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

2015-MAY: Part 1: Changes in the U.S.
involving same-sex marriage, LGBT equality, etc.
Current SSM status. SSM in Guam.
Michigan anti-SSM billboards.
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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 April.

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Status of same-sex marriage at the start of 2015-MAY:

Same-sex couples were able to obtain marriage licenses, marry, and register their marriage in 36 states plus the District of Columbia. These states include over 70% of the U.S. population.

In two additional states of the U.S., marriage equality is in a state of flux:

  • In Missouri, licenses are available in St. Louis and two additional counties, but not in the rest of the state.

  • In Alabama, a constitutional crisis exists between the federal District Court, which has declared the state's ban on same-sex marriages to be unconstitutional, and the state Supreme Court which has declared the ban to be constitutional. We expect that this conflict will be resolved in late June or early July when the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling in the consolidated case Obergefell v. Hodges. Obergefell case involves same-sex marriage in four states -- Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The High Court ruling is widely expected to resolve marriage equality across the entire U.S., including the District of Columbia, all 50 states, and 5 territories either by legalizing same-sex marriage everywhere, nowhere, or in some states and territories but not others. Most commentators expect that the Supreme Court will require marriage equality across the entire country as it did in 1967 for interracial marriage.

There were no changes during April in the locations where same-sex couples can and cannot obtain marriage licenses.

On APR-28, the U.S. Supreme Court held hearings in the Obergefell case. The hearing involved consolidated appeals of 4 same-sex marriage cases, one each from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee. Reporters at the hearing unanimously agreed that there is a deep split among the Justices on whether the federal Constitution requires marriage equality. Most media accounts predict a close vote in favor of marriage equality across the entire U.S. -- perhaps 5 to 4 with Jusice Anthony Kennedy providing the swing vote. However, there is a slim possibility that Justice Samuel Alito might also vote in favor of equality, achieving a 6 to 3 vote.

Such narrow decisions on cases involving sexual orientation is not a new phenomenon. In 2013, the Court voted 5 to 4 in Lawrence v. Texas to decriminalize same-gender sexual behavior in private among consensual adults. In 2003, in Edith Windsor v. United States, the Court voted 5 to 4 to declare a major section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. This enabled the federal government to provide 1,138 benefits and protections to some same-sex married couples that had previously been restricted to opposite-sex married couples.

Until the High Court issues its ruling in late 2015-JUN or early JUL, few changes are expected concerning marriage equality in the U.S.

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Activity during 2015-MAY:

2015-MAY-08: Same-sex marriage lawsuit in the Territory of Guam:

On 2015-APR-13, a lesbian couple attempted to apply for a marriage license, In their favor, the Guam law forbids discrimination on the basis of gender, Also, during 2014-OCT, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had issued a ruling stating that the laws in the nine states and three territories under its jurisdiction that ban same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. Same-sex couples are now able to marry in all nine states under the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington state. However, they are not currently allowed to marry in any of the three territories: American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands which are under the jurisdiction of the same court.

The couple was refused a license in April, They have since filed a lawsuit in the Unified Courts of Guam Hagatna, Guam. A hearing is expected shortly. A ruling by the court will be delayed until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the Obergefell case in mid-2015. For more information on the Guam conflict, see: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3

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star 2015-MAY-08: Anti-SSM billboards:

A group of billboards in the Detroit, MI area are delivering a message against marriage equality. They are sponsored by RestrainTheJudges.com. One is on Telegraph Road, south of Warren, MI. It displays the message:

"Homosexuality is a behavior. Not a civil right." 1

This is a common belief among religious conservatives. However, the vast majority of religious liberals, human sexuality researchers, therapists define homosexuality as a sexual orientation based on the gender(s) to whom a person is sexually attracted. The vast majority of civil libertarians and religious liberals consider same-sex marriage to be a civil right, similar to the civil right of an interracial couple to marry.

Speaking generally, homosexuality is viewed very differently by religious conservatives than by others:

Item Common beliefs of religious conservatives Common beliefs of religious liberals, human sexually researchers, therapists, etc.
What is it?
A sexual behavior; sexual activity that a person engages in.
A sexual orientation defined by the gender(s) to which a person is sexually attracted.
Contributing cause?
Upbringing as a child
Primarily genetic or epigenetic
Fixed in adulthood?
Changeable
Fixed
Its nature:
Either chosen, or caused by addiction
Discovered
God's view? Hated by God Accepted by God
Natural? Unnatural Natural
Normal? Abnormal Normal
Marriage equality Opposed Approved
Morality Intrinsically immoral Morally neutral, like heterosexuality and bisexuality.
Eternal destiny Hell is automatic. No different than heterosexuals
Born gay? Definitely not Yes

Unfortunately, there is little dialogue taking place between these groups, so a common understanding is impossible at this time.

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More developments later in 2015-MAY are discussed in the next essay.

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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. Tresa Baldas, "Anti-gay marriage billboards turn heads," Detroit Free Press, 2015-MAY-08, at: http://www.freep.com/

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Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2015-MAY-10
Latest update: 2015-JUN-08
Author: B.A. Robinson
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