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

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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.

Mississippi

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.

—  David Taffet

Baptists in the news

Joe Phelps

Joe Phelps

With a few notable exceptions — for instance, Royal Lane Baptist Church in Dallas and Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth — the Baptist faith isn’t known for being very welcoming toward and affirming of LGBT people. But the times, they are a’changing, as these news items from the weekend show.

Wedding bells at Kentucky’s Highland Baptist

A Baptist church in Kentucky will host a same-sex wedding next May for two of its gay members, and a Baptist bishop who left her church in Detroit after revealing she had married a woman has started a new congregation in Maryland that is open to the LGBT community.

David Bannister Jr., 29, and Steven Carr, 25, have lived together for five years. For the last two-and-a-half years, the couple have been working to get their church, Highland Baptist in Louisville, Ky., to let them have their wedding ceremony there. Now the church has agreed.

Highland Baptist, with a membership of about 1,200, left the ultra-conservative Southern Baptist Convention about 20 years ago and is now affiliated with the more progressive Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship. In 1998, the church included a gay couple’s photo in the church directory, and afterward slowly began to become more welcoming to LGBT people. In 2012, Highland Baptist ordained openly minister the Rev. Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard, who leads the church’s gay ministry.

The church formed a subgroup in February 2013 to study the issue of holding same-sex weddings after Bannister and Carr first approached Pastor Joe Phelps, but then postponed any decision. A new subgroup formed the past spring and in May decided unanimously that the church should hold same-sex weddings. Phelps said that church bylaws required the deacons to bring the question to the church membership for a vote. But to do so seemed wrong, he said. The church has posed a “fact sheet” here to “clarify” media reports.

Phelps said, “To vote on it is to basically ask the question, ‘Are gay people fully human like the rest of us?’ I think spiritually and morally, that’s a step we cannot take.”

As it stands right now, even though their church will host their wedding, Bannister and Carr will have to go elsewhere to be legally married, because Kentucky has a ban on same-sex marriage. U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II recently overturned the ban and the state law prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. But the judge also issued a stay on his ruling pending appeals.

Bishop Abrams’ new church

Baptist Bishop Allyson D. Nelson Abrams, who resigned as pastor of Zion Progress Baptist Church in Detroit last October after announcing she had legally married another woman several months prior, has started a new congregation in Maryland. Empowerment Liberation Cathedral, a member of the Metropolitan Community Churches denomination, is an inclusive, welcoming congregation open to people of all backgrounds, Abrams has said.

Bishop Abrams

Bishop Allyson Abrams

Abrams, 43, was raised as a Baptist and was the first female pastor at Zion Progress church, serving there for five years. She was secretary of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity and was once a leader with the NAACP in Oakland County and president of the Oak Park school board.

Abrams was once married to a man and has three adult children. She had been divorced for several years when she met and fell in love with Diana Williams, a bishop emeritus with the Imani Temple African-American Catholic Congregation in Washington, D.C. The two women were married in Iowa, where same-sex marriage is legal, in March 2013. Abrams said that while she was not forced out of Zion Progress Baptist Church, news of her marriage had begun to cause discord in the congregation and she chose to resign.

Episcopal Anglican Church of the Ascension in Silver Spring, pastored by Rev. Joan Beilstein, is allowing Abrams’ new church to use its facilities for meetings until Empowerment Liberation Cathedral can find its own facilities.

Abrams made news again last month when she officiated at the wedding of R&B singer Monifah Carter and her girlfriend, Terez Thorpe, which aired on the final episode of the reality TV show R&B Divas of Atlanta on TVOne.

—  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

This Week in Marriage Equality

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone

Dozens of people showed up for National Organization for Marriage’s annual March for Marriage — heterosexual-only marriage, that is.

Among the high-profile participants was Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, who apparently participated mostly to piss off the majority of his own city’s population as well as his congresswoman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom who pleaded with him not to attend.

Presbyterians

The Presbyterian Church voted on Wednesday to allow pastors to marry same-sex couples in states where it’s legal. That must now be passed by a majority of the 172 local U.S. presbyteries.

Michigan

In a brief filed in Michigan’s marriage-equality case, 14 Republicans, including former state legislators, said conservative “values are advanced by recognizing civil marriage rights for same-sex couples,” not harmed.

“Providing access to civil marriage for same-sex couples poses no credible threat to religious freedom or to the institution of religious marriage,” they wrote in their brief.

Arizona

What the hell is going on with Republican Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona. First, she vetoed anti-gay legislation and now she says it’s time for legal protection.

HRC reported that on Tuesday, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer acknowledged that Arizona laws do not prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and suggested that it might be time to change that.

“I do not believe in discrimination,” Brewer said. “We are in the United States of America and we have great privilege that is afforded to everyone.

Sixth Circuit

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals announced Monday they will heard all five cases pending before the court on August 6.

The court will hear cases from all four states in the circuit: DeBoer v. Snyder from Michigan; Bourke v. Beshear in Kentucky; Tanco v. Haslam in Tennessee; and both Henry v. Himes and Obergefell v. Himes in Ohio.

Both sides in the Michigan and Ohio cases will get 30 minutes to argue their case, while both sides in Kentucky and Tennessee will get 15 minutes.

—  David Taffet

A week of the worst reasons to deny marriage equality ever

Steve Brashear

Gov. Steve Brashear

Last week proved to be a week of stupidity for those arguing for discrimination against same-sex couples. The excuses are becoming both more inane and ridiculous and more hateful than ever.

In Kentucky, Gov. Steve Brashear will defend the marriage ban because equality threatens “long-term economic stability through stable birth rates.”

He didn’t explain what that means. Only straight couples who are married have children? If Kentucky continues to ban same-sex marriage, gay people will marry people of the opposite sex and procreate? If gay people marry, straight people will no longer be able to have sex?

The governor’s office said it had no comment. In the original ruling overturning the state’s marriage ban, the judge ruled that using procreation as an argument for discrimination against same-sex couples “makes just as little sense as excluding post-menopausal (heterosexual) couples or infertile couples.”

In Oregon, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has ordered new marriage license documents to reflect the expected change in the state’s marriage laws, should that occur. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that covers Oregon has already expressed how it feels about marriage discrimination in its Proposition 8 ruling, which upheld a lower court ruling that overturned California’s marriage ban. In that circuit, Hawaii, California and Washington are marriage equality states.

So what Rosenblum did was prepare the state for a smooth transition to equality, if that occurs.

The National Organization for Marriage chimed in last week asking to defend the law. They charge Rosenblum with “dereliction of duty” for not finding arguments to support discrimination.

The Supreme Court’s Prop 8 decision that plaintiffs must have standing and be directly affected should preclude NOM from replacing Rosenblum as the defendant.

Oral arguments in the Oregon marriage case will be heard in U.S. district court on Wednesday. Rosenblum is not defending the state’s marriage ban, and the state is not expected to appeal should it be ordered to issue marriage licenses this week.

While Kentucky and Oregon defenders of discrimination displayed how stupid the arguments can get, Indiana showed just how contemptible a state can be.

Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney, an Indiana couple, sued to have their Massachusetts marriage recognized by their home state. Quasney has terminal stage 4 ovarian cancer. They have young children, and they want to make sure their kids get the death benefits they’d be entitled to if the parents were straight.

“The current rule of law does not allow for a hardship exception from the statute for one person or two people, as that would create inconsistency for all other citizens of Indiana,” the state attorney general wrote in a statement.

Wait, it gets worse.

The state argued gay people can get married as long as they marry someone of the opposite sex. In other words, you can marry whomever the state tells you to marry.

But the most disgusting statement was this one. In court documents, the attorney general said recognizing this marriage could raise false hopes for others because courts might eventually uphold the state’s gay marriage ban.

Since the Windsor decision last June that overturned parts of the Defense of Marriage Act, no court has upheld a state’s marriage ban. That’s the naive part. But that statement is truly one of the most hateful things said in this debate about the LGBT community.

The basis for refusing to recognize the marriage of one couple with a dying partner who want to protect their children is that gays and lesbians are narcissistic, greedy, selfish pigs. We only care about ourselves, and if we can’t have something personally for ourselves, no one else should, either.

Personally, I can’t imagine going through multiple surgeries followed by chemotherapy and having to deal with courts and attorneys and an attorney general spewing hate at me. But that’s exactly what Quasney did. Not because she’s selfish, but because she wants to make sure her two children are taken care of after she dies. She’s guilty of being a mom who loves her kids and wants to make sure they get what every other kid is entitled to.

I can’t imagine anyone in the LGBT community not sending her our love and prayers or good thoughts. I can’t imagine any gay or lesbian being as hateful and hurtful as Indiana’s attorney general paints us.

How did he come up with such a scenario? The only thing I can imagine is that he’s describing himself. He wouldn’t allow anyone to have something he can’t have.

On Thursday, a federal judge ruled that Indiana will comply with his order to list Sandler as Quasney’s spouse on her death certificate when the time comes.

On Friday, the state announced it will appeal.

—  David Taffet

KENTUCKY: Gay Couple Denied Admission To Creation Museum’s “Date Night”

On Friday a couple gay was turned away from a special “Date Night” event at Kentucky’s Creation Museum after being told that their presence would add an “un-Christian element” to the venue. Blogger Joe Sonka describes his evening:

I rushed back from DC to my old Kentucky home last night to attend the spectacular “Date Night at the Creation Museum”, where my date and I were to take in a nice dinner and listen to Ken Ham explain what makes a good relationship work. Unfortunately, we were told at the door that we would not be allowed entry. They explained to us that the Creation Museum Date Night was a “Christian environment”, therefore the presence of two men eating dinner together would not be allowed. The very sight of this would “add an un-Christian element to the event” and “disrupt the evening for everyone”. The Creation Museum rep further informed us that you cannot be a Christian if you are gay, asking “can you tell me what exactly is Christian about being gay?”

Sonka and his date were also denied refunds on their $ 71 tickets.

RELATED: In December the museum announced the construction of $ 25M “full-scale replica” of Noah’s Ark.

Joe. My. God.

—  David Taffet

Anti-Gay Fliers Found In Northern Kentucky City

Fl
Covington, Kentucky has seen a sudden increase in anti-gay crimes over the last couple of months. Members of the gay community have been called gay slurs and, even worse, beaten and stabbed.

Three days days ago, residents found anti-gay fliers plastered all over the MainStrasse neighborhood, home to many in the gays and lesbians. The fliers were loaded with hateful language calling gay people a "parade of perverts" and claiming they suffer from a "mental disorder."

A hateful white supremacy group called National Alliance was listed as a contact on the fliers but the organization has denied any involvement. Still a local rep named Robert Ransdel did say he does share the same beliefs.

Said Ransdel: "I think as a whole, as a society, people are getting very kind of exasperated by the continued pushing of this unnatural behavior. Unfortunately, there's some among us who can't channel that toward constructive efforts and unfortunately do lash out."

But how do you go about ridding the city of it's homophobia when even members of the police force are anti-gay? According to Cincinnatti.com, some residents have also accused the police of unfairly harassing members of the gay community.

Covington police Lieutenant had this to say about the fliers: "The remarks in here are disparaging to say the least, insulting, and that's why we're taking this so seriously.

Further proof that anti-gay sentiments are a big problem in the city: Click here to watch as drivers shout anti-gay slurs at a gay man being interviewed by a local news station.

Zero Tolerance For Hate Crimes in Covington, which was created in response to the attacks, will hold an event tonight to call attention to the crimes.

Watch a news report from the local Covington ABC affiliate, AFTER THE JUMP.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Kentucky Senate responds to Rand Paul by passing resolution affirming civil rights

Rand Paul
Rand Paul

The Kentucky State Senate has responded to Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul’s suggestion that the federal government shouldn’t have the power to enforce the Civil Rights Act against private businesses.

In response to Paul’s comments, the state Senate passed a resolution calling any form of discrimination inconsistent with American values.

The resolution, SR31, is designed to “Affirm protections of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States requiring equal protection of the law, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Kentucky Civil Rights Act of 1966, which protect the citizens of the Commonwealth from discrimination.”

Since he made those infamous comments about the Civil Rights Act on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, Paul’s campaign has been suffering, and last week he replaced his campaign manager, according to USA Today.

After his appearance on Maddow, he cancelled an appearance on “Meet the Press” and issued an announcement that, if elected, he would not seek to repeal the Civil Rights Act.

—  David Taffet

Rand Paul would turn back civil rights

Rand Paul, son of Texas Congressman Ron Paul, won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Kentucky on Tuesday. He won with Tea Party support and called himself a “card-carrying member.”

Since his victory over the mainstream, party-backed candidate, Paul has come under fire for his opposition to the 1964 civil rights bill. He told Rachel Maddow that he doesn’t believe in any form of racism and that the government should ban all forms of discrimination in its institutions, but should not regulate business.

So he was saying that lunch counters in private stores should be allowed to remain segregated.

Paul said he believes in local solutions. Local solutions mean that gay and lesbian teachers are protected in Dallas Independent School District, but few other places in Texas, for example.

The Washington Post‘s Dave Weigel, who writes the conservative blog Right Now, said, “Paul believes, as many conservatives believe, that the government should ban bias in all of its institutions but cannot intervene in the policies of private businesses.”

Time magazine reports that Paul now says he regrets going on Rachel Maddow — but he doesn’t say he regrets his comments.

—  David Taffet

Is the (anti-gay) Tea Party gaining momentum?

rand_paul
Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul has Tea Party support

The Tea Party candidate for Texas governor, Debra Medina, peaked several weeks before the primary and  came in third. But in other places, candidates supported by the Tea Party are doing well, and many of them hold anti-gay views.

This weekend at the Utah Republican convention, three-term incumbent Sen. Bob Bennett polled third and will not appear on the state’s primary ballot.

One of the reasons cited was Bennett’s 1993 vote for Roberta Achtenberg, a lesbian, to be an undersecretary at HUD under Bill Clinton.

In Florida, a candidate supported by the Tea Party, Marco Rubio, was polling ahead of Gov. Charlie Crist in a U.S. Senate race. So Crist left the Republican Party and is running as an independent. Now, donors are asking Crist for their money back.

—  David Taffet