The basic players in the case are the plaintiffs, Timothy B. Bostic, a Professor at Old Dominion University and his partner, Tony C. London, a successful Norfolk area realtor (both pictured right). They have been a couple for over 25 years. The defendants are Robert F. McDonnell, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, anti-gay zealot Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and George E. Schaefer, III, the Clerk of the Circuit Cort for the City of Norfolk, whose office refused to issue a marriage license to the plaintiffs.
The marriage amendment challenge states, among other things, that Virginia law "fails to honor the laws of thirteen other states and the District of Columbia, which allow for same-sex marriage, by providing that such marriages are 'void in all respects; and by stipulating that any contractual rights from such valid marriages 'are void and unenforceable; in the Commonwealth of Virginia....The disadvantage these laws impose upon gays and lesbians is the result of disapproval or animus against a politically unpopular group. Accordingly, these laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by casting gays and lesbians into disfavored legal status and categorizing them as 'second-class citizens."Check out the full complaint HERE, which leads off with a great reference to Loving v. Virginia, the landmark Supreme Court case that invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage.
Those familiar to the case that gutted DOMA, Windsor v. United States, know that the suit was prompted by the over $300,000 in extra estate taxes that Edie Windsor was forced to pay as the result of her deceased spouse being a member of the same sex. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in Windsor's favor, the state of New York is offering refunds to anyone else who might have found themselves in her situation.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the refunds Tuesday, citing the Supreme Court decision to render DOMA unconstitutional. Said refunds apply to any same sex couple considered legally married in the state of New York who were forced to pay any extra estate taxes as the result of DOMA. At present, the state has not made any estimates of exactly how much tax money will need to be repaid.
Upon the announcement, Cuomo expressed his personal support of the refunds:
"This financial compensation is one more step toward justice for Edie Windsor, and all of the men and women who confronted similar indifference at a time of deep personal loss."
According to the Daily Journal (via AP)...
"A refund must be claimed within three years of the tax return or two years after the tax was overpaid. More information is available through the state's Taxpayer Information Center at 518-457-5387."
Last week, Long Beach's Vice Mayor Robert Garcia confirmed long-standing rumors that he would campaign to replace Mayor Bob Foster, who declined to seek a third term. Contra Coast Times reports on the announcement:
In a YouTube video, Garcia spoke of the greatness of Long Beach and the city's accomplishments during the past several years, including reforming pensions, closing structural budget deficits and opening new parks.
"Over the next few months, I want to listen to you, I want to hear your story," Garcia said. "I want to sit on your porch, and hear what you want to do for your family and four our city. And I want to share with you my vision for the city, what we can do together as a team."
In addition to the accomplishments mentioned above, Garcia has led locally on numerous pro-LGBT issues. He is the author of the city's Equal Benefits Ordinance which ensured domestic partner benefits for city vendors. He also authored the city's first anti-bullying policy and named the first park in America after civil rights leader Harvey Milk.
Last year, Long Beach was recognized by the Human Rights Campaign as one of the top ten cities in the country for pro-LGBT municipal law and policy.
Watch a video of Garcia's announcement, AFTER THE JUMP...
Same-sex marriage has become a lightning rod in Ohio's race for Attorney General following Monday's ruling by Federal Judge Timothy Black that a Cincinnati couple, Jim Obergefell and John Arthur, must be recognized as legally married in the state of Ohio even though they were married in Maryland. Cincinnati.com reports that once the decision was handed down, incumbent Mike DeWine made clear that he would appeal Judge Black's ruling. Challenger David Pepper, however, found that unacceptable. In a press release titled, "In Cases of Unconstitutional Treatment, AG Has Duty "To Speak Out"", Pepper attacked DeWine for supporting the state's gay marriage ban and for vowing to fight Judge Black's ruling as the couple in question spend what is most likely to be their last few weeks together, as Mr. Arthur's death is "imminent" as a result of his advanced ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease. Pepper stated,
“Above all, an Attorney General takes an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. This case is a truly sad example of Constitutional rights being violated, and the deep and personal harms that result from constitutionally unequal treatment. I respectfully call upon Attorney General DeWine to recognize the clear Constitutional wrongs taking place here. Allow this couple to spend their final weeks together in dignity.”
The small Balkans nation of Montenegro held its first ever Pride parade in the coastal town of Budva. While the small 40-person parade did anticipate some resistance, organizers were shocked when more that 200 anti-gay protesters showed up, and chanted slogans like "kill the gays" while assaulting both participants and police. At least ten of the protesters were arrested, while several members of the parade walked away with minor injuries.
The violence comes one day after anti-gay demonstrators hung fake death notices depicting on of the parade's organizers, Zdravko Cimbaljevic, who is also credited as being the "first person to have come out as gay in Montenegro". He told Reuters that these violent and homophobic demonstrations showcase "the true face of Montenegro". The country has recently sought multiple measures to improve its human rights record in order to join the European Union, despite having a rather conservative population. One native Montenegrin told a reporter from AP that, "I don't approve of violence, but I didn't know how to explain this gathering to my son." According to AP, the Montenegrin government praised both the parade participants and the police who clashed with protesters. "Interior Minister Rasko Konjevic praised the police, saying they prevented more serious clashes."
Pride celebration now routinely take place in neighboring Croatia without such incidents. However, it is worth noting that another neighboring nation, Serbia, banned a Pride march last October after similar violence erupted at another parade in 2011. The Serbian government claimed that they banned last year's march for fear of even more violence.
"Previous attempts to organize pride events in the country failed over threats of violence. In 2012, actors who posed as a gay couple in a video promoting tolerance were badly beaten in the capital, Podgorica. But Montenegro's pro-EU government has expressed support for the pride event and urged tolerance."
In an effort to improve its standing on human rights, Montenegro has already "passed a bill against all kinds of sexual discrimination." Unfortunately, the tide of public opinion has yet to shift. According to NBC World News, "two-thirds of Montenegrins canvassed in a recent survey by the Ipsos research think-tank said they thought homosexuality was an illness and 80 percent said it should be kept private."
No word has yet been released as to whether LGBT activists plan on attempting similar celebrations or demonstrations in the future. LGBT rights groups in Serbia have already hailed the parade in Montenegro as "strategically important". Other LGBT groups across Europe are also expressing support. Evelyne Paradis, executive director of ILGA-Europe, stated in a press release:
"Today is an unfortunate day for Montenegro. A group of LGBTI citizens exercised their fundamental right to assembly and publicly express themselves peacefully. Unfortunately other citizens employed violent methods to deprive their compatriots of this basic right...The Montenegrin authorities fulfilled their duty to guarantee the right of assembly to LGBTI activists and their supporters...there is a huge need for education and awareness raising to be done by the Montenegrin authorities in order to cultivate and promote the basic principles and values of the European Union among its citizens, the principles of diversity and respect for human rights."
Fortunately, Prime Minister of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic has already stated publicly that his country "supports protection of human rights for all people without difference."
Jerome Corsi, author and "resident crackpot" of WND, was one of the speakers attending the Eagle Forum's Collegians Summit in Washington DC. During his speech, he spouted many familiar arguments frequently used by homophobic conservatives, that marriage equality will inevitable lead to polygamy and pedophilia.
"It's very hard, once these barriers are broken, once the logic of a Judeo-Christian faith is broken down, so that people no longer believe in fundamental issues such as sin...We begin heading towards a kind of Paganism that we've done before. Ancient Rome experimented with this."
Corsi also cautioned those in attendance that establishing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage would inevitably lead to hate crime charges against anyone "who preaches a Biblical, Judeo-Christian interpretation that anything except a marriage between a man and a woman is a sin."