October 21, 2014
Late To The Party Again
President Obama now thinks bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, thereby aligning himself with roughly 60% of the American population.
Personally, my opinion as to whether I should send him a thank-you postcard is evolving. Get back to me in another four years or so.
October 17, 2014
A Wyoming Surprise!
U.S. District Court Judge Skavdahl set 5 PM, Monday, October 20 as the deadline to render his decision on Wyoming's ban on same-sex marriage, but I guess today was a slow day, so he laid it out this afternoon. The plaintiff's motion for an injunction is granted. His order included a stay until October 23, but the state has already said it will not appeal. Marriage at Old Faithful, anyone? The decision is based on the 10th Circuit's decision, but even so the order is 16 pages long.
The preferred forum for addressing the issues presented by Plaintiffs in this case is the arena of public debate and legislative action. However, that ship has sailed. It is not the desire or preference of this Court to, with the stroke of a pen, erase a State's legislative enactments. Nonetheless, the binding precedent of Kitchen and Bishop mandate this result, and this Court will adhere to its Constitutional duties and abide by the rule of law.
The Friday evening same-sex marriage rights map:
It seems that those who design these maps love to select nice colors to represent the different statuses of states, but then they get tired before they put a key on the map, so we are left to try to figure it out. This is what I think they mean:
- Lavender - Kansas is in the Tenth Circuit which has found that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, but the state continues its ban. One Kansas judge has ruled the ban is unconstitutional, but that decision has been stayed until the Kansas Supreme Court can hear it.
- Lavender - Montana is in the Ninth Circuit which has found that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, but the state continues its ban.
- Lavender - South Carolina is in the Fourth Circuit which has found that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, but the state has not been ordered to cease enforcing its ban.
- Pink - In Missouri the ban on same-sex marriage still stands, but the state recognizes same-sex marriages from out of state. Missouri is in the Eighth Circuit which has not issued a decision on same-sex marriage since it upheld Nebraska's ban in 2006.
Today's Marriage Equality Summary
As I review the gay marriage news of the last few days, I see that the facts shift so rapidly that in addition to carefully checking the date of the news report, I also need to check the time of day. Have we ever experienced anything like this before, where significant rights shifted back and forth in matters of hours in different states all across the country? It's like somebody threw a big rock in the pond and we're watching the ripples splashing and re-splashing against the shoreline. Eventually it will calm down.
Nationwide: In a Washington Blade article surveying the current situation some experts predict marriage equality will be achieved nationwide within 12 to 18 months, and they talk like that is fast. I'm wondering why this can't be done by 12/31/2014. No, really, why not? Do a lot of judges and court clerks have vacations scheduled over the next two months? I think they should be able to move the paperwork along at a nice clip. If there is never a clear U.S. Supreme Court ruling on this subject, then
Arizona: Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne acknowledged yesterday that the 9th Circuit Appeals Court decision (that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional) does apply to Arizona, but just a small technicality stands in the way. The court needs to re-issue its mandate that it withdrew in order to allow Idaho to appeal. Idaho has since dropped its appeal, but the 9th Circuit has not yet re-issued its mandate (as of Thursday night).
But this morning (Friday, October 17) U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick struck down the Arizona ban based on the 9th Circuit decision. There will be no stay. No need to wait for that mandate. The judge did not feel the need to repeat all the reasoning that we've read repeatedly in all the other decisions. His decision is only four pages long.
UPDATE (2 hours later) - Attorney General Horne says Arizona will not appeal the decision. Maricopa County Clerk tweeted this invitation at 10:36 this morning.
Welcome All to the Clerk's Office. Your marriage license awaits and we are ready to serve you!— Michael K. Jeanes (@MaricopaClerk) October 17, 2014
Alaska: The first marriage in Alaska, between Kristine Hilderbrand and Sarah Ellis, took place on Monday (Oct. 13) in Barrow after the judge waived the 3-day waiting period.
UPDATE: The state had requested the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a stay, but this afternoon that request was denied.
South Carolina: South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson laments the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court skipped an opportunity to make a clear decision on this subject and says he will continue to defend the South Carolina Constitution. He expects it to be months before he finally loses the case.
Montana: The motion for summary judgement by the plaintiffs in Montana (which is in the 9th Circuit) can be read here. Here's the brief in support of that motion. These were filed on Wednesday, October 15.
UPDATE: As of Friday (Oct. 17) afternoon, Montana is the only state in the 9th Circuit with a standing ban on same-sex marriage.
Wyoming: A decision in a Wyoming case is promised for Monday, October 20. Governor Mead, without waiting for the actual decision, has said the state should not appeal the decision. Level heads may prevail. Wyoming is in the Tenth Circuit.
Political: An article by Justin Snow on the struggles within the national Republican Party regarding the issue of gay rights. House races in California and Massachusetts are discussed, even though it's pretty obvious that the national Republican Party does not look to either state as a vanguard for their core policies. This and other articles I've read on the subject of whether the Republican Party will advance itself remind me of the always predictable articles one would see every time the old Soviet government or Communist party made some little shift. The NY Times especially, but other sources as well, would identify signs that this was finally the beginning of a movement to liberalize the USSR. Yes, they would write, it's really going to happen this time.
October 14, 2014
It was 37 years ago today
It was October 14, 1977, in Des Moines. I, along with a couple of guys from Grinnell, Iowa, had carpooled to Des Moines to join the picket lines outside the auditorium where Bryant was speaking. This was my first time doing anything publicly political. Didn't hear about the pie thing until much later. This was before the internet, ya know.
- 1979: the first national gay rights march on Washington, DC. Demands included repeal of sodomy laws, approval of a proposed expansion of the Civil Rights Act to cover sexual orientation, an end to discrimination in child custody cases, ending the ban on gays in the military and ending discrimination in the civil service and among government contractors.
- 1987: Congress approved (94-2) a provision that would restrict the use of almost $1 billion in federal funds for AIDS education to materials that encouraged abstinence rather than actually telling people how to have safer sex. It was the first major effort the federal government was making to fight AIDS, and it was nearly strangled in its crib (the legislation, not AIDS). The provision was declared unconstitutional in 1992. The number of AIDS cases in the U.S. doubled during that time.
October 13, 2014
Florida: taking a different path
There have been a number of separate court decisions in Florida that determined that state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Attorney General Bondi hoped the issue would be resolved by the Supreme Court, but that didn't happen. So she wants to take the whole issue to the Florida Supreme Court and get a definitive resolution to the matter. It sounds like she figuratively threw her hands up in the air in disgust at the U.S. Supreme Court which seems to be more concerned with being the Supreme Court than with actually clarifying law for a country that's split on the subject of same-sex marriage.
Box Turtle Bulletin reminds us that Attorney General Bondi has tried to keep the state's court battle non-homophobic. Rather than carting in all that rotten, stinking stuff that some twisted minds consider to be "reasons" why gay people should not wed, the state's argument has only been that the state has the right to set its own rules for marriage. Even so, the amicus briefs from so many "Friends" managed to pollute the process. IMO, if the anti-marriage people had from the beginning stuck just to the argument that each state has complete control over marriage, the anti-marriage people might have come out in a bit better position at the end of the court battles.
October 12, 2014
Time To Turn The Count Around: Six
Six is the number of states where the ban on same-sex marriage has not yet been declared unconstitutional. It's easier now to count the states that are in violation of the Constitution than those that are in compliance.
The yellow states are in a circuit that has declared bans on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional, but the state does not yet offer same-sex marriage. The striped states are those where a court has ruled the ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, but no appeals decision has yet been made. No same-sex marriage there yet, either.
A Federal Judge Working On Sunday - Alaska
Federal District Court Judge Timothy M. Burgess issued his ruling today (Sunday, October 12) that Alaska's ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional. No stay. It's immediate. Here's the ruling itself.
Any state interests identified by Defendants are insufficient for Alaska's same-sex marriage laws to pass constitutional muster under due process or equal protection. Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment at Docket 20 is GRANTED.
With this ruling, the Court hereby DECLARES that Alaska's same-sex marriage laws are unconstitutional for violating the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The Court IMMEDIATELY ENJOINS the state of Alaska, including state officers, personnel, agents, government divisions, and other political entities, from enforcing Alaska Constitution Article 1, Section 25 and Alaska Statute Sections 25.05.011 and 25.05.013 to the extent that the laws prohibit otherwise qualified same-sex couples from marriage and refusing to recognize lawful same-sex marriages entered in other states.
Texas's marriage laws are rationally related to the State's interest in reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births. By channeling procreative heterosexual intercourse into marriage, Texas's marriage laws reduce unplanned out-of-wedlock births and the costs that those births impose on society. Recognizing same-sex marriage does not advance this interest because same-sex unions do not result in pregnancy. At the very least, one could rationally believe that opposite-sex marriages will do more to advance the State's interest in reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births than same-sex marriage will.
IOW, if same-sex couples would only be as irresponsible as opposite-sex couples in churning out unwanted, out-of-wedlock babies, then Texas would adopt marriage equality.
October 10, 2014
It's Friday night. Do you know what your marriage rights are?
Last night at 11 PM SCOTUSblog counted a total of 31 states plus DC as jurisdictions with marriage equality. I'll accept their count, but it's almost 24 hours old. Use pencil, not pen.
Idaho decided not to appeal and did not ask for an extension of the brief stay. IOW, Idaho has marriage equality now.
West Virginia's Attorney General has decided to respect the U.S. Supreme Court non-decision. But the Attorney General has no authority over marriage forms and procedures, so real marriage equality awaits action by the State Registrar and Secretary of State. Nevertheless, couples are marrying in Cabell County.
South Carolina's Supreme Court has issued an order that is effectively a stay in that state. So no marriage equality yet.
Arkansas' Supreme Court has refused to halt a lawsuit challenging that state's ban on same-sex marriage. A circuit judge declared Arkansas' ban unconstitutional and 500 couples got marriage licenses before the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a stay on that decision. No marriage equality yet, but if their Supreme Court gets to review and issue a decision on the case it might be interesting.
North Carolina seems to have gone through some odd convulsions this week, but today same-sex couples were getting married there. But yesterday the North Carolina Senate President Pro Tem and the House Speaker (who both belong to a political party whose name begins with "R") filed a motion to intervene. Those two have retained John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, as their counsel. The National Organization for Marriage has been at the vanguard in defending bans on marriage equality across the nation. That is to say, they have a HUGE losing record that gets bigger by the day. As if to confirm that, a court decision in North Carolina today struck down the same-sex ban there, which probably kills the brief attempt by the Legislature.
Johnson County, Kansas is made up mostly of affluent suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri. The county's chief judge ordered the Johnson County Clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But that was Wednesday the 8th. Tonight, Friday the 10th, the Kansas Supreme Court ordered a hold on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but marriage license applications can still be accepted. UPDATE: One couple did get married in Johnson County. So far, they are only identified as Kelli and Angela.
Hawaii: the case there has been ruled moot.
Nevada couples are marrying.
Alaska: oral arguments have been scheduled to deal with plaintiff's motion for summary judgement.
Florida is also continuing the fight in court. A deadline for the defendants has been extended to November 15! A lot can happen in a month.
Missouri plaintiffs have requested to file a sur-reply (new word for me!). That would seem to be an additional reply after they already replied to a motion for judgement by the intervenors (filling the role of defendants). The sur-reply seeks to inform the court that something didn't happen at the U.S. Supreme Court which is relevant.
October 9, 2014
A Wrench In The Back Of Head Means "No"
A gay serial rapist! That's so rare I never heard of one before.
Eventually, [accused Jeffrey] Bugai allegedly threw the victim to the floor, wrapped his legs around him, and told him "that he wanted to suck [the victim's] penis" and that they were going to have sex.
The man soon hit Bugai in the back of the head with a wrench and fled.