BREAKING: Judge won’t lift stay in Texas gay marriage case

GayTexasFlagA federal judge has declined to allow Texas same-sex couples to marry before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals can rule on the case.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio declared Texas’ same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional in February. But he stayed the ruling anticipating an appeal by Texas officials. Then–Attorney General and now Governor-elect Greg Abbott, a Republican, filed an appeal.

The Fifth Circuit has scheduled a hearing for Jan. 9 for the Texas case as well as for Mississippi and Louisiana.

 

 

—  James Russell

Texas marriage case fast-tracked by 5th Circuit

cleopatra-de-leon-and-nicole-dimetman

Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to fast-track its review of two  lawsuits challenging bans on legally recognizing same-sex marriages in Texas and Louisiana, according to numerous reports, including this one at Bilerico.com.

Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman of Austin, one of two gay couples challenging the ban in Texas, asked Monday that the appellate court expedite the cases because Dimetman is pregnant with the couple’s second child and they want their marriage legally recognized before the child — due next March — is born. De Leon gave birth to their first child and Dimetman had to complete a second-parent adoption to be legally recognized as that child’s parent. Unless the couple’s 2009 Massachusetts wedding is recognized in Texas before the second child is born, only Dimetman will be automatically recognized as the child’s legal parent, forcing De Leon to go through the lengthy and expensive second-parent adoption process.

De Leon and Dimetman along with Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss of Plano are the second couple in the Texas case. The two have been together for about 14 years but are waiting for Texas to legally recognize same-sex marriage before tying the knot. U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia ruled in February that the Texas gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.

In the second case being reviewed by the 5th Circuit, Robicheaux v. Caldwell, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman on Sept. 3 upheld the Louisiana ban on same-sex marriage, the first federal judge to rule against marriage equality since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.

Lambda Legal joined the case as council on Oct. 7.

Just three weeks after Feldman’s ruling, Judge Edward Rubin in Louisiana’s 15th Judicial District Court ruled, in the case Constanza and Brewer v. Caldwell, that the Louisiana marriage ban is unconstitutional.

So far, since the Windsor ruling last year, no federal appellate court has ruled in favor of same-sex marriage bans. On Monday, Oct. 6, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals on seven cases from five states, leaving appellate decisions striking down bans from the 4th, 7th and 10th Circuit Courts in place. The 9th Circuit Court struck down bans in Idaho and Nevada the next day, and on Sunday, a federal judge in Alaska — which is part of the 9th Circuit — struck down that state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Appeals are also pending in the 6th and 11th Circuit Courts. Those two and the 5th Circuit are considered the most conservative in the country and the ones most likely to rule in favor of marriage bans.

—  Tammye Nash

Another one bites the dust: 9th Circuit strikes down same-sex marriage bans in Nevada, Idaho

Nevada officials have already said they won’t appeal; no word yet from Idaho on appeal

Lisa Keen  |  Keen News Service

 

A unanimous three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday, Oct. 7, struck down state bans against marriage for same-sex couples in Nevada and Idaho.

But the ruling will also — if not appealed — affect bans in Ninth Circuit states with similar bans: Alaska, Arizona and Montana. That means the total count on marriage eq9th Circuituality states could well reach 35 this week.

The result of the Ninth Circuit decision, while widely expected, comes just one day after the surprise action of the U.S. Supreme Court to refuse review of appeals involving state bans in five other states across three other federal appeals circuits. That move alone meant the marriage equality state count would go from 19 to 24 and probably 30, assuming no state with a ban inside those three circuits attempts a long-shot effort to press its case to keep the ban.

The Ninth Circuit’s decision adds five more.

In the 34-page decision released Tuesday afternoon, Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote that the state bans violate the constitutional rights to equal protection and due process “because they deny lesbians and gays who wish to marry persons of the same sex a right they afford to individuals who wish to marry persons of the opposite sex, and do not satisfy the heightened scrutiny standard we adopted in SmithKline.

“…The lessons of our constitutional history are clear: inclusion strengthens, rather than weakens, our most important institutions,” wrote Reinhardt. “When we integrated our schools, education improved. When we opened our juries to women, our democracy became more vital. When we allowed lesbian and gay soldiers to serve openly in uniform, it enhanced unit cohesion. When same-sex couples are married, just as when opposite-sex couples are married, they serve as models of loving commitment to all.”

Tara Borelli, the senior attorney for Lambda Legal that represented plaintiffs in the Nevada case, Sevcik v. Sandoval, said her group is “delighted” with the result.

Serving on the panel with Reinhardt — an appointee of President Jimmy Carter — were two other judges appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton, Judge Ronald Gould and Judge Marsha Berzon.

Nevada state officials did not attempt to defend their law and are unlikely to seek an appeal from the full circuit.

Borelli said that while same-sex couples in Nevada can expect to marry soon, she noted that the court “remanded Lambda Legal’s Nevada marriage equality case to the district court for the prompt issuance of an injunction permanently enjoining the state, its political subdivisions and its officers, employees and agents, from preventing same-sex couples from marrying or denying recognition to marriages entered outside of the state.

“Same-sex couples will not be able to enforce their right to marry until that happens,” said Borelli, “but government officials in Nevada may allow same-sex couples to marry before then.”

There was no word at deadline as to whether Idaho officials, who did attempt to defend their ban in Otter v. Latta, would seek such an appeal.

“This also paves the way for victories in Arizona, Alaska and Montana,” noted Borelli, adding, however, that “further orders would need to be entered to bind the parties in those cases. But the law of the circuit is now clear.”

The opinion rejected “out of hand” an argument by defenders of the ban that allowing same-sex couples to marry would cause heterosexual couples with children to conclude that a father is unnecessary.

“This proposition reflects a crass and callous view of parental love and the parental bond that is not worthy of response,” wrote Reinhardt.

In another dramatic section, Reinhardt blasts defenders for claiming to care about protection of children.

“If defendants really wished to ensure that as many children as possible had married parents,” he wrote, “they would do well to rescind the right to no-fault divorce, or to divorce altogether.”

Neither state has done so, he noted.

“…In extending the benefits of marriage only to people who have the capacity to procreate, while denying those same benefits to people who already have children, Idaho and Nevada materially harm and demean same-sex couples and their children,” Reinhardt wrote. “…Classifying some families, and especially their children, as of lesser value should be repugnant to all those in this nation who profess to believe in ‘family values. In any event, Idaho and Nevada’s asserted preference for opposite-sex parents does not, under heightened scrutiny, come close to justifying unequal treatment on the basis of sexual orientation.”

A federal district court judge had upheld Nevada’s ban, but the district court in Idaho had struck that state’s ban down. Reinhardt noted that the Idaho court was influenced by the Ninth Circuit decision in SmithKline v. Abbott, which said that laws targeting gays require heightened scrutiny. That decision had not yet been issued when the Nevada court issued its decision.

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  Tammye Nash

The wingnuts speak on SCOTUS decision not to hear marriage case appeals

On Monday, Oct. 6, the national LGBT community rejoiced and wedding bells began to ring in 11 new marriage equality states when the Supreme Court of the United States announced it would not hear appeals of circuit court rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans in five states.

But for the right wing faction of the U.S., that ringing wasn’t wedding bells, but a death knell.

bryan-fischer

Bryan Fischer

Perhaps one of the most outrageous declarations came from Bryan Fisher, “director of issue analysis” for the so-called American Family Association. Fischer called the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the marriage appeals “the Dred Scott of gay marriage” and said that marriage equality is “as morally bankrupt and indefensible as the institution of slavery. Slavery ate away at America’s soul, and homosexual marriage will do the same thing, It is a deviant and grotesque caricature of the real thing. For this sexual debauchery to be normalized by the highest court in the land is a sign of the nation plunging headlong into a bottomless moral abyss.”

Jeremy Hooper, special projects consultant for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said that sometimes the best way to rebut what someone says is to get out of the way and just let them keep talking. So let me step aside and let the wingnuts speak. …

Right Wing Watch  rounded up responses from other wingnuts, including the Liberty Counsel, which issued a press release denouncing the Supreme Court’s “decision to watch marriage burn to ashes,” and accusing the justices of “dereliction of duty.”

Liberty Council Founder and Chairman Matt Staver declared, “Everyone will be affected by same-sex marriage because it is an intolerant agenda that will directly collide with religious freedom.”

The Family Research Council predicted that “more and more people [will] lose their livelihoods because they refuse to not just tolerate but celebrate same-sex marriage,” adding that the Supreme Court’s decision “will allow rogue lower court judges who have ignored history and true legal precedent to silence the elected representatives of the people and the voice of the people themselves by overturning state provisions on marriage. Even more alarming, lower court judges are undermining our form of government and the rights and freedoms of citizens to govern themselves. This judicially led effort to force same sex ‘marriage’ on people will have negative consequences for our republic, not only as it relates to natural marriage but also undermining the rule of and respect for law.”

FRC did not that the court’s rejection of the appeals “ensures that the debate over natural marriage will continue and the good news is that time is not on the side of those who want to redefine marriage.”

The National Organization for Marriage called for passage of a national marriage amendment: “…the only alternative to letting unelected judges impose their view of marriage on Americans across the country is to pursue a process that will allow the American people to decide for themselves what is marriage. It is critical not only to marriage but to the republican form of government in this country to amend the Constitution to reaffirm the meaning of marriage. We therefore call on the US Congress to move forward immediately to send a federal marriage amendment to the states for ratification.”

And Focus on the Family clamored that the decision will result in a “further expansion of threats to religious freedom.”

“Marriage has always been — and will always be — between a man and a woman. Ultimately, no court can change that truth,” Focus on the Family’s statement said. “So regardless of legal outcomes, we’ll continue to address the importance of one-man, one-woman marriage to families, society and especially for children who have a right to both a mother and a father. Our concern continues to be for children who deserve to grow up with both a mom and a dad, as well as for the religious freedom rights of people who strongly believe in God’s design for marriage and want to live consistently with those beliefs.”

Faith and Freedom Coalition called the decision a “miscarriage of justice” and warned that SCOTUS will “reap a political whirlwind.” And the Florida Family Policy Council’s John Stemberger warned that the court “risks losing enormous institutional legitimacy” by ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

Here’s a video of Bryan Fischer and his declaration of how SCOTUS imposed “sodomy-based marriage” on 11 states that voted against it.

—  Tammye Nash

BREAKING NEWS: Louisiana state judge says marriage ban is unconstitutional

KLFY Channel 10 News in Lafayette is reporting that Louisiana State Judge Edward Rubin has ruled that the state’s law banning same-sex gavelmarriage is unconstitutional because it violates the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment and the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution.

That’s all I can find on the ruling right now, but Rubin’s ruling is in direct contrast to a ruling earlier this month by federal Judge Martin L. C. Feldman in Louisiana that the state’s gay marriage is not unconstitutional. Feldman’s ruling on Sept. 3 is the only ruling in favor of gay marriage bans.

 

—  Tammye Nash

WATCH: John Lithgow’s brilliant analysis of ‘playing gay’

Screen shot 2014-09-10 at 9.23.13 AMOn The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert plays a fake conservative who baits guests with muddle-headed, FoxNews-worthy comments, so you have to take his interview with John Lithgow — the star of the new gay-marriage film Love Is Strange, which we profiled this week — with a grain of salt. But what’s awesome is where Lithgow plays along, explaining how he approaches playing a gay character. Playing gay in nothing new for the Oscar nominee; he was a trans woman in The World According to Garp. But it’s a brilliant statement not only on the craft of acting, but humanity. The real good stuff starts at about 4:30. (Watch below or go to this link.)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

BREAKING: 10th Circuit says OK marriage ban is unconstitutional

Bs1h9tfCAAAgOOnA U.S. appeals court ruled today that Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The 2-1 vote by the U.S. Tenth Circuit of Appeals affirmed U.S. Judge Terence Kern’s earlier decision in Bishop v. Smith.

The same three-judge panel also ruled earlier Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The court stayed its ruling however, pending an appeal by the state of Oklahoma.

The case is the oldest challenge to a same-sex marriage ban in the country.

Since the Supreme Court’s major gay rights decisions last year, 17 federal courts have ruled that state same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional. More than 70 cases are pending in federal court including one in Texas, DeLeon v. Perry according to a press release from the Human Rights Campaign.

 

—  James Russell

BREAKING: Marriage equality win in Colorado

Colorado state District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree ruled Wednesday that Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage, approved by voters in 2006, is unconstitutional. But Crabtree immediately stayed his ruling as the case moves through the appeals process, Reuters has reported.

In his ruling, Crabtree wrote: “There is no rational relationship between any legitimate governmental purpose and the marriage bans.”

Also on Wednesday, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced he will appeal a ruling by a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit appeals court directly to the U.S. Supreme Court rather than asking for the full 10th Circuit court to rehear the case.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia, and lawsuits challenging same-sex marriage bans are headed to the U.S. Supreme Court while two other lawsuits challenging bans in Oklahoma and Virginia have already been heard by appellate courts.

—  Tammye Nash

BREAKING NEWS: Appeals court grants stay for Sandler and Quasney

Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney

Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order today compelling the state of Indiana to recognize the marriage of Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney, even though the federal district judge that struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban last week stayed his ruling, leaving the ban in effect while the case makes its way through the appeals process. The 7th Circuit Court issued its ruling after Lambda Legal filed an emergency motion asking that the stay be lifted for Sandler and Quasney because Quasney is battling stage 4 ovarian cancer and “the family needs the dignity, comfort and protections of marriage as they fight to be together,” according to a statement just released by Lambda Legal.

The 7th Circuit Court also set an expedited briefing schedule in the base, Baskin v. Bogan, with all briefs in the case due by Aug. 5. Arguments in the case could come as early as the end of the summer, Lambda Legal officials said.

Paul D. Castillo, staff attorney with Lambda Legal, said: “It is time for the state of Indiana to leave Niki and Amy in peace and not subject them and their marriage to any more stress and uncertainty as this case proceeds. We are thrilled that the court ruled in favor of this family … . We will continue to fight until no family in Indiana needs to worry about their marriage being stripped away from them and all Hoosiers have the freedom to marry.”

The couple filed suit challenging Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban in March in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Indiana, and Lambda Legal later filed a motion seeking immediate relief for the two women and their two children, ages 3 and 1.

Quasney was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer nearly five years ago in 2009, when she had more than 100 tumors surgically removed. Since then she has gone through years of chemotherapy to battle the disease. Quasney and Baskin have a civil union in Illinois and were married in Massachusetts last year. But they need to have their marriage recognized in Indiana, where they live, to “receive the full protections that every other married family in Indiana receives,” according to Lambda Legal representatives.

Click here to read the 7th Circuit Court’s order lifting the stay for Baskin and Quasney. Click here to see Lambda Legal’s request for an emergency order. Click here to sign the petition urging the Indiana attorney general to abandon the appeals, and click here to read more about the families and the entire case.

—  Tammye Nash

BREAKING NEWS: Kentucky judge rules in favor of marriage equality

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II has just ruled that Kentucky’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution, according to reports by The Courier-Times. This ruling comes four months after Heyburn’s decision in February ordering the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in jurisdictions where such marriages are legal.

Judge John G. Heyburn IIDon’t expect immediate wedding bells in The Bluegrass State. Heyburn put his ruling on hold pending a decision by a higher court.

Lawyers for Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear’s only argument in support of the ban was that traditional marriages contribute to a stable birth rate and the state’s long-term economic stability. Heyburn rejected that reasoning, saying “These arguments are not those of serious people.”

Heyburn said in his ruling, “In America, even sincere and long-hold religious beliefs do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted.” He also said that there is “no conceivable legitimate purpose” for the ban and that it violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2013 overturned a significant portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, there have been at least 15 court rulings at various levels of the federal court system overturning same-sex marriage bans or bans on recognizing same-sex marriages legally performed elsewhere. That number could go up again soon since a state trial court in Miami is slated to hear oral arguments Wednesday on a motion filed in May by six same-sex couples and Equality Florida Institute challenging Florida’s same-sex marriage ban.

—  Tammye Nash