Movement toward same-sex marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.
2014-SEP: 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. "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
See also the previous essay describing events during 2013-AUG
2014-SEP-01: USA: Current status of same-sex marriage (SSM):
Marriage licenses are routinely available and marriages routinely registered for same-sex couples in 19 states. About 44% of Americans live in a political jurisdiction where same-sex couples can marry. The states are: CA, CT, DE, HI, IA, IL, MA, MD, ME, MN, NJ, NM, NY, NH, RI, OR, PA, VT, & WA. With the District of Columbia, this makes a total of 20 political jurisdictions in the U.S. that have attained marriage equality to date.
- A ban of marriage by same-sex couples remains in place as a result of state constitutional amendments in 28 states and of state laws in 3 states [IN, WV, WY]. The bans in all 31 states are currently being challenged in over 70 lawsuits in federal, state, and county courts. Every state with a ban has at least one active lawsuit seeking to have that ban declared unconstitutional.
Between 2013-JUN-26 and 2014-SEP-01, there have been about 36 rulings by county courts, state courts, federal courts, and three federal Circuit Courts of Appeals that involve marriage by same-sex couples. All but one ruling have upheld the right of same-sex couples to marry in the state and/or required the state to recognize as legal same-sex marriages previously solemnized out-of-state. Almost all have been stayed pending appeal. See the current status.
Some of the more interesting recent developments between 2013-NOV and 2014-SEP have been:
The Illinois legislature passed a same-sex marriage bill. It was signed into law on 2013-NOV-20.
The New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously ruled on 2013-DEC-19 that the state marriage laws were unconstitutional and that SSM was legal.
A District Court in Pennsylvania declared that state's marriage ban is unconstitutional. Governor Tom Corbett (R) was very widely expected to ask for a stay of the ruling and to appeal the case to the 3rd. U.S. Circuit of Appeals. However, recognizing that an appeal stood little chance of upholding the ban, he decided to do neither. Same-sex couples have since been able to be married in the state.
- About 45% of the American population lives in either the District of Columbia or in a state where same-sex couples can marry. Most of the population of North America -- here defined as the U.S. and Canada -- live in a district, state province, or territory where SSM is legal. Most of the political jurisdictions in North America have legalized SSM if one considers all of the Canadian provinces and territories, 19 U.S. States and the District of Columbia.
Three rulings by 3-judge panels at a total of three U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have recently issued their rulings on same-sex marriage. All three decisions were by a 2:1 vote and all three were in favor of marriage equality:
On 2014-JUN-25, a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision upholding an Utah District Court decision legalizing SSM. On AUG-05, the state appealed that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. More details.
On 2014-JUL-25, a three-judge panel of the same 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision upholding an Oklahoma District Court decision legalizing SSM. On AUG-06, the state appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. 1 More details.
On 2014-JUL-28, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision upholding a Virginia District Court decision legalizing SSM. On AUG-06, the state appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. More details.
This year's deadline for additional appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court is 2014-SEP-23. If the high Court grants certiorari (accepts one or more appeals) from the above cases -- or from subsequent lawsuits -- the Court will probably announce their decision during 2014-DEC, schedule oral arguments about 2015-MAR, and issue their ruling during late 2015-JUN. The only prediction that we feel confident to make is that the decision by the Justices will be passed by a 5:4 vote. We don't have a foggiest idea whether their decision will legalize SSMs across the country, or ban SSMs everywhere in the country, or find some very creative way to limit their ruling to only Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia, or perhaps limit their ruling to these three states and other states over which the two Courts of Appeal have jurisdiction.
If the Virginia case, from among the more than 70 active similar same-sex marriage cases, is accepted by the Supreme Court, then it would be an interesting coincidence. The last time that marriage was redefined in the U.S. was on 1967-JUN-12 when the Supreme Court overturned a miscegenation law in Virginia and legalized interracial marriage across the entire U.S. The lawsuit was ironically titled "Loving v. Virginia."
Prohibiting same-sex marriage seems to have assumed greater importance recently among religious and social conservatives than even restricting women's access to abortion. Part of the opposition is due to beliefs promoted by some conservative faith groups about the nature of sexual orientation.
Developments during 2014-SEP:
2014-SEP-02: Mexico: The state of Coahuila has followed the lead of Mexico City and is now recognizing marriage by same-sex couples. This state is in Northern Mexico and shares a border with Texas. More details.
2014-SEP-04: Indiana & Wisconsin: 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of marriage by same-sex couples in two states:
The three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit unanimously ruled that the marriage bans denying same-sex couples the right to marry in Indiana and Wisconsin were unconstitutional. The judges found that they violated the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which requires federal, state, and county governments to treat people equally. The ruling was announced only 9 days after the hearing. That might be a record for this court; they usually take a month or so.
This is the fourth recent decision by a Court of Appeals in favor of marriage equality affecting a total of five states: Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin, and Virginia. No Court of Appeals has voted against marriage equality to date. More details.
2014-SEP-04: 17 Attorney Generals filed a amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief with the U.S. Supreme Court: Included are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin. They have urged the U.S. Supreme Court to accept one or more of the appeals before it and rule whether same-sex couple have a right to marry in the U.S.
The request said in part:
"There are scores of cases requiring thousands of hours to litigate the same legal question presented in this petition. ... These cases are divisive and costly, not only in terms of money and manpower, but in terms of respect for the democratic process and deliberation undertaken by millions of voters where the nature of marriage has recently been debated. ... Once resolved, the legal issues presented in the Utah and Oklahoma petitions are well positioned to provide the necessary guidance to the other states with traditional marriage laws."
Currently in North America, same-sex couples can marry in 19 states and the District of Columbia in the U.S., throughout Canada, and in two states in Mexico.
There are currently 89 active lawsuits in the U.S. seeking marriage equality. Cases involving three states have been appealed to the high court. Two others will probably be appealed by the cutoff date of SEP-23. 2
2014-SEP-05: Some Christian groups filed a request with U.S. Supreme Court: Four of the largest groups promoting conservative Christianity in the U. S., including The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics & Religious Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod have filed a joint brief with the U.S. Supreme Court. All four firmly believe that marriage should be legally restricted to opposite-sex couples throughout the country. They said:
"The time has come to end the divisive national debate as to whether the Constitution mandates same-sex marriage. ... Legal uncertainty is especially burdensome for religious organizations and religious believers increasingly confronted with thorny questions. Is their right to refrain from participating in, recognizing or facilitating marriages between persons of the same sex, contrary to their religious convictions, adequately shielded by the First Amendment and other legal protections? Or is further legislation needed to guard religious liberties in these and other sensitive areas?"
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often referred to as the LDS or Mormon church. filed a similar but separate brief. 3
In the past, terms "religious freedom" and "religious liberty" typically referred to freedom of belief, of speech, of assembly, of proselytizing, etc. However, in recent years a second meaning for the same terms has surfaced and become prominent. It is the religious freedom to discriminate against and denigrate others -- most commonly sexual minorities. It is the second meaning to which these briefs refer.
About 45% of Americans live in a location where same-sex couples can marry. Many times over the past decade, some Christian bakers, wedding photographers, families renting wedding venues, or owners of other business in the "wedding industry" have refused to provide goods or services for same-sex couples who were planning to marry. In about a dozen cases, the customers have filed complaints and the owners have run afoul of their state's human rights legislation. This type of legislation requires public accommodations -- companies that provide goods or services to the general public -- to not discriminate on the basis of the customer's race, skin color, religion, gender, and national origin. Many states have also included sexual orientation and gender identity as protected groups. Many religious conservatives believe that owners of companies should have the right to discriminate in this way, even though it violates one of Jesus main commands: the Ethic of Reciprocity -- commonly called the "Golden Rule." This rule requires people to do onto others as they would wish others would to do onto them. We have yet to find a conservative Christian denominations that emphasizes or eveb mentions this factor.
2014-SEP-08: The Gambia: The General Assembly of this African nation has passed anti-LGBT legislation that could give life imprisonment to some LGBT individuals convicted of same-gender sexual behaviour. It is expected to be signed into law. More details.
2014-SEP-09: Evangelical Christian group forms: Evangelicals for Marriage Equality (EME) has been launched. 4 It is unlike other fundamentalist and other evangelical groups that contain "marriage" and "family" in their name, all of which actively oppose marriage for same-sex couples. These include:
- American Family Association
- Family Research Council
- Focus on the Family,
- Illinois Family Institute,
- National Organization for Marriage,
EME is an pro-family evangelical Christian organization that supports marriage by both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. 4 More information on the EME:
2014-SEP-15: Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) analyzed census data for singles. They found that 51.2% of the American population over the age of 16 are single, divorced, or never married. This is a major increase from 37.6% in 1976. The percentage of singles range from 55.7% in Louisiana and Rhode Island to 43.7% in Utah. 5
2014-SEP-18: Census Bureau counts same-sex married couples as married: For the first time, the Bureau included all married couples in its 2013 household survey. Previous reports recorded same-sex couples as cohabiting partners, even if they were legally married. There has been a significant rise in the number of same-sex married couples from an estimated 182,000 in 2012 to 252,000 in 2013. If the number of same-sex married couples continues to rise, then the percentage of married adults 18 years-of-age and older who are married might slow down its gradual decline. It reached a peak of 72.2% in 1960 and has declined to 50.3 in 2013. 6
2014-SEP-18: Pew Research Center released its online survey of 1,197 LGBT adults 18 years of age and older. Most of them believe that American society has become more accepting towards the LGBT community. However, most also report that they have experienced discrimination or exclusion at some time during their life because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 6
Events during 2014-OCT are described in the next essay
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Jay Dillon, "Oklahoma's gay marriage ban appealed to U.S. Supreme Court," FOX 25, 2014-AUG-06, at: http://www.okcfox.com/
Anugrah Kumar, "17 States Ask US Supreme Court to Rule on Same-Sex Marriage,"Christian Post, 2014-SEP-07, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
"Churches urge high court to act on gay marriage," USA Today, 2014-SEP-06. at: http://www.usatoday.com/
"Evangelicals for marriage equality home page," at: https://www.evangelicals4equality.com/
Richard Florida, "Singles Now Make Up More Than Half the U.S. Adult Population. Here's Where They All Live." City Lab, 2014-SEP-15, at: http://www.citylab.com/
How you may have arrived here:
Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2014-SEP-01
Latest update: 2014-SEP-20
Author: B.A. Robinson