Movement toward same-sex marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.
2014-AUG: 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-JUL
2014-AUG-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 inthe 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-JUL-01, there have been 35 consecutive rulings by state courts, federal courts, and one federal Circuit Court of Appeals that involve marriage by same-sex couples. All 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 early 2014-AUG have been:
Developments during 2014-AUG:
- 2014-AUG-04: Florida: Ruling in favor of marriage equality by Judge Dale Cohen in Broward County Circuit Court: The case, Brassner v. Lade, is an unusual case involving a plaintiff/petitioner, Heather Brassner, who asked that the state rule that her 2002 Vermont civil union with another woman, Megan E. Lade, be terminated. That would allow Brassner and her new girlfriend to go to another state and be legally married. Judge Cohen ruled that the state's prohibition of civil unions and of marriages by same-sex couples is unconstitutional. He stayed his ruling pending the outcome of lawsuits in two other Florida counties which were released in 2014-JUL. More details.
The Broward decision is the third ruling by a circuit court in Florida in as many weeks. Since 2013-JUN, all of the court decisions have been in favor of marriage equality. Most are stayed pending appeals to higher courts so that same-sex couples cannot actually marry at this time.
- 2014-AUG-04: Tennessee: By this date, a series of 36 consecutive rulings had been issued by state courts, federal District Courts, and U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal. All supported marriage equality. This series was broken by the decision of a judge In a Tennessee state court on AUG-05. Circuit Court Judge Russell E. Simmons, Jr. issued his ruling in the case Borman v. Pyles-Borman. It involved a same-sex couple who had been married in Iowa and who petitioned for a divorce in Tennessee four years later. The judge denied the same-sex couple their divorce, and also upheld as constitutional Tennessee's ban on marriage for same-sex couples. He was the first judge to do so in nearly fourteen months.
- 2014-JUL-28 to AUG-08: Virginia: On JUL-28, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the earlier decision of a Virginia District Court for Bostic v. Rainey. Both courts found the Virginia ban on same-sex marriages to be unconstitutional. The ban was contained in the Marshall-Newman Amendment that had been approved by the voters and added to the state Constitution in 2006. Both the District Court judge and the three-judge panel of the Appeals Court agreed that the marriage ban violates both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. They did not place a stay on their ruling.
Mark Herring, the Attorney General of Virginia and two other officials from his office petitioned the Supreme Court to accept the appeal of Bostic v. Rainey. If accepted by the court, a hearing would probably be held in the Spring of 2015 and a ruling issued by the high court in 2015-JUN.
The Court of Appeals' ruling comes into effect at 8 AM on AUG-21. In the unlikely event that the U.S. Supreme Court does not place a stay on the Court of Appeals' ruling, then same-sex couples might be able to marry after that time, at least for a while.
- 2014-AUG-05 and AUG-06: Utah, Oklahoma & Virginia: There were three appeals of decisions by two U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court related to same-sex marriages:
- On 2014-AUG-05, the state of Utah appealed the decision of a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. More details.
- On 2014-AUG-06, the state of Oklahoma appealed the decision of a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. 1 More details.
- On 2014-AUG-06, the state of Virginia appealed the decision of a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.. More details.
- 2014-AUG-15: USA: There are currently on the order of 70 active lawsuits attempting to legalize marriage for same-sex couples in either state or federal courts in various states.
Eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to grant certiorari to one or more of them. Their subsequent decision will probably have a massive impact on marriage equality across the entire U.S.
We are not willing to predict what that ruling will be. It could range from abolishing same-sex marriages everywhere in the U.S. to legalizing them throughout the country. But we are relatively confident that the ruling will be decided by a 5 to 4 vote among the Justices. A 6 to 3 reading would be a major surprise.
- 2014-AUG-20: Virginia: The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay in the Bostic v. Rainey case. Thousands of same-sex couples who want to marry in Virginia had hoped that they would have the same rights as opposite-sex couples starting in the morning of AUG-21. They will have to wait, at least temporarily, for marriage equality to reach their state. More details.
- 2014-AUG-22: Florida: District Court Judge Robert L. Hinkle issued his decision in a case involving over 20 plaintiffs, most of whom had been legally married out-of-state, and were seeking recognition of that marriage in Florida. Other couples were attempting to marry in Florida. One lesbian widow was attempting to have her late spouse's death certificate acknowledge their marriage. Judgel Hinkles ruling is essentially identical to the four recent rulings by county courts in Florida. He based his decision on the now very familiar grounds that the Amendment 2 ban, passed by Florida voters in 2008, violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. More details.
- 2014-AUG-25: Utah: The three plaintiff couples in the SSM lawsut "Kitchen v. Herbert" have taken the unusual step of throwing their support behind the state's appeal of the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the state had not appealed the case or if the Supreme Court refuses to accept the appeal at some time in the future, then the Court of Appeal's decision would stand, and marriages by same-sex couples in Utah would become routine. Further, marriages by same-sex couples in the other states over which the 10th Circuit Court has jurisdiction might become available: Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. That court also handle cases from New Mexico, but that state has already legalized such marriages.
But the plaintiffs want more. They support appealing Kitchen to the high court in the hope that the Justices would legalize same-sex marriage across all states. That would make their marriages as portable as marriages by opposite-sex couples. It would also allow same-sex couples to marry anywhere in the U.S. It would also allow them to safely travel to other states and know that their marriages would be recognized during a medical emergency, etc. So, the couples filed a petition with the Supreme Court, asking the latter to grant certorari -- i.e. to hear the case and rule on it. More details.
Events during 2014-SEP are described in the next essay
How you may have arrived here:
Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2014-AUG-02
Latest update: 2014-SEP-01
Author: B.A. Robinson