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Posts for May, 2014

Last Stop: North Dakota

Jim Burroway

May 27th, 2014

North Dakota is the only state in the union which bans same-sex marriage and doesn’t have a court challenge against at least a portion of the ban. Expect it to lose that distinction sometime in the next month or two:

“There will be a case filed challenging North Dakota’s same-sex marriage ban,” says Joshua Newville, a Minneapolis-based civil rights attorney who filed a suit Thursday against South Dakota’s ban on behalf of same-sex couples there.

Newville is in talks with advocates and attorneys in North Dakota and confirmed that either he or another attorney will bring a lawsuit against that state’s ban within six to eight weeks.

Oregon United drops ballot measure (updated)

Timothy Kincaid

May 23rd, 2014

In July 2013, Oregon United for Marriage began the process of collecting signatures to place a proposition on the ballot to reverse the state’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. With significant high-profile political support and large contributions from some of Oregon’s corporate giants like Nike, they reached their goal of 116,000 signatures with an extra 50,000 to allow for errors or duplicates.

Earlier this year, in a brief submitted to the court, Oregon United stated that if Judge McShane ruled the ban unconstitutional by May 23rd, they would drop their ballot effort. The judge ruled earlier this week and the state will not appeal his ruling. So today Oregon United announced that they are discontinuing the process.

Today is May 23—and following Judge Michael McShane’s ruling that extended the freedom to marry to all loving, committed couples in Oregon, a ballot campaign to address the same issue is no longer needed. “We are confident that the freedom to marry is secure in Oregon and that we do not need to move forward with the ballot measure,” said Oregon United for Marriage deputy campaign manager Amy Ruiz. “It is time to celebrate this victory for Oregon.

UPDATE

Oregon United had accumulated hundreds of thousands of dollars in anticipation of needing a media campaign for the proposition. Now they are giving it back. (Statesman Journal)

That money came in large part from donations from other organizations like Basic Rights Oregon, the ACLU of Oregon, SEIU Local 503, Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Marry, Gill Action Fund and the American Unity Fund.

And those groups will be getting some of that money back.

The marriage campaign’s executive committee has decided to return its remaining resources to its major donors in proportion to what they gave to the campaign.

Classy move.

Lawsuits Challenging Marriage Bans Filed in Montana, South Dakota

Jim Burroway

May 22nd, 2014

Yesterday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in Great Falls, Montana on behalf of four couples challenging that state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The state’s Democratic governor, Steve Bullock, issued a statement supporting the lawsuit, saying, “Montanans cherish our freedom and recognize the individual dignity of every one of us. The time has come for our state to recognize and celebrate – not discriminate against – two people who love one another, are committed to each other and want to spend their lives together.” But Republican Attorney General Tim Fox’s office announced that he “will continue to defend Montana’s marriage amendment vigorously.”

And now today, Minneapolis attorney Josh Newville filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in Sioux Fall, South Dakota on behalf of six South Dakota couples challenging that state’s ban on same-sex marriage. It also challenges Section 2 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which allows states to refuse to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed in other states. That’s not the only interestnig twist in this lawsuit. It also claims three violations that are guaranteed in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: deprivation of equal protection, due process and right to travel, based on the fact that as soon as a married couple crosses state lines, all of the protections that their marriage provides can vanish. Attorney General Marty Jackley (R) had earlier announced that “It is the statutory responsibility of the attorney general to defend both our state constitution and statutory laws, which I intend to do if a lawsuit is filed.”

There have been so many lawsuits filed over the past year that it has become virtually impossible to keep up with them — at least for us here at BTB who all hold real full-time jobs. But I wanted to note these developments because with these two lawsuits, there is now only one state, North Dakota, with a same-sex marriage ban and no lawsuit to challenge it. That may not last long. Newville says he’s been contected by several North Dakota couples and is seriously considering their request for representation.

Poor sad delusional NOM

Timothy Kincaid

May 21st, 2014

The National Organization for Marriage (theirs, not yours) is all upset with Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett for choosing not to appeal federal Judge John Jones III’s ruling that the state’s same-sex marriage ban violates the US Constitution. Whatever.

But the part that is truly worth a giggle – especially after being slapped down this week by Oregon’s Judge McShane – is this:

Brown said that the National Organization for Marriage is itself evaluating whether it could intervene in this case on behalf of its Pennsylvania members. It is also looking into what other options might exist to work with people or groups in the state who have standing to mount the strong defense of marriage called for in this case.

Delusional.

Radical Militant Activist Judge Jones

Timothy Kincaid

May 20th, 2014


Anti-gay activists like to pretend that the only way marriage equality is obtained is through the machinations of radical militant activist judges who impose their leftist agenda against the will of the people. So it’s always nice to know a little about who these judges are and how they came to hold their position.

Judge John E. Jones III, whose ruling found that Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage (legislative, not a constitutional amendment) is in violation of the US Constitution, is a bit hard to sell as a radical militant activist with a leftist agenda. But he’s certainly had that accusation thrown at him before, when he found that intelligent design could not be part of a school curriculum.

Before Jones became a jurist, re ran for Congress for the Sixth Congressional District seat and then, when unsuccessful, was co-chair of the transition team for Governor-elect Tom Ridge. He considered a run for Governor in 2001. As a Republican.

Jones was appointed by President George W. Bush as federal judge on the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in February 2002 and was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on July 30, 2002.

Judge Piazza will be re-elected tomorrow

Timothy Kincaid

May 19th, 2014

Tomorrow is election day in Arkansas and the judge who found the marriage ban to be unconstitutional will be on the ballot. But not to worry, he’s going to be reelected. (Houston Chronicle)

A Pulaski County circuit judge recently tossed out Arkansas’ 10-year-old ban on gay marriage, and the state Supreme Court subsequently put the judge’s ruling on hold, but there’s no way for voters to take out their frustrations at the polls this year. Circuit Judge Chris Piazza, who made the ruling, didn’t draw an opponent this year and will be re-elected to a 6-year term Tuesday.

The National Organization for Marriage is calling demanding “Governor Mike Beebe to call a special legislative session so that lawmakers can impeach Piazza and remove him from office”. Beebe has already dismissed that notion.

Ninth rejects NOM’s Oregon stay request

Timothy Kincaid

May 19th, 2014

Last week, Judge McShane denied the effort by the National Organization for Marriage to intervene in the trial over that state’s ban on same-sex marriage. They appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, along with a request for an emergency stay on Judge McShane’s decision, should it be that the ban is unconstitutional.

Today the Ninth gave their reply: “Appellant’s emergency motion to stay district court proceedings pending appeal is denied.”

This has not been NOM’s happy day.

Maine committee recommends fining NOM

Timothy Kincaid

May 19th, 2014

From the Bangor Daily News

Maine ethics investigators are recommending more than $50,000 in fines for a national anti-gay-marriage organization for failing to register and disclose its activities in Maine’s 2009 same-sex marriage referendum.

That year, an effort to legalize same-sex marriage — approved by the Legislature and signed by then-Gov. John Baldacci — was repealed at the ballot box with 53 percent of the vote.

National Organization for Marriage was the largest contributor to the ’09 anti-gay-marriage campaign, and dumped roughly $2 million into the state. That money was integral in defeating the fledgling marriage equality law.

The Ethics Commission will decide later this month whether to accept the recommendation of the reviewers and to assess the fine.

Arkansas Supreme Court Halts Marriages

Jim Burroway

May 16th, 2014

In a simple one-sentence order, the Arkansas State Supreme Court has brought same-sex marriages in the state to a halt:

State Defendants-Appelants’ petition for emergency stay and separate White, Washington, Lonoke and Conway County appellants’ expedited motion for stay are granted.

The Arkansas Time blog describes what lies ahead:

Piazza’s decision will now go through the appeal process. A record of the lower court case must be prepared. A briefing schedule must be set and probably oral arguments. The court takes a two-month recess each summer. Even with an expedited schedule, it’s uncertain if the case can be decided this calendar year, when two of the current justices — Cliff Hoofman and Donald Corbin — will be replaced by Rhonda Wood and the winner of a race between Judge Robin Wynne and Tim Cullen. Typical there’s about 2.5 months for briefing after a record and transcript is completed. Part of this record has already been completed and it’s not an extensive record.  It conceivably could be completed by fall.

In other words, this may kick things down the road to 2015 or so.

Ninth Circuit Temporarily Blocks Idaho Marriages

Jim Burroway

May 15th, 2014

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a temporary stay of a lower court’s ruling that found Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional. The lower courts ruling was set to go into effect on Friday at 9:00 a.m., but Gov. Butch Otter filed an emergency request with the Ninth Circuit asking for a stay until the pending appeal is completed. The Ninth Circuit has partially granted that request:

In a one-sentence order, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote, “The district court’s May 13, 2014 order is temporarily stayed pending this court’s disposition of appellants’ emergency motions for a stay pending appeal.”

In other words, the three-panel court (consisting of Judges Edward Leavy, Consuelo Callahan, and Andrew Hurwitz) have decided to issue a temporary stay to give them time to decide whether to keep the stay in place throughout the appeals process.

Arkansas marriages resume

Timothy Kincaid

May 15th, 2014

Yesterday the Arkansas Supreme Court chose not to stay the decision by Judge Chris Piazza in which he found that the state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was in contradiction with other provisions of the state constitution. However, then noted that his temporary order only addressed the amendment and not the legislator-passed state law.

Today Judge Piazza clarified that when he found anti-gay marriage bans unconstitutional, he really did mean all of them. (AP)

A day after the state Supreme Court effectively halted gay marriages in the state, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza expanded his ruling striking down a constitutional ban to also include the prohibition on clerks issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Justices had ruled Wednesday that Piazza’s decision on the gay marriage ban did not change that license law.

Piazza also rejected a request to suspend his ruling, saying there’s no evidence the state would be harmed by allowing gay marriages to continue.

So marriages in certain counties in Arkansas will resume.

Of course, now that he has issued his final ruling, the state Supremes may decide to place a stay on the ruling until they consider the appeal. Frankly, I’ll be surprised if they don’t; but should they choose not to, it will basically mean that the marriage question is over in that state.

Judge Denies Idaho Gov’s Request for Marriage Ruling Stay

Jim Burroway

May 14th, 2014

U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale, who yesterday ruled that Idaho’s state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution, has denied a request by Gov. Butch Otter (stop that, you guys!) to stay the ruling pending a planned appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and Gov. Otter are expected to file an emergency motion with the Ninth Circuit asking for a stay pending an appeal. Otter and Wasden are optimistic they can get a stay somewhere:

In the request to Dale, Otter’s attorneys said they were convinced that if the judge wouldn’t issue a stay, the 9th Circuit or Supreme Court would.

“That conviction is based on the fact that the Ninth Circuit granted such a stay in the California same-sex marriage’ case, the Sixth district did the same in the Michigan same-sex marriage case, and the United States Supreme Court did the same in the Utah same-sex marriage case,” Otter’s attorneys wrote.

If the Ninth Circuit denies their motion for a stay and the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t intervene, then same-sex marriages will become legal in Idaho at 9:00 a.m. Friday.

Meanwhile:

After the ruling, the Idaho Republican Party issued a statement reaffirming the organization’s stance against same-sex marriage, and contending that the Tenth Amendment gives states the power to regulate and define marriage.

“The disintegration of marriage will lead to the disintegration of our society,” Idaho GOP Chairman Barry Peterson said in a prepared statement.

And Idaho

Timothy Kincaid

May 13th, 2014

Idaho Statesman

U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale has ruled Idaho’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

In her 57-page decision, Dale stated, “Idaho’s Marriage Laws withhold from them a profound and personal choice, one that most can take for granted. By doing so, Idaho’s Marriage Laws deny same-sex couples the economic, practical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of marriage, relegating each couple to a stigmatized, second-class status. Plaintiffs suffer these injuries not because they are unqualified to marry, start a family, or grow old together, but because of who they are and whom they love.”

And Idaho makes… ummm, I have no idea what number this one is.

Update: You can read some choice excerpts from Judge Dale’s smack-down opinion here.

Do they even listen to what they say?

Timothy Kincaid

May 13th, 2014

Dean Nelson

Today the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments for and against overturning Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen ruling that Virginia’s gay marriage ban was in violation of the US Constitution (the Olson-Boies case). There were, as expected, protesters on either side.

The anti-gay side made some interesting remarks.

Dean Nelson, chairman of the Frederick Douglass Foundation, told the crowd, “Things have gotten so bad that even when you’re watching ESPN on Mother’s Day we have the kisses of homosexuals forced down our throats.”

Sometimes it’s just too easy.

Controversy for the coming generation

Timothy Kincaid

May 12th, 2014

Among the piles of press that surrounded the selection of Michael Sam during this past weekend’s NFL draft selection, I found this little gem regarding the decision of ESPN to air Sam’s reaction and his kiss with his boyfriend. (Sun Times)

When [ESPN Producer Seth] Markman’s wife explained to their 7-year-old son that dad was busy working on something that was controversial, Sam’s kiss on TV, the boy replied: “Is it because they’re not married?”

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