1641 posts categorized "Legal"

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

Jenny_Durkan
(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

BrianBrownSuperSadz1

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:

Rep. Hastings slams #GOPlawsuit against Obama

Rep. Alcee Hastings slams the House GOP lawsuit against President Obama over enforcement of the Affordable Care Act.

July 31, 2014

Heritage Foundation fellow uses nullification argument against marriage equality

Miranda Blue at Right Wing Watch reports:

The anti-marriage-equality movement seems to have anointed Ryan T. Anderson as its next intellectual leader. Anderson, who is now a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, follows in the footsteps of his mentor Robert P. George and National Organization for Marriage founder Maggie Gallagher in being able to talk about the marriage issue without spewing fire and brimstone or talking about how gay people make them want to vomit.

This kinder, gentler approach has endeared Anderson and his predecessors to a movement that’s trying to snatch its image away from the likes of Bryan Fischer and Pat Robertson.

But it also can obscure the fact that Anderson’s supposedly intellectual arguments against marriage equality can still be far out of the mainstream.

Read the whole thing here.

July 29, 2014

4th Circuit rules against Virginia marriage ban, NC AG won't defend that state's ban

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(Plaintiffs Mary Townley at right, Carol Schall and their daughter Emily. Photo courtesy AFER.)

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a lower court ruling in Bostic v. Schaefer that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriages and on the recognition of such marriages from other jurisdictions is unconstitutional, Justin Snow reports in Metro Weekly:

A federal appeals court found Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in a ruling handed down Monday.

With a 2-1 decision, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling finding Virginia law prohibiting same-sex marriage and recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states in violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The ruling is here. The attorney general of North Carolin said after the ruling that he will no longer defend that state's same-sex marriage ban, as it will not hold up in court. Lyle Denniston discusses the ruling at SCOTUSblog. As he notes, the county clerks who defended the ban have a right to seek an en banc review by the full 4th Circuit; stay tuned on that.

Ari Ezra Waldman at Towleroad analyzes the lone dissent by Judge Paul V. Niemeyer, who during oral arguments kept calling gay relationships "new" and "different," echoing Justice Byron White's notorious opinion in the 1986 Bowers decision in which he framed the dispute over sodomy laws as whether the constitution guarantees a right to have gay anal sex. Of course the constitution lays out broad principles, and was never set up to be a list of permitted activities. Indeed, it specifies the powers of the three branches of the federal government, leaving all others to the states and the people. Conservative judges like Niemeyer were effectively rebuked in 2003 by Justice Anthony Kennedy's Lawrence decision, but they persist in their discredited, biased approach.

The celebrity superlawyer team of Boies and Olson, touted in NYT reporter Jo Becker's much-criticized book on the Prop 8 case, Forcing the Spring, were involved in the Virginia case. Be assured that they will be fighting like alley cats for the right to do the oral arguments if the Virginia case is taken up by SCOTUS.

The Catholic Bishops of Virginia slammed the 4th Circuit's decision, saying, "This action reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the intrinsic nature of marriage and is an injustice to Virginia voters." Their arguments, based on "natural law" and other doctrine dressed up in pseudoscientific drag, have been refuted many times -- as has their suggestion that voters should be able to deny a fundamental right like marriage to people they don't like. These bullies are losing, and the final blow at the Supreme Court, likely in the coming term, cannot come soon enough to suit me.

July 26, 2014

Applause from an adversary

The group Faith and Action says on its "About" page:

The missionary outreaches at Faith and Action are targeted specifically toward our nation’s public policy makers and particularly to Capitol Hill. We believe such a narrowly targeted effort is the most effective method for accomplishing our mission – to challenge our leaders with Biblical TRUTH.

If you suspect they are not big fans of GLAA's work, you are right. But on Friday, I came across this tweet in response to my article, "Free Speech and the Bible Museum":

Here is the praise from Faith and Action blogger kaitlynn:

We’re often too quick to condemn and too slow to compliment. So, this time we wanted to make a point to applaud the writer of this article for standing up for religious freedom to back a cause that we happen to agree with, and HE happens to disagree with.

Richard J. Rosendall (President, Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance) there are plenty of things we fully disagree with you on, but find your willingness to champion the freedom of speech and religious freedoms of everyone (despite the fact that you disagree with their views, and probably taking some heat for it) impressive.

I replied:

Oh, dear, I'm in trouble now! But thank you. I hear faint echoes of the famous Christmas ceasefire in WWI. Or to quote JFK: "We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

Best wishes and God bless America,

Rick Rosendall
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance

A friend joked that I would be run out of town by angry liberals, and offered me sanctuary in another state (which I will keep confidential in case I need it); but joking aside, it is foolish and ahistorical to think we weaken our position by defending the free speech rights of our opponents. Censorship by our side is not only obnoxious and hypocritical, it is (as my article points out) unnecessary because we have the better arguments. As another friend put it yesterday, GLAA's approach demonstrates the maturity of our movement. (Or at least our corner of it, as I said back to him.)

July 25, 2014

Besen doubles down on effort to block disagreeable speech

Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out has responded to my criticism of his effort to get District of Columbia officials to somehow block the planned Bible museum two blocks south of the National Mall. (My piece originally appeared on July 21 at Daily Kos.) Our exchange via Twitter is below.

July 24, 2014

Interview with Edith Windsor: a marriage equality legacy

Marriage Equality USA interviews Edith Windsor on her historic victory last year against DOMA before the Supreme Court of the United States. Click here for the previous segments.

GOP Candidate In Arizona Promises To Fight 'The Gay Lobby,' Stop Illegal Immigration 'Before It's Too Late'

Miranda Blue reports at Right Wing Watch:

In a campaign ad that began airing last week in Arizona, Republican gubernatorial candidate Andrew Thomas boasts of having “stood up to the gay lobby” and promises to stop undocumented immigrants “before it’s too late.”

“When I enforced the law, illegal immigrants fled this state. Now they stay and protest” Thomas, a former Maricopa County attorney, says in the ad, as he’s flanked by a mostly-white crowd.

Thomas was disbarred in 2012 after facing corruption charges. He isn’t considered a frontrunner in a large Republican field that includes executive Christine Jones, State Treasurer Doug Ducey, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, former Rep. Frank Riggs, and others.

July 21, 2014

President Obama signs executive orders on LGBT workplace protections

Free Speech and the Bible Museum

I want to draw your attention to an article that I have just published on the Daily Kos blog:

Free Speech and the Bible Museum

This concerns plans by the owner of Hobby Lobby to create a Bible museum a few blocks from the National Mall, and the response by Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out to the news. Besen, who has done invaluable work in exposing anti-gay junk science and religious extremism, has called for D.C. Government officials to somehow prevent the planned museum from opening. But since the museum is to be privately funded and located on private property, there is no legitimate basis to block it.

As my article discusses, GLAA has a long history of defending our opponents' First Amendment rights. This allows us to hold the moral high ground, and has won us praise, including from Washington Post columnist Colby King. We are much better off in the long run by respecting the rights of all, not just those who agree with us. Our longtime allies at the American Civil Liberties Union stand with us on this.