Virginia gay marriage ban unconstitutional, Attorney General Mark Herring says

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Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring

Virginia’s attorney general has concluded that the state’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, and he will no longer defend it in federal lawsuits challenging it, his office said Thursday, The Associated Press reported.

In an email to The Associated Press, Michael Kelly, a spokesman for Attorney General Mark Herring, said the state will instead side with the plaintiffs who are seeking to have the ban struck down.

Herring planned to file a brief Thursday morning with the federal court in Norfolk, where one of the lawsuits is being heard, notifying the court of the state’s change in position in the case, Kelly said.

The attorney general decided the ban was unconstitutional after a thorough legal review of the matter, Kelly said.

Virginia has emerged as a critical state in the nationwide fight for gay marriage. The state’s shift comes on the heels of recent court rulings in which federal judges struck down gay marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma.

With the election of Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Herring as attorney general, Virginia made a hairpin turn away from the socially conservative officeholders they succeeded, particularly Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, an activist on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Herring had campaigned, in part, on marriage equality, and McAuliffe issued an executive order on inauguration day prohibiting discrimination against state employees who are gay.

Virginia voters approved the same-sex marriage ban 57 percent to 43 percent in 2006. But a Quinnipiac University poll in July found that 50 percent of registered Virginia voters support same-sex marriage, while 43 percent oppose it. The survey’s margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

—  Steve Ramos

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

Drawing Dallas

Texas native Zjon Roberts returns to his home state — hot (Van) Damme!

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Zjon Roberts, 19

Spotted at: Buli

Virginia slim: With his sparkling eyes, lithe frame, and smooth gait, it’s hard to miss gorgeous Virgo, Zjon Roberts. Born in Fort Hood, Texas, Zjon spent most of his formative years in Virginia Beach, Va. A few months ago he followed some friends to Dallas and is now settling in and making Big D his new home.

This quiet, unassuming, brown-eyed beauty hails from a large family; his mother named him Zjon after her favorite actor, Jean-Claude Van Damme. His hobbies include music, dining (vegetarian dishes are a favorite), socializing and when the mood strikes, dancing (he can stop a room when he gyrates).

He enjoys an active social life here in his new hometown; and you may occasionally spot him at the Drama Room, and occasionally at the Tin Room. Wherever he goes you can be sure he won’t blend in with the crowd!

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Gay West Virginia coal miner calls for anti-discrimination law

Sam Hall, a gay West Virginia coal miner is spearheading a movement to call on his state to takes action legislatively to stop discrimination against gay West Virginian workers:

Speaking at a press conference, Sam Hall recounted a litany of verbal abuse, threats and vandalism he alleges occurred while he worked for Massey Energy Co. Hall filed a lawsuit against a Massey subsidiary and one of its officials last year. The Richmond, Va.-based coal producer has said it’s investigating Hall’s allegations.

“If the labor laws would have been amended earlier to contain sexual orientation discrimination, myself as well as other gay West Virginians would have not to endure such demeaning and inexcusable behavior,” Hall said. “Why, as West Virginians, do you allow this type of behavior and harassment to occur and then go unpunished?”

He had several Democratic legislator who joined him, along with about a dozen others, chanting “Stand with Sam.” His detractors denounced legislation Democrats are attempting to move forward banning discrimination against sexual orientation as “catastrophic” and claimed:

“What we have witnessed here today is a brazen and open promotion of the deviant behavior and lifestyle of homosexuality by elected leaders,” President Kevin McCoy said in a statement. “These bills will require acceptance of homosexuality to be taught in West Virginia’s public schools.”

Fortunately, many are starting to realize hate groups are using benign names while cherry picking their favorite verses in Leviticus to try to promote their agenda to promote institutionalized discrimination against gay citizens. Democratic Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, scolded the hate group by remarking:

“As I recall, the Bible was used to justify slavery. The Bible was used to justify control over women by their husbands,” she said. “Opposing this law means that you are for discrimination.”




AMERICAblog Gay

—  David Taffet

News: Virginia, Henry Cavill, TSA, Michele Bachmann, Hubble

Road Marines set date of MAY 31 for completion of 'DADT' repeal training.

Spiral RoadHubble shows off beautiful new shot of spiral galaxy.

RoadThe hat toss is the real killer here.

RoadVirginia House panel kills non-discrimination bill: "Opponents of the bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Don McEachin (D-Richmond), argue that there is little evidence gay state workers face discrimination and that the governor's executive directive provides sufficient protections. Proponents note that without a change in law, employees cannot sue if they have faced discrimination." Idaho non-discrimination bill won't get hearing.

RoadTrial of Lawrence King's killer, Brandon McInerney, delayed again: "I'm really shocked that the judge has allowed it to drag on for so long. It frustrates us. It tears on us emotionally. We'd like to see things finally get resolved so we can get some closure and justice for our son," said King's father, Greg King.

RoadAdam Lambert and the guy he denies is his new boyfriend arrive at LAX together.

RoadJoseph Gordon-Levitt turns the big 3-0.

Quincy RoadAn 18-year-old Alabama frat brother tells his "it gets better" story to We Are The Youth.

RoadParliament House gay nightclub in Orlando getting million-dollar renovation. "In a tangled financial web best described by a Houston lawyer as a 'complicated situation,' the Parliament House's foreclosure and its debt with Compass Bank of Alabama is expected to be resolved within the next two weeks."

RoadFOX News replaces audio in CPAC straw poll segment. Calls it "mistake".

RoadEdmonton soldier jailed for anti-gay attack: "An Edmonton soldier who bragged on Facebook that he had 'Superman-punched' a gay man on the dance floor of a city nightclub has been put behind bars. Cpl. Michael Tscherkassow, 25, was sentenced to 12 months in jail Tuesday in provincial court after earlier being convicted of aggravated assault."

RoadGeorgia's Gay-Straight Alliances to gather for summit this weekend.

RoadKellan Lutz launching line of jeans.

Cavill RoadHenry Cavill discusses suiting up for Superman.

RoadTSA Agents stole $ 160,000 from checked bags: "Perad and Webb would screen bags looking for loot, then swipe the cash once the luggage was opened in a private screening room, sources said. The men will be charged with grand larceny, possession of stolen property and official misconduct."

RoadMichelle Bachmann still working birther angle.

RoadJustin Timberlake's role as singing booger on The Cleveland Show is apparently still intact.

RoadLog Cabin Republicans to seek equal protections for LGBT service members: “The one claim in our lawsuit that we did not win was a claim for a violation of the Equal Protection Clause in the Constitution. The judge dismissed that claim in our case early on, based on existing 9thCircuit precedent. We are, on behalf of Log Cabin, appealing that ruling and trying to obtain a change in the law so that this would be considered a protected class of individuals, protected by the Equal Protection Clause.”


Towleroad News #gay

—  David Taffet

Virginia Republican Introduces Bill Attacking LGBT Families

On Thursday, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) introduced H.R. 635, the “Parental Title Protection Act,” which would require all federal agencies and contractors to use the words “mother” and “father” when describing parents on all official documents and forms. This bill is a direct attack on actions by the State Department, which we told you about last month, to make passport forms inclusive of all families by adding “parent 1” and “parent 2” alongside “mother” and “father.” In a press release, Forbes argues that “symbolism is important” and that his legislation is necessary to prevent even “subtle” changes that “undermine the traditional American family relationships that have served as the bedrock of our nation since its inception.”   

Forbes’ bill ignores the reality of millions of children being raised by same-sex couples in this country.  Those children deserve the same recognition and protection from the federal government that other American families enjoy.  Rep. Forbes is right that symbolism is important – his bill is emblematic of a brand of Republicans callously willing, time after time, to attack LGBT people and their children in order to score cheap political points.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  David Taffet

Virginia Lawmaker: Feds Can’t Stop Us From Banning Gays From National Guard

Back in December, wingnut Virginia legislator Bob Marshall announced a bill to ban homosexuals from serving in that state’s National Guard. Today we get the text of that bill, which lists numerous examples of gays being booted from the military after declaring that the federal government has no right to tell Virginia who can serve in its National Guard.

A state may have different eligibility standards for membership in a State’s National Guard than for membership in the Armed Forces of the United States (e.g., education, driving record, drug use, criminal record, age, and other criteria). Such eligibility standards are not within the power of the U.S. Congress because they are not matters of “discipline.” “training,” “arming” or “organizing” the Militia, or National Guard. At present, the Virginia National Guard and the U. S. Army have different eligibility admission criteria than the Armed Forces of the United States, and the Commonwealth of Virginia has authority to determine whether or not an active, open and practicing homosexual should serve in the Virginia National Guard. There is no constitutional right to serve in the National Guard.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

VIRGINIA: Leader Of Anti-Gay Episcopal Sect Fired In Pornography Scandal

Episcopal Rev. Marshall Brown, who helped 14 Virginia parishes leave the main church in protest of the elevation of openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson, has been fired by his Fairfax, Virginia parish for viewing pornography on church computers. It was Brown’s Truro Church that spearheaded the continuing schism in the American Anglican Church over the ordination of gays.

Truro’s rejection of what its congregants saw as a non-biblical liberal tilt in the denomination made international news. Dozens of Episcopal churches have since joined an umbrella group of religious conservatives who oppose the acceptance of same-sex relationships and the idea that non-Christian religions have equal access to God. In 2005, Truro arranged for Brown, now 57, to get treatment for an Internet addiction after he reported having a problem, according to Bishop Martyn Minns, who was Truro’s rector at the time and is now bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the umbrella group of breakaway churches.

The Anglican Church is currently suing Truro Church over the ownership of its properties, which are valued in the tens of millions of dollars. Nice work, Rev. Busyfingers! So which was it? Manhunt? Sean Cody?

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

ALERT FOR DADT REPEAL ADVOCATES IN VIRGINIA: Stop what you’re doing, pick up the phone, and call your senators

The senate has scheduled a final vote on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal for tomorrow. Even though a majority of senators support repeal, we need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster – and when they last voted, we had 57. This could be our last chance for years. Every single call counts. And with the vote just hours away, every single minute counts.

Click here to call Sen. Mark Warner at (202) 224-2023 and Sen. Jim Webb at (202) 224-4024 and tell them: I’m counting on you to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

1.     Call one senator’s office, and tell the staff person who answers where you live so they know you’re a real constituent.

2.     Tell them you want the senator to support the standalone bill repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – and that you’ll remember how they vote when they’re next up for election.

3.     Thank them, hang up, and make your second call to the other senator.

4.     Click here to let us know you made a call – we use this information to guide our lobbying efforts, so please don’t skip it.

Whether your senator is a courageous champion of repeal, or a die-hard opponent – you still need to call. Right-wing activists are desperately trying to stop this bill, and I can guarantee they are lighting up the phone lines right now. If you don’t get through right away, try again.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

VIRGINIA: Judicial Activist Rules Parts Of Health Care Reform Unconstitutional

A Virginia federal district court judge appointed by Dubya has ruled that parts of President Obama’s health care reform plan are unconstitutional. The lawsuit was brought by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

In a 42-page opinion issued in Richmond, Va., Judge Hudson wrote that the law’s central requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance exceeds the regulatory authority granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The insurance mandate is central to the law’s mission of covering more than 30 million uninsured because insurers argue that only by requiring healthy people to have policies can they afford to treat those with expensive chronic conditions. The judge wrote that his survey of case law “yielded no reported decisions from any federal appellate courts extending the Commerce Clause or General Welfare Clause to encompass regulation of a person’s decision not to purchase a product, not withstanding its effect on interstate commerce or role in a global regulatory scheme.”

Two other district court judges have previously upheld the law and some expect the issue to reach the Supreme Court before the end of Obama’s term. Dozens of similar lawsuits are still working their way through the system.

RELATED: As in the case with the judicial overturn of DADT, the Obama administration has the option of appealing this ruling.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin