Advocates who will argue in Supreme Court marriage equality cases announced

Mary-Bonauto

Mary L. Bonauto is one of two advocates chosen to argue marriage equality cases before the Supreme Court in April.

Mary L. Bonauto and Doug Hallward-Driemeier will argue for the plaintiffs in the marriage equality cases being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in April 28, according to Lambda Legal.

Bonauto will argue the 14th Amendment requires a state to grant marriage licenses to a same-sex couple. Hallward-Driemeier will argue the 14th Amendment requires a state to recognize a same-sex marriage performed out-of-state.

Bonauto successfully argued for marriage equality before the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 2003. Currently she serves as civil project director for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, a LGBT group based in Boston.

Hallward-Driemeier previously served as assistant to the solicitor general in the Justice Department, and provided pro bono representation in a number of other LGBT rights cases.

“I’m humbled to be standing up for the petitioners from Kentucky and Michigan who seek the freedom to marry,” said Bonauto in a statement provided by Lambda Legal. “The road that we’ve all traveled to get here has been built by so many people who believe that marriage is a fundamental right for all people. I believe the court will give us a fair hearing, and I look forward to the day when all LGBT Americans will be able to marry the person they love.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights praised the choices in a joint statement. “Mary Bonauto crafted and argued the case that made Massachusetts the first state with full marriage equality and she won the first rulings in federal court that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. As the legal team and advocates who have brought our community and our nation to this historic moment, we are proud to stand behind Mary and Doug, with all of our clients and all of the same-sex couples in this country who seek the freedom to marry and to have their marriages respected,” according to the statement.

“It is an incredible honor to represent these devoted couples, who have already been lawfully married and established new families, in arguing to vindicate their right to have the states respect their marriages,” Hallward-Driemeier said in the Lambda Legal statement. “The plaintiffs in these cases reflect the broad array of couples, from those together for three decades to those just starting young families, and the many instances in which married couples must cross state lines to work for a new employer, give birth at the nearest hospital, or seek out new opportunities. These couples deserve the same respect and stability that states grant other married couples and their families throughout every phase of life.”

The cases before the court are Kentucky’s Bourke v Beshear and Love v Beshear, Michigan’s Deboer v Snyder, Ohio’s Henry v Hodges and Obergefell v Hodges and Tennessee’s Tanco v Haslam.

—  James Russell

Anti-marriage equality bill would cost Texas an extra $1 million+plus a year

Bell-Cecil

Rep. Cecil Bill, R-Magnolia.

As the Legislature debates its biennial appropriations bill, choosing what money goes where, the Texas Legislative Board released one fiscal impact analysis that may leave its author and 19 co-authors pulling out their hair.

HB 1745, titled the Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act, by Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, would strip county clerks from issuing marriage licenses and cede control to the Texas Secretary of State office. It also re-asserts the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

According to the memo to State Affairs Chairman Rep. Byron Cook, it also comes with a two-year price tag of $2,456,782. In order to adequately issue marriage licenses, the state would have to add 18 full-time employees and enhance current technology to meet the increased demand. And that $2 million only applies through August 31, 2017.

To maintain these responsibilities the Budget Board estimates it will cost an additional $1,005,863 between 2017–2020. That’s $4,023,452.

Talk about fiscal conservatism.

The bill gets its first hearing today (Wednesday, March 25) before the State Affairs Committee.

—  James Russell

DFW Federal Club welcoming lead plaintiff in marriage case before SCOTUS to spring luncheon

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Jim Obergefell, left, and his husband, John Arthur, aboard the specially-equipped medical plane that flew them to Baltimore in 2013 to be married.

Jim Obergefell — lead plaintiff in a marriage equality case out of Ohio, one of four cases scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on April 28 — will be joining Susan Warbelow as a guest speaker at the DFW Federal Club‘s Spring Luncheon 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., on Saturday, March 28,, at the Tower Club in Thanksgiving Tower, 1601 Elm St. in downtown Dallas (on the 48th floor).

Seating is limited to 200, and RSVPs are required. Federal Club members can attend free of charge, and each member is entitled to bring one guest, also free of charge. The fee for additional guests is $35 per person, and the fee for visitors not accompanied by a member is $50. For tickets and to RSVP, go here.

Obergefell and his partner, John Arthur, had been together more than 20 years in 2013 when they traveled from their home in Ohio to Maryland to get legally married. That trip might have been relatively easy for most couples. But because Arthur was suffered from ALS and was paralyzed and confined to his bed, this couple’s trip required a small, specially-equipped medical plane, two pilots, a nurse and Arthur’s aunt, who officiated over their marriage ceremony.

The plane landed at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, sitting there for about 10 minutes — just long enough for Arthur and Obergefell to exchange wedding vows — before returning the men to Ohio. Arthur died three months later, but Obergefell has carried on with the fight for marriage equality.

—  Tammye Nash

AFA uses gay artist’s work to remind Supreme Court … well, we’re not sure what their point is

afa_remember_hires
The American Family Association ran this ad to remind the Supreme Court whose idea marriage was in the first place. But we’re not sure their point. Marriage was the idea of Michelangelo, the gay Renaissance artist who painted the Sistine Chapel?

Funny how marriage equality opponents can’t find their own artists to illustrate their point.

Also, it’s interesting that the people using the Bible to support their bigotry apparently have never read it. Watch the video below of Tim Wildmon defending his organization’s decision to place the ad. Did you hear that part about how “one man, one woman” is the Biblical model for marriage? Yeah, well, that’s certainly not how it is in the Bible I’ve read.

—  David Taffet

Dimetman, DeLeon welcome second child

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Nicole Dimetman DeLeon, left, and her wife, Cleo DeLeon, with co-plaintiffs Vic Holmes, second from right, and Mark Phariss, after oral arguments before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in January.

Dallas Voice sends congratulations to Nicole Dimetman DeLeon and her wife Cleo DeLeon on the birth of their second child, a baby girl born over the weekend. The women, who already have a son, are one of two plaintiff couples in the lawsuit in which a federal judge in San Antonio has already ruled Texas’ ban on marriage equality unconstitutional.

The case, in which Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes of Plano are also plaintiffs, has  been heard by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Nicole and Cleo said in a written statement released Monday that they are not releasing their new daughter’s name, but that they “want Texans to know the difficulties they face as Texas parents because their marriage is not recognized in Texas.”

In the statement, Nicole said: “Labor is scary and anything can happen. I had an infection as a complication of labor that led to an emergency C-section. A day that should have been one of the happiest of our life was terrifying for Cleo. If I had not made it through the childbirth, Cleo would not have been our daughter’s legal mother because her name is not allowed on the birth certificate in Texas.”

Cleo gave birth to the couple’s son and Nicole had to go through the second-parent adoption process to legalize her ties to the boy. The couple had hope to have a ruling from the 5th Circuit court before their daughter was born that would have forced the state to legally recognize their marriage — performed in Massachusetts. Now Cleo will have to go through the courts for a second-parent adoption to legalize her ties to their daughter.

In the statement released Monday, Cleo said: “We are overjoyed with the birth of our new baby girl, but disappointed bans on same-sex marriage harm children, like our daughter and our son. It is unfair to deny loving parents like us the basic legal protections that provide stability and security so critical to child rearing. We pray for the day when all Texans are treated equally under the law and we do not have to live in fear that something bad could happen in childbirth and I would not be considered the child’s parent by law. We hope the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court make all marriages legal in Texas and across the nation.”

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Nicole Dimetman DeLeon and her newly-born daughter, from The San Antonio Current

Despite their joy at the birth of their child, the day was also “a sad one because, in the eyes of Texas, Nicole is an unwed mother,” noted Neel Lane, attorney for both plaintiffs in the Texas marriage case. “Her valid marriage to Cleo is declared void by a Texas law that U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia declared unconstitutional more than a year ago. Court after court has agreed with him, and no one doubts the U.S. Supreme Court will do the same. We are disappointed that the 5th Circuit still has yet to rule, now months since the appeal was fully briefed and argued.”

Mark Phariss offered his and his partner’s congratulations to their co-plaintiffs, but added that it is unfortunate that the women will have to spend money on a second-parent adoption that could instead have been “saved for their daughter’s future education, health care and welfare.”

Mark declared: “The time has now come for marriage equality to be recognized in Texas, for the sake of Nicole and Cleo and their daughter and for the sake of all gays and lesbians in Texas, including Vic and me, who after 18 years together, desperately want to marry the person we love in the state we love.”

 

—  Tammye Nash

AG Ken Paxton: ‘Marriage has been clearly defined by Texas voters’

Ken-Paxton

Texas AG Ken Paxton.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton reassured a crowd outside the Texas State Capitol today (Monday, March 23) about his opposition to his same-sex marriage.

Speaking before a group of prominent social conservatives, including Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state lawmakers, Paxton told the crowd that the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage was a mandate not to be messed with.

“In Texas, marriage has been clearly defined by our elected representatives and by a vote of the people, and more than three out of every four Texas voters defined marriage as between one man and one woman. The people of our state could not have spoken more clearly on this issue,” Paxton said.

Last week Paxton filed suit to stop new rules issued by the Department of Labor to state agencies mandating they extend Family Medical Leave benefits to same-sex couples who were married in another state.

The Department of Labor’s rule, scheduled to take effect on March 27, revises the definition of “spouse” to recognize marriage equality and therefore grant family and medical leave benefits to same-sex spouses.

“This was a direct assault on the rule of law in Texas, and a broadside against the values that Texas voters have stood for, time and time again,” Paxton said of the federal rule. “I will continue to lead the fight against the sort of ‘executive office activism’ that is becoming the trademark of the Obama Administration.”

—  James Russell

Craig James: Supporting marriage equality = Supporting Satan

Craig James

Craig James

Former New England Patriots running back and current Family Research Council employee Craig James spoke out against marriage equality this week — again — declaring that supporting marriage equality is equal to practicing Satanism, according to The Huffington Post.

Commenting after his former team — the Super Bowl Champs, by the way — and Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays joined 376 businesses and companies in calling for the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down bans on same-sex marriage.

During an FRC radio program on Monday, March 9, James declared, “If I were a current player in that locker room and my livelihood depended on me being quiet or losing it because of my belief system, I worry, I wonder. So, that’s Satan working on us.”

Yep. He said that. You can listen to it here at Right Wing Watch. And by the way, James is a Texan — one more reason that Texans who favor equality and fairness need to speak up and drown out the voices of hate that have been allowed to rule here in the Lone Star State for too long.

James was a football star at Stratford High School in Houston in the late 1970s, and in the early 1980s, he and fellow running back and future NFL star Eric Dickerson teamed up as “The Pony Express” to lead Southern Methodist University’s Mustangs to numerous victories. James’ star there was later somewhat tarnished when he admitted that he had received “insignificant gifts” as part of the scandal surrounding under-the-table payments to SMU players from the mid-1970s to 1986.

After a year in the USFL with the Washington Federals, James joined the Patriots as a running back. When injuries forced him to retire from football after the ’88 season, James started a career in radio and broadcasting, starting as an SMU game analyst before moving on to KDFW-TV and then ESPN.

James left ESPN in 2011 to run for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s seat in the U.S. Senate when she decided not to run again. During the race, James was fired from Fox Sports Southwest because of anti-gay views he expressed in his campaign. Among other anti-gay comments, James said that being gay is a choice and that gay people will have to “”answer to the Lord for their actions,” according to the Houston Chronicle. He also chastised his opponent Tom Leppert, who had resigned as mayor of Dallas to run for the Senate, because Leppert had appeared in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, Dallas’ LGBT Pride parade.

Public Policy Polling conducted polls that indicated Craig was becoming less and less popular the more people learned about him, and he eventually placed a distant fourth in the Republican Primary that year, with just 4 percent of the vote. Ted Cruz, another well-known anti-gay Texan (well, sort-of Texan), won and continues to oppose the godless LGBT hordes in Washington, most recently with a proposed constitutional amendment that would keep federal courts from prohibiting states from banning same-sex marriage.

James joined Family Research Council in 2014.

 

—  Tammye Nash

Alabama Supreme Court defies federal courts, orders judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

The Alabama Supreme Court late today (Tuesday, March 3) ordered all of the state’s probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in defiance of orders from a federal district court judge overturning the Alabama same-sex marriage ban, and a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court refusing to block the district judge’s order.

The Alabama Supreme Court is headed up by right-wing Chief Jerk… uh, Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has fought marriage equality tooth and nail. He has told probate judges they didn’t have to follow the federal court rulings, and last month told Fox News he has a moral responsibility to defy the U.S. Supreme Court if the court violates “God’s organic law” by ruling in favor of marriage equality.

The state’s highest court said Alabama wasn’t bound by this “new definition” of marriage, though marriage equality has “gained ascendancy in certain quarters of the country,” including the federal judiciary.

The supreme court’s ruling said: “As it has done for approximately two centuries, Alabama law allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman. Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty.”

The court also said, “ … state courts may interpret the United States Constitution independently from, and even contrary to, federal courts.”

Probate judges have five days to respond to the order.

Lawyers who represented same-sex couples seeking the right to marry in Alabama decried the ruling.

Shannon Minter with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, one of the organizations representing same-sex couples fighting for marriage equality in Alabama, called the ruling “deeply unfortunate” that “the Alabama Supreme Court is determined to be on the wrong side of history.”

—  Tammye Nash

Same-sex marriage rabbi does Texas House invocation

Goodfriend and Bruant

Rabbi Kerry Baker, right

Rabbi Kerry Baker did the invocation in the Texas House of Representatives on Wednesday.

In his morning prayer, he advised legislators to treat everyone equally and watch out for those who are marginalized.

“It’s not enough to do what is good for the majority, but to do what is good for all of us,” Baker said.

Whatever could he have been talking about?

Baker is the rabbi who performed the first legal same-sex wedding in Texas last week after a court ruled Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant should be issued a marriage license in Travis County.

Goodfriend works in the office of Rep. Celia Israel, but Baker lives in fellow Austinite Rep. Elliot Naishtat’s office. House members normally invite clergy who live in their own districts, so it was probably Naishtat who invited Baker to deliver the prayer, although we don’t have confirmation of that.

See this week’s Dallas Voice for an interview with Goodfriend and Bryant.

—  David Taffet

Legislator files complaint against marriage equality judge

Tony Tinderholt

Rep. Tony Tinderholt

Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, filed a complaint against a state judge who permitted a Travis County couple to wed last week, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The complaint against District Judge David Wahlberg was filed with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct on Thursday, Feb. 19.

In his complaint, Tinderholt believes “Wahlberg failed to give notice to the office of Attorney General of Texas which is required by statutory law under government code…Constitutional challenge by a judge requires notice and must wait until 45 days after to enter final judgment.”

“This judge deliberately violated statutory law and this is unacceptable,” Tinderholt told the Chronicle. ”This complaint and any action, which the legislature decides to take, is about ensuring that our judicial system respects the laws of our state and respects the separation of powers. Judge Wahlberg allowed his personal views to dictate his action and ignored state law to accomplish his desired outcome.”

The freshman Arlington legislator defeated Diane Patrick of Arlington in a contentious GOP primary last year.

—  James Russell