Boulder won’t back down, Florida case in court and more

equalityfloridaToday in marriage equality news: A Florida attorney told a trial court the state’s marriage ban should end. Colorado’s attorney general told a county clerk to stop issuing licenses until he has a final ruling even though he favors an end to the ban. The ACLU wants to make sure licenses issued in Wisconsin are considered valid.

Florida

Florida’s marriage ban case went to court yesterday.

Attorney Jeffrey Cohen asked the judge to issue a ruling similar to those in more than 20 other cases across the nation striking down discriminatory marriage bans as unconstitutional. Cohen also pointed out that while Florida allows same-sex couples to adopt children, it still refuses to let them marry.

“It’s the right of a person to choose who they love and who they make their future with,” Cohen said. “We should not make anyone a second-class citizen.”

The judge didn’t indicate when she would rule on the case.

Colorado

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers demanded Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall stop issuing marriages licenses.

But this isn’t an issue of liberal v. conservative. Suthers wants Hall to stop until he receives a clear ruling from the Tenth Circuit and joined Gov. John Hickenlooper in requesting the court overturn the state’s marriage ban. Hickenlooper is a Democrat and Suthers is a Republican.

Hall has refused and continues to issue licenses to same-sex couples. She began issuing the licenses immediately after the Tenth Circuit ruled Utah’s marriage law is unconstitutional. The appeals court stayed its decision, but the stay specified Utah, so Hall, along with two other county clerks in Colorado, began issuing licenses. With legal council, she said the ruling applies to Colorado, which is also in the Tenth Circuit, but the stay on the ruling did not apply to Colorado, since it specified Utah.

While Suthers would like Colorado’s marriage ban overturned, his motion to the court could stop Hall until the court issues a final ruling.

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, the ACLU is filing a suit seeking legal recognition for the marriages of the same-sex couples who wed in the days after a federal judge overturned the state ban. Following Judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling, more than 500 same-sex couples were married. Days later, Crabb stayed her ruling, pending appeal by state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.

Ireland

Although a date hasn’t been set, the Irish will vote on marriage equality sometime early in 2015. Should people really be allowed to vote on other people’s civil rights? According to all courts who’ve weighed in on the issue in the last year, it was wrong when voters in the early 2000s stopped LGBT rights. Does even a yes vote make this election any better?

—  David Taffet

Wisconsin marriage battle getting nasty

J.B. Van Hollen

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen

Marriages continue in Wisconsin despite Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s best attempts to stop them.

“Constitutions don’t defend themselves,” Van Hollen said. “They’re not worth the paper they’re written on if someone does not defend what’s in there.”

Last Friday, a U.S. District Court judge threw out the state’s marriage ban. More than half the state’s county clerks began issuing marriage licenses.

Van Hollen has been trying to get a stay of the court order but had been unsuccessful so far. So now he’s threatening the county clerks, telling them they could be charged.

Under state law, a county clerk could be jailed for nine months and receive a $10,000 fine for issuing licenses that are not allowed.

He’s also told newly married couples their marriages are invalid and not recognized by the state.

The issue is that when the district court judge issued her ruling, she did not issue an order to county clerks to begin issuing licenses.

Meanwhile, more couples are getting married in Wisconsin and more clerks are issuing licenses. Currently, marriage licenses are being issued by 63 or the 72 county clerks.

 

—  David Taffet

Wisconsin is marriage-equality state 19½ not 20

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb

As things stand now, Wisconsin is currently marriage-equality state 19½, not 20.

Only 42 of the state’s 72 counties are issuing marriage licenses because along with her ruling, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb did not order to county clerks to issue marriage licenses.

Some county clerks are waiting for orders from the attorney general who is appealing the ruling, not upholding it.

Crabb refused the attorney general’s request for a stay, so he is appealing to the circuit court.

For six months, Illinois was in a similar position. After marriage equality was legalized by the legislature, the law didn’t go into effect for six months. Some counties got a waiver and began issuing licenses before June 1, when the state began full marriage-equality.

In New Mexico, county clerks in a few counties decided nothing in state law prevented them from issuing marriage licenses. In several other counties, local judges ruled clerks had to issue licenses. After several months, the state’s high court extended marriage equality to the full state.

In Wisconsin, marriage equality only extends to people living in those marriage-equality counties. Residents must apply for a marriage license in their county of residence. A certified birth certificate must be presented to prove the applicants are at least 18 years old. Clerks have the right to waive the five-day waiting period and some, especially in Madison and Milwaukee are, but others are not. Although the license is issued, in five days, the attorney general may have his stay in place and those couples with a license but without a waiver of the waiting period will not be able to marry.

So for Wisconsin residents in non-marriage-equality counties, their option remains going out of state for a license.

—  David Taffet

Wisconsin couples continue to marry after judge denies stay

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb

Same-sex couples continue to marry in Wisconsin after a judge refused to stay her decision declaring the state’s marriage ban unconstitutional.

Clerks in 41 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties have begun issuing marriage licenses. Many have waived the state’s five-day waiting period to marry.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed an appeal with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago and the district court that issued the ruling to put a stay on its decision.

“A stay is necessary in this case to avoid confusion and to maintain the status quo,” he argued.

He didn’t say what was confusing about same-sex couples getting married in his state as they can in 19 other states.

Judge Barbara Crabb, who issued the ruling on Friday, refused to stay her decision today. Marriages will continue in Wisconsin at least until the attorney general asks the Seventh Circuit to stay the decision through its appeal process.

Despite Crabb’s announcement today that she would not stay her decision, Hollen said marriages licenses should not be issued because Crabb did not enjoin enforcement of the marriage law. Crabb said how clerks interpret marriage law is outside the realm of the lawsuit in her court and she would not issue instructions to them.

—  David Taffet

Tammy Baldwin joins U.S. Senate race

Rep. Tammy Baldwin
Rep. Tammy Baldwin

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. — U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin entered the race Tuesday for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Herb Kohl, becoming the first Democrat to officially jump in the contest.

The seat is one of at least eight open spots that will help determine the balance of power in the Senate, where Republicans need to pick up just four seats to take control.

One of the most liberal members of Congress, Baldwin had been saying since Kohl announced his retirement in May that she was seriously considering a Senate bid. Her congressional district includes the city of Madison, a liberal Democratic stronghold, and some surrounding rural areas.

Baldwin, 49, made her announcement in an email and video announcement to supporters early Tuesday. If elected, she would become the first openly gay member of the Senate.

Baldwin, the first woman whom Wisconsin voters sent to Congress, was also the first person elected to Congress after announcing they were gay. She was first elected in 1998.

She downplayed the historic significance of her candidacy during a conference call with reporters Tuesday. She said she supports equal opportunity for all people, regardless of race or sexual orientation, but that her focus of the race will be on fighting for the middle class.

“From day one, I have always been open about my sexual orientation,” Baldwin said on the call. “I think that integrity is something that is important to voters.”

She called for a new federal stimulus plan focused on improving schools, roads, bridges and other infrastructure in order to put people to work immediately.

“I hope we hear the president calling for that later this week,” she said.

Baldwin also used her video message to mention her opposition to the war in Iraq and her support for ending the war in Afghanistan, as well as to hint at the obstacles her candidacy will face as she seeks to win her first statewide election.

“I’m used to facing challenges head on,” she said. “When I first ran for Congress in 1998, people counted me out. But we worked hard, campaigned across south-central Wisconsin, and we won.”

Republicans are sure to go after Baldwin’s liberal voting record, hoping to sway independent and moderate voters their way in a state that has swung between handing President Barack Obama a 14-point win in 2008 and kicking Democrats out of power in the Statehouse in 2010.

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann entered the Senate race last week. Neumann said at the time that he was focusing his campaign on Baldwin, who he presumed would capture the Democratic nomination.

Neumann and other Republicans lined up to cast Baldwin as a liberal who is unelectable statewide.

“I’m a conservative, she’s a liberal — it’s that simple,” Neumann said in his statement.

Brad Courtney, chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, called Baldwin a “disastrous failure” when it comes to creating jobs and fixing the nation’s economy.

“We look forward to contrasting Baldwin’s record of less jobs and more big government spending against the proven fiscal responsibility of the Republican candidates,” Courtney said.

There promises to be a spirited contest on the GOP side, with longtime Gov. Tommy Thompson making serious moves toward his first run for office since 1998. Other Republicans indicating they plan to run include Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, a top ally of polarizing Gov. Scott Walker; state Sen. Frank Lasee, a lawmaker who once advocated arming teachers to protect their classrooms; and former state Sen. Ted Kanavas, a lower-profile candidate who’s been quietly building support.

On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind of La Crosse is considering running, as is former two-term U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen of Appleton. Former Sen. Russ Feingold, who lost re-election last year to Republican Ron Johnson, has said he wouldn’t run for any office in 2012.

Kind’s campaign spokesman and Kagen did not immediately return messages seeking comment Tuesday.

Baldwin’s entrance into the Senate race leaves her House seat open for the first time in 14 years. A number of potential Democratic candidates have already expressed interest, including state Reps. Mark Pocan and Kelda Helen Roys.

—  John Wright

Statement puts lesbian Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin a step closer to historic Senate bid

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin

Press release from Wisconsin Democrat’s campaign identifies her as ‘likely candidate’ for seat being vacated by Herbert Kohl

LISA KEEN | Keen News Service
lisakeen@me.com

Her campaign stationery says “Tammy Baldwin 2012.” But the text of the July 13 press release walks the U.S. House’s only openly lesbian member one step closer to an historic bid for a U.S. Senate seat:

“She is a likely candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI).”

That statement echoed a comment she made to the Capital Times newspaper in Madison July 2 when she said, “I think I am likely to run.”

If she does enter the race, Baldwin will become the first openly gay person to make a run for the U.S. Senate. And clearly, her supporters are urging a bid.

According to the press release, Baldwin raised more than $435,000 in the month of June, the month after the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund reported sources close to Baldwin as saying she was eyeing the seat.

Kohl announced May 13 that he would retire, rather than run for re-election in 2012. Newspapers in Wisconsin immediately began identifying a list of potential candidates that included Baldwin.

Others mentioned, on the Democratic side, include former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, who lost his re-election bid only last year to newcomer Republican Ron Johnson.

Feingold would be considered the Democrats’ strongest candidate because of his name recognition and long-time service in the Senate.

A Public Policy Polling survey in May of 784 likely Democratic primary voters in Wisconsin found 70 percent supported Feingold for the seat; Baldwin came in second with 12 percent. Six other Democrats earned between one and five percent each.

“Remove Feingold from consideration,” said a Public Policy Polling press release May 27, “and the race becomes considerably more wide open, but Baldwin would start out with 30 percent….”

Her closest competitors, according to the survey, would be former U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen with 17 percent and current Rep. Ron Kind with 16 percent.

Capital Times Executive Editor Paul Fanlund said, in a July 5 article, that Baldwin is “steaming toward a 2012 candidacy” for the Senate seat and “it almost seems the only person who could alter her course is former senator Russ Feingold … .”

Feingold has said he would make an announcement of his intentions in September. But he urged other Democrats considering a bid to go ahead with their plans and not wait for his decision.

Baldwin told the Capital Times she thinks she would have to raise between $15 million and $20 million for a Senate race.

Her July 13 press release indicates that her July 15 quarterly report to the Federal Election Commission shows she has raised $502,485 “for the second quarter” of the 2011-2012 election cycle. For the same second quarter in the previous election cycle (2009-2010), she reported raising $107,533.

At her July 15 quarterly in 2009, she had $561,563 cash-on-hand in her campaign coffers. Her press release this month says she has $1.1 million.

© 2011 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  John Wright

Watch: Jon Stewart Mocks Media Coverage of Wisconsin Protests

Stewart

Naive news media outlets are comparing the Wisconsin labor protests to the uprising against oppressive regimes in the Middle East, and right-wing news outlets are turning them into the "Bizarro Tea Party".

Jon Stewart looks at Wisconsin's 'Revenge of the Curds', AFTER  THE JUMP

 


Towleroad News #gay

—  David Taffet

Lending a Hand in Pro-Equality Elections in Wisconsin

The following post comes from Deputy Legislative Director David Stacy. David is just one of 30 HRC staff that will be on the ground in 16 states by Election Day, working with HRC-endorsed candidates and engaging our membership about the upcoming elections:

Since landing on the ground in Madison, Wisconsin on Sunday, I’ve been going full speed on volunteer recruitment for Get Out The Vote efforts.  Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), one of only 14 Senators to vote against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – and with the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, endorsed marriage equality before any other Senator was willing to – is in a dogfight with a first-time candidate who thinks “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is working well.

The University of Wisconsin, Madison campus of more than 40,000 students and the state capital, Madison, will be critical for Feingold to secure the votes he needs to win the race.

Feingiold has been campaigning hard across the state and today he was in Madison.  I joined him for a walk-through of the Madison Area Technical College campus.  He was incredibly well received by the crowd.  One of the cafeteria workers was so excited she covered herself with about 10 Feingold stickers, from head to toe.

Wisconsin has other races that are important to the LGBT community. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), one of only three openly gay Members of Congress, is also on the ballot.  While favored to win, she is campaigning hard and working to turn out the vote to pro-equality candidates throughout the state.

This year, Wisconsin has continued to be the battleground that it was in previous election cycles.  The choices for Wisconisn voters are clear.

Paid for by the Human Rights Campaign PAC and authorized by Feingold Senate Committee and Tammy Baldwin for Congress


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Lawsuit Filed Challenging Domestic Partner Registry in Wisconsin

Less than two months after the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted unanimously to uphold the state's ban on same-sex marriage, a conservative group has filed suit challenging the state's domestic partner registry, saying it violates that ban.

Wisconsin The AP reports:

"The lawsuit filed in Dane County Circuit Court by members of Wisconsin Family Action contends the registry creates a legal status substantially similar to that of marriage.
Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, proposed the registry as a means of granting same-sex couples more legal rights, such as the right to visit each other in hospitals, make end-of-life decisions and inherit each other’s property. The Democratic-controlled Legislature approved the registry and it went into effect in August 2009. By the end of the year 1,329 couples had signed up.
The same-sex marriage ban, actively pushed by the same group bringing the lawsuit against the registry, was added to the constitution by voters in 2006."

Fair Wisconsin executive director Katie Belanger says that while 200 benefits are guaranteed to heterosexual couples through marriage, same-sex couples only get 43 of those benefits through domestic partner registry:

"These are the most basic, critical things that couples need to have to take care of one another."


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Court orders medical treatment for trans prisoners

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin has struck down a Wisconsin state law barring transgender prisoners from receiving any type of hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery while they are incarcerated.

The state Legislature passed the law, which went into effect in January 2006, despite concerns raised by Department of Corrections medical personnel. The ACLU and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit challenging the statute on behalf of transgender prisoners, including some who had been receiving hormones in Wisconsin prisons for years before the law was passed.

The court ruled that the statute’s ban on medical care “constitutes deliberate indifference to the plaintiff’s serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment inasmuch as enforcement of the statute results in the denial of hormone therapy without regard for the individual medical needs of inmates and the medical judgment of their health care providers.”

According to Lambda Legal, Wisconsin is the only state to have passed such a law.

—  admin