Movement toward same-sex marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.
2014-FEB: Accelerating steps towards
marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.
We use the acronym "SSM" to represent "same-sex marriage"
"LGBT" refers 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-JAN
2014-FEB-03: UT: The decision of the Utah District Court which legalized same-sex marriages in the state had been appealed to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Lawyer Roberta A. Kaplan who had represented Edith Windsor in the case United States v. Windsor attempted to become involved in the appeal on behalf of three additional same-sex couples, but was rebuffed. The Court of Appeals has placed the case on a fast track. The court will hear arguments on 2014-APR-10. More info.
2014-FEB: OK: The decision of the Oklahoma District Court which legalized same-sex marriages in the state has been appealed to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. This is the same court to which the Utah SSM case has been appealed. The Court of Appeals has agreed to a another fast-track schedule for the case. The court will hear arguments on 2014-APR-17, one week after they hear the Utah case. More info.
- 2014-FEB-08: USA: Attorney General, Eric H. Holder, Jr. delivered a speech at the Greater New York Gala of the Human Rights Campaign -- a LGBT positive organization. He announced that on FEB-10, the federal Justice Department will give lawful same-sex marriages equal protection under the law in every program that it administers. This includes lawsuits in federal courts, prison visits by married same-sex spouses, financial compensation to surviving spouses of public safety offices, etc. These apply even if the state where the same-sex couple lives does not recognize their marriages.
The National Organization for Marriage -- a group dedicated to the prohibition of same-sex marriage across the U.S. --joined with other social and religious groups to express outrage at Justice Department's 's decision. More info.
- 2014-FEB-11: CA: This is the ten anniversary of the date in 2004 when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the City and County to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The resulting lawsuit worked its way up to the California Supreme Court which, in 2008-MAY, ordered the state to practice marriage equality. During the following six months, more than 36,000 gays, lesbians and bisexuals married a person of the same sex. This was terminated when Proposition 8 was narrowly passed in a referendum. The National Center for Lesbian Rights issued a press release, commenting:
"While Prop 8 stripped the freedom to marry from same-sex couples in California, it also instantly created a groundswell of support for LGBT people and for the freedom to marry, galvanizing both LGBT people and allies across the country to become passionately engaged in the effort to win full dignity and security for our families." 1
Marriage equality returned to California in 2013-JUN by a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Hollingsworth v. Perry. Same-sex marriages are now routine in California, 16 other states, the District of Columbia, and 17 countries around the world. Almost 40% of American adults can enter into same-sex marriages where they live.
2014-FEB-12: KY: A Federal District Court memorandum opinion requires Kentucky to recognize legal out-of-state same-sex marriages. Federal U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II issued the opinion in the case Bourke v. Beshear. He stated that the state government is free to define which couples can marry, but cannot "impose a traditional or faith-based limitation" to marriage unless it has a sufficient justification. Judge Heyburn, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, wrote:
"While Kentucky unquestionably has the power to regulate the recognition of civil marriages, those regulations must comply with the Constitution of the United States. ... Assigning a religious or traditional rationale for a law does not make it constitutional when that law discriminates against a class of people without other reasons."
The result of this decision is that same-sex couples who have been legally married in other states would have their marriages recognized in Kentucky. Same-sex engaged couples living in Kentucky them might be able to take a short vacation to New York, Illinois, Maryland, or any other state that has legalized SSMs, get married, return home, and have their marriages recognized. We expect that the court's decision will be stayed so that this will -- at least temporarily -- not be allowed. The state will undoubtedly appeal the District Court ruling. More details.
A new lawsuit is expected to be filed shortly to require Kentucky to marry loving, committed same-sex couples within its borders.
2014-FEB-13: VA: In Virginia, U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen issued a 41 page ruling in the Bostic v. Rainey case.
She ruled that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. She issued an immediate stay of her ruling pending its almost inevitable appeal to the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. As with so many other federal District Court rulings in favor of marriage equality, her decision was based on the conflict between Virginia's restrictive marriage laws and the equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. More details.
2014-FEB-14: USA: David S. Cohen is a law professor at Drexel University. Dahlia Lithwick is a contributing editor at Newsweek and senior editor at Slate. Together, they wrote a summary of recent decisions by federal courts that granted equality either to same-sex couples or to the LGBT community: They wrote an article in Slate.com with the rather enthusiastic title:
"It’s Over: Gay Marriage Can’t Lose in the Courts: A perfect record for equality post-Windsor."
They commented that in the eight months since the U.S. Supreme Court's 2013-JUN-26 decision in Windsor v. United States:
"A survey of publicly available opinions shows that ... 18 court decisions have addressed an issue of equality based on sexual orientation. And in those 18 cases, equality has won every single time. ..."
"This hasn’t all been about marriage. Twelve decisions have addressed a substantive aspect of marriage equality since Windsor, and equality has won in all 12 -- with the Virginia decision now joining decisions from Kentucky, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and West Virginia, and two decisions each in Illinois, New Jersey, and Ohio. But six other cases since Windsor have addressed different aspects of discrimination based on sexual orientation, such as discrimination on juries and employment benefits, and the side of equality has won in all six of those cases as well.
The tally is even starker when you look at the number of judges who have considered the issue. Since Windsor, in these 18 decisions, 32 different judges have considered whether Windsor is merely about the relationship between the state and federal governments or whether it is about equality. And all 32 of them have found for equality. In other words, 32 accomplished, intelligent lawyers, appointed by Democrats and Republicans, whose job it is to read precedent, have ruled for equality. Not a single one has disagreed. 2 More details.
- 2014-FEB-14: KY: Second lawsuit filed: A new lawsuit has been filed in federal District Court to require Kentucky to marry same-sex couples within the state. It will be integrated with the existing lawsuit that seeks to require Kentucky to recognize out-of-state marriages. More details.
2014-FEB-19: KS: Senate kills "freedom to discriminate" bill: For the third time in three years, the Kansas House had passed a "freedom to discriminate" bill with an overwhelming vote. It would allow companies, groups and individuals who opposed same-sex marriage on religious grounds to discriminate with impunity against same-sex couples getting married. And for the third time, the Senate killed the bill -- this time without even a committee hearing. This bill had one unique feature: it would allow government employees to discriminate as well as company owners and employees.
Senate Vice President Jeff King, (R) said:
The Wichita Eagle commented that the bill had received international -- presumably negative -- attention and had inspired its own Twitter hash tag. More details.
2014-FEB-21: IL: Same-sex couples don't have to wait to marry: U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled that Cook County must issue marriage licenses immediately, rather than wait until 2014-JUN as the new marriage law stated. She wrote:
"There is no reason to delay further when no opposition has been presented to this Court and committed gay and lesbian couples have already suffered from the denial of their fundamental right to marry." More details
Cook County surrounds Chicago, so many same-sex couples will be have easy access to marriage licenses. Other counties may follow suit.
- 2014-FEB-26: AZ: The Republican controlled House and Senate passed bill SB 1062. It would have given individuals, companies and corporation the ability to discriminate against any group and claim their religious beliefs as a defence. It was obvious to most observers that the main target of the bill was the LGBT community. Immense pressure was brought to bear on Governor Jan Brewer (R) to veto the bill from 83 companies, many Chambers of Commerce, the tourism industry, the LGBT community, sports groups, etc. She vetoed the bill cira 10 PM on FEB-26.
The Legislatures of many other states have initiated similar bills
but this is the only one to be passed by the state Legislature and arrive on the Governor's desk. More details
- 2014-FEB-26: TX: A federal District Court judge legalized same-sex marriage in Texas. Two couples had filed this lawsuit: one was unmarried and wanted to marry in their home state of Texas. The other had been married in Massachusetts and wanted their marriage to be recognized in Texas.
The judge based his decision on:
- The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Windsor v. United States which decided that Secton 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, and
- The equal protection guarantee clause in the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which requires the federal government and state governments to treat individuals -- and by extension couples -- equally. 4 More details
This means that same-sex marriages (SSMs) are currently available in 17 states. In addition, federal District Courts in four states (Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia and Texas) have legalized SSM. However, same-sex couples in these states cannot yet marry. In each state, a stay is in place pending appeal to various U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal.
Curiously, these four states are among the most conservative in the U.S. All four of these federal court rulings have occurred since late 2013-DEC. There are approximately a dozen additional lawsuits before federal courts seeking the legalization of same-sex marriages that have yet to be decided.
- 2014-FEB-27: KY: District Judge John G. Heyburn II issued his ruling in the case Bourke v. Beshear. It requires Kentucky to recognize valid same-sex marriages solemnized out of state. The Attorney General requested a stay to allow time to decide whether to appeal the decision. More details. Reactions.
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
- "Marriage Equality Advocates Celebrate the 10-Year Anniversary of the "Winter of Love." Press release, National Center for Lesbian Rights, 2014-FEB-11, at: http://www.nclrights.org/
- David S. Cohen and Dahlia Lithwick, "It’s Over: Gay Marriage Can’t Lose in the Courts: A perfect record for equality post-Windsor," Slate, 2014-FEB-14, at: http://www.slate.com/
- "Kansas Senate leaders kill bill allowing service refusal to same-sex couples," Wichita Eagle, 2014-FEB-18, at: http://www.kansascity.com/
- "Texas Judge Hands Marriage Equality Its Latest Victory," Think Progress, 2014-FEB-26, at: http://thinkprogress.org/
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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2014-FEB-02
Latest update: 2014-FEB-27
Author: B.A. Robinson