This week in marriage equality: Republicans are all over the place

Marriage-Equality-Bumper-Sticker-(7423)A Republican Senate candidate in Oregon supports marriage equality, Georgia’s Republican attorney general wants to avoid it while Indiana’s Attorney General wants it figured out already.

OREGON:

Oregon Republican Senate Candidate Monica Wehby released a TV ad declaring her support for marriage equality. She is the only Republican Senate candidate this cycle to declare her support for marriage equality. She is running against the pro-LGBT equality incumbent Sen. Jeff Merkley (D). Should she be elected to the Senate, she would join four other Republicans senators in supporting marriage equality. The incumbent has consistently lead Wehby in the polls. Watch the video here.

GEORGIA:

Down south, Georgia’s Attorney General Sam Olen has asked that Inniss v. Aderhold, which challenges Georgia’s ban on marriage equality, be dismissed. Lambda Legal, which brought the suit, responded in a brief: “Our democracy functions and prevails because we promise liberty and equality for all. Our judiciary exists to enforce that promise. Plaintiffs turn to this Court to vindicate their families’ rights to liberty and equality.” Read the whole response here.

INDIANA:

Indiana’s Attorney General Greg Zoeller is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the state’s marriage equality ban, Baskin v. Bogan, also filed by Lambda Legal.“Only the highest court in the country can provide the secure relief that same-sex couples and their children need, and it’s extremely important that these families are able to count on the protections of marriage as soon as possible,” said Paul Castillo, Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal.

—  James Russell

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

Marriage supporter Abercrombie loses Hawaii primary

Gov. Neil Abercrombie

Gov. Neil Abercrombie

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie lost the Democratic primary in a 2-to-1 landslide in his bid for re-election, and he says the loss was due to his support for marriage equality.

Despite that loss, Abercrombie said he wouldn’t do anything differently.

“There’s no way I could live with myself if I thought I was diminishing another human’s ability to reach their full capacity,” he said.

After his election, Abercrombie tried to pass marriage equality in the first regular session of the legislature. When the bill was held up in committee, the governor called a special session to consider the issue.

Marriage equality passed in November 2013 and became law in December. Abercrombie attended the first weddings performed in the state.

Most analysts attribute the loss to Hawaii allowing crossover voting. Republicans who voted in the Democratic primary voted for the governor’s opponent, who would be easier to beat in the general election in November.

The head of the state’s Republican Party dismissed that analysis, saying there aren’t enough Republicans in the state to make that kind of difference.

—  David Taffet

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

Vikings settle with Kluwe, agree to donate to LGBT charities

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Chris Kluwe

The Minnesota Vikings professional football team have reached an agreement with former punter Chris Kluwe in which the team officials have agreed to donate an undisclosed sum of money to five LGBT rights-related charities over the next five years, according to Associated Press reports, including this one from West Hawaii Today. Two of those charities are The Matthew Shepard Foundation and You Can Play Project.

Kluwe said he gets no money in the settlement agreement.

Kluwe had threatened to sue the team, saying he was unfairly released by the team last year because of his outspoken support for marriage equality. He also claimed that special teams coordinator Michael Priefer made anti-gay comments and tried to agitate him with homophobic language. The Vikings last month issued a 29-page report summarizing their investigation into Kluwe’s claims, saying they found no merit in his claim that he was unfairly released from the team. The report did acknowledge that Priefer did make anti-gay comments. He was suspended for three games and ordered  to undergo sensitivity training.

Kluwe’s attorney, Clayton Halunen, said that the amount of money the Vikings will be donating won’t be disclosed due to a confidentiality agreement. But, he said, it represents “a substantial commitment to LGBT causes.”

Kluwe said, “This will help a lot of people that really do need that help,” adding that he is convinced the Vikings and owners Zygi and Mark Wilf are committed to the cause, and committed to being leaders on this issue in the NFL.

The Vikings said in a statement that the deal resolves all issues related to Kluwe’s departure from the team and his accusations that a coach made anti-gay comments. Zygi Wilf said he wished Kluwe the best and that the team’s “focus remains on maintaining a culture of tolerance, inclusion and respect, and creating the best workplace environment for our players, coaches and staff.”

—  Tammye Nash

WATCH: A beautiful song about marriage equality

Garfunkel and Oates

It’s only been airing a few weeks, but already Garfunkel and Oates is one of my favorite quirky comedies. Playing on IFC, it’s about two girls who are musician-comedians, performing lilting humor songs as part of their act. In the most recent episode, they were tapped to write a song about two male puppets on a popular kids’ show who were getting married. This is the result, called — like another song sung by a puppet named Kermit — “Rainbow Connection.” If it’s not in the running for an Emmy next year, there’s something very, very amiss in the world.

New episodes airs weekly on IFC.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

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

Eureka Springs celebrates Arkansas marriage equality with a wedding reception

Eureka SpringsMore than 40 restaurants and businesses in Eureka Springs, Ark. contributed to an event described by one local TV station as the first “mass gay wedding reception in the Bible Belt.”

After the Arkansas anti-marriage amendment was declared unconstitutional, about 500 same-sex couples married in the state before a judge placed a stay on the decision.

The reception was held in Eureka Springs to honor those couples that married.

According to another local TV station, the Eureka Springs City Council called on the Arkansas to offer marriage equality.

Michael Walsh put together the event he titled Married to Equality.

“In addition to being the first city in Arkansas where gay people could get married, we’re the first city in Arkansas to throw them a wedding reception,” Walsh told Arkansas Matters.

—  David Taffet

Abbott a no-show at petition drop

AG delivery2Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican nominee for Texas governor, was a no-show Monday when Equality Texas dropped off nearly 5,200 petitions demanding Gov. Rick Perry and Abbott drop their defense of the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

“Despite the plans prearranged last week in which a staff member would meet us in the lobby and take possession of the petitions, the Attorney General’s office said they would only accept the petitions if they were mailed via an acceptable ground carrier,” wrote Chuck Smith in an e-mail.

Instead of giving up, the group headed to the nearby UPS store and mailed them. They’re expected to arrive today.

The action comes after the Feb.26 ruling earlier this year finding Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. Despite growing support for same-sex marriage both in Texas and nationwide, Abbott and Perry appealed the ruling to the 5th Circuit of Appeals.

Abbott filed that appeal Monday, arguing that Texas was within its constitutional right to ban same-sex marriage.”Because same-sex relationships do not naturally produce children, recognizing same-sex marriage does not further these goals to the same extent that recognizing opposite-sex marriage does,” the brief reads. “That is enough to supply a rational basis for Texas’s marriage laws.”

Birds of a feather stick together.

—  James Russell

Marriage equality updates: While we wait on Colorado …..

U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore, who heard arguments yesterday in a suit seeking to overturn Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage, has indicated he is likely to rule in favor of the gay couples who say the ban is unconstitutional. The real question is whether Judge Moore will put his ruling on hold until the inevitable appeals are heard and decided, according to this report by The Washington Post.

Colorado Attorney General  John Suthers isn’t opposing the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction overturning the marriage ban, but he does want Judge Moore to stay his ruling. On the flip side, though, plaintiffs’ attorney Mari Newman argued against the stay, reminding the judge that “justice delayed is justice denied.”

Judge Moore is expected to announce his ruling and his decision on whether or not to issue the stay sometime today. But while we are waiting to hear from Colorado, here are a few more marriage-related tidbits to ponder. (And yes, David Taffet usually does the marriage news roundup here on Instant Tea, but he’s on vacation this week.)

 

Rubio still opposes marriage equality

Official Portrait

Sen. Marco Rubio

File this one under the “Color Us NOT Surprised” heading: Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, is expected to reiterate his opposition to marriage equality in a speech at a Catholic university later today. OK, so he’s not gonna actually say he opposes same-sex marriage. What he’s going to say is that he believes states’ should be allowed to define marriage as they see fit, whether he agrees with them or not, and without interference from the federal courts.

Rubio, a possible Republican presidential candidate, has also said he is not in favor of a federal constitutional ban. By saying that he personally opposes same-sex marriage but believes states should be able to define marriage as they see fit, Rubio is likely looking for a little bit of semi-neutral middle ground in preparation for that possible run for the White House.

This report in the Tampa Bay Times gives more detail on his words and his voting record.

 

Equality Florida to deliver petitions to Bondi

The four same-sex couples challenging Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage along with representatives of Equality Florida Institute are set to deliver 7.000 petitions signed by Floridians to Attorney General Pam Bondi, urging her to “stop wasting taxpayer resources” defending the ban.

Monroe County Chief Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia issued a ruling on July 17 declaring the ban unconstitutional, although on Monday, July 21, he issued a stay of the ruling as the case moves through the appeals process.

Equality Florida says that recent surveys show that at least 57 percent of Florida residents support marriage equality.

The petitions will be delivered Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, the Miami Herald’s Fred Grimm posted this column criticizing the twice-divorced Bondi for appealing Garcia’s ruling.

“With five divorces between the two of us, Pam Bondi and I aren’t exactly paragons of marriage stability,” Grimm writes. “Nothing in Florida law, however, would keep either one of us from denigrating that hallowed institution once again.”

—  Tammye Nash