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.
This week I’m in Pennsylvania, which gained the freedom to marry just a few months ago. We have big victories this week in Kentucky, and a ton of hearings coming up from one side of the country to the other. There’s a battle of wills and a surprise move in Colorado. And one of the Prop 8 lawyers is headed back to court — this time, as a judge.
It was in May that a federal judge ruled that Pennsylvania’s marriage ban was unconstitutional. Governor Tom Corbett decided not to appeal, and marriage has been legal ever since. A county clerk has repeatedly tried and failed to challenge the marriages in court. But just this week, the Third Circuit denied her request.
A judge in Kentucky has ruled that the state’s marriage ban is unconstitutional. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear argued that banning gay and lesbian couples from marrying encouraged straight couples to reproduce, but Judge John Heyburn called these arguments “not those of serious people.”
The case now moves on to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is already scheduled to hear five other marriage equality cases on August 6th. And the Ninth Circuit will hear three more cases on September 8th.
Boulder, Colorado County Clerk Hillary Hall continues to issue licences to gay and lesbian couples, despite Attorney General John Suthers’ insistence that the licenses are invalid. But in a surprise move, Suthers has now asked the Tenth Circuit to overturn the state’s marriage ban, and to issue a stay that would prevent any more licenses from being issued until the matter is resolved by the U. S. Supreme Court next year. In the mean time, six more couples have filed a new lawsuit over Colorado’s marriage ban.
Indiana is on the fast track to an appeal before the Seventh Circuit. The court has scheduled briefing to conclude in early August. Florida held a hearing this week, with a ruling due any day now. And officials in Jackson County, Missouri have announced they will not defend the state’s marriage ban.
And finally this week, congratulations to Terry Stewart, who was just nominated to serve on the First District Court of Appeal in California. Stewart, as Chief Deputy City Attorney for San Francisco, was instrumental in defending marriage equality from San Francisco’s 2004 marriages all the way through the Prop 8 case.
Hi there. This week my marriage equality road trip takes me to Fargo, North Dakota this week, then on to Minneapolis. We have big news from four states in the Sixth Circuit this week. Plus a strong showing for the freedom to marry in a Colorado case.
North Dakota was one of many states to pass a marriage ban back in 2004. And ten years later, it was the last state to challenge its ban with a lawsuit. That case is now working its way through federal court. In the mean time, public support is rapidly growing. In 2004, support was at just 23%, but by 2012 that had nearly doubled to 40%.
There’s a major court date coming up for several states. On August Sixth, a federal appeals court will hear oral argument in five separate marriage cases, covering challenges in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. All of these cases are very different, but the court will hear them all on the same day.
The Tennessee case is quite limited, and for now just applies to the three plaintiff couples. The two Ohio cases cover out-of-state licenses and death certificates. The Kentucky case also concerns out-of-state licenses. The Michigan case is much more broad, covering the freedom to marry throughout the state. The case got a boost recently when some major Republican figures in Michigan filed a brief in support of the freedom to marry.
Organizers in Ohio are calling off an attempt to overturn that state’s marriage ban at the ballot. They’ll be unable to meet signature requirements in time. This was a controversial effort, with other Ohio equality groups favoring public education before going to the ballot. Public support for marriage equality has increased five percentage points in just the last year in Ohio, reaching 50%.
A federal judge heard oral argument last week in a challenge to Colorado’s marriage ban. District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree pointed out that fifteen judges have recently struck down similar bans in other states. He’s expected to rule soon.
The National Organization for Marriage screws up again in Oregon. Judges in Idaho and Arkansas rule that marriage bans violate the US Constitution. Following another round of hearings, rulings are due any day now in Virginia and Pennsylvania. And a new lawsuit in Alaska leaves just three states with an unchallenged marriage ban.
Let’s start with Virginia, where AFER’s attorneys were back in court last week to defend their previous victory. Earlier this year, a federal district court overturned Virginia’s marriage ban. That ruling was appealed, and now that oral arguments are done, we’ll hopefully have a ruling within the next few weeks. From there it’s on to the US Supreme Court.
It’s been a busy few days in Arkansas. First Judge Chris Piazza ruled that the state’s marriage ban is unconstitutional. That led to numerous gay couples getting married over the previous weekend. Then on Wednesday of last week the state Supreme Court briefly halted the weddings, due to some problematic wording in the decision. And then on Thursday Judge Piazza revised his order, and marriages resumed. He also rejected an attempt by the state to put the ruling on hold, and cited the irreparable harm caused by the marriage ban. So marriages are back on in Arkansas.
But they’re off, for now, in Idaho. Another federal judge ruled against that state’s marriage ban last week. Judge Candy W. Dale ruled that the state’s justification for the ban was “so attenuated that it is not rational,” and ordered marriage to begin on Friday. But before that could happen, the state appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which ruled that marriages had to wait until after an appeal.
The National Organization for Marriage had a big setback in Oregon this week. A judge has overturned that state’s marriage ban. Previously, NOM had attempted to intervene in that state’s marriage lawsuit, and they had a hearing on Wednesday. But Judge Michael McShane ruled that their request came too late, and now they won’t be allowed to participate. NOM also suggested that McShane was unqualified to rule in the case, because he is gay. He rejected that argument as well.
Pennsylvania also saw oral arguments last week. There are currently five lawsuits in that state, and both sides have requested an expedited ruling.
And there’s a new lawsuit in Alaska. Five couples have sued the state for recognition. Now the only states with no legal challenge to a marriage ban are North Dakota or Montana. A lawsuit is currently in the planning stages but not yet filed in South Dakota.
There’s also a new lawsuit in Florida. Gildas Dousset is a student at Florida Atlantic University, married to a longtime Florida resident. Dousset applied for spousal financial assistance, but was turned down because the state didn’t recognize their Massachusetts marriage license. He’s now suing the state for recognition.
And finally this week, a new study from the Williams Institute shows that marriage equality would generate $39 billion for Indiana over the next three years. Indiana organizers recently defeated an attempt to add a marriage ban to the state constitution. The state still has a statutory marriage ban, but there are currently five separate lawsuits challenging it.
AFER heads back to court this week to protect its latest marriage equality win. Kentucky’s Attorney General is running to become the state’s first pro-equality Governor. Oregon surveys look encouraging, but voters could still pass a turn-away-the-gays discrimination bill. And a new public education campaign in puts LGBT family members front and center in Oklahoma.
This week we had some late breaking news after we shot this week’s episode. A judge in Arizona has ruled that the state’s marriage ban violates the US Constitution. This is a big deal, but in an unusual twist, the judge allowed marriages to start right away while the state appeals. This weekend numerous couples were able to obtain marriage licenses in Arkansas. It’s unclear how long they’ll be able to do so, or whether the state is willing to recognize the licenses. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the next steps in this case.
This is it — AFER heads back to court on Tuesday of this week to defend their Virginia victory for marriage equality. Plaintiff couples Tim and Tony and Carol and Mary want to get married in their home state on Virginia. This past February, a federal judge ruled that the state’s marriage ban is unconstitutional. Opponents appealed that decision, and now we have oral arguments this week. A ruling will come sometime thereafter, and from there the next step is the US Supreme Court.
Oral arguments are also scheduled this week in a Pennsylvania marriage case. Last week State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced that defending the state’s marriage ban was costing millions of dollars.
Two states are stepping up public education efforts. In Oklahoma, new TV ads show the Cuyler family supporting marriage equality for their lesbian daughter. And in Michigan, organizers have just launched the “Michigan for Marriage” campaign, which will push out messages on TV and social media.
A judge in Indiana has ordered the state to recognize a marriage — but just one. The couple in question is Nikole Quasney and Amy Sandler, who sued the state for recognition after Quasney was diagnosed with terminal cancer. This week Judge Richard L. Young ruled that while their lawsuit is in progress, the state must recognize their marriage. According to Young, the couple is likely to ultimately prevail in their challenge.
Meanwhile in Missouri, a judge just ruled in favor of the state’s first gay divorce. Judge Leslie Schneider ruled narrowly that denying the divorce violates the equal protection clause of the US Constitution. This could provide a path forward towards overturning the state’s ban in the future.
There’s a new lawsuit in Alabama. Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand married in California in 2008, and are now suing for recognition in Alabama, after the state refused to recognize them both as their own son’s parents.
Get ready for a ruling in Idaho. After oral argument last week, Judge Candy W. Dale says she’ll rule on the federal case relatively soon.
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has announced his candidacy for governor. This is a big deal, since he has been a strong advocate for the freedom to marry. Following a pro-equality ruling last February, Conway decided not to appeal the decision, saying that the marriage ban is unconstitutional. That ruling is now on appeal, with an opening brief filed just last week by current Governor Steve Beshear.
And there’s good news in Oregon. A new survey shows support for marriage equality continues to climb. A marriage equality ballot measure may head to the ballot this November. Voters will also face a separate measure that would allow businesses to turn away customers simply for being gay.
And finally, this week marks the tenth anniversary of marriage equality in Massachusetts. All indications are that society somehow hasn’t yet crumbled.
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