BREAKING: 10th Circuit says OK marriage ban is unconstitutional

Bs1h9tfCAAAgOOnA U.S. appeals court ruled today that Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The 2-1 vote by the U.S. Tenth Circuit of Appeals affirmed U.S. Judge Terence Kern’s earlier decision in Bishop v. Smith.

The same three-judge panel also ruled earlier Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The court stayed its ruling however, pending an appeal by the state of Oklahoma.

The case is the oldest challenge to a same-sex marriage ban in the country.

Since the Supreme Court’s major gay rights decisions last year, 17 federal courts have ruled that state same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional. More than 70 cases are pending in federal court including one in Texas, DeLeon v. Perry according to a press release from the Human Rights Campaign.

 

—  James Russell

Holder: DOJ will file brief in favor of same-sex marriage

eric holder.small

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told ABC News’ Pierre Thomas on Monday that the Justice Department will be filing a brief in the Utah same-sex marriage case urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a lower-court ruling and block states from banning same-sex marriage.

District Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled last December that Utah’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. A three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling last month, and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced that instead of asking the full 10th Circuit Court to review the case, he would appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Holder said that filing the brief would be “consistent with the actions we have taken over the past couple of years,” in which the Justice Department has refused to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Holder said that decision was “vindicated by the Supreme Court,” which ruled last year in Windsor vs. United States that the sections of DOMA allowing the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriages performed in jurisdictions that recognize such marriages are unconstitutional.

Holder told Thomas that he believes banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and that such bans cannot survive the standard of heightened scrutiny. He called the fight for LGBT rights “a defining civil rights challenge of our time,” and that LGBT people are waiting for an “unequivocal declaration that separate is inherently unequal.”

 

—  Tammye Nash

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

BREAKING: Marriage equality win in Colorado

Colorado state District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree ruled Wednesday that Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage, approved by voters in 2006, is unconstitutional. But Crabtree immediately stayed his ruling as the case moves through the appeals process, Reuters has reported.

In his ruling, Crabtree wrote: “There is no rational relationship between any legitimate governmental purpose and the marriage bans.”

Also on Wednesday, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced he will appeal a ruling by a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit appeals court directly to the U.S. Supreme Court rather than asking for the full 10th Circuit court to rehear the case.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia, and lawsuits challenging same-sex marriage bans are headed to the U.S. Supreme Court while two other lawsuits challenging bans in Oklahoma and Virginia have already been heard by appellate courts.

—  Tammye Nash

BREAKING NEWS: Appeals court grants stay for Sandler and Quasney

Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney

Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order today compelling the state of Indiana to recognize the marriage of Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney, even though the federal district judge that struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban last week stayed his ruling, leaving the ban in effect while the case makes its way through the appeals process. The 7th Circuit Court issued its ruling after Lambda Legal filed an emergency motion asking that the stay be lifted for Sandler and Quasney because Quasney is battling stage 4 ovarian cancer and “the family needs the dignity, comfort and protections of marriage as they fight to be together,” according to a statement just released by Lambda Legal.

The 7th Circuit Court also set an expedited briefing schedule in the base, Baskin v. Bogan, with all briefs in the case due by Aug. 5. Arguments in the case could come as early as the end of the summer, Lambda Legal officials said.

Paul D. Castillo, staff attorney with Lambda Legal, said: “It is time for the state of Indiana to leave Niki and Amy in peace and not subject them and their marriage to any more stress and uncertainty as this case proceeds. We are thrilled that the court ruled in favor of this family … . We will continue to fight until no family in Indiana needs to worry about their marriage being stripped away from them and all Hoosiers have the freedom to marry.”

The couple filed suit challenging Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban in March in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Indiana, and Lambda Legal later filed a motion seeking immediate relief for the two women and their two children, ages 3 and 1.

Quasney was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer nearly five years ago in 2009, when she had more than 100 tumors surgically removed. Since then she has gone through years of chemotherapy to battle the disease. Quasney and Baskin have a civil union in Illinois and were married in Massachusetts last year. But they need to have their marriage recognized in Indiana, where they live, to “receive the full protections that every other married family in Indiana receives,” according to Lambda Legal representatives.

Click here to read the 7th Circuit Court’s order lifting the stay for Baskin and Quasney. Click here to see Lambda Legal’s request for an emergency order. Click here to sign the petition urging the Indiana attorney general to abandon the appeals, and click here to read more about the families and the entire case.

—  Tammye Nash

BREAKING NEWS: Kentucky judge rules in favor of marriage equality

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II has just ruled that Kentucky’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution, according to reports by The Courier-Times. This ruling comes four months after Heyburn’s decision in February ordering the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in jurisdictions where such marriages are legal.

Judge John G. Heyburn IIDon’t expect immediate wedding bells in The Bluegrass State. Heyburn put his ruling on hold pending a decision by a higher court.

Lawyers for Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear’s only argument in support of the ban was that traditional marriages contribute to a stable birth rate and the state’s long-term economic stability. Heyburn rejected that reasoning, saying “These arguments are not those of serious people.”

Heyburn said in his ruling, “In America, even sincere and long-hold religious beliefs do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted.” He also said that there is “no conceivable legitimate purpose” for the ban and that it violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2013 overturned a significant portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, there have been at least 15 court rulings at various levels of the federal court system overturning same-sex marriage bans or bans on recognizing same-sex marriages legally performed elsewhere. That number could go up again soon since a state trial court in Miami is slated to hear oral arguments Wednesday on a motion filed in May by six same-sex couples and Equality Florida Institute challenging Florida’s same-sex marriage ban.

—  Tammye Nash

This week in marriage equality

KarenMueller

Crazy of the week: Wisc. Republican Congressional candidate Karen Mueller

Louisiana

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman set July 16 as a deadline to file briefs involving Louisiana’s same-sex marriage ban. The same judge heard arguments last week about recognizing out-of-state marriages and said he was not comfortable ruling on such a narrow issue. He hasn’t set a date to hear the full challenge to the marriage ban or said if he will even hear additional arguments.

Colorado

Three counties in Colorado continue to issue marriage licenses after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Utah’s marriage ban. Although the court put a stay on its ruling, the stay specified Utah. County clerks in Colorado, which is also in the 10th Circuit, said the ruling applies to them and the stay does not.

Colorado State Senator Jesse Ulibarri and his partner Louis Trujillo were among the couples who got married last week in Boulder county.

State Attorney General John Suthers said the licenses are invalid and that the Utah decision does not apply to Colorado.

Florida

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running for the office again this fall, filed an amicus brief supporting marriage equality in a challenge to his state’s marriage ban. Crist is running as a Democrat.

In his last term in office, he served as a Republican and did little to advance LGBT rights. He supported the Federal Marriage Amendment to put the ban on same-sex marriage in the U.S. Constitution. As rumors spread that Crist was gay, he got married at age 50.

Indiana

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals put a stay on a lower court’s ruling that allowed same-sex marriages to begin in the state.

Hundreds of couples married between Tuesday’s ruling and Friday’s stay. While the attorney general said those couples are in legal limbo, their marriages will be recognized by the federal government.

Lambda Legal filed papers with the 7th Circuit to go ahead and recognize the marriage of Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler. Quasney is battling Stage IV ovarian cancer. The trial court granted relief to the couple but the attorney general appealed. The emergency relief granted by the court is no longer in effect since the appeals court’s stay went into effect.

Crazy of the week

Wisconsin Republican Congressional candidate Karen Mueller said on the campaign trail same-sex marriage will lead to “the legalization of marriage between siblings.”

Mueller said that if a same-sex couple can marry, any two people would eventually be able to tie the knot and that the state ban does not actually discriminate against LGBT couples.

Where do they come up with this crap? Must be something going on in her own head and Dallas Voice warns her brothers and sisters to beware.

—  David Taffet

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