UPDATED: Human Rights Campaign praises outgoing AG Eric Holder

eric holder.smallFollowing reports that United States Attorney General Eric Holder will announce his resignation today, the Human Rights Campaign released a statement praising him while calling for President Obama to nominate an out LGBT cabinet member.

“Some Attorneys General wait for history, others make history happen. Attorney General Holder made history for the LGBT community,” said Chad Griffin, president of HRC. “He was our Robert F. Kennedy, lightening the burden of every American who faces legal discrimination and social oppression. We owe him a profound debt of gratitude for his legacy of advocacy and service.”

“The President has expressed a commitment to appointing a cabinet that reflects the full diversity of the American people, and there are many richly-qualified candidates available to serve as the first openly-LGBT cabinet secretary. It would be a natural extension of this administration’s enduring commitment to equality to send a message of visibility and inclusion by nominating such a candidate to serve in this historic role,” Griffin added.

You can read the full statement here.

According to NPR, the nation’s first black attorney general is one of the longest-serving Obama appointees and “ranks as the fourth longest tenured AG in history.”

Holder is well-known for refusing to defend DOMA and suing Texas over its voter ID law.

He plans to serve until a successor is nominated and approved by the Senate.

Check out Instant Tea throughout the day as details come in.

—  James Russell

UPDATE: More on the latest marriage ruling out of Louisiana

Adam Polaski at FreedomToMarry.org has posted this blog about the latest court ruling out of Louisiana on same-sex marriage, this time striking down the state’s ban on gay marriage.Screen shot 2014-09-22 at 4.24.40 PM

Polaski explains: “The case, In Re Costanza and Brewer, was filed in 2013 on behalf of Angela Marie Costanza and Chastity Shanelle Brewer, who are raising their 10-year-old son in Lafayette. The case sought respect for Angela and Chastity’s marriage license; since Louisiana did not respect their marriage, one mother was not permitted to legally adopt her son.

“The ruling today grants the second-parent adoption and affirms that the Louisiana amendment violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.”

Polaski calls Louisiana federal Judge Martin Feldman’s Sept. 3 upholding the same-sex marriage ban an “out-of-step decision,” and notes that “40 separate rulings have been issued since June 2013 in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples [and m]ore than 80 cases have been filed in state and federal courts across the country.”

—  Tammye Nash

BREAKING NEWS: Louisiana state judge says marriage ban is unconstitutional

KLFY Channel 10 News in Lafayette is reporting that Louisiana State Judge Edward Rubin has ruled that the state’s law banning same-sex gavelmarriage is unconstitutional because it violates the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment and the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution.

That’s all I can find on the ruling right now, but Rubin’s ruling is in direct contrast to a ruling earlier this month by federal Judge Martin L. C. Feldman in Louisiana that the state’s gay marriage is not unconstitutional. Feldman’s ruling on Sept. 3 is the only ruling in favor of gay marriage bans.

 

—  Tammye Nash

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

Congrats to Martina and Julia, to Neil Patrick and David — but especially to Vivian and Nonie

Martina proposes

Martina Navratilova, left, proposes to Julia Lemigova.

Twenty-five years after she won her fourth and final singles championship at the U.S. Open, tennis great Martina Navratilova dropped to one knee on Saturday, Sept. 6, at Arthur Ashe Stadium to propose to her girlfriend, Julia Lemigivo.

The proposal, which came during a break in play while Navratilova was providing color commentary on the U.S. Open men’s competition, was shown on the stadium’s Jumbotron, and fortunately for Navratilova, Lemigova said yes.

Navratilova, 57, and the 42-year-old Miss USSR have been a couple since 2006. Read more here.

In other celebrity wedding news, Neil Patrick Harris married his longtime partner, David Burtka. The couple married in Italy, with a featured performance from Elton John. Harris and Burtka have been engaged since 2011, and are fathers to twins.

For more info (like how Elton John played at the reception) and to see a gorgeous photo, go here.

But here is the REALLY big wedding news of the past few days: Vivian Boyack, 91, and Alice “Nonie” Dubes, 90, both of Iowa, also got married over the weekend after 72 years together. They exchanged vows on Saturday in a small ceremony in Davenport, Iowa, surrounded by family and friends.

Screen shot 2014-09-08 at 4.50.38 PM

—  Tammye Nash

UMC Bishop Martin McLee, former St. Luke’s minister, dies

6a00e550255d3c88330191027bf5d2970c-320wiBishop Martin D. McLee, who presided over the United Methodist Church’s New York region and once lived in Dallas, died Saturday, Sept. 6. The LGBT ally was 58 years old.

According to the UMC News Service, the Brooklyn native was called to ministry while attending Dallas’ St. Luke “Community” Church. There, under the leadership of Rev. Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. he

 immediately immersed himself in the life of the church, including its many social justice ministries, Holmes recalled. Among other activities, McLee sang in the choir, volunteered with the church’s prison ministry, served in its AIDS ministry and registered voters.

Trained as a lawyer, he enrolled in SMU’s Perkins School of Theology where he received his Master’s of Divinity. He didn’t give up on social justice causes, including his outspoken stances on LGBT equality once he joined the church.

The UMC’s official policy believes being LGBT is “incompatible with Christian teaching,” forbidding clergy from performing LGBT weddings. Pastors violating the policy often go to trial.

McLee advocated against such trials. After a complaint was filed against the Rev. Thomas Ogletree, who is retired, for officiating at his gay son’s wedding, McLee called for “the cessation of church trials” related to same-sex marriage. “Church trials produce no winners … trials are not the way forward,” McLee said at the time.

The full story is here.

—  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

Rev. Bill McElvaney has died

McElvaney

McElvaney, seated, officiated the marriage of Jack Evans, 84, and George Harris, 80 in March.

The Rev. Bill McElvaney, an ardent LGBT ally who faced scrutiny for officiating same-sex marriages despite his denomination’s disapproval, has died.

In March McElvaney, the pastor emeritus at Northaven United Methodist Church, officiated the wedding of longtime congregants Jack Evans, 84, and George Harris, 80. The very public ceremony, which was covered by this publication and others, was not held at Northaven but instead the neighboring Midway Hills Christian Church. Later that month, he was suspended from the church.

At the time of his suspension, he told the Voice that given his age, he’d rather be on the right side of history. “I owe the Methodist church a lot, but what I do not owe the Methodist Church is my soul.”

He recently announced he would no longer undergo treatment for liver cancer after four years.

Follow the blog this week for more information.

—  James Russell

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean endorses marriage equality

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean became the first mayor in Tennessee to endorse marriage equality today, according to a statement from Mayors for Freedom to Marry.

tn_rainbow“Tennessee’s denial of the freedom to marry directly harms the state’s more than 10,000 same-sex couples and their loved ones, and by putting obstacles in the path of businesses and families, drags everyone down,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry.

“I believe that all people should be treated fairly and equally and that their individual dignity should be respected,” said Dean. “Embracing and celebrating our growing diversity makes our city stronger. Nashville needs to continue in that direction, and it’s my hope that joining this effort will help us do that.”

“We welcome Mayor Dean as another voice in favor of moving Tennessee, the South, and all of America to the right side of history,” added Wolfson.

Dean joins over 500 mayors across the country who have endorsed marriage equality. Of the 500, only four are in Texas: Austin’s Lee Leffingwell, Houston’s Annise Parker, El Cenizo’s Raul Reyes and Shavano Park’s A. David Mame.

No mayor from Dallas-Fort Worth has yet to sign onto the pledge.

—  James Russell