Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) Introduces Bill Barring Feds from Recognizing Same-Sex Marriages if State Bans Them
Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) introduced a heinous piece of of anti-gay conservative federal legislation today called "The State Marriage Defense Act of 2014" which would bar federal agencies from recognizing same-sex marriages in the states that have laws banning them.
Said Weber in a statement:
“The 10th Amendment was established to protect state sovereignty and individual rights from being seized by the Federal Government. For too long, however, the Federal Government has slowly been eroding state’s rights by promulgating rules and regulations through federal agencies. I drafted the “State Marriage Defense Act of 2014” to help restore the 10th Amendment, affirm the authority of states to define and regulate marriage, as well as, provide clarity to federal agencies seeking to determine who qualifies as a spouse for the purpose of federal law. By requiring that the Federal Government defer to the laws of a person’s state of legal residence in determining marital status, we can protect states’ constitutionally established powers from the arbitrary overreach of unelected bureaucrats.”
Writes the hate group Family Research Council in a press release lauding Weber:
The State Marriage Defense Act is a response to the Supreme Court's 2013 decision in United States v. Windsor. The Court struck down as unconstitutional Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage for all purposes under federal law as the union of one man and one woman. The plaintiff in Windsor had entered into a marriage with a person of the same sex that was recognized as legal by the state in which she lived, so the Court said that the federal government should also recognize the relationship as a marriage.
However, the Court was silent on the status of same-sex couples who may have obtained a civil marriage in one state, but who live in a state that recognizes only marriages of a man and a woman. The Obama administration has implemented guidance for some federal agencies that ignores the marriage laws of states that define marriage between a man and a woman. At the same time, other federal agencies defer to the laws of a person's state of legal residency to determine marital status for federal purposes. The State Marriage Defense Act would address this administrative chaos with a simple rule that tells the federal government to respect state determinations of the marital status of their residents when applying federal law.
Naturally, FRC's Tony Perkins is thrilled, and had Weber on his radio show today.
Jeremy Hooper at Good As You notes that Weber said on the show that he has not even read the Windsor decision:
The Human Rights Campaign today called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to ensure that the marriages of more than 1300 gay couples who married before the SCOTUS stay are recognized by the federal government, the Salt Lake Tribune reports:
In a letter delivered to Holder Thursday, the civil rights organization said there is no "legal reason to question the validity" of marriages that occurred between Dec. 20 and Jan. 6, when the U.S. Supreme Court stayed a federal judge’s ruling overturning Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage.
The letter pointed out Utah Gov. Gary Herbert initially directed state agencies to recognize the marriages.
"Even though the governor’s office has now made a political decision to cut off this recognition, it continues to insist that it makes no pronouncement about the validity of these unions," wrote Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). "There is simply no reason for the United States government not to extend federal recognition to these more than 1,300 couples."
HRC also sent a letter to attorneys general in 17 states where same-sex marriage is legal, calling on them to recognize the Utah marriages.
The Department of Justice is reviewing Herbert's decision to put the marriages on hold.
Support for marriage equality in Utah is at a record high, the Washington Blade reports:
A recent consumer survey conducted in Utah reveals that support for same-sex marriage in the state was at an all-time high last week just before the Supreme Court halted the weddings with a stay.
The poll, conducted using Google’s digital platform polling system, found that support for same-sex marriage reached 41 percent as of last week. Although the poll shows a majority of Utah voters have yet to embrace marriage equality, the result demonstrates a 13-point increase in support over two years when compared to an earlier poll from Brigham Young University.
David Baker (pictured), a Mormon and gay D.C. activist, said he ran the poll in the aftermath of the federal district court ruling in Utah in favor of marriage equality for more updated data on the state’s support for same-sex nuptials.
The ACLU is planning a lawsuit against Utah for putting marriages on hold, TPM reports:
The ACLU called for plaintiffs on Wednesday, and got "overwhelming interest" from couples who were married before the stay was granted.
"We have a great pool and we are working through that, and plan to bring litigation that will protect all marriages, whether the couples are named plaintiffs or not," the ACLU said in a statement.
In a letter to Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes on Wednesday, ACLU of Utah legal director John Mejia called on the state to recognize the same-sex marriages performed before the stay.
"In short, these marriages are valid and have vested the married couples with rights that the state and federal governments must recognize. Utah and the federal government should thus accord same-sex couples who married in Utah all of the same protections and obligations that married couples of the opposite sex receive," he wrote. "When these couples married, they immediately obtained all of the same protections and obligations enjoyed by all of the other married couples in Utah."
Meanwhile, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is telling county clerks to complete the paperwork for same-sex marriages performed before the SCOTUS stay, the AP reports:
Reyes' spokeswoman Missy Larsen says the office is notifying counties Thursday afternoon...Larsen says Reyes' new directive was issued to clear up some confusion and only applies to marriages that were solemnized.
And The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) announced today that it was joining the law firm of Magleby & Greenwood, P.C., as counsel for the plaintiff couples in Kitchen v. Herbert, the case which went before Judge Shelby and has been appealed to the Tenth Circuit:
The case was brought by three same-sex couples in Utah: Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity; Karen Archer and Kate Call; and Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge. On December 20, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled that Utah’s ban on marriage by same-sex couples violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process of law. The Tenth Circuit has ordered an expedited briefing schedule, with briefing to be completed by February 25, 2014.
Said Peggy Tomsic of Magleby & Greenwood, P.C.: “We believe it is in our clients’ best interest now that the case is on appeal, and particularly since it is on an expedited briefing schedule, to have a national organization with significant experience litigating and winning marriage equality cases to enhance our perspective and fire-power as we move forward.
We also wanted a national organization that has a real connection with Utah. Kate Kendell, NCLR’s Executive Director, was raised in Utah, worked here as a lawyer for many years, and has a daughter living here who finally had the opportunity to marry the love of her life when Judge Shelby issued his ruling.
I have known Kate for years. I know she and NCLR are committed to bringing equality to every gay and lesbian citizen in this country, and I know that Kate will work tirelessly to bring equality to her home state.”
Teams at the Gemini Observatory in Chile announced the functionality of their long-awaited Gemini Planet Imager by releasing the above picture, the first in what is expected to become a string of exoplanet images from across the galaxy. Gizmodo reports:
Acquired by the world's most powerful planet-hunting instrument, the Gemini Planet Imager, it shows a 10-million-year-old planet called Beta Pictorus orbiting its giant parent star [at a distance of 63 light years from Earth]. It's the first such image to come from Gemini, which has been under development for over a decade but is only now producing data like this.
The Imager detects infrared radiation to readily spot young planets, whose post-formation afterglow is in that part of the spectrum, while masking light emitted by parent stars that can often interfere with images.
While only around a dozen exoplanets have been directly photographed to date, the Gemini’s advanced technology is enabling its team to already begin analyzing 600 other young stars and the planets that surround them.
The Imager has also taken some impressive shots of polarized light of stars and Jupiter's moon Europa. Check them out, AFTER THE JUMP...
Via the observatory's website: Gemini Planet Imager’s first light image of the light scattered by a disk of dust orbiting the young star HR4796A. This narrow ring is thought to be dust from asteroids or comets left behind by planet formation; some scientists have theorized that the sharp edge of the ring is defined by an unseen planet. The left image (1.9-2.1 microns) shows normal light, including both the dust ring and the residual light from the central star scattered by turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere. The right image shows only polarized light. Leftover starlight is unpolarized and hence removed from this image. The light from the back edge of the disk is strongly polarized as it scatters towards us.
Via the observatory's website: Comparison of Europa observed with Gemini Planet Imager in K1 band on the right and visible albedo visualization based on a composite map made from Galileo SSI and Voyager 1 and 2 data (from USGS) on the left. While GPI is not designed for ‘extended’ objects like this, its observations could help in following surface alterations on icy satellites of Jupiter or atmospheric phenomena (e.g. clouds, haze) on Saturn’s moon Titan. The GPI near-infrared color image is a combination of 3 wavelength channels.
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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie apologized earlier today at a press conference regarding the scandal over emails that revealed staffers had engaged in political retaliation against the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey by ordering the closure of two lanes of the George Washington Bridge which clogged traffic in that city for four smoggy days in September.
In the presser, which lasted almost two hours, Christie attempted to paint himself as a victim of the controversy, and said he fired his aide Bridget Anne Kelly and his two-time campaign manager Bill Stepien.
Some of Christie's choice quotes from the press conference. You can read the full transcript HERE.
"I was blindsided yesterday morning.. . . I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or its execution, and I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here, regardless of what the facts ultimately uncover. This was handled in a callous and indifferent way, and it is not the way this administration has conducted itself over the last four years and not the way it will conduct itself over the next four."
"I'm sad. I'm sad. That's the predominant emotion I feel right now is sadness, sadness that I was betrayed by a member of my staff, sadness that I had people who I entrusted with important jobs who acted completely inappropriately, sad that that's led the people of New Jersey to have less confidence in the people that I've selected."
"I feel passionately about issues, and I don't hide my emotions from people. I am not a focus-group tested, blow-dried candidate or governor. Now, that has always made some people, as you know, uneasy. Some people like that style, some people don't. ... But I am not a bully."
Watch the first few minutes of the presser, AFTER THE JUMP...