House GOP won’t be involved in SCOTUS marriage hearing
February 5th, 2015
In Spring of 2011, President Obama and Attorney General Holder announced that the US Justice Department would no longer provide legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (Section 3) in federal court challenges, as they found it to violate the provisions of the US Constitution. The US Senate also declined to present a defense of the law.
The US House of Representatives, under the leadership of Speaker of the House John Boehner, hired legal representation and provided defense of the law. After several battles, the case came before the Supreme Court of the United States, and in June 2013 Section 3 of DOMA was held to be unconstitutional.
At that time, Republican leadership in Washington relinquished defense of DOMA and declared the matter settled. Boehner indicated that his body would not be engaging in efforts to argue the merits of other statutes or laws in regards to marriage but would act under the presumption that the Supreme Court had made its intent known.
And, for all practical purposes, the issue of same-sex marriage has been a settled one in the Nation’s Capital. It took a while for the administration to identify all areas in which discrimination continued, but the remedies did not face organized opposition.
Continuing in that state of mind, Boehner has now determined that the House will not interfere in the marriage ban appeal now before the Supreme Court nor will the GOP leadership seek to influence its decision. His language also suggests that he will not entertain notions about the invalidity of the court’s ultimate decision. (Blade)
“I don’t expect that we’re going to weigh in on this,” Boehner said. “The court will make its decision and that’s why they’re there, to be the highest court in the land.”
Of course individual GOP members are likely to file an amicus brief supporting discrimination, and some may do so jointly. But they will not do so under the authority of the House of Representatives.
300 marriages recognized by Michigan
February 4th, 2015
In March of last year, Federal Judge Bernard Friedman found that the State of Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage violated the US Constitution. And couples rushed to marry.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on the ruling a few days later. And in November that court overturned the ruling by Judge Friedman, in a decision that differed from all other circuit courts which had ruled on the subject. The decision of the Sixth Circuit will be considered by the Supreme Court this Spring.
But what of the couples who married?
Governor Rick Snyder (R) tried to stake out a middle ground in his response. He recognized that the marriages were legal when performed, which allowed the couples to be recognized by the Federal Government. However, he argued that state laws disallowed recognition of those legal marriages by the state of Michigan.
Last month U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith found that the state had the obligation to recognize those more than 300 marriages on the same terms as any other marriage. He stayed his ruling for three weeks for the state to appeal to the Sixth Circuit, should they choose.
Today, Governor Snyder announced that his administration would not appeal that decision. (abc)
“The judge has determined that same-sex couples were legally married on that day, and we will follow the law and extend state marriage benefits to those couples,” Snyder said in a statement.
Eighth Circuit expedites marriage cases
February 3rd, 2015
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to combine the marriage ban cases from Arkansas, Missouri, and South Dakota. The court will also expedite the case, with the first round of briefs due on February 27, 2015. Oral arguments will be heard during the week of May 11-15, 2015 in Omaha, NE.
Eleventh Circuit denies stay in Alabama marriage case
February 3rd, 2015
On January 23, Judge Callie Grenade found that Alabama’s anti-gay marriage ban violated the Equal Protections and Due Process provisions of the US Constitution. However, she placed her ruling on hold until February 8, so as to allow the Attorney General an opportunity to request a longer stay from a higher court.
Today the Eleventh Circuit responded.
The Attorney General of the State of Alabama’s motions for a stay pending appeal are DENIED.
It is anticipated that the plaintiffs will request that Judge Grenade revoke her stay, based on the higher court ruling. If so, marriages will start immediately. If she declines to do so, they will start on Monday.
UPDATE: Judge Grenade has denied the request to lift the stay, as the state is petitioning the Supreme Court for a stay. Should the Supreme Court deny Alabama’s request, the stay will be lifted at that time. If they don’t respond by Monday, that is the day the stay is lifted.
Glorious news for Andrew Shirvell
February 2nd, 2015
Andrew Shirvell, the former Michigan Assistant Attorney General who lost his job after cyber-bullying Chris Armstrong, the Student Body President of the University of Michigan, has finally had some good news.
Well, it’s a mixed bag, really. He also got some news he wasn’t wanting to hear.
Shirvell had been hoping to get another trial on the defamation case he lost to Armstrong. The first one didn’t go so well, you see. Shirvell’s attorney on the case (himself) was extremely incompetent and the result was a jury award far far greater than Armstrong had requested.
But the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals did not grant Shirvell a do-over. I guess they had reached their public circus budget for the year. Too bad.
But now to the good news. The court cut the amount that Shirvell owes Armstrong. By a million dollars. A million freaking dollars. Who wouldn’t want their debt cut by a million bucks?
Now Shirvell only owes $3.5 million. And what a relief that must be.
Florida will, gasp, not issue an amicus brief in favor of discrimination
January 31st, 2015
I’ve been amused and amazed about the level to which our community and our allies have convinced ourselves that Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is Enemy Number One in the battle for marriage equality.
With every step, we’ve railed against the evil evil Bondi and her (half-hearted) defense of Florida’s anti-gay marriage ban. We’ve decried the “bigotry” in her language such as “We want uniformity” and gasped at the blatant animus of “It’s my job to defend the (state) constitution whether I not I agree with it”.
We’ve reported with baited breath that she’s “been filing briefs at a furious pace” in response to eight marriage cases filed against the state. And though other attorneys general (some of them Democrats) have also taken the position that defending the bans are part of their job (with little response), we’ve been stunned at Bondi’s identical stance.
When Bondi’s filings said that federal interference in state marriage laws would “impose significant public harm”, newspapers pulled those few words from the brief and announced that Bondi had said “harm”, ohmigod, she said “harm”, she must think that gay marriages cause HARM!
Yesterday, the media again was shocked, shocked I say, and breathlessly marveled that Bondi was continuing to fight against gay marriage. As evidence, they pointed to her response to inquiries about whether Florida would be filing an amicus brief in marriage cases before the Supreme Court. She, gasp, said that her office hadn’t yet decided! She just won’t give up!!
So today it’s news, NEWS, NEWS!! that Bondi backed down. The state of Florida is not filing a brief with the court. (Herald Tribune)
Friday evening, Bondi’s office said the attorney general would not be filing an amicus brief as the nation’s highest court in April hears a group of cases from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal that has upheld same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
Which is simply shocking!
Unless, of course, you’ve noticed all along that Bondi’s defense of Florida’s marriage ban has been half-assed, perfunctory, and accompanied by a refusal to demean the plaintiffs or their families.
GracePointe Church endorses equality
January 30th, 2015
GracePointe church in Franklin, TN, (a Nashville suburb) is an evangelical church with most of the beliefs of a typical evangelical in the South. It has a healthy sized congregation of 800 to 1,000 on Sundays and is best known as the church Carrie Underwood and her family attend.
They have long been somewhat supportive of gay congregants, but after three years of reflection the pastor has decided that “somewhat supportive” is not enough. (Time)
“Our position that these siblings of ours, other than heterosexual, our position that these our siblings cannot have the full privileges of membership, but only partial membership, has changed,” he said, as many in the congregation stood to their feet in applause, and other sat in silence. “Full privileges are extended now to you with the same expectations of faithfulness, sobriety, holiness, wholeness, fidelity, godliness, skill, and willingness. That is expected of all. Full membership means being able to serve in leadership and give all of your gifts and to receive all the sacraments; not only communion and baptism, but child dedication and marriage.”
This may be one of the first evangelical megachurch – at least in the South – that has taken this stand.
It can’t have been an easy decision and Pastor Stan Mitchell has to be aware that this is a divisional issue and attendance will drop. But hopefully others will be attracted by a message of inclusiveness.
Headline of the Day
January 30th, 2015
From the New York Daily News:
I’m just a girl who cain’t say no….
Marriage in South America
January 28th, 2015
dark purple – marriage equality
light purple – civil unions
pink – common law marriage recognition
Chile gets civil unions
January 28th, 2015
A bill that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions in Chile on Wednesday received final approval in the South American country’s Congress.
The Chilean Senate approved the measure by a 25-6 vote margin with three abstentions. The bill passed in the country’s House of Representatives by a 78-9 vote margin.
“A historic step against discrimination and for the advancement of human rights has taken place today with the passage of the civil unions bill,” said the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, a Chilean LGBT advocacy group, in a statement.
President Michelle Bachelet has said she will sign the bill — under which unmarried heterosexual couples would also receive legal recognition — into law.
Rome gets civil unions
January 28th, 2015
From Gazetta del sud
The latest move in Italy’s contentious gay marriage debate came on Wednesday as the Rome city council approved the establishment of a civil union register. At the same time, the council passed an amendment saying that same-sex marriages contracted abroad are to be automatically transcribed into the newly created civil union register. “We approved an amendment allowing for gay marriages contracted abroad to be automatically added to Rome’s civil unions register,” said city council member Irma Battaglia from the leftwing Left Ecology Freedom (SEL) party.
Italy, strongly influenced by the Catholic Church, is one of the decreasing number of European nations to have no recognition whatsoever for same-sex couples. There’s no reaction yet from the Vatican, a separate nation existing entirely within the borders of Rome, but it appears to neither have burst into flame nor melted away.
Second Alabama case for equality
January 27th, 2015
That radical leftist (Sen. Sessions supported and George W. Bush nominated) activist Judge Granade has struck again, pushing her militant agenda in favor of shoving the Equal Access and Due Process provisions of the US Constitution down the throat of good decent folk who just want society to clearly distinguish between upstanding citizens and, ahem, them.
Accordingly, the court hereby ORDERS that the Alabama Attorney General is prohibited from enforcing the Alabama laws which prohibit same-sex marriage. This injunction binds the defendant and all his officers, agents, servants and employees, and others in active concert or participation with any of them, who would seek to enforce the marriage laws of Alabama which prohibit same-sex marriage.
As in Saturday’s ruling, Judge Granade has given the state 14 glorious days free of equality in which to appeal her ruling.
Bobby Jindal is Running for President of 2004
January 26th, 2015
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was on ABC’s “This Week” yesterday where he told George Stephanopolous that he was “seriously looking at” running for president. Stephanopolous asked Jindal what he thought about the fact that Louisiana was one of only fourteen states where nobody can get married right now. Jindal’s response:
Well, look, I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. My faith teaches me that, my Christian faith teaches me that. I”m not for discrimination against anybody. I know that many politicians are evolving, so called evolving on this issue based on the bolls. I don’t change my views based on the polls.
I am proud that in Louisiana, we define marriage as between a man and a woman. If the Supreme Court were to throw out our law, our constitutional amendment — I hope they wouldn’t do that — if they were to do that, I certainly will support Ted Cruz and others that are talking about making an amendment in the Congress and D.C., a constitutional amendment to allow states to continue to define marriage. I think it should be between a man and a woman.
Crazy Season Starts Early This Year
January 26th, 2015
The next presidential election is almost two years away, but potential candidates are already making sure their faces and names are known in Iowa. Polling shows that former Neurosurgeon, Fox “News” commentator and anti-gay extremist Ben Carson is already doing quite where there, and his speech before enthusiastic supporters at Re. Steve King’s Iowa Freedom Summit will undoubtedly boost his prospects in the near term. Apparently the adulation on display at the summit really got him fired up, and his exuberance extended to a post-speech press conference:
“What I have a problem with is when people try to force people to act against their beliefs because they say ‘they’re discriminating against me.’ So they can go right down the street and buy a cake, but no, let’s bring a suit against this person because I want them to make my cake even though they don’t believe in it. Which is really not all that smart because they might put poison in that cake,” he said to chuckles from some of his staff and dead silence from the journalists in the room.
Stay placed on Alabama marriages
January 25th, 2015
dark purple: marriage equality
light purple: marriage equality in parts of the state
pink: marriage equality on stay
yellow: discrimination upheld on state level
red: discrimination upheld on circuit level
Late Sunday, Judge Grenade has placed a fourteen day hold on her ruling that the Alabama ban on same sex marriages was in violation of the US Constitution. This is to give the state time to appeal and to request a longer stay from either the Eleventh District Court of Appeals or the United States Supreme Court.
The Eleventh Circuit has already refused to stay the Florida ruling, paving the way for marriages to begin there. And SCOTUS has denied all recent requests for stay. So it is not very likely that Alabama can delay marriage equality beyond February 8th.