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.
Greg Bourke, plaintiff in one of the Kentucky cases, was in Dallas last year, protesting discrimination by the Boy Scouts
Marriage equality will be front and center in the news as the new year begins. On Jan. 6, Florida becomes marriage equality state No. 36. Three days later, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals hears cases from Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. The same day, the U.S. Supreme Court meets to decide whether to hear a marriage case.
The panel that will hear arguments in the 5th Circuit will be announced on Dec. 29.
In October, the high court decided not to hear a marriage case. But at the time, all the lower courts that heard marriage equality cases were in agreement. Since then, a lower court in Louisiana asserted that state’s right to discriminate and so has the 6th Circuit.
Five cases are pending before the court to consider. The justices may decide to take one or more of them. If they reject all of these cases, marriage discrimination stands in the 5th and 6th Circuits until the Supreme Court decides otherwise.
• The Tennessee case, Tanco v. Haslam, was filed on behalf of four same-sex couples by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and private attorneys after the Sixth Circuit upheld the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples.
• In Ohio, a joint filing of the cases Henry v. Hodges (brought by Lambda Legal and private attorneys) and Obergfell v. Hodges, (brought by ACLU and private attorneys) asked the Supreme Court to review the Sixth Circuit’s decision.
• The petition for the Michigan case, DeBoer v. Snyder, was filed by private attorneys. The case was brought on behalf of a lesbian couple challenging the state’s marriage ban so that they can jointly adopt their child. The petition asks the nine justices to rule that the state ban prohibits same-sex couples from “our nation’s most cherished and essential guarantees.”
• In Kentucky, the consolidated cases Bourke v. Beshear and Love v. Beshear, both of which were brought by private attorneys, filed a petition for cert with the U.S. Supreme Court. The cases, brought by same-sex couples challenging the state’s marriage ban, argue that the ban violates due process and equal protection guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
• In Louisiana, the case Robicheaux v. George was brought by the Forum for Equality Louisiana, with counsel from Lambda Legal, on behalf of same-sex couples challenging the state’s ban on marriage equality. In Robicheaux, a federal judge in Louisiana ruled to uphold the state’s marriage ban, the first federal district court judge to do so in the country since key portions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court last June.
More on the strides made toward marriage equality in Friday’s Dallas Voice.
Kansas officials asked the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to place a stay on marriage equality while its case works its way through the courts. Either Kansas officials are just dumb or they’re looking for ways to delay equality.
The 10th Circuit already ruled that marriage bans in Oklahoma and Utah violate due process and were created out of animus toward gays and lesbians. Why Kansas officials think that same court would rule the Kansas law doesn’t violate due process and there’s no animus there because, well, Dorothy is from Kansas, is anyone’s guess.
The court gave the state a one-week stay. That stay ends on Tuesday, Nov. 11, unless Justice Sonia Sotomayor grants a stay. However, even though the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the 8th Circuit’s Utah and Oklahoma rulings, they’ve already said they didn’t want to hear those cases. There’s no reason to stay the Oklahoma and Utah rulings for Kansas.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves will hear a challenge to Mississippi’s marriage ban on Wednesday, Nov. 12. Reeves was nominated to the court by President Barack Obama. Bye bye Mississippi marriage ban.
A decision would be appealed to the 5th Circuit, which also includes Texas and Louisiana and which has not yet weighed in on marriage equality. That court is considered among the most conservative and could come down on the side of discrimination. The 5th Circuit will hear the Louisiana and Texas appeals in January.
Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky
Plaintiffs in the cases in the four states in the 6th Circuit — Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky — whose marriage bans were upheld last week will all appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In any of the cases, plaintiffs could have asked for an en banc hearing in which all of the 6th Circuit judges would have heard the case. Instead, rather than delaying the case and hoping for a nationwide resolution of the issue by the end of June 2015, they each decided for a direct appeal.
Because of the split among circuits, the U.S. Supreme Court is compelled to take a marriage case, but could delay hearing a case until next session. Since the 6th Circuit issued just one decision for all four states, the court could decide to hear from all states or could choose just one appeal.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In most states where judges have ruled that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, they have ordered the state to begin issuing licenses. In Ohio, one ruling last December was sweeping but implemented narrowly.
Two couples sued Ohio to recognize their out-of-state marriages for the purpose of a death certificate.
Although he wrote that the ban on marriage equality was unconstitutional, he limited his ruling to the two couples for the purpose of the death certificate.
Now, more couples have sued, but the strategy in that state seems to be to chip away at the ban one right at a time.
Four couples are suing the state to recognize their out-of-state marriages for the purposes of a birth certificate. Three of the couples live in Ohio and are expecting a child through insemination. The fourth couple lives in New York and adopted a child born in Ohio.
The couples suing for proper birth certificates are represented by the same attorney who won the death certificate case.
Federal judges in three states advanced marriage equality lawsuits Monday.
One of two lawsuits challenging Virginia’s ban on recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples advanced after a federal judge denied the state’s motion to dismiss the case. Judge Michael Urbanski of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia (Harrisonburg) issued a 17-page memorandum, saying, “It is abundantly clear that plaintiffs’ alleged harm is actual, concrete, and particularized.”
Harris v. McDonnell is a challenge organized by Lambda Legal and the ACLU for two lesbian couples. One couple would like to marry in Virginia; the other has married in the District of Columbia and would like their marriage recognized in Virginia.
Citing sovereign immunity, the judge did dismiss the suit as it was applied to Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, but the lawsuit will proceed with chief defendant Thomas Roberts, the clerk of the Staunton Circuit Court and Janet Rainey, the state registrar.
In Ohio,U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black issued a 50-page decision, saying the state constitution’s ban on recognizing same-sex married couples violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection.
The lawsuit was Obergefell v. Wymyslo, in which two surviving spouses sought the right to be identified as such on the death certificates of their spouses.
Citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in U.S. v. Windsor, Black said, “It is beyond debate that it is constitutionally prohibited to single out and disadvantage an unpopular group.”
Black issued a permanent injunction against the state from refusing to identify a deceased person’s same-sex spouse on his death certificate.
“Dying with an incorrect death certificate that prohibits the deceased Plaintiffs from being buried with dignity constitutes irreparable harm,” Black wrote. Ohio Attorney General Michael DeWine said the state will appeal the decision to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
And in Utah,U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby denied Utah’s request to delay the effect of his December 20 order that the state stop enforcing its ban on same-sex couples marrying.
The Salt Lake City Tribune reported that shortly after Shelby denied the stay, “hundreds” of same-sex couples began applying for marriage licenses around the state.
Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s administration then asked the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to issue a stay of Shelby’s order, pending the state’s appeal of Shelby’s decision that the ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.
We here at Dallas Voice are hard at work this week getting ready to publish our first-ever Family Life special section. That’s why this news story about a non-bio lesbian mom in Ohio losing access to her child had a special resonance for me this week.
Michelle Hobbs and Kelly Mullen had a child together in 2005, with Mullen as the biological mother who conceived through in vitro. But even though Mullen had signed a health-care power of attorney, a general durable power of attorney and will where she nominated Hobbs as the child’s guardian, when the two women split up, Mullen still decided to cut off contact between Hobbs and her child. And on Tuesday, the Ohio Supreme Court said Mullen could get away with that.
(By the way, the two women took out a second mortgage on the home they owned to pay for the in vitro fertilization process.)
Justice Robert Cupp, writing the opinion for the majority in the 4-3 decision, said, “Hobbs was a nonparent under Ohio law despite her active role in raising and caring for the child.” The court also said that because Mullen never finalized Hobbs’ parental rights in a legally binding contract, she had the right to end Hobbs’ parental role with the child when the two women split.
This, of course, isn’t the only case where a biological parent decided to cut off a non-bio parent’s access to children the two had raised together. But it seems especially timely to me, given the special section we are getting ready to publish. So if you and your partner have — or are considering having — children, be sure and check out Friday’s issue of Dallas Voice. We’ll have information in that issue on legal ways to protect yourself, your partner and your children, as well as other articles pertaining to various aspects of “family life” in all its forms in the LGBT community.
Yesterday, HRC held simultaneous public forums with veterans affected by the harmful “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy in Cleveland and Columbus. The events, covered by local media, were held at the Cleveland City Hall where Senator George Voinovich cut his political teeth decades ago as Cleveland Mayor, and the Ohio Statehouse where he served as Governor. Repeal advocates wanted to respectfully remind the Senator that he has bucked the more conservative elements of his party when it was the right thing to do – as it is the right thing to do with repealing this discriminatory law.
In Cleveland, Major General Dennis Laich and Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman were joined by four Ohio veterans who stood up to tell their stories and make their voices heard. Brian Tupaz, Robert Tackett, Marie Bohousch and Mark Szabo each took to the stage to share publicly their personal experience with DADT. Their stories serve as a painful reminder of how this law has failed our service members and our country.
Two and a half hours south by southwest, at the Ohio Statehouse, Claudia Mason and David Goetz echoed those in Cleveland and called on Senator Voinovich to publicly declare his support for DADT repeal. They reminded him that he has stood on the side of equality before, voting in favor of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Jr. Hates Crimes Prevention Act last year, and should honor the 14,000 service members who have been discharged under this discriminatory law by voting to end this law.
Claudia, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel from Dayton, is a straight ally and is outspoken about the importance of repealing this law. She called on Senator Voinovich to join his fellow Buckeye, Senator Sherrod Brown and listen to the recommendation from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary Gates in supporting repeal this year.
Also this week, members of the Columbus steering committee joined Collin and me at the Ohio Democratic Party offices to call repeal supporters and urge them to call on Senator Voinovich to support repeal this year. If you’re a Buckeye, make your voice heard by calling Senator Voinovich at 202.224.3353.
We’ll be putting the pressure on Senator Voinovich and urging him to join the ranks of supportive Republicans like Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year. Now is the last opportunity for Voinovich to stand on the side of equality. With a vote in the Senate on repeal of DADT expected as early as Saturday morning, Senator Voinovich needs to hear from you NOW!