This week in marriage equality

marriage-scales-of-justiceIndiana:

A federal judge ruled that Indiana must recognize out-of-state marriages, the last of the five marriage equality cases in Indiana that had not received a ruling. All five cases struck down any ban on same-sex marriage. The ruling is stayed pending appeal. Read more here.

Idaho:

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Idaho’s request to appeal en banc (or before all of the court’s judges) a recent ruling overturning the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The case Latta v. Otter (otter–heehee!) was brought before the district court Judge Candy Dale this year by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and private attorneys. Dale ruled in their favor. Of note: the case will be heard concurrently with cases from Nevada and Hawaii, which also follow under the ninth court’s jurisdiction.

Florida:

Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional today for a fifth time. The difference is that this time, a U.S. District Court made the ruling, so it applies to the entire state. The previous four rulings were in county courts and those rulings applied only to those counties. The ruling is stayed pending appeal.

Department of Veterans Affairs:

Curve ball! The VA isn’t a state, but it’s being sued over not recognizing the partners of veterans in states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage. The case AMPA v. McDonald was brought by Lambda Legal and others, was filed on behalf of the American Military Partner Association.

Australia:

Waaaaaaay down south, Australia’s senate is considering a bill that would permit the country to realize recognition of foreign same-sex marriages, including Aussie couples who marry abroad. A recent ruling in their high court ruled that only Parliament could enact same-sex marriage.

—  James Russell

LGBT news briefs

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.

—  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

Couples begin marrying in Indiana

IN_IS“Governor Pence supports the Attorney General’s efforts to appeal the federal court’s ruling and defend Indiana’s right to define the institution of marriage for the residents of our state,” said the governor’s press secretary. “Because the Governor believes in the rule of law, the State of Indiana will comply with the federal court’s order as this case moves through the appeals process.”

No stay was issued with the ruling declaring Indiana’s marriage law unconstitutional, so county clerks began issuing licenses. The state has requested a stay and one couple who filed the original lawsuit filed opposition to the stay.

In Indianapolis, 186 couples married on the first day of marriage equality, according to the Indianapolis Star.

—  David Taffet

Dallas Voice contributor gets hitched in Indiana

CWCasey Williams, Dallas Voice’s automotive reviewer (including one of our favorite features, his witty Butch v. Femme headlamp-to-headlamp pairings) is officially married. Casey, who now lives in Indiana, took advantage of the state’s recent entrance into the marriage equality fraternity and wed his longtime partner Jarrod yesterday. (Casey is on the right.)

“[The federal judge's ruling] will probably get [stayed], but there’s nothing they can do about our marriage … finally!” he said.

It’s been a momentous few days for Casey in other ways. He and Jarrod are back at the courthouse today to finalize the adoption of their child. Still, he insists he will not review only cars with Baby On Board window stickers.

Congrats, Casey and Jarrod!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Breaking: Indiana judge strikes down marriage ban

The wedding march continues.

A spokeswoman for Lambda Legal has just announced that U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young has ruled Indiana’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional. Lambda Legal challenged the law on behalf of five couples seeking the freedom to marry in Indiana or recognition of a marriage from another state.

Rae Baskin, left, and Esther Fuller

Rae Baskin, left, and Esther Fuller

“It is clear that the fundamental right to marry shall not be deprived to some individuals based solely on the person they choose to love,” Young wrote in his ruling, after noting that every federal district court that has ruled regarding same-sex marriage has ruled against discriminatory bans.

Young continued, “In time, Americans will look at the marriage of couples such as plaintiffs, and refer to it simply as a marriage — not a same-sex marriage. These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”

Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Paul D. Castillo said his organization is thrilled with the ruling. “Indiana now joins the momentum for nationwide marriage equality and Hoosiers can now proclaim they are on the right side of history,” he said.

Amy Sandler, one of the plaintiffs, called Young’s ruling “an awesome day for Indiana. … We are especially happy for our children because they’ll be growing up in state that values all families equally.”

Lead plaintiff Rae Baskin said she and her partner have “waited for this moment since we decided to share our lives with each other.”

Read the decision here.

Read more about the families and the entire case here.

—  Tammye Nash

Indianapolis leaders take stand against same-sex marriage ban

HoosierINDIANAPOLIS — Mayor Greg Ballord signed a City-County Council resolution Friday, urging the Indiana General Assembly to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage, the Indianapolis Star reported.

The mayor signed the resolution before the council passed it, which is expected to happen Monday night.

“I understand that many people hold differing views on the subject, but Indiana law already defines marriage, and I don’t see the overriding government interest in adding such an amendment to our state’s constitution,” Ballard said in a statement issued by his office, the Star reported.

The council resolution says the amendment could jeopardize local discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as domestic partner benefits for city and county employees.

It also suggests the amendment is unnecessary since Indiana courts, in 2005, upheld the current marriage law against a challenge by same-sex couples.

“This amendment would hurt our state’s well-deserved reputation for ‘Hoosier Hospitality’ and diminish our value as a business friendly location,” said a recent letter to the editor signed by the Republican and Democratic council sponsors.

If the Legislature approves the amendment, it will advance to a statewide referendum in November 2014.

 

—  Steve Ramos

Focus now on Indiana Senate after House passed anti-gay constitutional amendment

While Hawaii moves forward in attempting to be more fair to its LGBT citizens, Indiana remains firmly entrenched in the past.

Yesterday, the Indiana House took the first step towards putting an anti-gay amendment into the state’s constitution. Hoosier Bil Browning reports:

The bipartisan vote of 70-26 took marriage equality supporters by surprise – especially with the defection of Minority Leader Pat Bauer.

Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, called on the Indiana Senate to rise above the actions of the House and to “reject House Joint Resolution 6, a constitutional amendment that would ban not only marriage, but any measure of protections or support for same-sex couples and their families in Indiana.”

“Freedom to Marry calls on the Indiana Senate to reject this punitive amendment, which would write discrimination into the state constitution. Government should be on the side of all families, not putting barriers in their paths as they seek to care for their loved ones,” Wolfson said.

The resolution would have to be approved by two consecutive legislatures and then go to the voters, so it would take three years. Unfortunately, this is the kind of legislative circus most states can ill afford when so many remain unemployed.

Indiana obviously doesn’t have enough on its plate with the state’s joblessness? Then again, maybe that is the motivation. Keep your eye on all the bills enacted to punish the gay scapegoats, and you won’t notice the fact you can’t afford to feed your kids.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  David Taffet

Political outings threatened in Indiana after state super-DOMA advances

The Republicans aren’t simply trying to pass a DOMA in Indiana, to ban gay marriage, they’re trying to pass a super-DOMA that would ban civil unions as well.

And Bil Browning is having none of it. And he’s right.

The last time the bigots in the Indiana Republican party tried this move, Bil and his friends found out that the sponsor of the amendment, who was super pro-life in addition to being super anti-gay, forced his wife to have an abortion the week before he divorced her. Hypocrisy much? Then there’s the anti-gay politician who was schtuping his male hairdresser while his wife lay in bed with a long-term illness.

When Bil made his threat last time, to out anti-gay hypocrites who weren’t living up to the family values they wanted to legislate down our throats, it helped kill the amendment. This time he’s asking for your help again. Pass this around to your friends, because Bil is right. This isn’t your daddy’s Oldsmobile. We’re in a new millenium now, and especially post- Prop, 8 gay people aren’t going to sit back and shut up any longer. I know some of the older gays want Bil to calm down. If he’ll just keep quiet, maybe the mean Republicans will find it in their hearts to be nice to us.

Enough.

We didn’t get the DADT legislation passed by being nice. That was HRC’s strategy, and it failed – as evidenced by HRC’s own email admitting defeat in December of 2010. HRC failed. If it wasn’t for Dan Choi, GetEqual, the gay blogs, and SLDN, SU and the Palm Center (and many others that don’t include HRC) all playing hardball to HRC’s no-balls, DADT would be on the books for another generation.  The bill finally passed because of the pressure activists brought to bear, not because of the older generation – the folks who still think and politic like it’s 1993 – playing nice.

The time for nice is over. They stole marriage from us in California. They took away our rights in Maine. Enough is enough. If they want to, are willing to, rip our families apart – and they already have – then we can at the very least demand that they practice the family values that they preach.

Read what this state rep had to say, then decide what’s fair:

But Rep. Ralph Foley, R-Martinsville, said the ban would have no effect on Hoosiers’ ability to live with and love whomever they choose.

“That loving friendship is a different relationship than a husband and wife, and we should recognize that in the law,” he said.

Loving friendship? You’d better not have a loving friendship with anyone other than your wife, Mr. Foley. With a name like Foley, you shouldn’t be casting stones.

Here’s more from Bil:

I’m sick and tired of hypocritical Hoosier legislators who think that our personal lives are any of their business. Do I intrude on who they’re sleeping with? I didn’t, but I’m going to start now. We need to show them that unnecessary intrusion into other people’s relationships is not only unwelcome but unwarranted. We need to burn their hand so they won’t touch the stove again.

Now that a marriage discrimination amendment has passed the Indiana House of Representatives, apparently it’s time to put out the same call I made in 2007 that helped to kill attempts to amend the constitution until now. Last time we found out that Senator Brandt Hershman, one of the sponsors of the amendment and right-to-life darling, had forced his wife to have an abortion in 1997 before he filed for divorce one week later. I also found an anti-gay legislator who was shtupping a male hairdresser while his wife died of a long-term illness.

Consider this a call to gossip. I want to know the scoop. Tell me the stories that will embarrass those conservative bigots – Democrats and Republican – that are backing a constitutional ban on our formalized relationships. Send me gossip about who’s a philanderer, a kink fiend, a drug addict, a porn addict, or had a divorce, an abortion or even a stay in rehab. Ask your friends and family for the dirt. Look it up on the internet. Sniff out a lead and send it my way.

I specifically want to learn more about the alleged blowjob one of our married legislative leaders got caught receiving from a staffer in the Statehouse parking lot. I also want to know more about the single Senator who got all of his money after a rich non-related older man died and left it all to him. Rumor has it that there’s a handful of legislators who are in the closet and have been spotted visiting the Unicorn Club’s strippers and the gay baths. Several southern legislators supposedly have a fondness for blow.

Do you know who they are? Will you tell me? E-mail me and I’ll blow the whistle.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  David Taffet

Indiana House Passes Marriage Ban

INDIANA STATE HOUSE X390 (WIKI) | ADVOCATE.COMThe Indiana house of representatives approved a constitutional ban on marriage equality Tuesday evening with a 70-26 vote.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  David Taffet