Equality comes to the Equality State tomorrow

safe_imageEquality comes to Wyoming, whose nickname is The Equality State, on Tuesday, Oct. 21.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights brought suit against Wyoming to come into line with the rest of the Tenth Circuit after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from Utah and Oklahoma, also in that circuit.

The state announced that it would not appeal, clearing the way for marriages to begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

Wyoming becomes marriage equality state No. 32 after AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, ID, IA, IL, IN, ME, MD, MA, MN, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OK, OR, PA, RI, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV and WI, plus DC.

—  David Taffet

Idaho becomes marriage equality state number … umm… lost count

When Idaho’s Atty. Gen. Lawrence Wasden withdrew his request for a stay on Monday, Oct. 13 and Gov. Butch Otter decided on Tuesday to stop challenging the Ninth Circuit’s ruling on marriage equality, that cleared the way for Idaho to become a marriage equality state.

While Texas and Mississippi continue to battle for last place, Idaho became marriage equality state No. 29. Or 32. We lost count.

Marriages started today in Idaho. Facebook friend Cindy Gross from Boise sent these pics and called the day very exciting. Gross works with the Add the Words campaign trying to get sexual orientation and gender identity added to Idaho’s Human Rights Act.

“Couples getting married today didn’t want their pictures taken because they were afraid they’d lose their jobs,” she said.

But Boise was celebrating with city officials performing weddings. She said lots of straight people were out celebrating along with everyone else.

 

—  David Taffet

Abbott wants to reduce out-of-wedlock births so he’s against same-sex marriage

Texas AG Greg AbbottAtty. Gen. Greg Abbott filed a new brief in the Texas marriage case that the Fifth Circuit decided to fast-track. His main argument is that the state doesn’t have to prove same-sex marriage will hurt opposite-sex marriage, just that opposite-sex marriage is better.

“Second, Texas’s marriage laws are rationally related to the State’s interest in reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births. By channeling procreative heterosexual intercourse into marriage, Texas’s marriage laws reduce unplanned out-of-wedlock births and the costs that those births impose on society.”

So how’s that channeling going for you Greg?

Here are some stats from the Centers for Disease Control website for teen births, ages 15 to 19 in 2010, the latest year for which I found a state-by-state comparison.

The overall U.S. birth rate is 34.3 per 1,000 teens ages 15–19 in 2010, the latest year available on the Centers for Disease Control website.

But that number is not equally distributed across the country.

In Massachusetts, the rate is 17.1 per thousand and in Texas it’s 52.2 per thousand. That’s more than three times the teen pregnancy rate in traditional values Texas than in marriage-equality Massachusetts.

Massachusetts, the first marriage-equality state, legalized same-sex marriage in 2003.

In his fight against marriage equality, Abbott said the State is interested in “reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births.” That hasn’t happened.

Let’s compare a few other states to Texas. In civil union state No. 1 that became marriage equality state No. 2, the Vermont teen birth rate is 17.9 per thousand.

Another early marriage equality adopter was Iowa. That’s state’s teen birth rate is 28.6 per thousand, still below the national average.

Comparing Texas to other large states, New York has a rate of 22.6 per thousand and California has a rate of 31.5 per thousand. Both now have marriage equality but didn’t in 2010, the year of these stats.

Texas isn’t in last place, however. Once again, Texans can proudly say “Thank God for Mississippi,” with its 55.0 rate. Arkansas and New Mexico teens are both breeding at faster rates than Texas teens as well.

These are just teen birth rates and marriage equality may have absolutely nothing to do with it. So either Abbott’s argument collapses because marriage equality is irrelevant to unwed teen birth rates or marriage equality actually encourages teens not to get pregnant.

—  David Taffet

LifeWalk 2014

Thousands of people participated in LifeWalk on Oct. 5. The total raised will be announced after money from final fundraisers and corporate matches are collected and should top $500,000. Photos by Erin Moore and Chad Mantooth.

—  David Taffet

SCOTUS declines marriage stays, adding up to 11 new equality states

Supreme-Court-building-permissionAs of this morning, there are five new marriage equality states, and that number could quickly grow to 11. That brings the total to 25, 31 once the courts clarify that the rulings apply to their entire circuits.

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected  appeals from five states that lost cases challenging their bans on same-sex marriage at the appeals court level. Those five states — Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana — had appealed those rulings to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in rejecting those appeals, the Supreme Court in essence upheld appellate court rulings declaring same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional.

However, because the appellate courts had stayed their rulings pending the outcome of appeals, same-sex marriages in those five states had been on hold. Until today. With SCOTUS’ decision to reject the appeals, the stays are lifted and the weddings can commence.

The ruling of the appeals courts should apply to all states in those circuits that had cases heard or pending before those courts. That’s why the number of states with marriage equality in place could grow so quickly to 11.

Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming are in the same circuit as Utah and Oklahoma. West Virginia, North and South Carolina are in the same circuit as Virginia. Those additional states may also have marriage equality as of this morning.

So far all the federal appellate courts that have ruled on marriage equality cases have ruled against same-sex marriage bans. The fact that there has been no disagreement among the federal appellate courts is what allowed SCOTUS to, basically, punt on the issue.

However, the Fifth Circuit and the Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeals, both of which tend to be more conservative than other federal appellate courts, both have marriage equality cases pending. Should one or both of those appellate courts allow a marriage ban to stand, SCOTUS would then be forced to resolve the question once and for all.

Texas is among the states with marriage equality cases pending before the Fifth Circuit.

—  David Taffet

Boy Scouts nondiscrimination policy is in print

ScoutsDallas Voice publisher Leo Cusimano, an Eagle Scout, enrolled his younger son in the Cub Scouts this week, but not before reading the application.

On the page headed Boy Scouts of America Information for Parents, he found the Policy of Nondiscrimination:

Youth membership in the BSA is open to all boys and young adults who meet the joining requirements. Membership in Scouting advancement and achievement of leadership in Scouting units are open to all youth without regard to race, ethnic background, or sexual orientation, and are based on individual merit.

But Cusimano wanted to double check and make sure the Den Father understood his son has two fathers.

“Yeah, this is Kessler Park,” he said. “No problem.”

—  David Taffet

Anti-Sam protest fizzles at Cowboys Stadium

Pro-EqualityOf the more than 3.62 million members of the American Decency Association claimed by organizer Jack Burkman that planned to protest the Dallas Cowboys game on Sunday, exactly none showed up.

Supporters, however, did show up with signs that read, “Thank you Cowboys” and “Love beats hate.”

Even the American Decency Association disavowed Burkman. On its website, they wrote, “We are not the group in Texas using the name ‘American Decency’ headed by Jack Burkman that is being targeted as planning a protest against football player Michael Sam in Dallas this Sunday.”

American Decency doesn’t claim to like Sam. After disavowing Burkman, the man who proposed a bill to Congress to ban gay players in the NFL, American Decency claims to support “Biblical, traditional marriage.” You know, where marriage is between a man and as many women and concubines as he can afford, but very often has one special wife.

They complain about the kiss between Sam and his boyfriend — which they put in quotes — and then summarize, “In saying all of this, I make this point: We are not the ones behind the protest, but we also do not condone the lifestyle of Michael Sam.”

So since American Decency is against everything that Michael Sam stands for, but they weren’t behind the threatened protest, they ask that people stop emailing them hate mail.

But let’s end on a better note. Here’s a message from a church that doesn’t preach hate and vitriole:

Pro-Sam

 

 

—  David Taffet

Seventh Circuit strikes down Indiana and Wisconsin marriage bans

Judge Richard Posner

Judge Richard Posner

The losing streak ends at 1 loss.

A day after a Louisiana judge upheld a state marriage ban for the first time since the Windsor decision, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in Wisconsin and Indiana, upholding lower-court decisions. Judge Richard Posner wrote the marriage bans are a violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. The three-judge panel’s decision was unanimous.

The judge involved in yesterday’s decision in Lousiana and the judge who wrote today’s decisions were both Reagan appointees.

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, wrote, “Today’s sharp and scathing ruling demolishes the arguments and unsubstantiated claims made by opponents of the freedom to marry, repeated in the outlier decision out of Louisiana yesterday, and affirms what nearly 40 other federal and state courts have found: the denial of the freedom to marry inflicts real harms and is constitutionally indefensible.”

—  David Taffet

DART begins service to DFW Airport

DART mapThe final station on DART’s Orange line now links Dallas to DFW Airport — in a way it doesn’t link Dallas to Love Field. The new DART station is actually inside DFW Airport at Terminal A. Walk from the station to the terminal and once inside security, link to any of the airport’s gates.

DART skirts Love Field and does not go to the airport. A bus takes passengers from Inwood Station to Love Field’s terminal.

While the trip to DFW airport might take longer than driving, riding DART can save quite a bit of money. Terminal parking is $20 per day and long-term parking is $9 per day. A DART trip is $2.50 each way, but parking is free at DART stations. Overnight parking is available at Market Center Station and Inwood Station in Oak Lawn and Hampton Station and Westmoreland Station in Oak Cliff.

From any of the downtown or Oak Lawn stations, take the Orange line. From Oak Cliff, transfer to the Orange line at West End Station. On the Red or Blue lines from the north, transfer to the Orange line anywhere between Mockingbird Station and West End Station. From South Dallas, transfer from the Green line anywhere from Arts District Station to Bachman Station.

Travel time to DFW Airport is 50 minutes from West End Station downtown, 43 minutes from Market Center Station, 41 minutes from Parkland Station and 39 minutes from Inwood Station.

Once the Orange line splits from the Green line at Bachman Station, the train makes five stops in Irving before arriving at the airport.

The Orange line originates in Plano during rush hour, LBJ at other times, and is DART’s longest line. From Downtown Plano Station to DFW Airport is a 90 minute train trip.

DART and Fort Worth’s The T continue to operate the TRE, which stops at CentrePoint Station south of DFW Airport with a shuttle bus transferring passengers to each of the terminals at the airport.

From Denton, train travelers can take the A train from downtown Denton to Trinity Mills Station, transfer to the Green line to Bachman Station and transfer to the Orange line to the airport.

—  David Taffet

Virginia could become marriage-equality state No. 20 this week

John G. Roberts portrait

Chief Justice John Roberts

Virginia could become marriage-equality state No. 20 on Thursday if U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts doesn’t stay the lower court’s ruling.

Roberts set a deadline of 5 p.m. today for the attorneys representing same-sex couples in Virginia’s Bostic v. Schaefer case to respond to the defendants’ request for a stay of the Fourth Circuit’s ruling overturning the state’s marriage ban. If Roberts rejects the stay request, gay and lesbian couples could begin receiving marriage licenses in Virginia starting at 8 a.m. on Thursday morning.

The Bostic plaintiffs case are represented by Ted Olson and David Boies on behalf of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, who are joined by the ACLU and Lambda Legal. Olson and Boies were the attorneys on the winning side of California’s Proposition 8 case.

If put on hold, Virginia will have to wait until the Supreme Court rules on marriage equality. That happened in Utah when the Tenth Circuit refused to stay its decision, but the Supreme Court put the ruling on hold. Both Utah and Virginia have been referred to the Supreme Court for review.

—  David Taffet