State judge throws out Missouri anti-gay marriage ban – Updated
November 5th, 2014
Denying Missouri’s gay couples the opportunity to marry is unconstitutional, a judge ruled this afternoon.
As a result, St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison said in his decision, marriage licenses can be issued.
“The Court finds and declares that any same sex couple that satisfies all the requirements for marriage under Missouri law, other than being of different sexes, is legally entitled to a marriage license,” Burlison wrote.
He said that the Missouri Constitution violates the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Last month the courts found that marriage conducted outside of Missouri must be recognized by the state. The Attorney General did not appeal. It is unclear whether he will appeal this decision.
The language seems to suggest that this applies only to St. Louis.
The Attorney General has appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court. However, he has NOT requested a stay while under appeal. Marriage licenses are being distributed in St. Louis.
And Kansas makes 33
November 4th, 2014
Kansas is in the Tenth Circuit, which has ruled anti-gay marriage bans unconstitutional. The Supreme Court opted not to hear an appeal to that ruling, which establishes that states within the Tenth Circuit are bound by the Appeals Court’s ruling.
Same-sex couples requested that the federal courts direct Kansas to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and now a federal judge has done so. (Topeka Capital-Journal:)
Judge Daniel Crabtree, in a written ruling, granted a preliminary injunction that had been sought by the ACLU of Kansas on behalf of two lesbian couples who had been denied marriage licenses in Sedgwick and Douglas counties. The injunction will prevent the state from enforcing the ban on same-sex marriage found in the Kansas Constitution.
However, marriages will not begin immediately. Crabtree stayed the injunction until 5 p.m. on Nov. 11.
The state has a week to appeal Judge Crabtree’s decision, which – by all accounts – would be a waste of time and state resources. Should they inform him earlier that they will not appeal, the stay will be lifted at that time.
The odds are that Governor Sam Brownback will happily waste the taxpayers’ money on a futile attempt to appeal so as to grandstand on the issue. However, as the election is today, it’s possible that he’ll not see any political value to foolish, time-consuming, wasteful, quixotic efforts and will allow couples to marry sooner than next Tuesday.
Wyoming marriage ban overturned – UPDATED
October 17th, 2014
Judge Scott W. Skavdahl gave himself until Monday to rule on the unconstitutionality of Wyoming’s ban on same-sex marriages. However, he must have found a few minutes in his schedule, so he released his ruling today. (Chris Geidner)
A federal judge has declared that Wyoming cannot deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl put his ruling on hold until Oct. 23 to provide time for government officials to attempt an appeal if they wish. The ruling could go into effect sooner if government officials inform the court that they do not plan to appeal the decision.
And government defendants may well inform the court of their intention not to appeal. (Star Trubune)
Republican Gov. Matt Mead said the state shouldn’t appeal the same-sex marriage ruling due from U.S. District Judge Scott W. Skavdahl.
Mead spoke on the issue Thursday night during a Wyoming PBS debate in Riverton. Mead is seeking re-election Nov. 4.
“The answer is no, I don’t think we should appeal the ruling,” he said.
Should Mead and the other three office holders named in the suit notify the court, then Skavdahl will lift the stay and marriages will begin.
UPDATE – One of the four defendants, Debra K. Lathrop, in her official capacity as Laramie County Clerk, has informed the court that she has no intention of appealing. The three remaining defendants are:
Matthew H. Mead, in his official capacity as the Governor of Wyoming
Dean Fausset, in his official capacity as the Director of the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information
Dave Urquidez, in his official capacity as the Administrator of the State of Wyoming Human Resources Administration
UPDATE – Mean has announced that the state will not appeal the decision and that the Attorney General will file notice with the court. This likely encompases the other members of his administration.
I suspect that the filing and lifting of stay will not come before Monday.
Supreme Court denies Alaska’s request for stay
October 17th, 2014
Dark Purple – states with marriage equality
Light Purple – states in circuits in which marriage equality has been ruled.
Pink – states that recognize legal marriages from other places
The US Supreme Court has denied Alaska’s request for a stay. Marriage is now equal in 31 states plus the District of Columbia.
Marriage equality comes to Arizona
October 17th, 2014
U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick has issued his opinion as to whether or not Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage is in violation with the US Constitution. And, to no one’s surprise, he found it unconstitutional.
Sedwick did not issue a stay. Yesterday, Attorney General Tom Horne filed a brief which basically conceded the plaintiff’s position. So it seems unlikely that Horne will either appeal the decision or petition the Ninth Circuit for a stay.
UPDATE: Horne is not appealing nor asking for a stay.
Arizona edges closer to equality
October 16th, 2014
Today was the deadline for parties to submit their briefs arguing whether or not the Ninth’s Circuit’s ruling on marriage equality applies to the state of Arizona. Attorney General Tom Horne seems to concede that it does. (AZCentral)
The state’s brief argument concedes that the 9th Circuit ruling would apply to Arizona, but says Sedwick should wait to issue his ruling until the 9th Circuit issues a mandate. The mandate is essentially a technical document telling the courts to go forward with the opinion. The 9th Circuit issued a mandate within hours of its original ruling but withdrew it so Idaho could appeal. That appeal is concluded but the 9th Circuit has not yet reissued the mandate.
Plan your Brokeback marriage
October 16th, 2014
Wyoming, home of the fictional Brokeback Mountain, may get marriage equality as early as Monday. (Casper Star Tribune)
Acknowledging his order could have grave consequences if incorrect, U.S. District Judge Scott W. Skavdahl plans to issue an order by Monday in a case that could legalize same-sex marriage in Wyoming.
The judge said he would consider the arguments and examine a few more issues before making a decision because “the impact of this court’s ruling if incorrect” could have grave consequences. Skavdahl said he would issue his ruling by 5 p.m. Monday.
Alaska gets two day stay
October 15th, 2014
The State of Alaska asked for a stay to its marriage ruling. And by astonishing odds, two of the Ninth Circuit’s most conservative judges, Diarmuid O’Scannlain and Jay Bybee, were on the three judge panel deciding the matter. O’Scannlain and Bybee were two of the three judges who would have given Proposition 8 an en banc hearing.
However, things were different this time around.
Bybee sided with judge Marsha Berzon in denying stay at the Ninth Circuit level and in issuing a temporary two day stay for the state to appeal to the Supreme Court in hopes of getting a more permanent stay.
Which means that marriages will not begin first thing tomorrow in The Last Frontier, but rather at noon on Friday.
Ron Hart on marriage
October 14th, 2014
I seldom read something on Christian Post and do anything but shudder. Today I chuckled:
Neither government nor citizens should waste time and energy trying to keep two loving, consenting, committed people from a public acknowledgment of their union. If we were to have a law against allowing a subset of our country to marry, it should be directed squarely at the Kardashians.
Is a couple of lady gym teachers with three cats and a joint checking account really a threat? Are two guys living in a once-blighted neighborhood that becomes gentrified with fixed-up homes and where, before you know it, bistros and bakeries pop up, a problem? How is that damaging to America? Who else is going to adopt twin Chinese girls? Madonna and Angelina Jolie can’t take them all.
Marriage at the top of the world
October 14th, 2014
But perhaps more interesting is where this happened, the town of Barrow.
Barrow is the northernmost city in the United States, lying above the Arctic Circle and just 1,300 south of the North Pole. The population is less than 5,000.
FL’s AG Bondi asks state supremes to rule
October 13th, 2014
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) has been defending her state’s ban on same-sex marriage in a way that has infuriated anti-gay activists. She simply refuses to make wild claims about how evil gays are going to destroy society or how states have really really good reasons – totally not bigoted reasons – for keeping Teh Ghays away from marriage.
Instead, she argues that the state has the right to set marriage laws for themselves.
In July, Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia found that argument lacking. He further found that the wacky amicus briefs arguing that gay marriage would just ruin everything for everyone were evidence that anti-gay laws are based in animus. In July, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel found the same.
This was followed by Federal Judge Robert Lewis Hinkle who found the ban unconstitutional in Federal Court.
Here’s where things get a bit interesting.
Bondi appealed the federal decision to the
Third Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She also appealed the state decisions at the Florida Supreme Court. The plaintiffs were urging the Florida State Supreme Court to hear the case expeditiously, but Bondi requested that they hold off on ruling until the US Supreme Court took up one of the appeals that were before it, either the Fourth, the Seventh or the Tenth.
But SCOTUS chose not to hear any of those appeals. And today Bondi took a surprising step. (Miami Herald)
In a startling move Monday night, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi asked the Florida Supreme Court to decide once-and-for-all whether same-sex couples can marry in the Sunshine State.
“That is unquestionably an important issue, and the Plaintiffs, the State, and all citizens deserve a definitive answer,” Bondi’s office wrote in a 6 p.m. filing to the Florida Supreme Court. “Until recently, the issue was squarely before the United States Supreme Court, and it appeared that a definitive answer was coming. … Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court decided not to answer the question.”
Bondi’s “once and for all” language suggests that she expects an outcome that would withhold further review. In other words, it appears that Bondi thinks that the decisions will be upheld and the ban will be found unconstitutional. And it also appears that the state court is the quickest way for this to be accomplished.
The decision requires approval by the US Circuit Court. But it now seems ever more likely that marriage equality will come for Florida sooner rather than later.
Nevada anti-gay group accuses Ninth Circuit of rigging the system
October 13th, 2014
In my professional life I work in a legal environment. And over time I have observed that one sure-fire way to guarantee that you will be treated harshly is to accuse a judge of impropriety. Even if a judge has made a clerical error, attorneys will go out of their way to not appear to be critical, following the first rule of litigation: ‘don’t piss off the judge’.
Which makes an appeal by Nevada’s Coalition for the Protection of Marriage particularly interesting. In asking that the Ninth Circuit reconsider it’s marriage ruling by an en mass hearing, they adopted a fascinating strategy: accuse the Ninth Circuit of rigging the results.
Further — en banc review is regrettably necessary to cure the appearance that the assignment of this case to this particular three-judge panel was not the result of a random or otherwise neutral selection process. Troubling questions arise because a careful statistical analysis reveals the high improbability of Judge Berzon and Judge Reinhardt being assigned to this case by a neutral selection process. The attached statistical analysis, Exhibit 3, explains that since January 1, 2010, Judge Berzon has been on the merits panel in five and Judge Reinhardt has been on the merits panel in four of the eleven Ninth Circuit cases involving the federal constitutional rights of gay men and lesbians (“Relevant Cases”), far more than any other judge and far more than can reasonably be accounted for by a neutral assignment process. Indeed, statistical analysis demonstrates that the improbability of such occurring randomly is not just significant but overwhelming. Thus, the odds are 441-to-1 against what we observe with the Relevant Case — the two most assigned judges receiving under a neutral assignment process five and four assignments respectively (and anything more extreme).
We bring the issue of bias in the selection process to the Circuit’s attention with respect and with a keen awareness that questioning the neutrality of the panel’s selection could hardly be more serious. But the sensitivity of raising uncomfortable questions for this Circuit must be balanced against the interests of ordinary Nevadans, who deserve a fair hearing before a novel interpretation of constitutional law deprives them of the right to control the meaning of marriage within their State. A hearing before an impartial tribunal is, after all, a central pillar of what our legal tradition means by due process of law, and the means of selecting the tribunal certainly implicates notions of impartiality. Measures have been put in place by this Court to assign judges through a neutral process. But in this case the appearance is unavoidable that those measures failed. En banc review is necessary to ensure that the appearance of bias is cured by a fresh hearing before a panel, the selection of which is unquestionably neutral.
Yeah… that’s not going to end well for them.
Updated marriage map
October 13th, 2014
Dark Purple – marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples
Light Purple – states in circuits which have ruled for marriage equality
Pink – recognizes legal marriages conducted elsewhere
It is now possible to drive from Chicago to LA without ever becoming “not married” along the way.
Meanwhile in Arizona
October 10th, 2014
U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick issued an order Thursday night stating he believes this week’s appellate court ruling that declared Idaho and Nevada’s marriage restrictions unconstitutional applies to Arizona as well. The U.S District Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said Tuesday that Idaho and Nevada’s marriage restrictions violated couples’ rights to equal protection under the 14th Amendment.
Sedwick, an Alaska judge who often helps pick up Arizona cases, gave the parties in two lawsuits challenging Arizona’s law until Thursday to file briefs arguing how the 9th Circuit decision does or does not apply.
North Carolina marriage ban struck down – UPDATED
October 10th, 2014
A federal judge in North Carolina has struck down the state’s gay marriage ban, opening the way for the first same-sex weddings in the state to begin immediately.
U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr., in Asheville issued a ruling Friday shortly after 5 p.m. declaring the ban approved by state voters in 2012 unconstitutional.
Which brings the total to 29 plus the district of Columbia.
The ruling may only apply to two counties. This is NOT the case that everyone has been watching, the one in which the GOP is seeking to fight the Fourth Circuit’s ruling.
This is a case brought by the United Church of Christ which argued that denying their ability to perform same-sex marriages was a violation of their religious freedom.
For now, it looks like the ruling applies to the whole state.