Crist files brief in Florida lawsuit in support of marriage equality

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist, the once and possibly future governor of Florida filed an amicus brief today in support of the lawsuit seeking marriage equality in Florida, according to a statement released earlier today by Equality Florida. The lawsuit, Pareto v. Ruvin, is set for a hearing July 2 before Judge Sarah Zabel in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Miami.

“In the last six years, our society has evolved and moved past the prejudices rooted in our past,” Crist said. “Further, science has uniformly reached the conclusion that heterosexual marriages are just as valued and revered as they have ever been; and children raised by gay and lesbian parents fare just as well as kids raised in straight families.”

Crist said that “with the arc of history now, in fact, bending toward justice,” marriage equality will not be an issue “for the children and grandchildren of this state.” But, he added, “it is still the duty of those in the present to recognize that the legitimacy of government depends upon its willingness to fairly, transparently and equitably administer the law. That goal is frustrated by denying an entire class of citizens equality in the institution of marriage simply because of who they are and whom they love.”

In a statement regarding Crist’s brief, Equality Florida cited statistics indicating that 57 percent of Floridians support marriage equality. Crist filed the amicus brief in Pareto v. Ruvin, filed Jan. 21, challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. The lawsuit argues that Florida’s laws barring same-sex couples from marriage violate the United States Constitution by denying them the legal protections and equal dignity that having the freedom to marry provides.

Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith said, “As a former governor and as someone who previously supported [the gay marriage ban], Charlie Crist’s words matter a great deal. He has taken the same journey the majority of Floridians have taken in realizing that this ban serves no purpose but to disparage and discriminate against gay couples and our children.”

Crist, then a Republican, was governor of Florida from 2007-2011, but instead of running for re-election in 2o1o, he chose to run for U.S. Senate, race he lost to Tea Party darling Marco Rubio. In 2012, Crist switched to the Democratic Party and endorsed President Obama for re-election.

Crist — who was briefly married to Amanda Morrow in 1979 and who married Carole Rome in July 2008 after nine months of dating — has long been plagued by rumors that he was gay. In fact, in 2012 during his failed bid for the U.S. Senate, charges surfaced that Crist had affairs with two men while he was governor and then paid them to leave Florida to avoid the possibility of being embarrassed. Damon Chase — the attorney for former Florida GOP Chair Jim Greer who was facing charges he used state funds to pay his personal expenses — claimed that Greer would testify to Crist having paid off his two male paramours, and that Crist had tried to kiss Greer, and that Crist had appointed Republican George LeMieux to a U.S. Senate seat to keep LeMieux from revealing secrets about Crist’s homosexuality.

Crist denied all the allegations, calling them “a bunch of delusional lies.” Also in 2012, the Tampa Bay Times reported on records indicating that Crist believed Greer was trying to extort him.

 

—  Tammye Nash

Couples begin marrying in Indiana

IN_IS“Governor Pence supports the Attorney General’s efforts to appeal the federal court’s ruling and defend Indiana’s right to define the institution of marriage for the residents of our state,” said the governor’s press secretary. “Because the Governor believes in the rule of law, the State of Indiana will comply with the federal court’s order as this case moves through the appeals process.”

No stay was issued with the ruling declaring Indiana’s marriage law unconstitutional, so county clerks began issuing licenses. The state has requested a stay and one couple who filed the original lawsuit filed opposition to the stay.

In Indianapolis, 186 couples married on the first day of marriage equality, according to the Indianapolis Star.

—  David Taffet

Dallas Voice contributor gets hitched in Indiana

CWCasey Williams, Dallas Voice’s automotive reviewer (including one of our favorite features, his witty Butch v. Femme headlamp-to-headlamp pairings) is officially married. Casey, who now lives in Indiana, took advantage of the state’s recent entrance into the marriage equality fraternity and wed his longtime partner Jarrod yesterday. (Casey is on the right.)

“[The federal judge's ruling] will probably get [stayed], but there’s nothing they can do about our marriage … finally!” he said.

It’s been a momentous few days for Casey in other ways. He and Jarrod are back at the courthouse today to finalize the adoption of their child. Still, he insists he will not review only cars with Baby On Board window stickers.

Congrats, Casey and Jarrod!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Edie Windsor talks about her case on the one-year anniversary of the DOMA decision

Edie Windsor, plaintiff in the landmark case decided one year ago today that found parts of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, talks about her case on this video released by Marriage Equality USA.

—  David Taffet

Colorado clerks begin issuing marriage licenses

boulder_1

Couples can marry in Boulder … for now.

As a result of the Tenth Circuit’s ruling yesterday that struck down the Utah marriage ban, Boulder County has begun issuing marriage licenses. Lafayette and Longmont counties will begin on Friday, according to the Denver Post.

Colorado is in the same circuit as Utah, so the Boulder County clerk said the ruling applies to her state. The attorney general disagrees and said the licenses won’t be valid.

By the end of the Wednesday, two couples were married. Boulder’s county clerk said she will continue issuing licenses today.

On Wednesday, the Tenth Circuit issued a split ruling declaring Utah’s marriage ban unconstitutional. The court put a stay on its ruling until it’s heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The stay only mentions Utah, not Colorado, and Boulder’s county clerk acted after advice from the county’s legal staff. The circuit also encompassed Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Wyoming.

The attorney general’s actions indicate that Colorado will not accept the decision of the court in its marriage cases, as the Oregon attorney general did several weeks ago, and will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

—  David Taffet

Breaking: Indiana judge strikes down marriage ban

The wedding march continues.

A spokeswoman for Lambda Legal has just announced that U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young has ruled Indiana’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional. Lambda Legal challenged the law on behalf of five couples seeking the freedom to marry in Indiana or recognition of a marriage from another state.

Rae Baskin, left, and Esther Fuller

Rae Baskin, left, and Esther Fuller

“It is clear that the fundamental right to marry shall not be deprived to some individuals based solely on the person they choose to love,” Young wrote in his ruling, after noting that every federal district court that has ruled regarding same-sex marriage has ruled against discriminatory bans.

Young continued, “In time, Americans will look at the marriage of couples such as plaintiffs, and refer to it simply as a marriage — not a same-sex marriage. These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”

Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Paul D. Castillo said his organization is thrilled with the ruling. “Indiana now joins the momentum for nationwide marriage equality and Hoosiers can now proclaim they are on the right side of history,” he said.

Amy Sandler, one of the plaintiffs, called Young’s ruling “an awesome day for Indiana. … We are especially happy for our children because they’ll be growing up in state that values all families equally.”

Lead plaintiff Rae Baskin said she and her partner have “waited for this moment since we decided to share our lives with each other.”

Read the decision here.

Read more about the families and the entire case here.

—  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

Wisconsin marriage battle getting nasty

J.B. Van Hollen

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen

Marriages continue in Wisconsin despite Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s best attempts to stop them.

“Constitutions don’t defend themselves,” Van Hollen said. “They’re not worth the paper they’re written on if someone does not defend what’s in there.”

Last Friday, a U.S. District Court judge threw out the state’s marriage ban. More than half the state’s county clerks began issuing marriage licenses.

Van Hollen has been trying to get a stay of the court order but had been unsuccessful so far. So now he’s threatening the county clerks, telling them they could be charged.

Under state law, a county clerk could be jailed for nine months and receive a $10,000 fine for issuing licenses that are not allowed.

He’s also told newly married couples their marriages are invalid and not recognized by the state.

The issue is that when the district court judge issued her ruling, she did not issue an order to county clerks to begin issuing licenses.

Meanwhile, more couples are getting married in Wisconsin and more clerks are issuing licenses. Currently, marriage licenses are being issued by 63 or the 72 county clerks.

 

—  David Taffet

Wisconsin is marriage-equality state 19½ not 20

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb

As things stand now, Wisconsin is currently marriage-equality state 19½, not 20.

Only 42 of the state’s 72 counties are issuing marriage licenses because along with her ruling, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb did not order to county clerks to issue marriage licenses.

Some county clerks are waiting for orders from the attorney general who is appealing the ruling, not upholding it.

Crabb refused the attorney general’s request for a stay, so he is appealing to the circuit court.

For six months, Illinois was in a similar position. After marriage equality was legalized by the legislature, the law didn’t go into effect for six months. Some counties got a waiver and began issuing licenses before June 1, when the state began full marriage-equality.

In New Mexico, county clerks in a few counties decided nothing in state law prevented them from issuing marriage licenses. In several other counties, local judges ruled clerks had to issue licenses. After several months, the state’s high court extended marriage equality to the full state.

In Wisconsin, marriage equality only extends to people living in those marriage-equality counties. Residents must apply for a marriage license in their county of residence. A certified birth certificate must be presented to prove the applicants are at least 18 years old. Clerks have the right to waive the five-day waiting period and some, especially in Madison and Milwaukee are, but others are not. Although the license is issued, in five days, the attorney general may have his stay in place and those couples with a license but without a waiver of the waiting period will not be able to marry.

So for Wisconsin residents in non-marriage-equality counties, their option remains going out of state for a license.

—  David Taffet

Wisconsin couples continue to marry after judge denies stay

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb

Same-sex couples continue to marry in Wisconsin after a judge refused to stay her decision declaring the state’s marriage ban unconstitutional.

Clerks in 41 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties have begun issuing marriage licenses. Many have waived the state’s five-day waiting period to marry.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed an appeal with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago and the district court that issued the ruling to put a stay on its decision.

“A stay is necessary in this case to avoid confusion and to maintain the status quo,” he argued.

He didn’t say what was confusing about same-sex couples getting married in his state as they can in 19 other states.

Judge Barbara Crabb, who issued the ruling on Friday, refused to stay her decision today. Marriages will continue in Wisconsin at least until the attorney general asks the Seventh Circuit to stay the decision through its appeal process.

Despite Crabb’s announcement today that she would not stay her decision, Hollen said marriages licenses should not be issued because Crabb did not enjoin enforcement of the marriage law. Crabb said how clerks interpret marriage law is outside the realm of the lawsuit in her court and she would not issue instructions to them.

—  David Taffet