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Judge Slams Indiana’s Anti-Gay Governor

By Matt Baume

The anti-gay Governor of Indiana just got caught making some wild claims in court, and now a judge has called him out in a sternly-worded ruling. Marriage equality has picked up another victory, with the first federal judge to rule in Florida. There’s a new case in Arizona, with an elderly couple about to lose their home; couples are fighting back against stalling tactics in Arkansas; and two major oral arguments are coming up in the next few days.

We were just days away from the start of marriage in Virginia last week, with AFER’s latest victory about to go into effect. But then the US Supreme Court stepped in and imposed a stay, so couples can’t get married — yet. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has already petitioned the Supreme Court to review the case, so we’re likely to have a final decision in the next few months.

While we await the Supreme Court’s next move, several more federal courts have affirmed the freedom to marry. In Florida, Judge Robert Hinkle has found the state’s marriage ban unconstitutional, citing AFER’s Virginia case as precedent. A new study from the Williams Institute shows that marriage equality would add $182 million to Florida’s economy.

And in Indiana, US District Court Judge Richard L. Young has ruled that the state must recognize out of state licenses, though the decision is stayed pending appeal. Young also had harsh words for anti-gay Governor Mike Pence, who tried to remove himself from the marriage litigation by claiming that he has no jurisdiction over marriage. Judge Young initially believed Pence, but then discovered that the Governor was directing state officials to ignore marriage licenses issued to gay and lesbian couples. In his latest ruling, Judge Young called Pence’s claims a “bold misrepresentation” and “at a minimum, troubling.”

Attorneys for the state of Utah have asked the Tenth Circuit for an extra month to file briefs in Evans v. Utah. That case concerns the validity of marriages conducted while marriage was briefly legal in Utah. The current deadline for briefs is September 22nd. A new survey shows support for marriage is continuing to climb in Utah, but remains low at around 30 percent.

Couples in Arkansas are fighting back against the state’s attempt to delay a ruling on marriage equality. A state court overturned the Arkansas marriage ban in May, and the state has asked for the litigation to be paused until the US Supreme Court can rule.

There’s a new case in Arizona, filed by an elderly couple facing a terminal illness. George Martinez and Fred McQuire have been together for 45 years, but without the protection of marriage, could soon lose their home.

And watch for major marriage news this Tuesday. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals will hear argument in several cases from Indiana and Wisconsin. There’s also a hearing coming up on September 8th, covering cases in Hawaii, Idaho, and Nevada.

61 Comments August 25, 2014

Virginia Marriages in Supreme Court’s Hands

By Matt Baume

Major news in Virginia this week, where the Fourth Circuit has refused to delay marriage equality for any longer. Now anti-gay defendants have asked the US Supreme Court to step in at the last minute. A judge in Tennessee has upheld that state’s marriage ban, on the basis of outdated arguments regarding procreation. And over a dozen couples successfully register marriage licenses in Mississippi during a coordinated day of action.

Marriage equality may be coming to the state of Virginia this week, following a string of victories for AFER’s attorneys and plaintiff couples. Earlier this year, a federal district court ruled that the state’s marriage ban is unconstitutional. An panel of judges upheld that decision last month, and that ruling is due to go into effect this week. The Virginia clerk defending the ban asked the US Supreme Court to halt the marriages for now, but so far the court hasn’t responded to the request. So for now, couples are preparing for the possibility that marriages could begin Wednesday morning — or, alternately, not until the Supreme Court makes a decision sometime in the next few months.

There’s been a setback in Tennessee. County Circuit Judge Russel E Simmons Jr is the first judge in over a year to uphold a state’s ban on marriage. His ruling relies on discredited arguments about procreation. He also cites the 1972 Baker v. Nelson decision, which numerous other courts have now ruled is no longer controlling. This decision will almost certainly be appealed. But it has value in that it shows some difference of opinion on the issue of marriage, which only increases the urgency for the US Supreme Court to weigh in.

Over a dozen couples attempted to record marriage licenses across Mississippi on Wednesday of last week. The effort was part of a day of action by the Campaign for Southern Equality. Thirteen couples were allowed to register their out-of-state licenses at various clerk’s offices, while four were turned away.

Plaintiffs in North Carolina filed a new brief last week, asking a federal judge to rule swiftly in their lawsuit against the state’s ban. The case is currently awaiting judgment from a District Court Judge, and state Attorney Roy Cooper recently announced he would no longer defend the ban in court.

And finally this week, a new poll from McClatchy-Marist shows public support for marriage continues to rise. The survey shows support at 54 percent to 38 percent opposed.

The situation in North Carolina, Virginia, and numerous other states is likely to develop quickly over the next few weeks. Subscribe here on YouTube to stay up to date on all those cases. For the American Foundation for Equal Rights, I’m Matt Baume. Thanks for watching and we’ll see you next week.

19 Comments August 18, 2014

Utah officials ask Supreme Court to hear challenge to same-sex marriage ban

First same-sex marriage case reaches Court post-Windsor.

Continue 56 Comments August 5, 2014

Another Florida judge holds state’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional

Florida marriage ban struck down for third time.

Continue 116 Comments August 4, 2014

State Lawyers Ignore Public Support for Marriage

By Matt Baume

The rules have changed yet again this week in Colorado, with new rulings on marriage from multiple courts. New polls show growing support for equality in western states, but multiple Attorneys General have filed new briefs to stop gay and lesbian couples from marrying. And another Republican member of Congress has come out in favor of the freedom to marry.

The good news in Colorado is that yet another court has ruled that the state’s marriage ban is unconstitutional. This comes in a case filed on July 1 by couples seeking to end the state’s enforcement of its marriage ban. Federal District Judge Raymond P. Moore ruled in their favor but imposed a stay of one month, giving state Attorney General John Suthers time to appeal.

But Suthers already has his hands full with marriage cases. Earlier this month, he asked a federal court to stop Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall from issuing marriage licenses. This week the Colorado Court of Appeals denied that request, allowing the marriages to continue, but only in Boulder.

Wisconsin’s Attorney General, J. B. Van Hollen, has also been working to prevent couples from marrying. He filed a brief last week arguing that the U. S. Constitution can’t compel states to grant rights to its citizens. But a new survey in Wisconsin shows a sharp increase in support for the freedom to marry. According to the Marquette University poll, 56 percent of voters favor marriage equality, with just 37 percent opposed. Oral argument in the Wisconsin case has been rescheduled from August 13 to August 26.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox also filed an anti-gay brief last week. Fox claims that singling out gay and lesbian couples under a discriminatory law doesn’t constitute second-class citizenship.

And attorneys for seven couples in North Dakota have filed a motion for summary judgement. North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has said that he’ll defend the marriage ban.

There will be no marriages in Florida for now. Two weeks ago a judge ruled that the state’s marriage ban is unconstitutional, but last week followed up with a ruling that it must still be enforced pending appeal. But there’s also some good news: Florida Representative David Jolly has become the eight Republican member of Congress to endorse the freedom to marry.

And finally this week, a new study from the Williams Institute shows that marriage equality would add $180 million to the economy of Texas. A judge ruled last February that Texas’ marriage ban is unconstitutional. That ruling is on appeal to the Fifth Circuit.

11 Comments July 28, 2014

Federal judge grants preliminary order invalidating Colorado’s same-sex marriage ban

Another win for marriage equality.

Continue 70 Comments July 23, 2014

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