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Posts for February, 2015

Pat Fancher desperate for rushed ruling

Timothy Kincaid

February 6th, 2015

Remember Pat Fancher, the Alabama mother-in-law from Hell whose response to her son’s tragic accident was to sue his husband? Because if the state recognizes her son’s legal Massachusetts marriage, then Pat will lose out on half of the wrongful death settlement.

She’s the lovely soul who filed an amicus brief in the Utah marriage case complaining that “homosexual conduct is immoral”.

Well now she’s desperate.

You see, come Monday – unless SCOTUS intervenes – marriage equality is coming to Alabama. And, if that doesn’t give her terrors enough, Fancher’s son-in-law is prepared to force the state to recognize his legal marriage.

So she’s filed a brief desperately asking a federal court to uphold Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage and give all the glorious beautiful money to her, and not to that immoral homosexual!

Plaintiff Paul Hard has publicly stated that on Monday, February 9, 2015, he intends to take action to amend David Fancher’s death certificate to reflect that at the time of his death Paul Hard was his spouse, which action if successful would greatly upset Defendant Pat Fancher’s status in the matter before this Court. He may also take action to require the executor of David Fancher’s estate to pay to Paul Hard his spousal share of the estate, which would diminish the share to which Defendant Pat Fancher is entitled.

Respectful grief has many stages and love comes in many form. None of which include the behavior of this vile woman.

Montana committee narrowly defeats removal of marriage ban language

Timothy Kincaid

February 5th, 2015

In November 2014, federal courts ruled that Montana’s ten year old constitutional ban on same-sex marriage violates the US Constitution. Marriage equality has been in place since.

Montana’s constitutional ban (along with statutory bans) on same-sex marriage remains on the books. Depending on how the Supreme Court rules in June, it is possible (though unlikely) that the marriage ban could be reinstated.

However, some Montana legislators decided to preempt the Supreme Court, and remove the ban from the civil code. This likely has no legal impact on the state constitution, but could serve as a symbolic gesture of support for equality.

House Bill 282 was authored by Bryce Bennett (D – Missoula) and today the Judiciary Committee voted on whether to bring it to the full floor. By a tied vote of ten to ten, the Judiciary Committee tabled the bill. It will not go to the full house at this time.

I do not yet have the vote breakdown. However, there were six Democrats on the Judiciary Committee and fourteen Republicans, which indicates that there was significant bipartisan support.

300 marriages recognized by Michigan

Timothy Kincaid

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

Timothy Kincaid

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

Timothy Kincaid

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.

Florida will, gasp, not issue an amicus brief in favor of discrimination

Timothy Kincaid

January 31st, 2015

bondiI’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

Timothy Kincaid

January 30th, 2015

gracepointe

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.

Marriage in South America

Timothy Kincaid

January 28th, 2015

south america marriage

dark purple – marriage equality
light purple – civil unions
pink – common law marriage recognition

Rome gets civil unions

Timothy Kincaid

January 28th, 2015

ROMA COLOSSEO. FOTO © MARTINA CRISTOFANIFrom 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

Timothy Kincaid

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.

Stay placed on Alabama marriages

Timothy Kincaid

January 25th, 2015

marriage 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.

Alabama ban overturned

Timothy Kincaid

January 23rd, 2015

This just in:

If anything, Alabama’s prohibition of same-sex marriage detracts from its goal of promoting optimal environments for children. Those children currently being raised by same-sex parents in Alabama are just as worthy of protection and recognition by the State as are the children being raised by opposite-sex parents. Yet Alabama’s Sanctity laws harms the children of same-sex couples for the same reasons that the Supreme Court found that the Defense of Marriage Act harmed the children of same-sex couples. Such a law “humiliates [ ] thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. The law in question makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.” Windsor, 133 S.Ct. at 2694. Alabama’s prohibition and non-recognition of same-sex marriage “also brings financial harm to children of same-sex couples.” id. at 2695, because it denies the families of these children a panoply of benefits that the State and the federal government offer to families who are legally wed. Additionally, these laws further injures those children of all couples who are themselves gay or lesbian, and who will grow up knowing that Alabama does not believe they are as capable of creating a family as their heterosexual friends.

For all of these reasons, the court finds that Alabama’s marriage laws violate the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

As yet, there doesn’t appear to be a stay on the ruling.

UPDATE: Wikipedia has the following:

On the recommendation of Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby, Granade was nominated to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama by President George W. Bush on September 4. 2001 to a seat vacated Alex T. Howard, Jr. retired from Federal Judicial Service in senior status. Granade was confirmed by the Senate on February 4, and received her commission on February 12, 2002.

Yum! That irony is deeeeelicious!

Two Americas Watch

Jim Burroway

January 17th, 2015

A tweet from HRC’s Chad Griffin:

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Four Marriage Cases

Jim Burroway

January 16th, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the four marriage cases in which the Sixth Circuit turned back an effort to bring marriage equality or marriage recognition in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. According to today’s order: (PDF: 43KB/2 pages) the Court intends to keep the arguments focused on two narrow questions:

The cases are consolidated and the petitions for writs of certiorari are granted limited to the following questions: 1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state? A total of ninety minutes is allotted for oral argument on Question 1. A total of one hour is allotted for oral argument on Question 2. The parties are limited to filing briefs on the merits and presenting oral argument on the questions presented in their respective petitions. The briefs of petitioners are to be filed on or before 2 p.m., Friday, February 27, 2015. The briefs of respondents are to be filed on or before 2 p.m., Friday, March 27, 2015. The reply briefs are to be filed on or before 2 p.m., Friday, April 17, 2015.

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog believes that oral arguments may take place in late April with a final ruling “probably in late June.” He adds:

Although the Court said explicitly that it was limiting review to the two basic issues, along the way the Justices may have to consider what constitutional tests they are going to apply to state bans, and what weight to give to policies that states will claim to justify one or the other of the bans.

South Dakota’s marriage ban ruled unconstitutional

Timothy Kincaid

January 12th, 2015

marriage 2015

dark purple – marriage equality
light purple – marriage equality in part of the state
pink – marriage equality stayed
yellow – federal ruling for discrimination
red – appellate ruling for discrimination

A federal judge has ruled, on summary judgement, that marriage is a fundamental right and that the ban on same-sex marriage in South Dakota violates the Equal Protections clause of the US Constitution. (Sun Times)

U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier on Monday issued a summary judgment in favor of the six couples who filed the lawsuit. The federal complaint challenges both South Dakota’s ban on gay marriage and its refusal to recognize marriages of same-sex couples who legally wed in other states.

Judge Schreier stayed the ruling pending appeal, at least in part because the Eighth Circuit has not heard or ruled on a marriage equality case. The Eighth Circuit also includes:

Iowa – marriage equality due to a state supreme court ruling.
Minnesota – marriage equality as the result of legislation after the voters rejected a constitutional ban
Missouri – in November two judges ruled for marriage equality and did not stay their rulings. However these did not necessarily apply across the state, resulting in a few counties and the city of St. Louis issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
Arkansas – in November a federal judge ruled for marriage equality. That ruling is stayed pending appeal.
Nebraska – to the best of my knowledge, no cases have yet been ruled on.
North Dakota – to the best of my knowledge, no cases have yet been ruled on.

The plaintiffs have indicated that they will appeal the stay.

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