Dimetman, DeLeon welcome second child

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Nicole Dimetman DeLeon, left, and her wife, Cleo DeLeon, with co-plaintiffs Vic Holmes, second from right, and Mark Phariss, after oral arguments before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in January.

Dallas Voice sends congratulations to Nicole Dimetman DeLeon and her wife Cleo DeLeon on the birth of their second child, a baby girl born over the weekend. The women, who already have a son, are one of two plaintiff couples in the lawsuit in which a federal judge in San Antonio has already ruled Texas’ ban on marriage equality unconstitutional.

The case, in which Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes of Plano are also plaintiffs, has  been heard by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Nicole and Cleo said in a written statement released Monday that they are not releasing their new daughter’s name, but that they “want Texans to know the difficulties they face as Texas parents because their marriage is not recognized in Texas.”

In the statement, Nicole said: “Labor is scary and anything can happen. I had an infection as a complication of labor that led to an emergency C-section. A day that should have been one of the happiest of our life was terrifying for Cleo. If I had not made it through the childbirth, Cleo would not have been our daughter’s legal mother because her name is not allowed on the birth certificate in Texas.”

Cleo gave birth to the couple’s son and Nicole had to go through the second-parent adoption process to legalize her ties to the boy. The couple had hope to have a ruling from the 5th Circuit court before their daughter was born that would have forced the state to legally recognize their marriage — performed in Massachusetts. Now Cleo will have to go through the courts for a second-parent adoption to legalize her ties to their daughter.

In the statement released Monday, Cleo said: “We are overjoyed with the birth of our new baby girl, but disappointed bans on same-sex marriage harm children, like our daughter and our son. It is unfair to deny loving parents like us the basic legal protections that provide stability and security so critical to child rearing. We pray for the day when all Texans are treated equally under the law and we do not have to live in fear that something bad could happen in childbirth and I would not be considered the child’s parent by law. We hope the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court make all marriages legal in Texas and across the nation.”

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Nicole Dimetman DeLeon and her newly-born daughter, from The San Antonio Current

Despite their joy at the birth of their child, the day was also “a sad one because, in the eyes of Texas, Nicole is an unwed mother,” noted Neel Lane, attorney for both plaintiffs in the Texas marriage case. “Her valid marriage to Cleo is declared void by a Texas law that U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia declared unconstitutional more than a year ago. Court after court has agreed with him, and no one doubts the U.S. Supreme Court will do the same. We are disappointed that the 5th Circuit still has yet to rule, now months since the appeal was fully briefed and argued.”

Mark Phariss offered his and his partner’s congratulations to their co-plaintiffs, but added that it is unfortunate that the women will have to spend money on a second-parent adoption that could instead have been “saved for their daughter’s future education, health care and welfare.”

Mark declared: “The time has now come for marriage equality to be recognized in Texas, for the sake of Nicole and Cleo and their daughter and for the sake of all gays and lesbians in Texas, including Vic and me, who after 18 years together, desperately want to marry the person we love in the state we love.”

 

—  Tammye Nash

New reports show good signs for same sex couples

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An estimate of same sex couples according to the 2010 Census.

Three reports released by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law are a boon to same-sex families.

According to Williams Institute Research Director Gary Gates’ assessment of a new preliminary estimate from Gallup, the number of legally married same-sex couples in the United States has more than doubled over the last year. The new figures suggest that, as of February 2015, there are now about 350,000 married same-sex couples in the country.

Estimates from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey had the figure at 130,000.

“These new figures showing a surge in same-sex couples marrying across the country highlight the historic nature of the past year for LGBT individuals and their families,” said Gates, Williams’ Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director.

Additionally, two other reports by Gates show that same-sex couples, particularly married ones, are more likely to be raising adopted or foster children than their different-sex counterparts.

“The debates about marriage and same-sex couples have focused substantial attention on the idea that marriage is a great environment for raising children,” he said. “Same-sex couples seem to agree. Married same-sex couples are much more likely than their unmarried counterparts to have kids, particularly adopted and foster children.”

But the reports also found that same-sex couples with children have a lower median annual income than different-sex couples with kids but, like different-sex couples, married same-sex couples are more economically secure.

The reports analyze the 2013 American Community Survey, which for the first time explicitly identified both married and unmarried same-sex couples.

Findings from the two reports will be included in a friend-of-the-court brief that will be submitted on Friday to the Supreme Court of the United States as part of the same-sex marriage cases in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

—  James Russell

Alabama Supreme Court defies federal courts, orders judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

The Alabama Supreme Court late today (Tuesday, March 3) ordered all of the state’s probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in defiance of orders from a federal district court judge overturning the Alabama same-sex marriage ban, and a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court refusing to block the district judge’s order.

The Alabama Supreme Court is headed up by right-wing Chief Jerk… uh, Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has fought marriage equality tooth and nail. He has told probate judges they didn’t have to follow the federal court rulings, and last month told Fox News he has a moral responsibility to defy the U.S. Supreme Court if the court violates “God’s organic law” by ruling in favor of marriage equality.

The state’s highest court said Alabama wasn’t bound by this “new definition” of marriage, though marriage equality has “gained ascendancy in certain quarters of the country,” including the federal judiciary.

The supreme court’s ruling said: “As it has done for approximately two centuries, Alabama law allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman. Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty.”

The court also said, “ … state courts may interpret the United States Constitution independently from, and even contrary to, federal courts.”

Probate judges have five days to respond to the order.

Lawyers who represented same-sex couples seeking the right to marry in Alabama decried the ruling.

Shannon Minter with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, one of the organizations representing same-sex couples fighting for marriage equality in Alabama, called the ruling “deeply unfortunate” that “the Alabama Supreme Court is determined to be on the wrong side of history.”

—  Tammye Nash

Paxton headed back to court to ask Texas Supremes to specifically void lesbian couple’s marriage

Ken-Paxton

Texas AG Ken Paxton

After declaring yesterday that the Texas Supreme Court had voided the marriage of Austin lesbian couple Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is reportedly headed back today (Friday, Feb. 20), to ask the court to actually void the marriage.

Chuck Herring, the attorney for Goodfriend and Bryant, told KERA Paxton’s actions were “procedurally improper” and may lack substance to hold up before the Supreme Court.

Herring added, “He’s out of touch with history, he’s out of touch with constitutional law as declared by the United States Supreme Court, and it remains cold-hearted, mean-spirited, and just a terrible thing for him to try to do to a woman who has ovarian cancer.”

Taking advantage of a probate court ruling out of Travis County on Tuesday, Feb. 17 that struck down Texas’ marriage equality ban, Goodfriend and Bryant went to court yesterday to ask state Judge David Wahlburg to issue an order instructing Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir to issue them a marriage license, saying that because Goodfriend is battling ovarian cancer, their case qualifies as a medical emergency.

Wahlburg issued the order and also waived the 72-hour waiting period usually mandatory between the time a marriage license is issued in Texas and the time the couple can actually marry. Goodfriend and Bryant were then married on the lawn in front of the clerk’s office and then went back inside to register their marriage.

By Thursday afternoon, however, Paxton had intervened in the case, asking the state Supreme Court to issue a stay on Wahlberg’s order first, and to also overturn the ruling. Paxton had, on Wednesday, asked the Supreme Court to stay and overturn Probate Judge Guy Herman’s ruling from the day before. The court stayed the order and Paxton gleefully announced victory, claiming that the court had voided the marriage.

But according to DeBeauvoir and other attorneys, including attorney and former judge Barbara Rosenberg of Dallas, the stay simply kept other same-sex couples from getting legally married in Texas; it didn’t invalidate Goodfriend and Bryant’s marriage.

So Paxton, in his zeal to continue to “aggressively defend the laws of our state,” is headed back to the Supreme Court today. Apparently, though, he just means the laws that keep LGBT people from having equal rights, since he was accused last May by the Texas State Securities Board of having violated state law by soliciting clients, for pay, for a company that dispenses investment advice even though he had not registered with the board. Paxton paid a $1,000 fine.

—  Tammye Nash

Scalia’s same-sex marriage decision will be based on who decides

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Justice Antonin Scalia

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia hinted at what his dissenting opinion will be in the upcoming marriage equality case that will be heard by the court, probably at the end of April. But one thing we wants everyone to understand is that he isn’t “anti-gay.”

According to the Washington Blade, Scalia and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke at George Washington University.

Scalia asked the audience not to paint him as “anti-gay,” saying his opinion when the court rules this spring will not pertain to the “substance” of whether couples should have the right to marry.

“That isn’t the issue,” he said. “The issue is who decides. Should these decisions be made by the Supreme Court without any text in the Constitution or any history in the Constitution to support imposing on the whole country or is it a matter left to the people?”

Ginsburg responded by stating that a societal change had led the court to pro-equality rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8.

“We looked to see who they are,” Ginsburg said of gay people. “They turned out to be our next door neighbor of whom we’re very fond. They turned out to be our child’s best friend — perhaps even our child. I think that accounts for the very swift change.”

Ginsburg has performed at least two same-sex weddings.

—  David Taffet

Obama: SCOTUS ‘about to make a shift’ on marriage equality

President Obama

President Barack Obama

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said Monday, Feb. 9, that seven of his eight colleages on the nation’s highest court erred on Monday when they chose not to extend the stay on a trial court ruling striking down Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage, since the Supreme Court has yet to rule on four marriage equality cases it has agreed to hear. Justice Thomas also indicated that in refusing to extend the stay, the justices gave a pretty clear indication just how they rule in those cases when the time comes.

On Tuesday, Feb. 10, President Barack Obama told BuzzFeed News that he, too, believes the Supreme Court’s direction on marriage equality is pretty obvious.

“My sense is that the Supreme Court is about to make a shift, one that I welcome, which is to recognize that — having hit a critical mass of states that have recognized same-sex marriage — it doesn’t make sense for us to now have this patchwork system,” Obama told BuzzFeed. “It’s time to recognize that under the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution, same-sex couples should have the same rights as anybody else.”

Alabama state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has basically told probate judges (the ones in Alabama who issue marriage licenses) not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because they don’t have to listen to the U.S. Supreme Court because he is against marriage equality.

But President Obama noted that Moore is just going to have to face facts and get out of the way. “When federal law is in conflict with state law, federal law wins out,” the president said.

The president also took the opportunity of the BuzzFeed  interview to suggest that his former advisor, David Axelrod, is “mixing up” his personal feelings with his position on the issue of same-sex marriage in Axelrod’s recently published book, in which Axelrod says that Obama supported same-sex marriage long before making his support public in May 2012, just before he was elected to his second term, but that Obama lied about his feelings on marriage equality due to political concerns.

Obama told BuzzFeed, “I always felt that same-sex couples should be able to enjoy the same rights, legally, as anybody else, and so it was frustrating to me not to, I think, be able to square that with what were a whole bunch of religious sensitivities out there. So my thinking at the time was that civil unions — which I always supported — was a sufficient way of squaring the circle.”

—  Tammye Nash

11th Circuit court puts Florida appeals on hold

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals today put appeals of two Florida marriage equality rulings on hold pending the outcome of upcoming hearings gavelbefore the U.S. Supreme Court on similar marriage equality cases appealed from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals:

“Pursuant to the court’s direction, the appeals …  are held in abeyance pending the United States Supreme Court’s issuance of an opinion in DeBoer v. Snyder … . Any other current or future appeals that are filed in this court raising the same or similar issues as the appeals listed above will also be held in abeyance pending the Supreme Court’s issuance of an opinion in DeBoer v. Snyder. Within twenty-one (21) days of the date the Supreme Court issues its opinion in DeBoer v. Snyder, the parties are directed to notify this court in writing what issues, if any, remain pending in these appeals.”

Same-sex marriages began in Florida on Jan. 5 when Miami Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel lifted the stay she had imposed on her earlier ruling in state court striking down Florida’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Zabel lifted the stay on her ruling the day before the stay on a federal district court case ruling that also declared the ban unconstitutional was to have expired. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi had asked  U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to extend the stay on U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s ruling, but Thomas refused.

In October, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals on marriage cases from other federal circuit courts, all of whom had ruled in favor of marriage equality. In January, the Supreme Court agreed to hear appeals on four marriage equality cases out of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, the only federal appellate court to rule against marriage equality since the Supreme Court’s June 2013 decision in U.S. v Windsor striking down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hold hearings on the 6th Circuit causes in April and to deliver a decision in June.

—  Tammye Nash

Alabama Supreme Court chief justice pledges to refuse the tyranny of SCOTUS

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore this week issued a declaration pledging to ignore any federal court rulings on marriage equality — including rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court — that he doesn’t like. The statement came after U.S. District Judge Callie Granade (appointed by President George W. Bush, by the way), ruled in favor of marriage equality in two separate cases since last Friday, Jan. 23.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy MooreMoore calls such rulings “tyranny.”

TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com reports that in a letter addressed to Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bently, Moore wrote: “As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment. If we are to preserve that ‘reverent morality which is our source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement,’ then we must act to oppose such tyranny!”

Moore claimed that the institution of marriage is being destroyed by “federal courts using specious pretexts based on the Equal Protection, Due Process and Full Faith and Credit Clauses of the United States Constitution.” He also advised the governor that issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples “would be in defiance of the laws and Constitution of Alabama,” and claimed that Alabama is not bound by decisions of federal district or appellate courts.

Sounds like Chief Justice Moore attended the Mike Huckabee School of Law. But the Alabama Republican might want to take a refresher course on exactly how this whole state/federal/constitution/supreme court thing actually works, focusing especially on the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

But then, I guess we really can’t expect all that much from Republican Chief Justice Moore. After all, he is the same man who was removed by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary from his seat as Alabama’s chief justice in 2003 when he refused to remove a stone monument of the 10 Commandments from the Alabama judicial building. The fine people of the state re-elected him chief justice in 2012, bless their hearts.

Last year, Moore went on a cross-country speaking tour to warn folks that same-sex marriage a devilish plot to destroy to America. Also last year, Moore went to Mississippi to speak to the anti-choice group Pastors For Life where he attacked marriage equality and declared that the First Amendment applies only to Christians. And in 2012, Moore told everybody who would listen during his campaign for chief justice that same-sex marriage is not about equality for lesbians and gays but an evil plan to destroy the God-ordained institution of marriage.

—  Tammye Nash

Somebody tell Mike Huckabee how the court system works, please

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Mike Huckabee

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a once and likely future presidential candidate, went on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show Tuesday, Jan. 20, to explain how just because federal courts — and eventually probably even the U.S. Supreme Court — issue rulings saying that laws banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, that doesn’t mean that the president or Congress or state governors and legislatures don’t have to abide by those rulings.

As reported by TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com, Huckabee said:

“If the federal Supreme Court rules that same sex marriage is protected under the 14th Amendment, you still have to have Congress and the president act to agree with it, because one branch of government does not overrule the other two. This idea that a judge makes a ruling on Friday afternoon, and Saturday morning same-sex marriage licenses are being given out, that’s utter nonsense, because there’s not been any agreement with the other two branches of government.

“One thing I am angry about, though, Hugh, is this notion of judicial supremacy, where if the courts make a decision, I hear governors and even some aspirants to the presidency say well, that’s settled, and it’s the law of the land. No, it isn’t the law of the land. Constitutionally, the courts cannot make a law. They can interpret one. And then the legislature has to create enabling legislation, and the executive has to sign it, and has to enforce it.

Ummmm, I’m no constitutional legal scholar by any stretch. But I am pretty sure that good ol’ Mike hasn’t got the first clue about how our judicial system works and how the courts actually interact with the other two branches of the federal government (and with state governments).

From what I recall from those long-ago days when I was in school, Congress and state legislatures can make laws, and it is precisely the duty of the courts — all the way up to and including the Supreme Court — to make sure that those laws do not violate the rules of the Constitution. And when the courts decide that a law is unconstitutional — as is happening over and over again with marriage equality bans — those laws don’t get to stay in effect.

Even when Hewitt, a conservative himself who happens to be a professor of law (at the same school where the head of the right-wing National Organization for Marriage teaches), reminds Huckabee about the Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes that the federal constitution, and federal law generally, take precedence over state laws, and even state constitution), Huckabee refused to be swayed. He promised that even if he were the only one, he would insist on standing firm against all the courts in all the land because “because I believe it is the right position, it’s the Biblical position, it’s the historical position.”

You can listen to Huckabee here.

 

—  Tammye Nash

Prejudiced SCOTUS justices? AFA calls on Ginsberg, Kagan to recuse themselves from marriage equality ruling

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American Family Association President Tim Wildmon, right, has said that U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, left, and Elena Kagan, right, should recuse themselves from marriage equality cases because they have officiated at same-sex marriages.

The American Family Association has called on U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Elena Kagan to recuse themselves from the marriage equality cases the court announced last Friday (Jan. 16), that it will be hearing appeals on, likely in April. Ginsberg and Kagan should not participate in the hearing, AFA President Tim Wildmon has declared, because they have both officiated as same-sex weddings, according to reports by the UK LGBT news site Pink News.

SCOTUS announced Friday that the court will accept appeals on four marriage equality cases — from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The four cases are from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, the only federal appellate circuit court to rule against marriage equality since June 2013, when the Supreme Court struck down that portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that banned the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in jurisdictions that honor marriage equality.

Last October, the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals of cases in which other federal appellate courts had ruled in favor of marriage equality. And in December the the Supreme Court declined to extend a stay on a federal trial court ruling in favor of marriage equality in Florida, a decision that allowed legal same-sex marriages to begin there on Jan. 6. (A state judge who had also ruled in favor of equality but had also stayed her ruling lifted that stay on Jan. 5, so the first legal same-sex marriages in Florida were performed that day.)

Pink News notes that Ginsberg “has quietly officiated a number of same-sex weddings,” the first in 2013, while Kagan presided over the wedding ceremony of her former law-clerk and his partner last year. That, to Wildmon, indicates “Both of these justices’ personal and private actions that actively endorse gay marriage clearly indicate how they would vote on same-sex marriage cases before the Supreme Court.”

But the Pink News posts also notes that the other justices’ previous actions could be seen as indicating bias as well: “However, Mr Wildmon’s claims have no discernible legal basis; similarly arbitrary claims could be made that as seven of the nine justices are themselves married to people of the opposite sex, the entire court should be recused.”

—  Tammye Nash