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

New report calls marriage equality in Texas a “gold mine”

domareact_0627met001A report released by the LGBT think tank Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law estimates that legalized same-sex marriage in Texas would give new meaning to the phrase “Texas Miracle.”

According to the report, if same-sex marriage was legalized today, wedding planning would bring jobs, tourists and lots of cash.

Of the state’s 46,000 same-sex couples, 23,200 would marry over the next three years, the report estimates. That means:

• Total spending on wedding arrangements and tourism by resident same-sex couples and their guests would add an estimated $181.6 million to the state and local economy of Texas over the course of three years, with a $116.2 million boost in the first year alone.”

• This economic boost would add $14.8 million in sales tax revenue to state and local coffers.

• Spending related to same-sex couples’ wedding ceremonies and celebrations would generate 523 to 1,570 full- and part-time jobs in the state

The study follows a federal ruling in February striking down Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage.

You can read the full report here.

—  James Russell

Susan Sarandon: An American for marriage equality

Award-winning actress and progressive activist Susan Sarandon has made this video (below) for the Human Rights Campaign’s marriage equality campaign. She says: “While marriage might not be my thing, if it’s your thing you damn well ought to be able to have it equally and unequivocally.”

—  Tammye Nash

Marriage equality and estate planning for LGBTs

Lorie Burch

Lorie Burch

Estate planning attorney Lorie Burch and family law attorney Jaime Dugan are teaming up to present a seminar on how recent legal trends and court decisions regarding marriage equality can impact LGBT couples, and the best way to start planning for the future. The seminar will be held Wednesday, July 23, 6:30-8 p.m., at the Frisco Public LiIbrary, 6101 Frisco Square Blvd., Sye. 3000.

The seminar is free and open to the public. If you have any questions, call Lorie Burch’s office at 972-385–0558.

Equality Texas will present a similar seminar Aug. 2, beginning at 2 p.m., at Resource Center’s John Thomas LGBT Community Center, 2701 Reagan St. Reserve your seat today with an RSVP to Amy Ford at AEFord@ft.newyorklife.com.

—  Tammye Nash

Ted Cruz takes up fight for heterosexual privilege

Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-originally from Canada) has taken up the fight for heterosexual privilege and discrimination against same-sex couples. He introduced the so-called State Marriage Defense Act of 2014. His only co-sponsor is Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). Canada is a marriage equality country. Texas, which Cruz represents, and Utah both have marriage-discrimination laws that have been declared unconstitutional by federal courts.

The bill would force the federal government to consider a couple’s place of residence rather than place of ceremony and invalidate marriages as people cross state lines.

Cruz claims his law would make the federal government respect all 50 states. However, federal regulations simply take place of celebration into account and do not invalidate marriages as people cross state lines.

The regulations do not force states to recognize marriages of same-sex couples. For example, married couples must file their federal income taxes as married, but the regulations do not force states to allow couples married elsewhere to file as married.

If Cruz’s law were to pass and be signed into law, gays and lesbians who live in marriage-discrimination states would lose social security, disability and other benefits making those states’ residents poorer.

Since he joined Congress in 2013, no legislation — this doesn’t include resolutions and amendments — Cruz sponsored has passed and been signed into law.

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: Colorado’s pro-marriage equality decision stops marriage equality

MorkMindyHouse

Mork and Mindy’s house in Boulder, Colorado. About 100 same-sex couples have married in Boulder in the last few weeks. Could marriage equality lead to humans marrying aliens?

UPDATE:

A ruling by the district court in Boulder County that followed the state court’s ruling allows the county clerk to continue issuing marriage licenses.

ORIGINAL POST:

In the most ironic decision on marriage equality since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act a year ago, a state judge ruled Colorado’s marriage law unconstitutional.

Normally that would be good news, but the ruling actually stopped same-sex marriages in the state.

After the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the Utah marriage ban, several county clerks in Colorado began issuing marriage licenses. Because Colorado is in the same circuit as Utah, those Colorado county clerks reasoned the Utah ruling applied to them as well.And because the stay specified Utah, they reasoned the stay didn’t apply to them.

The county clerk in Boulder County continued issuing licenses despite threats from the state attorney general. So the AG took the matter to court where he lost yesterday.

Good news? Normally. But while the judge ruled that Colorado’s marriage law is unconstitutional, he placed a stay on his ruling pending further appeal.

Since the stay this time applies to Colorado, the county clerk in Boulder must stop issuing licenses.

About 100 licenses have been issued in Boulder and a separate hearing will be held to determine if those marriages are valid. In cases in other states where licenses were issued before a stay was placed on a legal decision, those marriages have been upheld and recognized.

—  David Taffet

Study shows children with two moms or two dads are healthier and happier

familyChildren of gays and lesbians are healthier and happier than those in the general population, according to a new study done in Australia.

Simon Crouch, the lead researcher in the study, found children of same-sex couples scored higher on family cohesion, which led to better health.

He found that in same-sex relationships, partners take on parenting, home and work roles more suited to their skills than to gender stereotypes. That leads to a more harmonious family and greater well-being, he said.

The Australian census counted more than 33,000 two-parent families with same-sex parents.

The study took into account age, educational and other disparities between same-sex parents and opposite-sex parents. Same-sex couples have to plan to become parents. They don’t find themselves suddenly pregnant because their birth control didn’t work or because they got drunk one night and woke up the next day and found they had hired a surrogate.

But the researchers took those differences into account and compared the children of gay and lesbian couples with children in the general population with parents of similar incomes, age and economic backgrounds. Children of same-sex couples still scored 6 percent higher.

The higher score came despite findings by the research team that children of same-sex couples face greater social stigma and are often bullied. Same-sex parents said they make sure their children are more resilient than other kids.

The study debunks arguments some states have been making to derail same-sex marriage rulings that continue to be issued across the country. In the recent Kentucky case, the state argued that the birth rate would drop if the court ordered marriage equality. Other states have argued children are better off being raised by a mother and a father, citing the discredited University of Austin’s Mark Regnerus study. That study, however, compared children raised in “failed heterosexual unions” to those raised by heterosexual parents in healthy relationships. One of the parents in each of the failed relationships had a romantic relationship with a member of the same sex at some point, but didn’t raise children in stable two-parent relationships.

This study not only refutes Regnerus and those state arguments that children are better off being raised by a mother and a father, but counters those arguments. When pushed on the issue by the other side, plaintiffs could use this study to actually argue that gays and lesbians make better parents and children are better off with two moms or two dads than with a mother and a father.

Right-wing detractors in Australia claim only parents whose children are doing well volunteered for the study. If that’s true, then only straight parents whose children aren’t doing so well volunteered their children for the study. Doesn’t that sort of prove gays and lesbians are at least smarter parents, if not better parents?

Those detractors also wonder what happens to those well-adjusted children once they reach adulthood. Hmmm … don’t well-adjusted children tend to become productive, well-adjusted adults?

—  David Taffet

Boulder won’t back down, Florida case in court and more

equalityfloridaToday in marriage equality news: A Florida attorney told a trial court the state’s marriage ban should end. Colorado’s attorney general told a county clerk to stop issuing licenses until he has a final ruling even though he favors an end to the ban. The ACLU wants to make sure licenses issued in Wisconsin are considered valid.

Florida

Florida’s marriage ban case went to court yesterday.

Attorney Jeffrey Cohen asked the judge to issue a ruling similar to those in more than 20 other cases across the nation striking down discriminatory marriage bans as unconstitutional. Cohen also pointed out that while Florida allows same-sex couples to adopt children, it still refuses to let them marry.

“It’s the right of a person to choose who they love and who they make their future with,” Cohen said. “We should not make anyone a second-class citizen.”

The judge didn’t indicate when she would rule on the case.

Colorado

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers demanded Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall stop issuing marriages licenses.

But this isn’t an issue of liberal v. conservative. Suthers wants Hall to stop until he receives a clear ruling from the Tenth Circuit and joined Gov. John Hickenlooper in requesting the court overturn the state’s marriage ban. Hickenlooper is a Democrat and Suthers is a Republican.

Hall has refused and continues to issue licenses to same-sex couples. She began issuing the licenses immediately after the Tenth Circuit ruled Utah’s marriage law is unconstitutional. The appeals court stayed its decision, but the stay specified Utah, so Hall, along with two other county clerks in Colorado, began issuing licenses. With legal council, she said the ruling applies to Colorado, which is also in the Tenth Circuit, but the stay on the ruling did not apply to Colorado, since it specified Utah.

While Suthers would like Colorado’s marriage ban overturned, his motion to the court could stop Hall until the court issues a final ruling.

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, the ACLU is filing a suit seeking legal recognition for the marriages of the same-sex couples who wed in the days after a federal judge overturned the state ban. Following Judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling, more than 500 same-sex couples were married. Days later, Crabb stayed her ruling, pending appeal by state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.

Ireland

Although a date hasn’t been set, the Irish will vote on marriage equality sometime early in 2015. Should people really be allowed to vote on other people’s civil rights? According to all courts who’ve weighed in on the issue in the last year, it was wrong when voters in the early 2000s stopped LGBT rights. Does even a yes vote make this election any better?

—  David Taffet

Democratic platform calls reparative therapy quackery and calls for Texas marriage equality

Narey

Stonewall Dallas President Jay Narey, center, at the Texas Democratic Convention

The platform that emerged from the Democratic Convention held in Dallas last week stands in stark contrast to that of the Texas Republican platform that encouraged reparative therapy to “cure” gays.

“For decades it has been beyond dispute by health professionals that homosexuality is a normal, natural and positive variation of human sexual orientation,” the Democratic platform says. “Similarly, it is clear that a person’s gender identity — one’s inner sense of being male or female — is deep-seated and cannot be changed.”

Jeff Strater, a gay delegate, was elected to serve on the state Democratic Executive Committee from Senate District 23. He said he was overwhelmed by Democrats’ response to the Republican platform.

“LGBTQ mentions are peppered throughout the platform,” Strater said, adding that each plank in the platform was passed by the entire convention.

“There were no holdouts,” he said. “No cranky ‘no’s’ from East Texas.”

Strater is not the first gay man elected to the executive committee from District 23. Gary Fitzsimmons and Buck Massey held that seat in the past.

Former state Rep. Glen Maxey said he was impressed by the planks submitted by the trans community that passed just as easily as the others. Those planks would make it easier for a person to change information on their state identification.

While LGBT is mentioned elsewhere in the platform, one whole section is devoted to “personal security and equal protection for LGBTQ Texans.”

Had Texas Republicans not made so-called “reparative therapy” an issue by calling for it in their state party platform, Strater said, most Democrats would likely not have given the concept a second thought. But with the GOP platform making headlines on the subject, reparative therapy ended up being included in the first section in the Dems’ platform relating to the LGBT community. Democrats want to ban the practice — referred to as “quackery” in their platform.

Strater said U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro reflected the sentiment of the convention when he addressed delegates on Saturday: “Gov. Perry, if you believe gay people need repairing, then I would suggest your soul needs repairing,” Castro said.

Jay Narey, president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, said, “Democrats stand in stark contrast to Republicans — like day and night.” He said the reparative therapy issue was just the obvious contrast, but positive platform planks on issues affecting everyday life in the LGBT community’ were passed overwhelmingly.

Other planks Democrats adopted dealt with marriage equality, trans-inclusive employment nondiscrimination and personal security that call on “social, health care and public service professionals to seek out and adopt best practices in the delivery of services to all Texans.”

Narey also pointed out that while Log Cabin Republicans were not allowed even a small table at the GOP convention, the Stonewall Caucus was so large, it met on the main convention floor while other caucuses were assigned meeting rooms.

Narey said he had no idea how many people attended the Stonewall Caucus because there was no controlled access to the convention floor. Hundreds of people — and all but one statewide candidate — attended the caucus. He estimated at least 300 LGBT delegates participated, but hundreds more allies also participated in Stonewall events.

“There’s been a dramatic shift on our issues over the last four election cycles,” Narey said. “State Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa is extremely supportive of the LGBT community. He’s largely responsible.”

Strater said he was energized and motivated as a result of the convention and made quite a few new contacts that he’ll call on through the campaign. His only negative comment about the weekend concerned the Ladybird Johnson breakfast: “When [anti-gay Dallas City Councilwoman] Vonceil Jones Hill was introduced to give the prayer, there were gasps from the audience,” he said.

—  David Taffet