Movement toward same-sex marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.
2014-JAN: Accelerating steps towards
marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.
We use the acronym "SSM" throughout this section to represent "same-sex marriage"
We use the acronym "LGBT" to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. The acronym "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
See also the previous essay describing events during 2013-DEC
2014-JAN-01: Year-end review for 2013:
Six states achieved marriage equality during 2013: Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
- Illinois' law won't take effect until 2014-JUN-01.
- Hawaii's achievement was at the end of a battle lasting over two decades.
- Twenty-nine states still have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriages in place. SSM can come to these states by a slow route involving citizen initiatives to repeal their constitutional bans and introduce marriage equality, or by a fast route involving federal courts.
- Ballot challenges to repeal state Constitutional bans on SSM during 2014 and 2016 are being prepared in Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio and Oregon.
- President Chad Griffin's email from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) at the beginning of the year made an ambitious promise:
"We can't tolerate the persistence of two Americas when it comes to equality. Right now, in one America, complete legal equality has finally been realized. But in the other America, even the most basic statewide legal protections are non-existent. Within 5 years, we will bring marriage equality to all 50 of our states. We will secure full equality everywhere, for everyone.
HRC reports that 38.35% of Americans live in states where opposite and same-sex couples can marry.
If SSMs resume in Utah later in 2014, this would increase to 39.3%. If both Utah and Oklahoma were to attain marriage equality, the percentage would exceel 40%. The HRC also reports that there are 30 currently active lawsuits challenging marriage laws and constitutional amendments in state and federal courts.
- In a seventh state, Utah,the federal District Court legalized SSM on 2013-DEC-20.
- 2014-JAN-06: Utah:
The State of Utah appealed the 2013-DEC-20 decision of the federal District Court that had legalized SSMs.
After the State of Utah had unsuccessfully requested three stays of the District Court's ruling, it was finally successful in obtaining a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court on 2014-JAN-06. The high court appears to be motivated by a desire to slow down the dozens of existing lawsuits seeking the legalization of SSM in many states across the country.
By this time,
1,300 marriages of same-sex couples were solemnized. The stay halted further marriages by same-sex couples until at least the Tenth U.S. Court of Appeals issues its ruling. That will probably be during 2014-SPRING.
The federal government, three states (Delaware, Maryland, and Massachusetts) and the Utah State Tax Commission all recognize the 1,300 marriages. However, the state of Utah does not. More details.
After nine years, the federal District Court in Oklahoma finally issued its ruling. In a close parallel with the District Court in Utah, District Court Judge Terence Kern in Oklahoma declared Question 711 -- the 2004 state constitutional amendment that banned SSM -- to be unconstitutional. He determined that it violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In order to avoid the chaos generated by the District Court in Utah, Judge Kern immediately stayed his ruling. The state has appealed this decision to the 10th U.S. Court of Appeals -- the same appeals court that is hearing the Utah case. The two lawsuits will not be merged, but will be synchronized to proceed in parallel.
Six same-sex couples and Equality Florida Institute filed a lawsuit in state court seeking marriage equality. More details.
- 2014-JAN-21: California, etc.:
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that discrimination by the government based on sexual orientation subject to heightened constitutional scrutiny. The National Center for Lesbian Rights issued the following press release:
"Today, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that attorneys in federal cases may not dismiss prospective jurors on the basis of the jurors’ sexual orientation. In its opinion, the court held that laws and government actions that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation are subject to heightened scrutiny under the U.S. Constitution and may not impose stigma or second-class status based on sexual orientation.
Today’s decision in Smithkline Beecham Corp. v. Abbott Laboratories involved the dismissal of a gay man as a juror in a federal trial. The Ninth Circuit concluded that the United States Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in United States v. Windsor, which struck down section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, requires courts to carefully scrutinize all laws and governmental actions that discriminate based on sexual orientation.
Writing for the panel, Judge Stephen Reinhardt said: 'Windsor requires that when state action discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, we must examine its actual purposes and carefully consider the resulting inequality to ensure that our most fundamental institutions neither send nor reinforce messages of stigma or second-class status. In short, Windsor requires heightened scrutiny.'
Statement by NCLR Constitutional Litigation Director David Codell, Esq.:
'Today’s ruling by the Ninth Circuit, which covers much of the western United States, is a major advance for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The court recognized that laws that treat persons as second-class citizens based on sexual orientation are anathema to the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equality. Today’s ruling will make it exceedingly difficult for states to justify laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation'." 1
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Press Release: Additiona civil rights," National Center for Lesbian Rights, 2014-JAN-21, at: http://www.nclrights.org/
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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2014-JAN-02
Latest update: 2014-FEB-09
Author: B.A. Robinson