Judge tosses Colorado same-sex marriage ban, but stays ruling pending appeal

Posted on 23 Jul 2014 at 7:32pm

U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore issued his ruling today overturning Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage. His ruling comes less than a month after a state district judge ruled in a separate care that the ban is unconstitutional.

Moore rejected Attorney General John Suthers’ argument that failing to issue a stay would be harmful to the state and cause legal confusion. But the judge did temporarily stay his ruling to give Suthers’ office until 8 a.m. on Aug. 25 to appeal his ruling to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Read The Denver Post’s story on the ruling and the complicated background of state court rulings vs. federal court vs. a 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in a similar case in Utah and the more than 3oo marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples in Colorado since June 25.

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Marriage equality updates: While we wait on Colorado …..

Posted on 23 Jul 2014 at 1:17pm

U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore, who heard arguments yesterday in a suit seeking to overturn Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage, has indicated he is likely to rule in favor of the gay couples who say the ban is unconstitutional. The real question is whether Judge Moore will put his ruling on hold until the inevitable appeals are heard and decided, according to this report by The Washington Post.

Colorado Attorney General  John Suthers isn’t opposing the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction overturning the marriage ban, but he does want Judge Moore to stay his ruling. On the flip side, though, plaintiffs’ attorney Mari Newman argued against the stay, reminding the judge that “justice delayed is justice denied.”

Judge Moore is expected to announce his ruling and his decision on whether or not to issue the stay sometime today. But while we are waiting to hear from Colorado, here are a few more marriage-related tidbits to ponder. (And yes, David Taffet usually does the marriage news roundup here on Instant Tea, but he’s on vacation this week.)

 

Rubio still opposes marriage equality

Official Portrait

Sen. Marco Rubio

File this one under the “Color Us NOT Surprised” heading: Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, is expected to reiterate his opposition to marriage equality in a speech at a Catholic university later today. OK, so he’s not gonna actually say he opposes same-sex marriage. What he’s going to say is that he believes states’ should be allowed to define marriage as they see fit, whether he agrees with them or not, and without interference from the federal courts.

Rubio, a possible Republican presidential candidate, has also said he is not in favor of a federal constitutional ban. By saying that he personally opposes same-sex marriage but believes states should be able to define marriage as they see fit, Rubio is likely looking for a little bit of semi-neutral middle ground in preparation for that possible run for the White House.

This report in the Tampa Bay Times gives more detail on his words and his voting record.

 

Equality Florida to deliver petitions to Bondi

The four same-sex couples challenging Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage along with representatives of Equality Florida Institute are set to deliver 7.000 petitions signed by Floridians to Attorney General Pam Bondi, urging her to “stop wasting taxpayer resources” defending the ban.

Monroe County Chief Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia issued a ruling on July 17 declaring the ban unconstitutional, although on Monday, July 21, he issued a stay of the ruling as the case moves through the appeals process.

Equality Florida says that recent surveys show that at least 57 percent of Florida residents support marriage equality.

The petitions will be delivered Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, the Miami Herald’s Fred Grimm posted this column criticizing the twice-divorced Bondi for appealing Garcia’s ruling.

“With five divorces between the two of us, Pam Bondi and I aren’t exactly paragons of marriage stability,” Grimm writes. “Nothing in Florida law, however, would keep either one of us from denigrating that hallowed institution once again.”

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WATCH: Drag queens and Speedos and sarongs, oh my!

Posted on 23 Jul 2014 at 12:46pm

IMG_2878Last weekend, over the course of a brief 24 hours, three different charities — AIDS Services of Dallas, Legacy Counseling Center and Founders Cottage and AIDS Arms — received an awful lot of love from the Dallas gay community … and did so with a lot of costume changes.

On Saturday, The Summer Party, a 12-year-old pool bash at a private home in East Dallas, raised money for ASD, and included a fashion show by Skivvies, as well as a sarong contest for the gathered guests. Later that evening, The Red Party, a fundraising group benefiting Legacy, staged a poolside fashion show of its own at the ilume, with vodka by Hudson Ferus, snacks and margaritas from Mi Cocina and swimwear by Aussie Bum, ES Collection, Marek+Richard and others. Then on Sunday evening, the Rose Room gave over to the Miss LifeWalk contest, a fundraiser for AIDS Arms. Thousands of dollars were raised … and a lot of eyes popped.

You can see slide shows of each of them with these links to the Summer Party, the Red Party and Miss LifeWalk.

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Exxon will comply with executive order banning anti-LGBT discrimination

Posted on 23 Jul 2014 at 12:36pm

exxonmobil.si

In a statement to the Associated Press on Tuesday, officials with ExxonMobil said the company will “abide by the law” and comply with President Obama’s executive orders, signed Monday, prohibiting the federal government and companies with federal contracts from discriminating against LGBT employees.

ExxonMobil spokesman Alan Jeffers would not comment on whether the company will change its own policies to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination. But he insisted ExxonMobil prohibits “discrimination on any basis.”

In May, shareholders for the company, headquartered in Irving, voted down a proposal to change its policies to explicitly prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in employment. It was the 15th straight year shareholders have rejected the proposed changes, despite ongoing efforts of activists. When Exxon and Mobil were separate companies, Mobil had specific policies protecting LGBT employees and offered domestic partner benefits Once Exxon took over, though, those policies and benefits were abolished.

In May, Exxon shareholders voted down a proposal for the 15th consecutive year to add such language to its equal employment opportunity statement, maintaining that the business standards stated on a company web site ensure protections without having to specifically name them.

ExxonMobile began offering benefits to legally married same-sex couples among its employees in May 2013 after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. But the company faces a discrimination complaint in Illinois where a group called Freedom to Work submitted two fictitious resumes to the company, which ignored a more qualified applicant identified in the resume as gay and responded to a less qualified applicant who didn’t identify as gay.

According to government records, ExxonMobil won more than $480 million in federal contracts in 2013 and more than $8 billion since 2006.

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New report calls marriage equality in Texas a “gold mine”

Posted on 23 Jul 2014 at 10:49am

domareact_0627met001A report released by the LGBT think tank Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law estimates that legalized same-sex marriage in Texas would give new meaning to the phrase “Texas Miracle.”

According to the report, if same-sex marriage was legalized today, wedding planning would bring jobs, tourists and lots of cash.

Of the state’s 46,000 same-sex couples, 23,200 would marry over the next three years, the report estimates. That means:

• Total spending on wedding arrangements and tourism by resident same-sex couples and their guests would add an estimated $181.6 million to the state and local economy of Texas over the course of three years, with a $116.2 million boost in the first year alone.”

• This economic boost would add $14.8 million in sales tax revenue to state and local coffers.

• Spending related to same-sex couples’ wedding ceremonies and celebrations would generate 523 to 1,570 full- and part-time jobs in the state

The study follows a federal ruling in February striking down Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage.

You can read the full report here.

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Temple University researchers say they can eliminate HIV from human cells

Posted on 22 Jul 2014 at 4:59pm
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Kamel Khalili

Researchers at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia say they have been able to completely eliminate HIV from human cell cultures.

Kamel Khalili, PhD., professor and chair of Temple’s Department of Neuroscience, call the advancement “one important step on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS.” But Khalili added that while it is “an exciting discovery,” the procedure is “not yet ready to go into the clinic.” He added, “It’s a proof of concept that we’re moving in the right direction.”

Khalili, Dr. Wenhui Hu, an associate professor of neuroscience at Temple, led the project, which marks the first successful attempt to eliminate latent HIV-1 from human cells, according to a statement released by the university. Khalili is also director of the Center for Neurovirology and director of the Comprehensive NeuroAIDS Center at Temple.

Khalili and his colleagues published their study Monday, July 21, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, detailing how they created molecular tools to delete the HIV-1 proviral DNA. “When deployed, a combination of a DNA-snipping enzyme called a nuclease and a targeting strand of RNA called a guide RNA (gRNA) hunt down the viral genome and excise the HIV-1 DNA,” the statement read. “From there, the cell’s gene repair machinery takes over, soldering the loose ends of the genome back together — resulting in virus-free cells.”

Read Temple’s press release here. Read the published study here.

 

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San Antonio City Council appoints new interim mayor

Posted on 22 Jul 2014 at 4:58pm

ivytaylorThe San Antonio City Council appointed Councilwoman Ivy R. Taylor as its interim mayor today following Julian Castro’s resignation in the wake of his appointment as the new U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Taylor was one of the three “no” votes against amending the city’s non-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to the San Antonio News-Express, she voted no over concerns that it would stifle religious freedom.

At her swearing in today, however, Taylor said she looks forward to working with the entire community.

Chuck Smith of Equality Texas said in a statement he looks forward to working with Taylor “to ensure that the equal opportunities envisioned by the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance (NDO) can become a reality for the 1.3 million people who make San Antonio their home.”

Taylor, who has been on the council since 2009, will be the city’s first African-American mayor. She will serve until the May 2015 elections and has said in the past she would not run for the open position.

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Wendy Davis works the phones, rallies supporters

Posted on 22 Jul 2014 at 4:35pm

LGBT activist Patti Fink was among the Dallas area Democrats who turned out Monday night for a rally for Wendy Davis and a phone bank for the Democratic slate of candidates. She graciously shared some of her photos with Dallas Voice.

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LGBT news briefs

Posted on 22 Jul 2014 at 4:17pm

Idaho activists sentenced

A total of 23 LGBT activists arrested in February for protesting at the Idaho Statehouse were sentenced today on charges that included misdemeanor trespassing, and ordered to pay court costs based on the number of times they were arrested during ongoing protests calling for Idaho legislators to add protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s Human Rights Act.

Idaho State Police made more than 190 arrests by the time the legislative session ended in March. Among those sentenced today were two women who both lost children to suicide because of anti-LGBT discrimination.

Read more here at Pink News.

 

Maryland offers trans employees improved health benefits

FreeState Legal Project announced today that the state of Maryland has removed language from its employee health benefits policy denied coverage to transgender state employees for transition-related health care.  The state made the change as part of settlement of a legal claim filed by FreeState Legal on behalf of Sailor Holobaugh.

Read details here at FreeState Legal Project.

 

Obama endangers religious freedom in America (not really)

Fox News commentator Todd Starnes barely let the ink dry on President Obama’s executive order banning discrimination against LGBT people by those contracting with the federal government before he posted this “sky is falling” rant warning that the president is endangering religious freedom.

Starnes offers this quote from Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy dtudies at the Family Research Council: “This level of coercion is nothing less than viewpoint blackmail that bullies into silence every contractor and subcontractor who has moral objections to homosexual behavior.”

 

Lesbian tossed from water park for wearing men’s  swimwear

And also from Pink News:

Jill Sweeney of Indiana believes she was kicked out of WildWater Adventure in Muskegon, Michigan on July 9 after spending only three hours at the park for her bachelorette party because she was wearing men’s swimming trunks, a tank top, and a sports bra, and because she is a lesbian.

WildWater Adventure General Manager Camille Mark said guests at the water park are required to wear swimsuits, no street clothes allowed, and that Sweeney’s sports bra was considered street clothes. She also said Sweeney’s sexual orientation had nothing to do with the situation.

Read more here.

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Susan Sarandon: An American for marriage equality

Posted on 22 Jul 2014 at 11:43am

Award-winning actress and progressive activist Susan Sarandon has made this video (below) for the Human Rights Campaign’s marriage equality campaign. She says: “While marriage might not be my thing, if it’s your thing you damn well ought to be able to have it equally and unequivocally.”

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