S. marriage equality roster to 30 states and the District of Columbia, representing 60 percent of America's population.

We will not be done until all fifty states enjoy equality, but this is an enormous step forward. Justice Ginsburg recently indicated that there was no need for SCOTUS to weigh when all the appellate rulings so far have been for marriage equality. If one of the remaining circuits upholds a state ban on same-sex marriage, that would set up a conflict that SCOTUS needs to resolve.

This is not the end, but it is a very good day. Congrats to everyone in the new marriage equality states.

October 03, 2014

Anti-gay mother: It's God's will that my son's widower get nothing from wrongful death suit

From Alabama, an illustration of the grim fact that the struggle for equality for gay families is not over: Defendant-Intervenor Pat Fancher's Motion for Summary Judgment against the husband of her dead son.

If I believed in God, I would pray for her to get boils or something. But I don't, so have a nice day.

September 30, 2014

AG candidate Lorie Masters issues statement on LGBT issues

GLAA, while not rating candidates in the race for D.C. Attorney General, invited candidates to submit statements on LGBT issues. The first to respond is Lorie Masters.

Read the statement by Lorie Masters here.

We will post statements by the other AG candidates, both here and at GLAA's main website at glaa.org, as we receive them.

September 29, 2014

Rosendall, Summersgill testify for Human Rights Amendment Act

The D.C. Council Judiciary Committee today heard testimony on a few bills, including Bill 20-803, "Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014," and Bill 20-321, "Human Rights Act Notice Requirement Amendment Act of 2013." Read our testimony here:

Rick Rosendall's testimony (on Bills 20-803 and 20-321)

Bob Summersgill's testimony (on Bill 20-803 only)

The hearing became much more interesting that it might have been because an attorney for Catholic University testified against Bill 20-803's repeal of the Armstrong Amendment, which was imposed by Congress on the District 25 years ago and permits religiously-affiliated educational institutions to discriminate against gay people. Mónica Palacio, Director of the D.C. Office of Human Rights, testified in support of the legislation.

Julia Robey Christian, communications director for Judiciary Chairman Tommy Wells, tweeted praise for my comments during the question-and-answer session:

What will SCOTUS do this term on marriage equality?

Above, AFER's Matt Baume discusses the marriage equality issue that was on the agenda for this morning's meeting of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices. NYT reports:

The endgame started Monday morning. At their first private conference of the term, the justices were scheduled to consider, among many other things, seven petitions urging them to hear appeals from decisions striking down bans on same-sex marriage.

In an unusual move, the same-sex couples on the winning side of those cases joined their adversaries in asking the Supreme Court to settle the question, nationally and once and for all.

The justices face complicated choices about which case to accept, and when. They could announce their choices as soon as this week and hear arguments as soon as January.

Or they could sort and sift and wait for other courts to rule. The last time the court heard cases on same-sex marriage, in 2013, they were argued in March. The last argument session of the term is in April.

Lambda Legal blogged before the SCOTUS conference here.

September 26, 2014

Loose Lips: What does the DC AG do?

Will Sommer at City Paper gives GLAA our props (see article) as he looks at the dilemma faced by the 57 percent of voters who are undecided in the upcoming election for D.C. Attorney General:

After nearly a year of legal and legislative wrangling, residents will get what they asked for in a 2010 ballot measure—they’ll vote for the District’s first elected attorney general in November. Next up: figuring out what the District’s first elected attorney general will actually do.

September 25, 2014

The Worst Right-Wing Smears About Eric Holder

A compilation by Media Matters for America.

AG Eric Holder resigns

Here are several reports, blogs, and tweets about Thursday's big news from Washington.

From NYT:
Eric Holder Resigns, Setting Up Fight Over Successor

Talking Points Memo:
Libertarian Think Tank Removes Piece Comparing Eric Holder To George Wallace

Blue Nation Review:
Eric Holder’s Greatest Achievements

Bilerico:
AG Eric Holder, LGBT Rights Hero, To Resign:

And from Steve Clemons of The Atlantic:

The Lesbian Who Could Be The Next U.S. Attorney General

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(U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan of Seattle. Photo: AP/Ted S. Warren)

Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed has the story.

September 24, 2014

RI Supreme Court hears case on firefighters objecting to parade duty

Former Providence mayor Buddy Cianci is in the Rhode Island state Supreme Court over his having ordered a couple of firefighters years ago to drive a firetruck in a gay pride parade. Call out the waaambulance for these guys.

Sims: PA Doesn't Protect LGBT Citizens

Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims rages at his colleagues over the state's failure to protect its LGBT citizens from discrimination.

Also, BuzzFeed reports that State Sen. Jim Ferlo came out at the same rally.

September 23, 2014

Chad considers criminalizing homosexuality

Pink News reports.

Louisiana judge rules in favor of the freedom to marry, 40th victory since June ‘13

Adam Polaski has the story at Freedom to Marry.

Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed follows up:

September 11, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court to consider marriage cases on Sept. 29

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog discusses the matter.

September 09, 2014

Starnes: Pastors will go to jail for opposing gay rights

No, Todd, they won't. Unlike Canada, which you cite, America has something called the First Amendment. And we at GLAA have defended our opponents' First Amendment rights time and again. Here is the latest example.

(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)

September 04, 2014

Andrew Cray: gone too soon, yet a lasting legacy

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The loss of extraordinary transgender health activist Andrew Cray last week at age 28 has been hard for a lot of us to get our minds around. The August 30 memorial service at St. Thomas Church in Dupont Circle helped, as gatherings of love and respect do. Working through his illness, Andrew played a crucial role in getting the details right for Mayor Gray's historic executive action earlier this year to guarantee transgender people non-discriminatory access to health care. The service was led beautifully by Bishop Gene Robinson, who had worked with Andrew at the Center for American Progress and had officiated at Andrew's wedding to Sarah McBride six days before. The mutual grieving and celebration of Andrew among the CAP staff and local and national LGBT activists at the service was especially poignant in that he had helped so many people in such a short life.

Here is the eulogy given by Sterling Washington, Director of the D.C. Office of GLBT Affairs:

Before Amy reads the condolence letter from Mayor Gray, I wanted to say a few words about Andrew Cray. I admit to struggling with what those words would be, which is a bit unusual for me. This all seemed to happen so fast and I haven't had time to wrap my head around it. And I know that if it is difficult for me, it is unbearably arduous for his family. After all, it was just six days ago that Andy and Sarah were married and now we are eulogizing him.

To say he was an indefatigable activist is an understatement. Andrew Cray did more in his 28 years than so many accomplish in a lifetime. And he did so in service to others. For example, he worked closely with the Mayor's Office of GLBT Affairs last September to educate the LGBT community about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the local DC Health Benefits Exchange. But, Andrew's most enduring work with the Office involved his legal research and advice when the District moved to bar discrimination against the transgender community in health insurance. This was no easy task and was a year in the making. As we approached the end of the process, there were several surreptitious calls late at night between my Office and a handful of advocates – Andy Bowen, Kellan Baker, and Andrew. Sometimes, it involved Kellan carrying messages to Andrew, whose health had really begun to deteriorate by that point. You see, Andrew was among a handful of legal experts in the country who understood the verbiage needed to ensure our policy was as inclusive as it could be. To be clear, many activists had begun laying the groundwork for this years ago; however, when it came to shaping and actually writing the policy clarification, Andrew was invaluable. Because of his work and that of a handful of advocates, the District has the most comprehensive policy barring discrimination in health insurance (including Medicaid) on the basis of gender identity of any jurisdiction in the country. We are mourning Andrew today, but the fruits of his labor will live on and help so many get the life-saving procedures they so desperately need. And not just here in DC. On Thursday – the day that Andrew died – the city of Cincinnati decided that it would cover gender reassignment surgeries.

Aside from his work, Andrew's passing leaves a hole in the heart of so many of us here. And that is harder to speak to. His love, energy, and friendship still endures albeit in a different state now. And we will carry with us every day the memory of those and we are indeed changed – in a positive way - because our lives were touched by his.

Mayor Gray's condolence letter was read by GLBT Affairs Deputy Director Amy Loudermilk.

News reports at the Blade and Think Progress. Cray wrote an op-ed at Advocate.com in March of this year. May this beautiful young man rest in peace. He has certainly left the world better than he found it.

September 03, 2014

Brian Brown: marriage equality 'house of cards collapsing' based on one ruling

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NOM's Brian Brown cannot let go. In response to a ruling by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman upholding Louisiana's gay marriage ban, Brown says in a press release:

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today praised federal court Judge Martin Feldman for ruling today that the US Constitution does not preclude the state of Louisiana from defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and that voters made a rational decision in doing so when they adopted the state's marriage amendment. Feldman becomes the third federal judge to have ruled that traditional marriage laws are not unconstitutional, and the first since the US Supreme Court issued their decision invalidating a section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. A state judge in Tennessee has also ruled that the US constitution does not prohibit states from defining marriage a one man and one woman.

"Here we see the house of cards collapsing that supported the myth that redefining marriage is inevitable," said Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. "This decision by Judge Feldman in Louisiana is a great win for the cause of marriage, coming as it does on the heels of other pro-marriage court victories, that puts the lie to the claim that it is inevitable the US Supreme Court will redefine marriage. To the contrary, we believe they will leave this issue with the states."

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog writes on Feldman's ruling. Click here for the ruling itself.

September 01, 2014

Marriage News Watch

Matt Baume of AFER gives an update on marriage equality cases.

August 29, 2014

Which marriage case will SCOTUS pick?

Richard Wolf at USA Today examines the pros and cons of various state marriage equality cases being chosen for review by the Supreme Court of the United States. My bet is on Utah.

August 27, 2014

Posner's most brutal audio clips grilling marriage equality opponents

Mark Joseph Stern at Slate has excerpted a string of audio clips from Tuesday's 7th Circuit hearing on the Indiana and Wisconsin gay marriage bans, in which conservative Judge Richard Posner quietly and brutally exposes the bankruptcy of the state governments' position.

Listening to the audio has a much more powerful impact than just reading Posner's words on the page. I think this is going to be a legendary moment when the history of this struggle is written. Judge Posner is devastating.

7th Circuit judges grill state lawyers over Indiana and Wisconsin gay marriage bans

Richard-Posner

The Daily Mail reports on Tuesday's hearing before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on the Indiana and Wisconsin gay marriage bans:

Richard Posner, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, hit the backers of the ban the hardest. He balked when Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Timothy Samuelson repeatedly pointed to "tradition" as the underlying justification for barring gay marriage.

"It was tradition to not allow blacks and whites to marry — a tradition that got swept away," the 75-year-old judge said. Prohibition of same-sex marriage, Posner said, derives from "a tradition of hate ... and savage discrimination" of homosexuals....

Posner, who has a reputation for making lawyers before him squirm, cut off Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher just moments into his presentation and frequently chided him to answer his questions.

At one point, Posner ran through a list of psychological strains the children of unmarried same-sex couples suffered, including having to struggle to grasp why their schoolmates' parents were married and theirs weren't.

"What horrible stuff," Posner said. What benefit to society in barring gay marriage, he asked, outweighs that kind of harm to children? ...

At one point, a visibly uncomfortable Samuelson struggled to offer a specific reason for how gay marriage bans benefit society. He then noted a yellow courtroom light was on signaling his allotted time was nearly up.

"It won't save you," Judge Ann Claire Williams, a Bill Clinton appointee, told him, prompting laughter in court.

(Photo of Judge Richard Posner courtesy University of Chicago Law School)

August 22, 2014

Eugene Delgaudio's latest

Anti-gay crackpot Eugene Delgaudio's latest cry against gay people taking away his religious liberty.

Federal Judge Rules Florida Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

TPM reports.

Read the ruling here.

Meanwhile, Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog reads the high court's signals on same-sex marriage.

August 21, 2014

Fayetteville mayor successfully urges passage of non-discrimination ordinance

Fayetteville, Arkansas mayor Lioneld Jordan strongly advocated an anti-discrimination ordinance in the early hours of August 20. It was then passed by the city council. Congrats to the people of Fayetteville and their elected leaders.

August 19, 2014

Pam Bondi on gay marriage, pot and doing her job

Florida AG Pam Bondi says y'all can just stay in limbo until SCOTUS rules.

Robert Oscar Lopez: Gay Marriage Is A 'Tidal Wave That Swept Up Children'

Right Wing Watch reports.

August 07, 2014

Marriage bans take a beating in Sixth Circuit arguments

Chris Johnson reports in the Blade. You can get the flavor from his tweets:

Tenth Circuit marriage ruling appealed to SCOTUS

On the Oklahoma case: AP reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage is constitutional.

The appeal was filed Wednesday by an organization representing Tulsa County Clerk Sally Howe Smith, who was sued after refusing to grant a marriage license to a same-sex couple several years ago.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the couple last month, upholding a federal judge's ruling that found the ban unconstitutional. However, those rulings are on hold as the case moves through the courts, meaning same-sex couples haven't been allowed to marry in Oklahoma.

August 04, 2014

Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver: gay marriage will destroy Western civilization

We have heard this endlessly, of course; but I've never been clear as to exactly how my right to marry the man I love could endanger all of Western civilization. Still waiting for that explanation.

Anti-LGBT Columnist: Take Children Away From Gay Parents

Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch reports:

An anti-LGBT activist writing for Alan Keyes’s Renew America this weekend called gay adoption “a crime against humanity” that must be stopped.

“If, as a society, we claim to truly be against the abuse and harm of our children, then we have a moral responsibility to keep them out of the hands of gay couples, whether ‘married’ or not,” Tim Dunkin of Conservative Underground wrote. “Don't let perverts corrupt our kids while trying to live out an impossible fantasy.”

But he wasn’t done there. He went on to insist that “handing children over to gays to be raised” is actually “worse” than “locking them in hot cars for hours on end,” writing that no society should “allow gays to ‘recruit’ children into the constellation of ‘queer’ lifestyles.”

August 01, 2014

I Can't Breathe: a Broadway protest of the killing of Eric Garner

The Daily News today reports that the NYC Medical Examiner has ruled that Eric Garner was killed by a police chokehold, a restraining tactic that is still being used despite being long forbidden.

Ugandan constitutional court overturns Anti-Homosexuality Act

Frank Mugisha has just tweeted this great news from the constitutional court in Uganda. Congrats to him and his colleagues. This does not immediately protect LGBT folk there from mob violence. Lord knows what President Museveni or Martin Ssempa will say. They could stir up public backlash further. So our friends in Uganda must still be very careful. But the court's ruling is most welcome news. Stay tuned for details, but based on what was said in court yesterday, the ruling may be based on the fact that Speaker Kadaga held the vote on the bill without a quorum.

Update: Mugisha posted this follow-up: