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Movement toward same-sex marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.

2015-JUN: Part 2:
Accelerating changes in the U.S. involving
gay marriage, LGBT equality, etc:
Current SSM status & changes later in June.
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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.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay which covered events during early June.

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Topics covered in this month:

While waiting for the SSM ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, the following events happened:

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2015-JUN-09: Marriage equality comes to the U.S. Territory of Guam:

Back in early April, a lesbian couple in Guam -- Kathleen M. Aguero (Kate), 28, & Loretta M. Pangelinan (Lo), 28, decided to take action on marriage. They went through the often repeated ritual of applying for a marriage license and being denied.

A few days later, on APR-13, the couple filed a lawsuit at federal District Court for Guam at Hagåtña, Guam. Their lawyers based their case on two main principles:

  • The federal Constitution gives to each state and territory the right and responsibility to define which resident couples are eligible to marry.

  • The eligibility criteria that they develop must not violate the Due Process or Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. These clauses require governments at all levels -- federal, state, and local -- to treat people equally. That implies that couples must also be treated equally.

Guam is under the jurisdication of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That court ruled during 2014-OCT that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional. That ruling is binding on Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and on Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idhao, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington state.

On 2015-JUN-05: the U.S. District Court in Guam issued its ruling, legalizing same-sex marriage in the Territory effective at the end of 'MAY-08.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Guam, Anthony Sablan Apuron, issued a statement expressing:

"... tremendous sadness. [It is] ... a defeat ... [not only] for Christian principles [but also] for our island and the whole of humanity. The recognition of a same-sex union, as marriage, destroys the basic fabric of society, and will destroy human beings in the process. ... [This] is the first step in collapsing the vital distinction between the state and society. This is the road to a totalitarian system. Why? Because now we will see that the state -- the government -- will require and demand that the church accept its redefinition of marriage, by way of anti-discrimination laws.

The plaintiff couple was the first to obtain a marriage license on the morning of MAY-09. Same-sex couples are nowable to marry in Guam. More details.

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2015-JUN-09: Tony Campolo embraces marriage equality:

Tony Woods, writing for the Christian Today web site, referred to Tony Campolo as:

"... the Grand Old Man of evangelical activism." [On JUN-08, Tony Campolo] sent shock waves around the Christian world by announcing he had changed his mind about same-sex marriage.

Campolo had long been known as a 'bridge' figure on the issue, encouraging the Church to reach out to and seek to understand gay and lesbian people while stopping short of endorsing their sexual relationships. His dialogues with his wife Peggy, who took a more affirming line, were popular and appealing explorations of the theme. ... Campolo's defection is the heaviest blow so far to the conservative cause, because of his personal standing and because he has publicly held a traditionalist line for so many years."

Campolo had written:

"It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church."

Conservative commentator Denny Burk responded, saying that Campolo:

"... seems to have been moved not by scripture but by relationships he's had with gay friends. The winnowing process that we are witnessing right now is going to reveal whose consciences are bound by the authority of scripture and whose aren't."

Webmaster's comment: [bias alert]:

Burk's response appears based on the belief that the biblical message on homosexuality and same-sex marriage is clear and unambiguous. However, in practice, intelligent, devoted, sincere, biblically devoted, and thoughtful theologians have reached very different condlusions about the six biblical passages that are often cited as referring to homosexuality. IMHO, one can only talk about the "authority of scripture" if a concensus is reached on what critical passages actually mean.

Brandon Robertson, a gay Christian, described Campalo's description as a:

"... great step forward. [However, it was] not enough that Christian leaders simply step forward and announce their support for gay and lesbian Christians. It's also important that they acknowledge the harm that has been caused by their use of an un-affirming theology and that they publicly repent for their sin of exclusion." 3,4

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2015-JUN-12: A curious development: News blackout from conservative web sites about Guam:

Mid-June is a very special time this year for the LGBT community in the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hand down its ruling in the case Obergefell v. Hodges in the near future. This case involves same-sex marriage bans in four states -- Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee. However, the ruling is expected to apply to the entire country -- to the District of Columbia, all five Territories and all 50 states. Most commentators -- even those opposed to marriage equality -- expect that the High Court will make same-sex marriages available across the entire United States. They expect a replay of events in 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Loving v. Virginia and thereby legalized interracial marriage everywhere in the U.S.

A positive ruling on SSM by the High Court would in increase the percentage of Americans who live in areas where same-sex couples can marry from 72% to 100%. Currently, marriage bans prevent same-sex couples from marrying in four Territories, 13 states, and in most areas of Missouri. The High Court's ruling is expected in late June, but could be delayed until early July.

Surprisingly, many conservative Christian web sites, like the American Family Association, Citizen Link, and Family Research Council have suddenly stopped covering the situation in Guam. If one searches on Google for same-sex marriage in Guam over the previous week, there are many "hits." But all appear to be from either secular news outlets, gay-positive groups, or human rights organizations.

Meanwhile, LGBT-positive web sites like Freedom To Marry, Human Rights Campaign, and TowleRoad gave full coverage to the story.

We have noticed that conservative Christian web sites have been shifting emphasis in recent months away from same-sex marriage and towards anticipation of massive levels of persecution of those Christians and Christian organizations who continue to promote the restriction of marriage to one woman and one man. However, we were not expecting a sudden cessation of all coverage.

A certain percentage of the public relies on conservative Christian news outlets. Many of them will not know of developments in Guam. This news blackout emphasizes the importance of the public reading both conservative and liberal news sources in order to obtain a full understanding of events.

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2015-JUN-12: An interesting situation in Mexico:

The New York Times published a fascinating article about marriage equality in Mexico. Same-sex marriage is theoretically illegal everywhere in that country except for Mexico City and one northern state. However, same-sex couples are obtaining injunctions from local state judges on the basis of the Supreme Court of Mexico's 2014 ruling that restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples is unconstitutional. They are obtaining marriage licenses, and marrying.

Some of those opposed to SSM may feel OK about this because SSMs remain illegal in almost all of the country. Some in favor of SSM may feel OK about this because couples can, by spending an extra $1,000 on lawyer and court fees, and waiting for many weeks, be married.

More details.

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2015-JUN-26: The U.S. Supreme Court issues ruling that legalized gay marriage across the country, bu not immediately:

On the morning of JUN-26, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in the Obergefell v. Hodges case. This is a consolidated case involving gay marriage lawsuits from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee. In each case, U.S. District Courts had previously legalized gay marriages in the state. However, when the cases were consolidated and appealed to the 6th U.S. Circuit of Appeals, a three-judge panel of that court overturned the lower court rulings by a vote of 2 to 1.

That decision by the 6th Circuit created a "circuit split." The 6th Circuit Court upheld bans on gay marriages even though the 4th, 7th, 9th and 10th Circuit Courts had previously found similar bans in other states to be unconstitutional.

In order to harmonize laws across the country, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted the appeal of the consolidated case, held hearings on 2015-APR-28, and issued its ruling on JUN-26. Their decision legalized SSM across the entire country, including all 50 states, 5 territories, and the District of Columbia. This decision requires each of these 56 jurisdictions to marry qualified same-sex couples and to recognize legal gay marriages that have been solemnized out-of-state.

The ruling will not be effective for at least 25 days until JUL-21. This is because the High Court generally gives the losing side time to issue a request that the Court reconsider their ruling. Whether any of the defendants from the four states will decide to exercise their right to do this is unknown. However, with widespread animus against the LGBT community and opposition to gay marriage in these four states, it is quite possible that at least one defendant will ask for a review. They might not be able to reverse the process towards marriage equality, but they could slow it down a bit.

This ruling had little or no effect on the status of gay marriages in 37 states, the District of Columbia, and the Territory of Guam where marriage equality had already been attained. It will have a major effect in the 13 states that ban gay marriage and in the state of Missouri which only permits gay marriages in the City of St. Louis and two counties.

Same-sex couples who live in in some of the states and territories with bans in place were not able to obtain their marriage licenses immediately and marry. This is because:

  • U.S. Supreme Court rulings generally do not become effective for a few weeks after being issued. As noted above, this allows the losing side to decide whether to request that the High Court review its decision.

  • There are many dozens of lawsuits throughout the country involving gay marriage that had been decided by U.S. District Courts, but whose rulings had been stayed pending appeals to U.S. Circuit Courts. These stays would have to be removed, and some final jurisdictional procedures completed before all the impediments for marriage equality are removed.

In the deep South, where opposition to marriage equality is the most intense, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over three states: Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The Administrations in all three states agreed that, under the circumstances, the 5th Circuit Court should implement the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court by issuing an order instructing various District Courts in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas to issue orders legalizing same-sex marriage within their state.

By the end of June:

  • Confusion reigned in many of the 13 states that had been banning gay marriage. In some counties in some states, same-sex couples were able to freely obtain marriage licenses and marry. In other counties in the same states, and in other states, such couples were unable to obtain marriage licenses.

  • Circuit Judge Jerry Smith of the 5th Circuit was preparing three orders -- one each to federal district judges in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. It instructed them to issue their final rulings on or before JUL-17 to legalize gay marriage in their states. Gay marriage should come to all three states later in July.

  • Most other states with marriage bans appear to be accepting the High Court ruling of JUN-26, and are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

It is going to take a while before the situation is sorted out and gay marriage comes to every state, territory and district.

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These topics are continued in the next essay with events duing 2015-July

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Wells Fargo Commercial: Learning Sign Language," Wells Fargo, posted 2015-APR-23, at: https://www.youtube.com/
  2. "Franklin Graham - Biography," Samaritan's Purse, 2015, at: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/
  3. Ruth Gledhill, "Tony Campolo calls for full acceptance of gay Christian couples in the Church," Christian Today, 2015-JUN-08, at: http://www.christiantoday.com/
  4. Mark Woods, "After Tony Campolo's announcement, can evangelicals finally believe gay marriage is OK?," Christian Today, 2015-JUN-09, at: http://www.christiantoday.com/

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How you may have arrived here:

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Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2015-JUN-08
Latest update: 2015-JUL-03
Author: B.A. Robinson
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