Oklahoma grants first same-sex divorce

oklahoma-marriageAs marriage equality spreads across the country, there’s a major lesson the gay and lesbian community needs to learn: Just because you CAN get married, doesn’t mean you SHOULD get married.

Although Oklahoma has had marriage equality for almost two months, it’s already had its first same-sex divorce. It’s not as bad as it sound, however.

Deanne and Julie Baker of Oklahoma City married in Iowa in 2012. They tried to divorce over the summer, but the Oklahoma court rejected their petition, because it didn’t recognize the marriage. Once marriage equality hit the state, the petition was accepted on Oct. 15 and the couple is divorced.

So remember, if you visit a marriage equality state to marry and you then consider divorce, Texas is neither a marriage equality state nor a divorce equality state. And a couple can only divorce in their home state, unless at least one of them establishes residency elsewhere.

—  David Taffet

Guns, God and gays: first day of prefiling for upcoming Lege session

abaa8de7236b4022851ea2557e2d68b0dc212ddb6ea8b427616006bb297bd2cdToday is the first day for Texas legislators and members-elect to pre-file legislation for the 84th legislative session. This means you get to see just how crazy some of your newly and returning elected officials really are. Don’t worry everyone, the first day of pre-filing didn’t bring out the worst of your electeds just yet. Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, only filed a handful actually, so the worst is yet to come.

As of mid-afternoon, legislators have pre-filed 336 bills.

Rep. Walter “Four” Price, R-Amarillo, filed four bills commemorating the National Day of Prayer, Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, filed HB 195, loosening restrictions on gun toting. Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, is gonna keep abortionists out of the classroom with HB 205.

But wait! LGBT people were recognized by our allies!

Out Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-El Paso, filed HB 70, an anti-bullying bill preventing discrimination against and harassment of students in public schools based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, filed HJR34, one of many bills targeting the repeal of Texas’ same-sex marriage ban. As the Voice reported, Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, filed HB 130, repealing Texas’ same sex marriage ban. The identical SB 98, was filed by Sens. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and José Rodríguez, D-El Paso. Sen. Rodríguez also filed SB 148, repealing language condemning homosexuality in the state’s health and penal codes.

 

 

—  James Russell

This Week in Marriage Equality: Kansas poised to become No. 33

PrintKansas

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.

Mississippi

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.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Restraining order bars Houston from offering equal benefits

Houston-Mayor-Annise-Parker

Houston Mayor Annise Parker

A district judge has ordered Houston to stop offering same-sex benefits to its employees. The order, found here, states that the city cannot issue benefits under the city’s charter and Family Penal Code because same-sex couples are not formally recognized by Texas.

“The city is preparing an immediate appeal.  Once that appeal is filed, today’s ruling will be stayed and a previous order issued at the federal court level allowing the city to implement same sex spousal benefits will continue in effect.  As a result, today’s action will have no impact on the status quo,” city spokeswoman Janice Evans said in a statement.

Follow the Voice for more information.

—  James Russell

BREAKING: Judge rules Missouri gay marriage ban unconstitutional

rainbow-flagThe AP reports Missouri’s ban on same-sex marriage ban has been ruled unconstitutional.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison issued the ruling today, Wednesday, Nov. 5, after hearing arguments on Sept. 29.

After the city of St. Louis issued marriage licenses in June to four same-sex couples, Assistant Attorney General Jeremiah Morgan defended the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

St. Louis City Counselor Winston Calvert countered that the existing law treats same-sex couples as “second-class citizens.”

“Today’s ruling adds to the powerful momentum of victories from a bipartisan array of federal and state judges as we work to secure the freedom to marry nationwide,” Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry, said in a statement.

One month ago a state ruling required Missouri must recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state.

32 states currently issuing recognize same-sex couples.

—  James Russell

BREAKING NEWS: Marriage equality comes to Kansas

Well, if Fred Phelps weren’t already a-spin in his grave, today’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Daniel D. Crabtree  in favor of marriage equality in Kansas must have turned ol’ Fred into a veritableScreen shot 2014-11-04 at 3.25.38 PM whirling dervish.

According to a press release from Freedom to Marry, “today’s win in Kansas is in line with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in favor of the freedom to marry in Oklahoma and Utah, which took effect on October 6.  Kansas is one of the six states in the 10th Circuit, and presently the only one not yet issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.”

Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry, said, “Yet another judge —  this time in Kansas — has found marriage discrimination to be unconstitutional, joining the nearly unanimous, bipartisan wave of pro-freedom to marry rulings in recent months. Attempts to delay the freedom to marry across the country are not only a waste of time and resources, but also prolong the harms and indignity that same-sex couples and their families continue to endure because of marriage discrimination. It is time for the remaining courts to finish the job and ensure the freedom to marry for all loving and committed couples in America.”

—  Tammye Nash

Marriage equality updates from around most of the country … but not Texas

Marriage_Equality_MapSouth Carolina

After the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles refused to allow Julie McEldowney to use her married name on her driver’s license, she filed suit against the state. She had already changed her name legally with the Social Security Administration.

Nebraska

Those wacky Catholics who are following the Pope and not a bunch of out-of-touch cardinals and bishops.

Omaha’s Creighton University, a Jesuit school, will offer benefits to same-sex spouses of employees. The move comes after the local Catholic archbishop voiced objections to the decision. The archbishop objected but school president the Rev. Timothy Lannon said that Creighton must also meet the needs of its employees and remain competitive with other universities.

Arizona

Since marriage equality came to Arizona last week, county clerks in all 15 counties have issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples. An estimated 300 licenses have been issued, meaning that roughly $20,000 has been brought to the state’s economy.

Montana

The Great Falls Tribune in Montana has published an editorial in favor of marriage equality.

“It’s time for the state of Montana to quit wasting taxpayers’ money and to accept gay marriage in Montana, even if churches can go their own way on this matter,” the editorial board wrote. “Some people still want to make political points with this issue, but we say, it’s too late for that. It’s all over.”

v.vember 20.

Kansas

U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree has scheduled a hearing in the case challenging Kansas’ marriage ban for this Friday, Oct. 31 at 2:30 p.m.

Wyoming

Now that Wyoming is a marriage equality state, Equality Wyoming is working on adding sexual orientation to the state’s anti-discrimination law. While it’s legal to get married in the state, a marriage license can be followed by a pink slip.

Missouri

While Missouri is still not a marriage equality state, it does recognize out-of-state marriages. So the Missouri State Employee’s Retirement System decided to add equal benefits for same-sex spouses.

That contrasts to Dallas where the city’s Employee Retirement Fund and Police and Fire Retirement boards have put roadblocks in the way of treating its LGBT employees equally despite a Dallas City Council mandate. The head of the ERF even had the gall to claim the board was doing everything it could to change the regulations after voting against a policy change herself.

—  David Taffet

New poll reveals Texans’ attitudes changing on same-sex marriage

UT-TT-Polls-102214.010_1 A new poll from the UT-Austin and Texas Tribune reveals Texans’ attitudes are shifting on same-sex marriage and civil unions.

According to the Tribune, when asked if they support same-sex marriage, 47 percent of respondents said no, 42 percent said yes and 11 percent were undecided. When asked about civil unions, 39 percent say they would allow marriage, 28 percent would allow civil unions, 25 percent oppose both and 9 percent are undecided.

62 percent of Democrats would allow gay marriages, even with the alternative of civil unions available. Only 14 percent of Republicans would allow same-sex marriages over civil unions, but another 45 percent would allow civil unions. Voters who identify themselves as independents were closer to the Democrats on this question, with 53 percent approving of gay marriage and another 20 percent in favor of the civil unions option.

55 percent of frequent churchgoers say they oppose both marriage and civil unions for those couples. A majority of other churchgoers, including those who say they attend services once a week, would allow some form of unions.

 

The demographic breakdown reveals that “the culture war is a lot more complex than you think,” Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll and a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin, told the Tribune. “The way in which you execute it does matter. What you really find is that people are subtle. They appreciate conditions and context.”

The internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted  Oct. 10–19 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Among 866 likely voters, the margin of error is +/- 3.33 percent. In the split sample on marriage, the margin of error is +/- 3.99 percentage points on the civil unions question and +/- 4.02 percentage points on the question about gay marriage alone. Numbers in the charts might not add up to 100 percent because of rounding.

The poll is part of a series of report asking likely voters about political issues which can be read here.

—  James Russell

Oral arguments set in Texas and Louisiana marriage cases

Attorney General Greg Abbott

Atty. Gen Greg Abbott pandering in front of the 11 Commandments monument at the Texas Capitol. Yes, I know there are 10, but look closely at the monument and you’ll find 11 listed, which makes this among my favorite fake religion monuments.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans will hear the Texas and Louisiana marriage equality cases on Jan. 5.

In September, Judge Martin Feldman in Louisiana became the first federal district court judge to uphold a state’s marriage ban since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last year.

Texas’s marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional by San Antonio District Judge Orlando Garcia in DeLeon v. Perry. His decision is stayed pending appeal.

In his appeal, Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott resorted to using the “pedophile, incest and marrying farm animals” defense. Because underpopulation has been a worldwide plague, Abbott uses the responsible procreation defense that’s been thrown out by court after court.

What we found most interesting was his inclusion of a story from Dallas Voice written by Anna Waugh about a case from Fort Worth that is still pending before a trial court. Two Fort Worth men who claim they are heterosexual would like to get married in Texas.

From the brief (pages 23-24):

Not all persons who wish to marry a same-sex partner will have a homosexual orientation. The plaintiffs in McNosky v. Perry, No. 1:13-CV-00631-SS (W.D. Tex.), have publicly admitted that they have a heterosexual orientation and plan to marry each other as a statement of solidarity with same-sex couples. See Anna Waugh, Tarrant County Marriage

 

—  David Taffet

This Week in Marriage Equality

Westboro-horiz

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has a new ally in his fight to stop marriage equality in his state — Westboro Baptist Church

The Department of Justice is a week late, but not one penny short. The department announced it will recognize marriages performed in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming, bringing the total to 32 states, which includes all marriage-equality states. DOJ announced recognition of seven states last week.

Marriage-equality attorney Ted Olsen said the U.S. Supreme Court is at a point of no return with marriage equality.

“I do not believe that the United States Supreme Court could rule that all of those laws prohibiting marriage are suddenly constitutional after all these individuals have gotten married and their rights have changed,” Olson said. “To have that snatched away, it seems to me, would be inhuman; it would be cruel; and it would be inconsistent with what the Supreme Court has said about these issues in the cases that it has rendered.”

However, officials in some of the new marriage equality states are throwing temper tantrums. Here’s how they’re dealing with it:

Idaho

State Sen. Steve Vicker suggested Idaho stop issuing marriage licenses altogether.

“If we’re not allowed to determine the standards for a marriage license, then maybe we should just not issue them,” Vicker told WorldNetDaily. “Another potential avenue I’m exploring is just eliminating marriage licenses in Idaho.”

Great idea. It’s usually called cutting off your nose despite your face and that’ll last until the first straight couple that planned a wedding in Idaho finds out they can’t get married.

North Carolina

After the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts ordered state court administrators to marry same-sex couples, 28 Republican state senators wrote a letter asking the order be reversed. They claim the order violates religious freedom. Senate leader Phil Berger promised to introduce legislation protecting state officials who wish not to marry or perform weddings for same-sex couples. Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis hired National Organization for Marriage chairman John Eastman to lead a legal team appealing a ruling that overturned the state’s marriage ban earlier this month.

Kansas

Kansas continues to resist coming into compliance with its circuit court and begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Anti-gay Gov. Sam Brownback, who is leading the state’s opposition to marriage equality and is up for reelection next week, has a powerful new ally — Westboro Baptist Church. The God Hates Fags Church filed a motion in to join Brownback in his suit to stop equality.

In her motion to the court, church leader Margie Phelps, who is an attorney, included the entire stories of Noah and the destruction of Sodom. Oddly, the story of Sodom is about the sin of not welcoming the stranger. It isn’t clear from her motion if she understood she was appealing to a U.S. court, not a religious court.

—  David Taffet