Marriage equality gains legal ground in three states

Federal judges in three states advanced marriage equality lawsuits Monday.Marriage-Equality-Bumper-Sticker-(7423)

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.

LISA KEEN  |  Keen News Service

—  Steve Ramos

Utah gay marriage ban struck down as unconstitutional

UnknownA federal judge in Utah just issued a decision striking down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Obama appointee Judge Robert Shelby issued a 53-page decision, in Kitchen v. Herbert, saying the state’s current definition of marriage is not permissible under the U.S. Constitution.

Noting that a court interferes with a law adopted by voters “only under exceptional circumstances,” Shelby said, “Utah’s prohibition on same- sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law.”

“The state’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry,” wrote Shelby, “and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason.”

Shelby’s order immediately enjoined the state from enforcing its ban, but Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s administration will almost certainly seek an emergency stay of the decision from the 10th  Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

It is, nevertheless, yet another surge of momentum in the direction of marriage equality in the United States, coming just one day after the New Mexico Supreme Court said that state could no longer interpret its marriage laws to exclude same-sex couples. That decision made New Mexico the 17th state in the country, plus the District of Columbia, to provide marriage equality and putting more than one-third of the states and one-third of the the nation’s population in jurisdictions that treat same-sex couples the same as straight couples.

LISA KEEN  |  Keen News Service

—  Steve Ramos

WATCH: Bystanders lift vehicle, pull motorcyclist from beneath it after fiery wreck in Logan, Utah


I have no reason for posting this here other than it happened in a city where I once worked at the daily newspaper — Logan, Utah — and the victim is apparently the nephew of one of my former colleagues. Also, it’s a pretty amazing rescue. According to my old paper, The Herald Journal, the motorcyclist remains in intensive care but is expected to recover. Watch the rescue below.

—  John Wright

Utah Democratic Party elects openly gay chair

Jim Dabakis says he’ll try to get members of LDS church to join party

Associated Press

Jim Dabakis said his sexual orientation never came up during the nomination process.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Democratic Party has voted overwhelming in favor of electing as its new chairman an art dealer believed to be the first openly gay leader of a political party in the state.

Jim Dabakis, a co-founder of Equality Utah and the Utah Pride Center, was elected Saturday during the party’s state convention in Salt Lake City.

Dabakis said his sexual orientation never came up during the nomination process.

“The whole gay thing just simply did not surface as an issue,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune. “People are broad-minded in Utah, and they want to know if you can do the job or not.”

Dabakis also said he will go out of his way to make members of the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints feel comfortable in the Democratic Party. He said Democrats believe in the inclusion of all people, even if they have some differing opinions, including Mormons who primarily vote Republican.

“I want to speak directly to the LDS people in our state,” he said. “I want you LDS people to participate in our party. We want your spirit, we want your contributions, and we want to earn your votes. I will do whatever I can as chair to see that our big tent is comfortable to LDS people because it’s the right thing to do.”

Dabakis said many Mormons want a chance to be part of the “normal, moderate, reasonable” Democratic Party in light of splintering in the GOP between the tea party and more moderate Republicans.

“People are looking for real life answers to problems,” said Dabakis, who replaces retiring three-term party chairman Wayne Holland. “I believe to my core Democrats can win in Utah.”

The Utah Republican Party controls both houses of the state Legislature. It also holds all statewide offices and two of the three congressional seats.

Democratic Party delegates noted Dabakis has been a successful businessman and radio talk show host, and has been involved Utah politics for 30 years, the Deseret News reported.

“He will bring energy,” said Tim Chambless, with the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah. “He’ll bring a greater connection with the business community.”

Convention delegates also elected small-business owner Brian Doughty, who is openly gay, to replace state Rep. Jackie Biskupski of Salt Lake City. Biskupski resigned after buying a house outside the district.

—  John Wright

Study Finds “Pervasive” Antigay Bias in Utah

Poll x390 (Photos.com) | Advocate.comA new study to be distributed to state lawmakers in Utah shows that employees face significant discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

UTAH: GOP State Sen. Chris Buttars Wants To Repeal Anti-Bullying Rules

Republican state Sen. Chris Buttars has introduced a bill that would repeal the Salt Lake City school board’s recently instituted anti-bullying rules. Pride In Utah reports:

Speaking at a meeting for the anti-gay group Eagle Forum, Buttars said: “We’re in big trouble in our public education system. I didn’t realize how much until a month ago when I was asked to chair public education appropriations,” said Buttars. “We met and when we got done we were all so terrified we couldn’t believe it. This was right under our nose.” “By accepting that, there’s no God because he deals in absolutes,” said Buttars. “This is an entire program to bring America down and I want to tell you right now it’s well entrenched in Utah.” Other speakers at the Eagle Forum called the anti-bullying and non discrimination policies a “Socialist and Communist plot to take over children.”

Pride In Utah will stage a protest rally at the Utah Capitol Building on January 24th, the first day of the legislative session.

RELATED: We’ve heard from Buttars before. He has called the “sexual perversion” of homosexuality “the greatest threat to America I know of.” Buttars also wants to eliminate the 12th grade because kids know everything they need by then. And in 2008 when referring a bill that would increase funding to minority school districts, he said, “This baby is black. It’s a dark, ugly thing.”

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Utah: mean-ass state senator Chris Buttars seeks repeal of school anti-bullying laws

How petty, small, mean, and bigoted does someone have to be to want to roll back protections for children in schools? Look no further than Turd Extraordinaire Chris Buttars. (Pride in Utah):

Senator “black babies are dark and ugly things” Chris Buttars was recently named as chair of the State Public Education committee, despite his call in 2010 to eliminate the 12th grade as “unnecessary.” It appears he plans to use his latest position of power as much possible in his war against civil rights. His proposed resolution, SJR 1, strips the State School Board of the power to make changes to their policies unless they are already provided by statute. In other words, take away the protections for straight and LGBT kids from bullying, and the non-discrimination rules for district employees.

And here is the money quote from Buttars, who seems to have difficulty with church/state separation:

“We’re in big trouble in our public education system. I didn’t realize how much until a month ago when I was asked to chair public education appropriations,” said Buttars. “We met and when we got done we were all so terrified we couldn’t believe it. This was right under our nose.”

“By accepting that, there’s no God because he deals in absolutes,” said Buttars. “This is an entire program to bring America down and I want to tell you right now it’s well entrenched in Utah.”

You can read his bill here.

NOTE: PRIDEinUtah will hold a rally on the opening day of the Utah Legislative session –January 24th, at 5:30pm in the rotunda of the Utah State Capitol Building.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

News: Tron, Utah, Antoine Dodson, Double Rainbow, Zac Efron

Road Utah Senate president wants to repeal the state's LGBT anti-discrimination laws.

RoadCar crashes on to George W. Bush's lawn in Dallas: "Though officials initially classified the incident as an “executive threat” that summoned the attention of more than a dozen police cars, police and Secret Service officers concluded that the crash was accidental."

Castor RoadOne of many disappointing elements of Tron: Legacy. "At a moment when people around the country are celebrating the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, the film also serves as a poignant reminder that the gays who remain the most marginalized may not be the ones who are "butch" enough to serve but the ones who aren't."

RoadWatch: Antoine Dodson performs holiday song "Chimney Intruder".

RoadDavid Mixner on yesterday's 'DADT' signing.

RoadParents of Tyler Clementi to sue Rutgers: "Joseph and Jane Clementi, parents of Tyler Clementi, filed notice Friday. They must wait six months to file the lawsuit over their son's Sept. 22 death, which became the rallying point of a national outcry over the bullying of gay people."

RoadZac Efron's buzz cut.

RoadChart: The rise an fall and rise of "gay".

Dadt RoadWoW looks back to June '96.

RoadEnrique Iglesias releases sexually provocative video.

RoadIn the wake of defeat of Pennsylvania anti-discrimination bill, towns are doing it on their own: "Allegheny County state Rep. Dan Frankel's bill attracted a record 71 co-sponsors, including two Republicans, and even passed narrowly out of the State Government Committee. But it again died at the end of the most recent legislative session. Some local municipalities and counties are acting in the absence of legislative action. So far 18 have passed their own local human relations ordinances, and about a dozen are actively considering it."

RoadJamaica: Student flees dorm after students spread video in which he says he's gay. "The tape, which made its rounds on the campus in late November into early December, was about 30 minutes long and involved the student sharing deep secrets and fantasies with the boy he thought was his new-found friend."

Doublerainbow RoadTwitter goes nuts for L.A.'s double rainbow.

RoadWATCH: Trailer featuring Colin Farrell and Jim Sturgess in The Way Back.

RoadLondon, Ontario community backtracks on censorship of gay art.

RoadJersey Shore's Ronnie gets a doctor's exam.

RoadWill Catholics rejoice the repeal of 'DADT'? "The fact that the gay and lesbian soldiers who were willing to give their lives for their country were unable even to admit their presence within the military, seems about as far as you can get from any reasonable definition of 'respect,' to quote the Catechism.  How respectful is it to say to someone: 'You cannot say that you are here with us.') Much less it is treating them with 'sensitivity and compassion.'  How compassionate is it to tell a soldier: 'Feel free to sacrifice your life; just don't expect us to admit that you're here'?"


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

HRC to Bring the Outcry to Utah

To answer the lack of response from Mormon church officials to the community outcry against recent statements calling same-sex attraction “impure and unnatural,” HRC will join with pro-equality groups in Utah next week to call on church officials to make it right and to present over 100,000 petition signatures to the church demanding them to do the same.

Add your name to our petition and tell them to make it right.

Earlier today, the Mormon Church changed one set of words and eliminated an entire passage from Elder Packer’s sermon online. They didn’t go far enough.

Elder Packer’s misstatement that sexual orientation can be changed has been debunked by both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association. Both organizations have concluded that same-sex attraction is normal and that “reparative” therapy – like the kind being advocated by the Mormon Church – is unhealthy and harmful. Elder Packer or Church representatives have not corrected their statements in spite of the fact that they are dangerous and can result in self-loathing and potentially suicide by those struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity.

On Tuesday HRC, Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons, Equality Utah, and the Utah Pride Center will hold a press conference calling on Elder Packer to make it right and will then present the Church with over 100,000 petition signatures calling on them to correct the record.

WHAT:
Press Conference calling on Elder Packer to correct his statements and delivery of petition signatures to Church World Headquarters

WHEN:
Tuesday, Oct. 12th, 2010 11:00 a.m.

WHERE:
Utah Pride Center, 361 N. 300 West, Salt Lake City, UT followed by delivery of petition signatures

WHO:
Joe Solmonese, HRC President
Bruce Bastian, Utah Philanthropist
Dave Melson, Affirmation Executive Director
Brandie Balken, Equality Utah Executive Director
Valerie Larabee, Utah Pride Center Executive Director


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Vandals spray painted the f-word on Utah Pride Center

The f-word being “fags.” Via LGBT FYI, the LGBT blog of the Salt Lake Tribune:

Salt Lake City Police are investigating an instance of vandalism at the Utah Pride Center. Friday morning, employees of the center and its onsite coffee shop, Cafe Marmalade, discovered an anti-gay slur painted on the marquee in front of the building.

“We realize that often times the purpose of these actions are to cause widespread fear among the members of our community,” Valerie Larabee, executive director of the Utah Pride Center, said in a statement. “That is why today we are speaking out. This will not be swept under the rug. We will not be scared into silence by acts of intolerance.”

The full statement from Larabee can be found here. Here’s more:

The Utah Pride Center board and staff acknowledge that in any social justice movement, the more progress that is made, the more resistance the targeted community will face. “We welcome civil, respectful dialogues with those who disagree with our mission, but this kind of hate language and vandalism will not be tolerated,” said Larabee.

The Utah Pride Center appreciates the work of the Salt LakeCity Police Department and the LGBT Public Safety Liaison Committee.

And, the Utah Pride Center posted a photo on its Facebook page:




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright