Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tough Day In Court

Lawyers defending Indiana and Wisconsin’s bans on marriage equality went before a three-judge panel in Chicago yesterday.  It didn’t go well.  From the AP:

While judges often play devil’s advocate during oral arguments, the panel’s often-blistering questions for the defenders of the same-sex marriage bans could be a signal the laws may be in trouble — at least at this step in the legal process.

Richard Posner, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, hit the backers of the ban the hardest. He balked when Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Timothy Samuelson repeatedly pointed to “tradition” as the underlying justification for barring gay marriage.

“It was tradition to not allow blacks and whites to marry — a tradition that got swept away,” the 75-year-old judge said. Prohibition of same-sex marriage, Posner said, derives from “a tradition of hate … and savage discrimination” of homosexuals.


Posner, who has a reputation for making lawyers before him squirm, cut off Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher just moments into his presentation and frequently chided him to answer his questions.

At one point, Posner ran through a list of psychological strains the children of unmarried same-sex couples suffered, including having to struggle to grasp why their schoolmates’ parents were married and theirs weren’t.

“What horrible stuff,” Posner said. What benefit to society in barring gay marriage, he asked, outweighs that kind of harm to children?

I wouldn’t be surprised if the court ruled 3-0 against the state bans.

Election Results

I voted in the Florida primary yesterday.  The polling place is in the parish hall of a local church, so I parked and walked across the parking lot, through the throngs of campaign workers handing out cards and leaflets, and I was swarmed by candidates.  I haven’t had that much attention since I did mail-call at camp.

I was approached by the incumbent county commission candidate who has a reputation as being very conservative.  She was all smiles until I asked her about her stand on marriage equality. The smile became fixed and she replied that it wasn’t her issue.  “Sure it is,” I replied.  “I live in this county. You’re making decisions about my life. I want to know where you stand on it.”  She responded with something along the lines of Ralph Kramden’s “Hamana-hamana-hamana-hamana….” and then “It’s not my issue” again.  “I am pro-life,” she offered. I said, “Okay, that’s got nothing to do with marriage equality.” More hamana-hamana, until she finally came up with “Live and let live, I don’t care what other people do.”  “So,” I said, “If the courts overturned the ban on same-sex marriage, you’d have no problem with that?”  Shrug.  “Not my issue.”

Hm.  According to SAVE Dade, the local marriage-equality organization, she’s virulently anti-marriage-equality. I smiled politely, said “Thanks,” and proceeded to the polling station.  I voted for the other candidate.

Yes, it is a legitimate question to ask every candidate in every race.  If they don’t believe in my fundamental right to marry whom I wish regardless of genitalia, then I’m a second-class citizen to them, and they have no business controlling my government.

By the way, she lost.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Finally Florida

The long-awaited federal court ruling on Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage has been handed down.  We won.

A federal judge in Florida has ruled the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional, according to the Associated Press.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle is the latest of several-dozen rulings for same-sex marriage by federal courts across the country since the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling advancing gay rights in 2013. On the federal level, gay marriage has since enjoyed an undefeated streak.

Hinkle put a hold on his ruling, meaning gay couples in Florida will not be able to receive marriage licenses just yet.

The ruling puts Republican Gov. Rick Scott in a predicament as he runs for reelection. As gay marriage becomes more popular in the state he has obscured his position on the issue and dodged questions by reporters. His administration has a say in whether to appeal the decision and defend the state’s ban.

Read the whole ruling here.

Judge Hinkle wrote:

Liberty, tolerance, and respect are not zero-sum concepts. Those who enter opposite-sex marriages are harmed not at all when others, including these plaintiffs, are given the liberty to choose their own life partners and are shown the respect that comes with formal marriage.

It’s now up to the Supreme Court.  It’s hard to imagine that they will turn away from the twenty-plus rulings that have come down on the side of marriage equality.  Stay tuned, and stay hopeful.

Rainbow Flag Miami Skyline

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

There Had To Be One

Finally the anti-marriage equality folks get a favorable ruling.

For the first time in nearly fourteen months, a state’s ban on same-sex marriage has withstood a constitutional challenge in court.  A state judge in Tennessee ruled last week that “neither the Federal Government nor another state should be allowed to dictate to Tennessee what has traditionally been a state’s responsibility.”  The decision, issued last Tuesday, has just become available in electronic format.

Roane County Circuit Judge Russell E. Simmons, Jr., of Kingston ruled in a case of two gay men who were married four years ago in Iowa and are now seeking a divorce in their home state of Tennessee.  Unlike every other court ruling — federal or state — since the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor in June 2013, the judge rejected the idea that the Windsor decision undercut state authority to ban same-sex marriages.

More than two dozen courts, from trial courts to state supreme courts and federal appeals courts, have faced that constitutional issue, and the string of decisions nullifying the bans was unbroken until the Tennessee decision.

Not being a lawyer — or an oddsmaker — I can’t really say if this means much for the overall status of marriage equality, but it sounds to me as if the judge is hanging his ruling on a weak limb: states’ rights vs. the federal constitution.  But we’ll see.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Passing The Buck

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi really doesn’t want to be on the losing end of the various marriage equality cases that are being handed down, so she’s waiting for the the U.S. Supreme Court to make the call.

“Neither this Court nor the Florida Supreme Court can decide this federal issue with finality,” Bondi wrote to the state’s 3rd District Court of Appeal. “The United States Supreme Court, however, ‘has the final word on the United States Constitution.’”

Bondi told the appeals court she expects the U.S. Supreme Court will act soon on the gay marriage issue. She cited filings this week from the states of Utah and Oklahoma asking their gay-marriage cases be heard by the nation’s highest court.

“A ruling from the United States Supreme Court would end the constitutional debate, end this appeal, and end all related cases,” Bondi wrote. “The State of Florida will respect the United States Supreme Court’s final word. In the meantime, this Court should preserve taxpayer and judicial resources by staying briefing until the United States Supreme Court rules.”

Lawyers for eight same-sex couples, who last month won the right to marry in Monroe and Miami-Dade counties, say they want the cases heard as soon as possible at the Florida Supreme Court.

This, of course, is a total cop out.  The ban is a Florida state constitutional amendment, not a federal law, so the Florida courts should decide it.  Besides, isn’t the Republican mantra always “states’ rights”?  That’s what they told us about abortion and that the Supreme Court overstepped its bounds with Roe v. Wade.  Now that the tide is turning toward marriage equality, she wants to pass the buck to SCOTUS and then say that while she is anti-marriage equality (hint hint running for another term), it isn’t her call anymore.

She also knows that waiting for SCOTUS to decide will mean they won’t hand down a ruling before November, which avoids the whole issue of it landing on her desk while she’s trying to convince the hard-core base that she really is worth re-electing.  Huh.  If she was really that hard-core, she’d go full-tilt for it and prove her Tea Party bona fides instead of letting the feds do it.

HT to Bob.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Make That Four

Yet another court in Florida declares the state ban on marriage equality to be unconstitutional.

Following recent rulings from judges in three South Florida counties, a Palm Beach County Circuit judge this afternoon issued a ruling declaring Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Circuit Judge Diana Lewis’ opinion was tied to a probate case of Frank Bangor, 61, who died in Pennsylvania in March. W. Jason Simpson, Bangor’s partner of 37 years and the man he married in Delaware last year, petitioned the court to gain control of the Boynton Beach winter home the two shared.

Though Lewis declared that Florida’s marriage prohibitions “unnecessarily discriminate” against same-sex partners, her ruling — like those recently from her counterparts in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties — does not make gay marriage legal in Florida.

“People aren’t going to be able to line up tomorrow and get marriage licenses because of this, but it is important that they have declared this unconstitutional,” Andrew Fein, Simpson’s attorney, said of the ruling. “When something’s declared unconstitutional, it doesn’t just spring back into being right – at least not in this case.”

Under Florida law, a spouse is recognized as a personal representative of an estate provided the out-of-state marriage is recognized as valid under state law. Simpson petitioned Lewis to be recognized as Bangor’s personal representative despite the ban on gay marriage in Florida.

In her 12-page ruling, which comes a day after a Broward judge struck down Florida’s gay marriage ban in a decision regarding a West Palm Beach woman’s quest to divorce a woman she wed in a civil union in Vermont, Lewis said the bans “fail to pass constitutional muster.”

“Same-sex couples are entitled to respect, dignity and protection as any other spouse requesting to be a personal representative,” Lewis wrote.

We’ve already had three other courts rule the ban to be unconstitutional in Monroe, Miami-Dade, and Broward Counties.  Now add Palm Beach to the list.  We’re still awaiting the federal court ruling from Brenner-Grimsley case in Tallahassee.

This is like the drip, drip, drip of a leaking pipe in the ceiling.  At some point it’s all going to give way.

HT to Bob.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Florida Threepeat

A third judge has ruled Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.

Via Think Progress:

For the third time in as many weeks, a Florida state judge has ruled against the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, this time in Broward County. Circuit Judge Dale Cohen’s ruling differs from the other two in that it grants recognition of marriages performed in other states, but like the others it also overturns the ban. Cohen stayed the decision pending appeal.

Plaintiff Heather Brassner entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2002, but has since separated from her former partner, Megan Lade. Brassner now lives in Florida and is asking the state to dissolve the union. Vermont would end it, but only if both women sign papers agreeing to its end, which is impossible because Lade has disappeared — even a private investigator could not find her. Between Lade’s disappearance and Florida’s ban, which prohibits not only marriage but also any “substantial equivalent thereof” like civil unions, Brassner has been stuck in legal-relationship limbo.

Brassner had originally only filed for divorce, but Cohen didn’t want to rule on her divorce without weighing the impact of the ban. He specifically asked Brassner’s lawyer, Nancy Brodzki, to file a motion for declaratory judgment against the ban so he could rule on it directly.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has already appealed the two prior rulings from Monroe and Miami-Dade counties, which might be combined moving forward. She is expected to appeal in this case as well. Several other challenges have been filed throughout the state that have not yet advanced.

We are still waiting on the ruling from a federal case that was heard in Tallahassee.  Unlike these cases, that ruling could decide the ban state-wide; the first two only were for cases in the jurisdictions of Monroe and Miami-Dade Counties.  Both of those rulings have been stayed pending inevitable appeal.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Virginia Is For Lovers, Finally

And another ban on marriage equality hits the dirt.

A federal appeals court on Monday struck down Virginia’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, saying that withholding the fundamental right to marry from gay couples is a new form of “segregation” that the Constitution cannot abide.

The 2-to-1 decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond, upheld a lower court’s decision and extended an extraordinary winning streak in the federal courts for proponents of same-sex marriage.

Legal challenges to state bans filed systematically nationwide have prevailed in every test since the Supreme Court in June 2013 struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Two federal appeals courts have now said the bans are unconstitutional. The Supreme Court probably will have to make the final determination and could consider the issue as soon as next year.

This ruling is for Virginia, but the court also oversees three other states: Maryland and the Carolinas.  Maryland already allows same-sex marriage; it’s not yet clear whether the ruling has a direct impact on the other two states.  North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has announced that he will no longer defend that state’s ban.

Meanwhile, couples in Virginia have three more weeks to wait until the ban is ended, pending appeal.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

One Step Closer

Florida edges closer to marriage equality.

Florida Rainbow Flag Mug 07-26-14For the second time in eight days, a South Florida circuit judge has declared the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional and ordered that same-sex couples be allowed to marry.

Late Friday afternoon, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel ordered that six same-sex couples who sued Miami-Dade County Clerk Harvey Ruvin for marriage licenses in January should be allowed to wed.

There will be no weddings yet: In her ruling, Zabel ordered an immediate stay until after the case is appealed.

“To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the … classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law,” Zabel wrote in her order, citing a 1967 Supreme Court ruling that overturned a state ban on interracial marriage.

On July 17, Monroe County Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia also ruled Florida’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional and ordered that two gay Key West men be allowed to marry. That decision has also been stayed and Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones have not yet been allowed to marry in Florida.

The six couples Miami-Dade couples who sued in Zabel’s court are Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello of Coconut Grove; Dr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez and David Price of Davie; Vanessa and Melanie Alenier of Hollywood; Todd and Jeff Delmay of Hollywood; Summer Greene and Pamela Faerber of Plantation; and Don Price Johnston and Jorge Isaias Diaz of Miami.

Both this case and the one in Monroe County are local; they have no impact outside of those counties.  But there is a case pending in Tallahassee that could overturn the ban statewide.  If it does, it will be stayed pending appeal.  That means no weddings just yet.

But we’re getting there.

Read the full ruling here.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Give Us A Reason

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on the question of marriage equality:

While recognizing that “our history is marred by discrimination against gays and lesbians,” Rubio argued that “traditional marriage has such an extraordinary record of success at raising children” and must be perpetuated to the exclusion of same-sex unions.

“[T]oday, there is a growing intolerance on this issue, intolerance towards those who continue to support traditional marriage,” Rubio observed, citing the firing of the CEO of Mozilla, following revelations that he supported California’s campaign to ban same-sex marriage, and other instances where opponents of marriage equality suffered economic consequences. “And I promise you that even before this speech is over, I will be attacked as a hater, a bigot or someone who is anti-gay,” he added. “This intolerance in the name of tolerance is hypocrisy.”

Rubio then sought to shield himself from accusations of homophobia, by linking his position on the issue to President Obama’s.” “Supporting the definition of marriage as one man and one woman is not anti-gay, it is pro-traditional marriage,” the junior senator claimed.

It takes more than a little gall to shed crocodile tears over discrimination against gays and lesbians and then turn around and explain in detail why he does it.

I’ve heard the “traditional marriage” line so many times that I’m not going to bother to once again remind him that what he calls traditional marriage — i.e. one man and one woman — isn’t all that traditional.  It certainly isn’t that way in the bible, nor is the idea of two people falling in love and getting married as opposed to an arranged marriage between two fathers as a business deal.  Read some Shakespeare or download Fiddler on the Roof.

His claim is that “traditional marriage” must be preserved to the exclusion of all others because it of its “extraordinary record of success in raising children.”  This claim may be true; it’s nice to have a mom and a dad.  But there are a lot of single parents who do just as good a job with their kids as anybody else.  So they shouldn’t be allowed to raise kids because they’re not married?  What about straight people who for whatever reason choose not to have children?  If you’re going to exclude same-sex couples from marriage because they can’t reproduce the old-fashioned way, why not exclude the straight ones who don’t have kids?  Must all marriage licenses require proof of fertility?

Mr. Rubio implies that “traditional marriage” is under attack.  By whom?  Advocates for marriage equality don’t want to stop straight people from getting married.  It’s not some zero-sum game wherein one is traded out for the other.  How can advocating for committed unions between two people who happen to have the same form of genitalia threaten those marriages between two people who don’t?

That’s where the intolerance comes in.  Pro-”traditional” marriage people don’t want same-sex couples to have the benefits of marriage, whereas those of us who are pro-marriage equality want everybody to have the benefits.  So who is the intolerant one?  Saying that same-sex marriage somehow denigrates or mocks straight marriage is yet again another sign of intolerance because that’s saying that the people in that marriage are less than worthy of respect simply because of their orientation.  Again, who is the intolerant one?

And then there’s the church.  Mr. Rubio doesn’t say it, but the implication is that marriage equality violates religious freedom by forcing Christians to accept something they don’t approve of.  However, not all Christians accept the idea of banning same-sex marriage.  In fact, there are a number of Christian denominations, including mainline Protestants, who welcome and perform same-sex weddings, as do a number of Jewish synagogues.  Why do some Christians get to tell others who they can or cannot celebrate in the bonds of holy matrimony?

But let’s be fair.  If Sen. Rubio can give us a valid reason based in law as to why same-sex couples should not be joined in matrimony, let him speak now.  So far, though, more than twenty state and federal courts have heard arguments for and against marriage equality since the Supreme Court handed down their decision in United States v. Windsor which struck down DOMA, and not one court has ruled in favor of his position.  In fact, the prevailing opinion of all those courts with judges appointed by everyone from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama is that state bans on marriage equality are violations of the equal protection and due process clauses of the Constitution, and some of the rulings have said that the bans are in place for no other reason than to deny those protections to same-sex couples and serve no valid state purpose other than to enshrine gay-bashing in the law.

Sen. Rubio says that he will be labeled as is “a hater, a bigot or someone who is anti-gay” because he opposes marriage equality.  So let us give him the benefit of the doubt.  He can prove he is not by giving us a reason to oppose marriage equality that isn’t based on bigotry, discrimination, and intolerance.  We are all anxious to hear it.

Colorado Marriage Equality Ban Struck Down

Time to get a little Rocky Mountain love.

A federal judge declared Colorado’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional but temporarily stayed his ruling pending the outcome of appeals to a higher court.

U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore issued the ruling Wednesday in a civil lawsuit. A state judge issued a similar ruling earlier this month in a separate case.

The federal lawsuit, filed by six gay couples on July 1, names Gov. John Hickenlooper, Attorney General John Suthers and clerks from Denver and Jefferson counties as defendants.

One day after the lawsuit was filed, Suthers’ office asked the judge to stop proceedings in the case, pending a final resolution of a 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found Utah’s ban on gay marriages unconstitutional. As part of the request, Suthers asked that a stay be put in place, ensuring that county clerks do not begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples until a higher court makes a ruling.

Moore rejected Suthers’ argument that failing to issue a stay would be harmful to the state and cause legal confusion.

Still, Moore temporarily issued the stay, and gave Suthers’ office until 8 a.m. on Aug. 25 to appeal his ruling to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In denying Suthers’ request for a stay Moore wrote that, “it is Plaintiffs who suffer irreparable harm if Colorado’s unconstitutional same-sex marriage ban is not enjoined.”


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Anything But That

Florida Gov. Rick Scott would rather talk about anything other than marriage equality.  Via Marc Caputo:

“Nobody wants discrimination in our state,” Scott said in Bonita Springs, adding that he believes “in traditional marriage” and citizens’ access to the courts.

Gay-rights groups say the same-sex marriage ban discriminates against them, but the ban’s backers say their votes are being discriminated against by judicial activism.

So what discrimination is Scott against? Scott won’t say.

“Aren’t you trying to have it both ways?” WPLG’s Michael Putney asked Scott Friday in Miami.“People have different view about it our state,” Scott replied. “But in 2008, the voters decided that this state would be a traditional marriage state. It’s going through the court system. But what’s important to me is I don’t want anybody discriminated against.”

Putney: Aren’t gays being discriminated against?

Scott: “I’m against any discrimination. But in 2008, the voters decided this would be a traditional marriage state.”

Putney: “Are you…”

Scott (cutting him off): “Let’s talk about jobs – 37,000 jobs in a month! It’s the biggest jump! Michael! Michael! This is our biggest month since I got elected,” Scott said. “We’re over 620,000 jobs [created]. When I ran in 2010, I said seven steps to 700,000 jobs over seven years. And a lot of people questioned whether we could do that…. We’re at 620,000. What’s so exciting is 37,000 a month. I mean I just still think about my dad, watching his face when the only car we had got repossessed. That’s what I want to help with.”

That’s become his stock answer for everything.  Ask any question — what about climate change, redistricting, education funding, or the main ingredient in tomato soup — and you get “Jobs!  Look at all the jobs!”  It’s like he’s stuck in a feedback loop.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Any Day Now — Updated

Three judges are poised to rule on marriage equality in Florida.

Each case deals with different set of couples who want to get married in different counties, but the basic question is the same: Does Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage violate an individual’s right under the U.S. Constitution to equal protection?

“Literally any second now we could get rulings from the judges in one or more of those cases,” said Mary Meeks, an Orlando attorney helping represent six gay couples in the Miami-Dade County case.

Beyond those three lawsuits, two other legal challenges also are pending, but those rulings are not imminent.

All of the cases challenge the ban on gay marriage in Florida’s constitution, an amendment approved in 2008 with 62 percent of the vote.

But John Stemberger, president of Florida Family Policy Council, the Orlando group that championed the amendment, predicted Tuesday that Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel in Miami-Dade would soon overturn it.

He was in her courtroom July 2 listening to lawyers argue the case. That included his lawyer, Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel, who urged Zabel to uphold the ban.

“It was rather stunning,” Stemberger said of that hearing. “I don’t expect her to uphold the law.”

As is the case with most of the other states where courts have overturned bans on marriage equality, a ruling from the court in Miami-Dade County does not mean that happy couples can line up at the county clerk’s office all over the state to get licenses.  The ruling will be for the county alone and will most certainly be stayed pending appeal.  But there is a chance that one of the cases could have state-wide impact.

A more sweeping ruling could come from U.S. Circuit Court Judge Robert Hinkle in Tallahassee. He’s presiding over the most complicated case: a consolidated pair of lawsuits asking him allow a same-sex couple to get married and force Florida to recognize the marital rights of 10 same-sex couples and a widow who got married in other states or Canada.

Daniel Tilley, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union who represents eight of those couples, was optimistic Tuesday.

“We expect that could come any day now,” he said.

If one of the judges rules in favor of gay marriage, it’s also not clear whether the change would take effect immediately or whether the losing side would first be given time to file an appeal.

No matter the outcome, lawyers expect a series of appeals, something that would likely put the issue before the Florida Supreme Court or a federal appeals court, whose rulings would be binding statewide.

I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE: The court has ruled in the Monroe County case: The wedding is on, but not until Tuesday.

Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia overturned Florida’s 2008 constitutional gay-marriage ban on Thursday, and ordered that two Key West bartenders and other gay couples seeking to wed be allowed to marry.

The judge gave the Monroe County Clerk’s Office until Tuesday to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

“The court is aware that the majority of voters oppose same-sex marriage, but it is our country’s proud history to protect the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular and rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority,” Garcia wrote in his opinion, released about 1 p.m. Thursday.

The judge gave the clerk’s office several days to prepare “in consideration of… anticipated rise in activity.”

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Colorado Joins The Ranks

And another state strikes down their ban on marriage equality.

An Adams County District Court judge on Wednesday declared Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional, but he immediately stayed his ruling.

Judge C. Scott Crabtree pulled no punches in his 49-page ruling, saying the state’s voter-approved ban “bears no rational relationship to any conceivable government interest.”

The ruling makes Colorado the latest in a string of 16 states that have seen their bans on same-sex marriages tossed out by state and federal judges.

The ruling came as another judge in Boulder County considered a request by Attorney General John Suthers to stop a county clerk from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. And last week, attorneys filed a federal lawsuit seeking to challenge Colorado’s gay marriage ban.

Attorneys for 18 plaintiffs — nine couples — from Denver and Adams counties argued that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution.

“We are ecstatic. There is much cheering in our house,” Sandra Abbott said after Crabtree’s ruling. She and her partner, Amy Smart, were one of the nine couples in the lawsuit. “We waited a long time for this ruling.”

What is not remarkable at all is that virtually every court has used the same legal reasoning that Judge Crabtree did: banning same-sex marriage serves no interest of the state and the only reason they’ve done it is because of the irrational fear ginned up by sex-obsessed busybodies and religious fanatics.  Okay, I paraphrased that, but you get the idea.

Colorado also joins New Mexico as a state I lived in when I had a partner.  We could have gotten married then if we had the right.  Hmm.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Florida’s Turn

As court after court rule in favor of marriage equality, we’ve all wondered when Florida would get its turn to step up to the bar.  In one case filed back in January, that turn is today.

On July 2, 2014, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel will hear arguments on a motion for summary judgment in this state lawsuit with federal claims filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Equality Florida Institute.


On January 21, 2014, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Equality Florida Institute filed a lawsuit in state court with federal claims on behalf of six same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry in Florida. The lawsuit argues that laws in Florida that restrict marriage to different-sex couples violate the United States Constitution’s commitment to equal protection under the law.

The plaintiffs hail from Miami and the surrounding area. They include: Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello, together for 14 years and raising a young son; Dr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez and David Price, together for 18 years and raising young twins; Vanessa and Melanie Alenier, together for 8 years and raising a child; Todd and Jeff Delmay, together for 11 years and raising a young son; Summer Greene and Pamela Faerber, grandparents who have been together for 25 years; and Don Price Johnston and Jorge Isaias Diaz, who recently got engaged.

The track record for the marriage equality cases since the Supreme Court handed down Windsor last year is perfect: not one court has ruled against a same-sex couple.  Let’s hope that Florida keeps the streak alive.

HT to Freedom to Marry.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Very Good Year

One year ago today the Supreme Court struck down DOMA and ruled in favor of the plaintiff in Windsor, opening the door for same-sex marriage and LGBT rights on a scale that even the most optimistic dreamer could not imagine.

Yesterday, Indiana became the latest state to have its state law against marriage equality ruled unconstitutional, and literally ten minutes later a federal court in Denver ruled that Utah’s ban was also in violation of the Constitution.  That ruling by an appellate court pretty much guarantees that the case will be heard by the Supreme Court.  It’s anybody’s guess as to how the Court will rule on such a case, but at the rate things are going — twenty states now have full marriage equality, and in the states that don’t, their laws are being challenged in court — by the time the case gets to Washington, D.C., it could be all over but the last dying whimper of the sniveling bigots at the Family Research Council.

State of Same-Sex Marriage on 06-25-14

In a way, it was people like the Family Research Council and the hard-core Religious Reich that has made a lot of this progress possible.  Had it not been for them making such a big stink over what other people do in the privacy of their own home and forced a lot of people to examine their own lives, marriage equality would most likely have evolved slowly and ploddingly as states dealt with their own matters and not given a second thought to it.  But now many courageous people — straight as well as gay — stood up in the face of the tyranny of the shamers and defended the fundamental right as human beings to live their life with someone they love regardless of genitalia.  And the louder and more spittle-flecked the suppressed oppressors became, the more ludicrous and laughable their arguments grew until finally enough people, regardless of political or religious persuasion, said “At long last, enough.”

I have said all along that the case for marriage equality comes down to one simple fact: banning same-sex marriage — or any discrimination against the LGBT community, be it job discrimination, housing, or insurance benefits — violates the fundamental right we have as citizens to equal protection under the law.  Our rights cannot be taken away or curtailed simply for who we are or how we identify ourselves.  One freedom cannot apply to one person and not someone else without a good reason, and being black, Muslim, or gay is not a good enough reason.  We have already achieved — at least in the law — relief for the first two.  It is beyond time for the third.

In the ruling in the Utah case, the court noted the anniversary of the Windsor ruling and the swift progress of marriage equality:

In less than a year, every federal district court to consider the issue has reached the same conclusion in thoughtful and thorough opinions – laws prohibiting the celebration and recognition of same-sex marriages are unconstitutional. It is clear that the fundamental right to marry shall not be deprived to some individuals based solely on the person they choose to love. In time, Americans will look at the marriage of couples such as Plaintiffs, and refer to it simply as a marriage – not a same-sex marriage. These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.

One of the reasons the courts have reached the same conclusion is because when you get right down to it, it’s not that hard a decision to make.  Marriage is a right, regardless of the participants, and so far no respondent to the suits has been able come up with an argument based in the law or Constitution that justifies the state or federal government enforcing the ban on marriage equality.

Who knows where we will be a year from now.  By then even Florida will have joined the others.  And ten years from now we will all look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Map via Shakesville.