This Week in Marriage Equality: Kansas poised to become No. 33

Posted on 10 Nov 2014 at 1:35pm


Kansas officials asked the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to place a stay on marriage equality while its case works its way through the courts. Either Kansas officials are just dumb or they’re looking for ways to delay equality.

The 10th Circuit already ruled that marriage bans in Oklahoma and Utah violate due process and were created out of animus toward gays and lesbians. Why Kansas officials think that same court would rule the Kansas law doesn’t violate due process and there’s no animus there because, well, Dorothy is from Kansas, is anyone’s guess.

The court gave the state a one-week stay. That stay ends on Tuesday, Nov. 11, unless Justice Sonia Sotomayor grants a stay. However, even though the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the 8th Circuit’s Utah and Oklahoma rulings, they’ve already said they didn’t want to hear those cases. There’s no reason to stay the Oklahoma and Utah rulings for Kansas.


U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves will hear a challenge to Mississippi’s marriage ban on Wednesday, Nov. 12. Reeves was nominated to the court by President Barack Obama. Bye bye Mississippi marriage ban.

A decision would be appealed to the 5th Circuit, which also includes Texas and Louisiana and which has not yet weighed in on marriage equality. That court is considered among the most conservative and could come down on the side of discrimination. The 5th Circuit will hear the Louisiana and Texas appeals in January.

Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky

Plaintiffs in the cases in the four states in the 6th Circuit — Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky — whose marriage bans were upheld last week will all appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In any of the cases, plaintiffs could have asked for an en banc hearing in which all of the 6th Circuit judges would have heard the case. Instead, rather than delaying the case and hoping for a nationwide resolution of the issue by the end of June 2015, they each decided for a direct appeal.

Because of the split among circuits, the U.S. Supreme Court is compelled to take a marriage case, but could delay hearing a case until next session. Since the 6th Circuit issued just one decision for all four states, the court could decide to hear from all states or could choose just one appeal.


Burglars break into Flower Reign on Cedar Springs

Posted on 10 Nov 2014 at 11:24am
Flower Reign

Shane Walker, left, and Bill Fulmer, in Flower Reigh soon after their opening earlier this year

One or more burglars broke the front door lock to enter Flower Reign by Shane Walker on Cedar Springs Road at 4:09 a.m. on Friday Nov. 7.

Computers, phones and a cash box were taken.

Owners Shane Walker and Bill Fulmer said they’re looking forward to the restaurant opening next door and Liquid Zoo, a new bar, opening across the street. Both will have later hours and bring more activity to that end of the street.

If anyone saw any activity in the store around that hour, please contact Dallas police detectives in the Northwest Division at 214-670-6179 and reference case #267612-2014.


Only 8 precincts in Dallas voted against nondiscrimination

Posted on 10 Nov 2014 at 9:42am

nondiscrimination mapThanks to Andrew Fisher who made this map of how Dallas voters approved a Dallas city charter amendment on nondiscrimination. Only eight precincts voted against the proposal and were located in southwest Dallas at Dallas Baptist University, in Oak Cliff at the junction of I-35 and 67 better known as Christ for the Nations Institute and in a high concentration of trailer parks in southeast Dallas.

That means all precincts in north Dallas, far north Dallas and far far north Dallas, where the concentration of Republican voters are and where most of Governor-elect Greg Abbott’s votes came from, voted for the proposal.

“Feels pretty good to live in Dallas today, guys,” Fisher wrote on his Facebook page.

The proposal places sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in city employment into the Dallas city charter. Both have been protected by city ordinance since 1995. This overwhelming approval contrasts sharply with the protests going on in Houston against a city nondiscrimination ordinance that passed earlier this year.


Marriage ban in WV struck down weeks after marriage equality began

Posted on 07 Nov 2014 at 3:40pm

PrintAlthough West Virginia became a marriage equality state several weeks ago when the state’s attorney general conceded, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia made it official today, ruling in favor of Lambda Legal’s plaintiffs and striking down the discriminatory marriage ban as mandated by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier ruling striking down a similar ban in Virginia.

In his ruling, Judge Chambers critiqued the 6th Circuit’s Nov. 6 ruling. That opinion that upheld the marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennesse said that marriage rights should be decided through the democratic process. Chambers criticized the ruling saying the 6th Circuit failed “to recognize the role of courts in the democratic process. It is the duty of the judiciary to examine government action through the lens of the Constitution’s protection of individual freedom. Courts cannot avoid or deny this duty just because it arises during the contentious public debate that often accompanies the evolution of policy making throughout the states. Judges may not simultaneously find a right violated yet defer to an uncertain future remedy voluntarily undertaken by the violators.”

“We are grateful to Judge Chambers for this ruling that officially puts an end to the long fight for marriage equality for West Virginia’s same-sex couples and their families. This decision clears away the last obstacle to marriage equality in the state,” said Beth Littrell, Lambda Legal Senior Attorney. “Even though the Fourth Circuit’s decision had already cleared a path for West Virginia to issue marriage licenses, this is still a great day for equality. The state is indeed stronger today after the Court’s ruling confirming that all loving West Virginia couples and their families now have equal access to the privileges and protections of marriage.”

Lambda Legal filed this lawsuit in October 2013 on behalf of three same-sex couples and the child of one couple, arguing that West Virginia’s marriage ban unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples and sends a purposeful message that lesbians, gay men, and their children are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that different-sex couples and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.


Dallas Police ask for help in identifying suspect in Oak Lawn burglary

Posted on 07 Nov 2014 at 1:42pm
Screen shot 2014-11-07 at 1.39.13 PM

Suspect in Oak Lawn-area burglary


Dallas Police have asked for the public’s help in identifying a suspect that may have been involved in a Nov. 1 burglary in the 4000 block of Bowser Ave., in Oak Lawn.

The suspect is a black male, about 20 years old, 5-11, 180 pounds. Police said he was seen at the location of the residential burglary on Bowser and was then seen fleeing the scene in a green, 1997-99 Buick LeSabre with damage to the front end and driver’s side. Within 45 minutes of the burglary, the suspect used a credit card stolen in the Oak Lawn-area burglary at a store in the 9700 block of Webb Chapel.

The video below shows the suspect using the stolen credit card.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Philip Strodtman at 214-670-6047.


Missouri ruling is stayed pending appeal

Posted on 07 Nov 2014 at 12:55pm

PrintSome couples in St. Louis married after a judge struck down the state’s marriage discrimination law today, Nov. 7, before the state obtained an injunction stopping marriage equality. Marriages performed in other states are still recognized.

The ruling can be found here.

This marriage equality ruling comes just a day after the 6th Circuit upheld discrimination in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky. Those cases, that were decided in one ruling, are being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Body found in Turtle Creek identified

Posted on 07 Nov 2014 at 12:13pm

CrimeTapeSmallPolice released the identity of a white male found dead in Turtle Creek on Monday, Nov. 3, as Robert Neal Letbetter. He was born Jan. 25, 1978. Next of kin has been notified.

Cause of death is still listed as unexplained and is still being investigated.


Judge Affirms the Freedom to Marry in Missouri

Posted on 07 Nov 2014 at 11:13am


Couples in St. Louis began getting married after U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith ruled this morning, Nov. 7, that denying marriage for same-sex couples in Missouri is unconstitutional. County clerks in other counties are refusing to issue marriage licenses claiming the ruling applies only to St. Louis.

The ruling comes just two days after St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison also declared Missouri’s ban unconstitutional, and a month after a state ruling which found that Missouri must respect the legal marriages of same-sex couples performed elsewhere.

Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry and Kansas City native, released the following statement:

“Today’s victory in Missouri marks the third consecutive win in the ‘Show Me’ state in just over a month, with all three judges affirming that marriage discrimination is unconstitutional. We encourage Attorney General Chris Koster not to appeal the ruling so that Missouri becomes the next state where loving and committed couples can share in the joy and dignity of marriage. Today’s ruling adds to the powerful momentum of victories from a bipartisan array of federal and state judges as we work to secure the freedom to marry nationwide.”

As of last month, a majority of Americans now live in a freedom to marry state. Once the pro-marriage rulings from the 4th, 7th, 9th, and 10th Circuits are fully implemented, same-sex couples will have the freedom to marry in 35 states plus the District of Columbia, representing nearly two-thirds of the American people.

In Kansas, a marriage ruling has been stayed until Monday to allow the state to file its appeal. Montana and South Carolina are the only states in their circuits that have not enacted marriage equality but are expected to comply with court rulings soon.


Latvian foreign minister comes out

Posted on 07 Nov 2014 at 10:44am

Edgars Rinkevics

For the first time, an official of a former Soviet republic has come out as gay.

In a tweet, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics wrote, “I Proudly Announce I Am Gay.”

Latvia held parliamentary elections in October and Rinkevics was the subject of a whispering campaign about his sexuality. Despite that, he easily won re-election.

In Latvia, as in most of Eastern Europe, marriage equality remains illegal.

Rinkevics’ announcement was “historic for the whole post-Soviet bloc because its quite homophobic,” said Kristine Garina, head of a Latvian LGBT rights group. “He’s the first such high politician in the post-Soviet space that has come out.”


Elton John AIDS Foundation funds transgender HIV project

Posted on 07 Nov 2014 at 10:34am

AIDS ribbonElton John AIDS Foundation and Transgender Law Center will partner for a one year pilot program to identify the structural inequities that drive high rates of HIV incidents in transgender communities.

The Transgender Law Center will use the funds to form a national advisory board of eight to ten trans people living with HIV, with a strong focus on trans women of color. The advisory board will assist in a systems gap assessment, identify best and promising practices in community response to HIV and issue recommendations.

“With the support of the advisory board, Transgender Law Center will engage the community meaningfully in the examination of how systemic barriers and social conditions  (such as discrimination, transphobia, criminalization and violence) drive the HIV epidemic and negatively impact health outcomes.” said Cecilia Chung, Senior Strategist of Transgender Law Center. “This will also give us an opportunity to support and strengthen the leadership of some of the most vulnerable members in the transgender community.”