Wells Fargo gets it: We’re already family

Wells Fargo

Tomorrow (Tuesday, April 28), the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in four cases challenging anti-marriage-equality laws in Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky. The court’s ultimate decision in these four cases — not expected until sometime in June — could create marriage equality nationwide.

The anti-equality folks are still fighting tooth and nail. Homophobic lawmakers in several state legislatures, including Texas’, are trying to enact laws that would punish government officials who issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples even if the Supreme Court rules in favor of equality. I.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, last week introduced two bills in Congress, one of which would amend the U.S. Constitution to allow individual states to keep on discriminating against same-sex couples and the other of which tells the courts they can’t rule on marriage equality until the amendment is passed.

And of course, Sunday (April 26), “thousands” of anti-equality marchers descended on Washington, D.C., in the so-called “March for Marriage,” which was actually a march against marriage equality.

Here’s what all the anti-equality folks don’t get: We are not asking for anyone’s permission to be married, to form our own families, to make the kinds of commitments to each other that families make. We are already family. Your ridiculousness and hatred can’t stop that. What we are expecting of the Supreme Court — not expecting, demanding — is the same protections, the same rights and responsibilities that other families have.

The haters don’t get that. But Wells Fargo obviously does. This new ad for the bank shows that they get it.

—  Tammye Nash

This is why marriage equality matters

Here’s a video from the Liberty Education Forum. Nothing else needs to be said.

—  Tammye Nash

Ted Cruz: I still hate gays, and here are 2 bills to prove it

Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz

Declared 2016 presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, in his ever-vigilant efforts to save the United States from the horrors of marriage equality, has filed two pieces of legislation to protect states’ ability to discriminate against LGBT citizens. The bills are intended, obviously, as an end-run around the U.S. Supreme Court, which will be hearing oral arguments in four marriage equality cases next Tuesday (April 28), and which is expected to rule sometime in June, likely in favor of marriage equality.

One of Cruz’s bills would establish a constitutional amendment shielding states that define marriage as between one woman and one man from legal action, according to Bloomberg News. The second would ban federal courts from weighing in on the issue again until such an amendment is adopted.

Cruz, a Tea Party darling here at home in Texas, is trying to “broaden his appeal to evangelical voters in early voting states, namely Iowa, by sending a message to the court,” Bloomberg News suggested. The newspaper also notes that Cruz’s anti-equality marriage bills would face “solid opposition” in the U.S. Senate, but that his intent is “to force his competitors [in the 2016 Republican primaries] to keep the issue alive even if the court rules in favor of same-sex marriage.”

Or perhaps, this was just part of his effort to reaffirm his anti-gay credentials after attending a fundraiser Monday night (April 20) in Manhattan at the home of gay, white, rich real estate developers Mati Weiderpass and Ian Reisner, owners of Parkview Developers. That event, he claimed, proves he is “’a big tent Republican’ instead of a panderer.” He issued his statement making sure everybody knows he is an anti-gay bigot who opposes marriage equality just a couple of hours before introducing his two bills.

Earlier this month, on his first trip to Iowa as a declared presidential candidate, Cruz declared that any Supreme Court ruling legalizing marriage equality nationwide would be “fundamentally illegitimate.”

Cruz and Utah Sen. Mike Lee filed similar legislation last year, but those bills died when the session ended.

Just in case anybody wants to send good ol’ Ted a note to let him know what you think of his bills, click here.

—  Tammye Nash

About one in six married same-sex couples’ state doesn’t recognize their marriage

Same-sex couplesThe number of legally married same-sex couples in the United States has tripled in the last year, according to a new poll by the Williams Institute’s research director Gary Gates and Gallup’s editor in chief Frank Newport.

The new estimate suggests that 390,000 out of nearly 1 million same-sex couples are married. Estimates from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey had the figure at 130,000.

While there’s no way to know exactly how many same-sex couples there are in the U.S., the research suggests about one in six married same-sex couples live in states that currently don’t recognize their marriage. Only 12 states do not offer marriage equality and do not recognize out of state marriages. Missouri recognizes marriages but on St. Louis and Kansas City perform them.

—  David Taffet

As U.S. Supreme Court prepares for marriage hearing, Mexico’s strikes down marriage bans

S

Mexican Supreme Court chamber

As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear the case for marriage equality, La Supreme Corte de Justicia de la Nation — the Mexican Supreme Court — struck down laws in that country banning same-sex marriage on April 15.

Here’s a translation of a portion of the decision from the Mexican Supreme Court’s website:

“Thus the reason why same-sex couples have not enjoyed the same protections as heterosexual couples is not careless of the legislature, but by the legacy of severe prejudices that have traditionally existed against him. The absence of the benefits that the law attaches to the institution of marriage is a direct consequence of prolonged discrimination that has existed for homosexual couples because of their sexual preference.”

Meanwhile, final briefs are due at the U.S. Supreme Court for the case that will be heard on April 28. The latest brief filed is by the former U.S. military officials, who wrote discrimination hurts military preparedness and is unfair to same-sex military couples that can’t choose where to live.

“Those willing to risk their lives for the security of their country should never be forced to risk losing the protections of marriage and the attendant rights of parenthood simply because their service obligations require them to move to states that refuse to recognize their marriages,” the brief says.

—  David Taffet

Guam AG remains firm in her support of marriage equality

Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson

Guam Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson

Two days after first ordering Guam’s Department of Public Health and Social Services to begin issuing marriage licenses, territory Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson called the island’s ban on same-sex marriage “indefensible,” according to the Guam Pacific Daily News.

The ban remains in place while the governor’s office reviews the issue.

Guam falls under the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has ruled in favor of marriage equality. The AG issued her order based on the 9th Circuit ruling ordering marriage equality. All nine states that fall under the 9th Circuit’s jurisdiction have marriage equality. Only the 9th Circuit’s Pacific territories — Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands — do not.

The AG’s order came two days after a lesbian couple filed a lawsuit against the governor and the registrar of Public Health’s Office of Vital Statistics to issue them a marriage license.

—  David Taffet

Guam becomes marriage equality territory … but then it doesn’t

Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson

Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson

Guam’s attorney general, Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson, told the island’s Department of Public Health to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples earlier today (Wednesday, April 15).

But later in the day, the governor and lieutenant governor issued a statement that while they respect the opinion of the attorney general, either the legislature should change the marriage law or a referendum should be held on marriage equality before the licenses are issued, according to the Guam Pacific Daily News.

The issue of whether to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is currently under review by the territory’s administration. So far, no U.S. territories have marriage equality.

Guam is a U.S. territory in the North Pacific halfway between Japan and Australia, 3,950 miles west of Hawaii. Guam sits across the international dateline and is 15 hours ahead of Dallas.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit aimed at overturning Puerto Rico’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is on hold, pending a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court this term.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Puerto Rico, said that it will not schedule oral arguments in the case until a ruling comes down from SCOTUS this summer. Puerto Rico is no longer defending the territory’s marriage ban.

—  David Taffet

Study shows support growing for marriage equality, especially in marriage equality states

evan-wolfson

Evan Wolfson

A new study by UCLA’s Williams Institute shows that fears that eliminating state bans on same-sex marriage will create a backlash against marriage equality and LGBT people are in accurate. In fact, the study indicates, getting rid of those bans usually accelerates acceptance of marriage equality.

Evan Wolfson, president of the national marriage equality advocacy organization Freedom to Marry, said the study “confirms that marriage wins are a self-fulfilling engine of support. Once  the freedom to marry comes to a state, people see families helped and no one hurt, and support surges.”

Wolfson added that the study results “solidly debunk opponents’ desperate efforts to conjure up the specter of an impending ‘backlash,’ and undersore the unfairness of depriving people in the remaining 13 states” — including Texas — “of the informed choice that the end to discrimination provides. Once the Supreme Court brings an end to the exclusion from marriage in the states still left out, we can expect support to grow rapidly there as well — a true win-win.”

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments April 28 in marriage equality cases from four states in the 6th Circuit — the only federal circuit appeals court to rule against marriage equality since the SCOTUS ruling in U.S. v Windsor in June 2013, in which the court struck down portions of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Supreme Court last fall refused to hear appeals of circuit court rulings in favor of marriage equality, creating an immediate jump in marriage equality states from 19 to more than 30.

The study shows that since 2004, public support for marriage equality has increased in every state in the U.S., with an average increase of 2.6 percent per year. Public support for marriage equality has increased more rapidly since 2012, jumping up to an average of about 6.2 percent per year. But in the last year, the most rapid rate of increase in support happened in states that already legally recognize same-sex marriage.

“Indeed, legal recognition of marriage for same-sex couples has been followed by more rapid increases in public support,” the study notes.

If current trends continue, by 2016 public support for marriage equality will be at least 40 percent in every state, with six states above 45 percent and the remaining states at between 50 percent and 85 percent in terms of support.

“America is ready for the freedom to marry,” Wolfson said. “The Supreme Court can now do the right thing, knowing that not only history, but the public today, will vindicate a ruling to end marriage discrimination leaving no state and no family behind.”

—  Tammye Nash

Hillary Clinton urges SCOTUS to support marriage equality

Hillary ClintonA spokesperson for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton told the Washington Blade this morning (Wednesday, April 15) that she hopes the Supreme Court will rule in favor of marriage equality.

“Hillary Clinton supports marriage equality and hopes the Supreme Court will come down on the side of same-sex couples being guaranteed that constitutional right,” Hillary for America’s Adrienne Elrod said.

The announcement comes ahead of the April 28 Supreme Court hearings challenging state same-sex marriage bans.

—  James Russell

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