Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Red State Marriage Equality Train Rolls Along

As marriage equality notched up one victory after another in 2012 and 2013, opponents bleated a repetitive refrain: those were all in liberal, blue states. Gay activists had reached their limit. In red states, traditional marriage would continue to prevail.
Not so.
Even in Idaho, progress in a court ruling (see below)
Over the year end, in quick succession two red state judges (first Utah, then Oklahoma) ruled that state bans on same - sex marriage were in conflict with the US constitution, and so struck down those bans. Since then, both rulings have had stays placed on their execution, but meanwhile, there've been a series of further notable decisions in other red and purple states, some in just the past week. Individually, each of these is less dramatic than the Utah and Oklahoma decisions, but collectively they are impressive, and reinforce the impression that the writing is now on the wall for gay marriage bans, even in red states.
In just the past week,
In Kentucky, a judge ruled today that the portion of the state ban that prohibits recognition of out of state same - sex marriages.
Also today, a hearing was held in a Texan court in one of several legal challenges to the state ban on gay marriage.
In Idaho, a judge ruled yesterday that the state ban on gay marriage cannot be used to exclude a same - sex partner from adopting a spouse's child.
In Nevada, an obscure ruling against discrimination in jury selection, led to the Republican governor, and also the Democratic Attorney General, declining to defend in court the state's ban on gay marriage.
Fresh legal challenges to state bans were announced in Lousiana, and Missouri.
As at 12/02/2014,in addition to suits challenging things like survivor benefits and parental /adoption issues, direct challenges to gay marriage bans have been already been filed in the following 21 US states. I  the light of today's partial ruling, expect Kentucky to join this list soon - and Mississippi, where several couples have applied for marriage licences, in expectation of being denied, which would prepare the way for a full legal challenge. Is there anywhere in the US of A, where state bans on marriage equality are not under threat?
  1. Arkansas
  2. Arizona
  3. Colorado
  4. Florida
  5. Idaho
  6. Kentucky
  7. Louisiana
  8. Michigan
  9. Missouri
  10. Montana
  11. Nebraska
  12. Nevada
  13. North Carolina
  14. Ohio
  15. Oregon
  16. Pennsylvania
  17. South Carolina
  18. Tennessee
  19. Texas
  20. Virginia
  21. Wisconsin
(More details for these at Marriage Equality USA) Even in the churches, including the Catholic Church, there's progress - but that's another story.
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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

ACLU plans to sue state over gay marriage | Springfield News-Leader |

Stephanie Perkins Deputy director for PROMO, a gay and lesbian advocacy group

The ACLU, on behalf of gay couples throughout Missouri, plans to sue this week for recognition of same-sex marriage.

 Stephanie Perkins, deputy director for PROMO, a Missouri gay and lesbian advocacy group, said the litigation seeks to overturn Missouri’s ban on same-sex marriage.

 Couples from Kansas City, St. Louis, mid-Missouri and Springfield are included in the suit, which will be filed in state court in Kansas City.

 Charles Abernathy, spokesman for the GLO Center in Springfield, said a news conference involving the ACLU litigation has been scheduled at the GLO Center for Wednesday.

 Abernathy said that while GLO will be the venue, PROMO is taking the lead on the event.

 The litigation comes less than a month after a federal judge struck down Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The ban is similar to Missouri’s prohibition on same-sex marriage. Missouri voters approved the ban in 2004 — 71 percent to 29 percent — the same year Oklahoma approved its ban. The bans in both states are amendments to the state constitutions.

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Another Red State Victory for Queer Families

Step by step, queer families are seeing moves to full recognition, even in American red states (and in church). The latest in victory in Idaho follows court decisions in Utah and Oklahoma to strike down the states' constitutional ban on gay marriage, and the decision by Nevada's Republican governor not to defend his state's ban. A challenge to the gay marriage ban in Texas is in court this week, and court challenges under way in a further 19 states.
There is progress too in many churches, including the Catholics: Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, is just the latest in an expanding list of senior bishops who have opposed full marriage equality, but suggested civil unions as an alternative.

Catholic Archbishop Condemns Homophobia, Supports Civil Unions

Dr Diarmuid Martin told RTE that the Church had to be very careful that this was not done in the forthcoming debate on the same-sex referendum in the Republic.
Archbishop Martin said he felt that the debate had already got off to a bad start.
Discussions have to be carried out in a "mature" way so that people can freely express their views, while at the same time being respectful and not causing offence, he said.
He said Church teaching was that marriage was between a man and a woman, exclusively, but that this approach did not exclude gay people from celebrating their union by a different means.

Responding to Dr Martin's comments, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network said they are disappointed by the comments made by the Archbishop of Dublin regarding same sex marriage and homophobia.

GLEN’s Brian Sheehan described it as “a missed opportunity” to tackle the role of the church and church teachings in creating what it said were “some of the difficult realities for lesbian and gay people in Ireland today”.

However, he welcomed Dr Martin’s acknowledgement of the impact that a culture, which still has homophobia as part of it, has on those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny called for a rational, calm and considered debate ahead of a referendum on same sex marriage next year.

Also speaking on RTÉ's This week, Mr Kenny said he never considered legislating for same-sex marriage and that it was instead an issue for a referendum.

He also promised to partake in the discussion in the lead-up to the referendum.

Mr Kenny said the Government deemed it important for people to have a debate before they vote in the impending referendum.

“We believe that it's important the people have a rational, common-sense. calm, considered and compassionate debate about this and I hope that happens.

“Next year people will make their decisions. I didn't consider legislating for this, it is a question for a referendum and it will be held next year,” said Mr Kenny.

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Couples Sue to Force Ohio's Hand on Gay Marriage

 Four legally married gay couples filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Monday seeking a court order to force Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages on birth certificates despite a statewide ban, echoing arguments in a similar successful lawsuit concerning death certificates. The couples filed the suit in federal court in Cincinnati, arguing that the state's practice of listing only one partner in a gay marriage as a parent on birth certificates violates the U.S. Constitution. 

"We want to be afforded the same benefits and rights as every other citizen of the United States," said one of the plaintiffs, Joe Vitale, 45, who lives in Manhattan with his husband and their adopted 10-month-old son, who was born in Ohio. The pair married in 2011 shortly after New York legalized gay marriage. Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Republican Gov. John Kasich, said his office doesn't comment on pending litigation, "except to say that the governor believes marriage is between a man and a woman." The other plaintiffs in Monday's lawsuit are three lesbian couples living in the Cincinnati area who married in states that have legalized gay marriage. One woman in each of those marriages is pregnant through artificial insemination, and their babies all are due to be born this summer in Cincinnati hospitals. The couples say they're worried that having only one of them listed as a parent on their children's birth certificates could lead to problems down the road, such as a denial of parental rights to the one not named should their partner die or experience a medical emergency. "I have no legal grounds to stand on. That's not something that should be happening in our society," said Pam Yorksmith, who married her wife in California in 2008. The couple has a 3-year-old son and another on the way. The couples' attorney is the same one who represented two gay married couples in their lawsuit last year that successfully sought a court order forcing Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages on death certificates. The state is appealing the ruling, issued in December by federal Judge Timothy Black. "At both ends of our lifespans, a marriage is a marriage. A family is a family," said the couples' lawyer, Cincinnati civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein. "A family is a loving, nurturing group of people and the identification document when the children come along is the birth certificate, and it ought to be right."

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Monday, 10 February 2014

Austin couple challenges Texas gay marriage ban

Two Texas couples are challenging the state's gay marriage ban.

 The case heads to a hearing in front of a federal judge in San Antonio Wednesday. Austin couple Cleopatra DeLeon and Nicole Dimetman will be traveling to San Antonio for the case this week.They married in 2009. “We decided that it was the right thing to do and that it was the right thing to do for our son,” said Dimetman. “I think that, whatever happens — I think Nicole and I will feel like we’ve kind of pushed the ball forward for people like us,” DeLeon said. DeLeon and Dimetman got married in Massachusetts. When they returned home to Texas, the state didn’t recognize the marriage. That means — in the states eyes — they didn’t have the same parental rights, medical rights, or rights after death as heterosexual married couples. The motion for injunction states that Texas Constitutional amendment and policies violate “the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment”. DeLeon and Dimetman think of what a win for them would mean for their son. “He would never have to grow up feeling like the state of Texas didn’t protect our family,” said DeLeon. “I think it’s important to note that this issue has moved very quickly since 2005,” Dimetman said.

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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Irish Government begin bid to allow same-sex couples to adopt

JUSTICE MINISTER ALAN Shatter has, today, published the General Scheme of the long-anticipated Children and Family Relationships Bill.

The proposed legislation, which would clarify the legal status of children in in civil partnerships, surrogacy arrangements and assisted human reproduction, will now go forward for discussion at Oireachtas committee level.

The new laws will allow civil partners to jointly adopt a child for the first time.

According to the Minister, this measure “removes the current anomaly where single lesbian and gay individuals can adopt children, but civil partners cannot jointly adopt”.

Today’s law relating to adoption provides for the adoption of children by married couples and by single persons (irrespective of their sexual orientation), but not jointly by civil partners.

 Shatter has asked the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality – in conjunction with members of the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children – to undertake a consultation process on his proposals for the Bill.

The cross-party TDs and Senators will have until Easter to furnish any observations to his department before the outlined proposals which, according to the Minister, “seek to put in place a modern legal architecture to underpin family situations”.

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