Virginia’s marriage ban is unconstitutional, with a strongly-worded victory in AFER’s case. And that’s just the start of multiple marriage wins from coast to coast this week. We have good news coming out of Kentucky, Indiana, and Nevada, plus several new lawsuits, hearings, and favorable polls.
This was a huge week for marriage equality, starting with AFER’s powerful win in Virginia. The federal district court has ruled that the state’s marriage ban is unconstitutional. Just as in California, the ban violates the US Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection. Marriages can’t start yet, pending appeal. But the case is on a very fast track, so it’s likely to get its next hearing quite soon.
We also got a big ein in Kentucky, where a judge ruled that the state must recognize out-of-state marriage licenses. And on Friday, the attorney representing the couples in that case filed a second lawsuit, this time to force the state to start issuing licenses of its own. Support for marriage equality is steadily growing in Kentucky.
Another major victory this week: Indiana’s proposed marriage ban will not go to voters until 2016 at the earliest. Support for the bill has rapidly dwindled, and may evaporate altogether in the next two years.
We also had good news in Nevada. The governor and attorney general have announced that they will no longer defend the state’s marriage ban. In short, they’ve come to the conclusion that there is no way to defend the ban. The case is now on a fast track toward resolution in the Ninth Circuit. Meanwhile, state organizers this week announced a Freedom Nevada campaign to push a ballot measure to legalize marriage.
We had a hearing this week in a Texas lawsuit, and another lawsuit is coming soon in Louisiana.
Couples filed new lawsuits this week in Missouri, Alabama and in Ohio. Ohio organizers are also collecting signatures to overturn the state’s marriage ban, and this week announced that they’ve collected more than enough. And a similar campaign in Oregon just announced that they’ve collected 120% of the required signatures to challenge Oregon’s marriage ban at the ballot.
We have the latest from Utah, where the state has committed to spending millions of dollars to undo marriage equality. An apology from a Florida governor who has now changed his mind on banning the freedom to marry. Plus, new promises of yet another federal lawsuit in a conservative state.
There are several new developments in the Utah case this week. After a federal judge legalized marriage equality in Utah last month, the state has now hired Idaho attorney Monte Stewart to represent them on appeal. Republican lawmakers have pledged to spend up to two million dollars of taxpayer funds to try to overturn the freedom to marry, even though the case has already passed what should be its most expensive hurdles. For comparison, the entire cost of defending DOMA from start to finish was two point three million dollars.
Also last week, the state requested an emergency stay from the US Supreme Court. If granted, the stay would halt marriage equality during the appeals process. We could have a decision from the court on the stay any day now.
In the mean time, the appeal of the ruling is moving ahead with a very rapid schedule. The opening brief is due on January 27th, a response brief is due February 18, then a reply on February 25th, and then oral arguments will follow that. We could easily have a ruling from the 10th circuit by this summer. That could potentially mean the case could go to the US Supreme Court for the session starting at the end of this year.
Turning to the other states, the Michigan Department of State has confirmed that it will not allow gay couples who marry out of state to change their names on their Michigan driver’s licenses. Former Republican Florida Governor Charlie Crist has apologized for his past support for a ban on marriage and civil unions.
Alaska attorney Caitlin Shortell has revealed plans to file a federal lawsuit in that state later this month. And officials in Maine have announced that in the first year of marriage equality, over 1,500 gay and lesbian couples got married in the state. That’s sixteen percent of all Maine marriages.
Marriage starts this week in Hawaii, but there’s a potential new roadblock that could still halt the weddings. We have a date for a trial in Pennsylvania, there’s a new lawsuit in Texas, and one couple in Illinois has been allowed to marry six months before the scheduled start date.
Marriage equality isn’t scheduled to start in Illinois until June, but a federal judge granted an exemption to one couple last week, allowing them to marry the day before Thanksgiving.
Vernita Gray has advanced breast cancer, and was allowed to marry Patricia Ewert within just days of filing a motion for immediate relief.
It’s not the first time that a judge has granted a license to a couple facing terminal illness. Earlier this year, an Ohio man was allowed to place his husband on his death certificate, despite the state not otherwise recognizing LGBT relationships. And in New Mexico, a terminally ill woman named Jennifer Martin Neuman-Roper won a court order allowing her to marry her wife last August. Neuman-Roper passed away earlier this month. There’s a potential new roadblock to Hawaii’s marriage equality bill. Weddings are slated to start this week, but state Representative Bob McDermott has filed a new lawsuit to challenge the law. Earlier this month McDermott lost a bid for a restraining order to prevent the marriages from starting. Now he’s pressing ahead with a new motion that would invalidate the marriage equality bill. A hearing is scheduled for January 13.
We have yet another pro-equality decision this week from Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. A committee has ruled that the federal government must recognize an Oregon domestic partnership for the purposes of court employee benefits. This is a complicated ruling, because it stems from a grievance instead of a lawsuit. But ultimately, it’s good news, confirming that the domestic partnership was treated as unequal to marriage, which “constitutes a deprivation of due process and equal protection.” We have a trial date for a lawsuit in Pennsylvania: mark your calendars for June Ninth. And there’s a new lawsuit in Texas: two couples have sued state officials over the state’s constitutional marriage ban.
AFER’s federal case in Virginia is proceeding towards its next hearing. In the mean time, profiles on both plaintiff couples have appeared in the Richmond Times Dispatch and Washington Post. Visit AFER.org to read more about the couples and the case. And finally this week, a new study from the University of Michigan shows that men in states that allow marriage equality report lower levels of mental health issues.
Marriage equality is law in Illinois, but questions remain over when marriages can actually start. Virginia voters could have a chance to overturn that state’s marriage ban, and polling is surprisingly strong. Lawsuits advance this week in Pennsylvania and Tennessee, and there’s more bad news for the National Organization for Marriage.
Last week it was Hawaii, this week it was Illinois. Governor Pat Quinn signed the new marriage bill on Wednesday, with weddings scheduled to begin in June of 2014. And they could start even sooner: an amendment proposed by Senator Don Harmon would advance the start date to as soon as February.
Illinois has now moved from no recognition to civil unions in 2007 and now marriage just 6 years later.
And marriage is making strides in Virginia. Two Democratic lawmakers there have proposed bills to overturn the state’s constitutional marriage ban. The measures would have to pass the General Assembly two years in a row before going to voters, so the soonest we could see a vote would be November of 2016. For now, polling in Virginia is good, but not great — recent surveys show that so far public support has an advantage of just a few percentage points. But if support continues to grow at the rate is has for the past few years, we’d have a sizable majority by 2016.
We’re moving quickly towards a trial in Pennsylvania. A federal judge there has denied motions to dismiss a lawsuit over the state’s marriage ban. Attorneys are now discussing a start date for a trial, so we could have a ruling in Pennsylvania quite soon.
A lawsuit in Tennessee is moving forward as well. Last week the National Center for Lesbian Rights asked the court to order the state to immediately recognize the plaintiffs’ marriages while the lawsuit is pending. According to NLCR, the couples can’t wait for a resolution before obtaining legal protections for their families.
A coalition of businesses in Portland has endorsed an effort to overturn Oregon’s marriage ban. A proposed constitutional amendment in Indiana may drop a ban on civil unions to focus just on banning marriage. That means it could be an extra two years before the measure can go before voters. A new study from the Williams Institute shows that legalizing marriage in New Mexico would bring in over 15 million dollars and benefit over 2,000 children. A lawsuit in Michigan will hear testimony from Mark Regnerus, author of a controversial study used by anti-gay activists. His testimony, scheduled for late February, should provide a unique opportunity to investigate the validity of his findings.
And finally, new tax filings from the National Organization for Marriage show that the organization ended last year with a deficit of one million dollars, which is a real shame.
Well as the year winds down, a marriage bill is a done deal in Hawaii, and before the week is over another will be signed in Illinois. Plus there’s a new lawsuit in Idaho, positive polling in Maine, and we’re one step closer to the ballot in Ohio. But we’re also facing some very tough work in Indiana.
Well if you thought Hawaii was a destination for weddings before, just wait til December 2nd. That’s when the new marriage equality bill goes into effect. Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the law last week, 23 years after a group of gay couples first tried to obtain marriage licenses in Honolulu.
Polling in Hawaii is strong, with a recent survey showing support at 54% to just 31% opposed.
Meanwhile, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn will sign a marriage bill on Wednesday of this week. With Illinois and Hawaii, the number of people living in states with marriage equality has doubled since the start of 2013. Thirty-six percent of Americans now live in a state with the freedom to marry. And we could pick up New Mexico before the end of the year as well, with the state Supreme Court there expected to rule any day now.
There’s a new lawsuit in Idaho. Four couples, working with the National Center for Lesbian rights, are challenging the state’s marriage ban. There’s also progress in Ohio, where organizers have gathered enough signatures to vote on a constitutional amendment that would legalize marriage equality. It’s hard to predict how that vote would go. Polling’s been mixed in Ohio, with generally only a small margin favoring the freedom to marry.
Polls are a bit more encouraging in Indiana, where 58 percent oppose a constitutional ban on marriage. Support for the anti-gay measure is at just 38 percent. Support for marriage equality is a bit weaker, though, with 48 percent support to 46 percent opposed. The legislature will likely vote on a constitutional ban in 2014, and if it passes it’ll go to voters in less than a year from now.
And finally, it’s been one year since the legalization of marriage in Maine. A new survey shows that 87 percent of residents say that it’s had no impact or a positive impact on their lives. Support for marriage is at 54% in maine with 37% opposed. That’s a huge drop in opposition since last year.
Marriage equality turns one week old in New Jersey. And before the year is over, we could gain marriage in New Mexico, Illinois, and Hawaii. Plus, there’s a new lawsuit in Tennessee and progress in Nevada.
AFER’s attorneys filed a brief in the Virginia marriage case last week. Just like DOMA, the brief argues, Virginia’s marriage ban “demeans” same-sex couples, “places [them] in an unstable position,” “humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples,” and “instructs all … persons with whom same-sex couples interact … that their [relationship] is less worthy than the [relationships] of others.”
We’ve made it through the first week of marriage equality in New Jersey, and a new survey shows strong public support. The Rutgers-Eagleton data show 61 percent of voters favor marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Opposition has dipped to 27 percent, its lowest point yet.
We’re also making progress in New Mexico, where the state Supreme Court heard arguments regarding marriage equality. This is in response to several counties that either chose or were ordered to begin issuing licenses. At the hearing, the justices skeptical of claims that banning marriage encourages procreation, and questioning whether a ban could have a rational basis.
The court hasn’t announced when they’ll issue a ruling, but so far they’ve moved quickly in the case.
In Illinois, organizers are pushing lawmakers to bring up a marriage bill in the veto session that started last week. The session is now on hold and will resume on November 3rd. A new survey in Illinois shows 52 percent support marriage with 40 percent opposed.
Meanwhile, legislators in Hawaii are taking a more pro-active role, with a hearing on a marriage bill scheduled for Monday, the 28th. If the bill passes, marriages could begin as early as November 18th. A survey by the Honolulu Civil Beat shows opinion split, with support and opposition both at 44 percent.
There’s a brand new lawsuit in Tennessee. Four couples, working with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, have sued the state over its marriage ban.
A lawsuit in West Virginia has slowed a bit, with a judge granting a clerk’s request for an additional two months to file briefs.
And Lambda Legal has filed a brief in a lawsuit against Nevada’s marriage ban. The next step there is a reply from the state, which is due next month.
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