Alaska | ENDA | Idaho | Matt Foreman | Virginia

Wednesday Speed Read: Virginia, Idaho, Equality Act of '74, Matt Foreman, ENDA, Alaska

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service


Oral arguments Tuesday before the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals over Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage suggest the vote will almost certainly be 2 to 1 vote. The only question is which way it will go. Sharp comments and fierce questioning by two of the three judges left little room for doubt on how their votes will split. Republican appointee Paul Niemeyer, 73, said allowing gays to marry could set the stage for a man to marry “six wives or his daughter.” He suggested same-sex couples could have a “parallel” type relationship “with less attributes.” Democratic appointee Judge Roger Gregory, 62, derided arguments by attorneys who said marriage laws are for heterosexual couples to “protect the children.” Gregory said that sounded like a “totalitarian system where people are baby makers and you get married for the interest of the state.” Full story tomorrow.


Just eight days after hearing arguments, a U.S. magistrate judge on Tuesday struck down Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage and ordered the state begin issuing licenses Friday. Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale’s 57-page memorandum order in Latta v. Otter, a case brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, says the ban on same-sex couple marrying violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees to equal protection and due process.  “Slow as the march toward equality may seem, it is never in vain,” wrote Dale, who said the state offered “no evidence that same-sex marriage would adversely affect opposite-sex marriages or the well-being of children.” The ruling made Idaho the 11th state this year to see its ban on same-sex marriage struck down. All are under appeal. In anticipation of Dale’s decision, Idaho’s Republican Governor Butch Otter filed a motion requesting a stay pending appeal.


It was 40 years ago today that U.S. Reps. Bella Abzug and Ed Koch (D-NY) introduced the “Equality Act of 1974,” the first version of what is now the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The Equality Act was a much broader piece of legislation, seeking to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Over the years, the bill was trimmed and rewritten. Today’s version seeks to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity but only in employment with businesses of 15 employees or more and with exemptions for religious organizations. The bill passed the Senate last November for the first time in its 40-year history; but House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has vowed it will not get a vote in the House under his leadership.


Former National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman urged LGBT leaders to “pull the plug” on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), saying it is an “essentially lifeless corpse.”


Five same-sex couples filed suit in federal court Monday to challenge Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage. That now leaves only three states with bans that have not yet been challenged in court: North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana.


Lambda Legal argued a case before the Alaska Supreme Court Tuesday that could strike down that state’s ban on same-sex marriages. In Harris v. Millennium Hotel, Lambda argued that the state law barring same-sex couples the right to marry prevented Deborah Harris from qualifying for a survivors’ benefit paid through the state’s Workers Compensation Act to spouses of employees killed at work. Harris and Kerry Fadely were in a relationship for 10 years before Fadely was shot to death at work by a recently fired employee.

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

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  1. Democrats and Republicans will never pass federal laws that the Chamber of Commerce, the cults and bigots find odious when they have a chance of success.

    If ENDA is gone then we have to campaign of a comprehensive, inclusive Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing in equality in employment, housing, marriage and other civil matters and public accommodations and attach a series of draconian enforcement laws.

    Make the bigots, racists, immigrant bashers and woman haters pay.

    For now, insist that the rebranded bigot in the WH sign the ENDA EO.

    Posted by: Bill Perdue | May 14, 2014 10:48:05 AM

  2. "Republican appointee Paul Niemeyer, 73, said allowing gays to marry could set the stage for a man to marry “six wives or his daughter.” He suggested same-sex couples could have a “parallel” type relationship “with less attributes.” "

    How in the world does a person with such little intelligence get appointed to such a position (by a bigoted elected lawmaker, no doubt)?

    Removing sex discrimination in marriage laws no more would "allow a man to marry six wives" than allowing women to vote has allowed one person to have six votes.
    Even polygamists who are arguing for decriminalization have consistently argued and understood that what they ask for is in no way parallel to what gay couples seek. The polygamists themselves understand that you can send a spousal survivor's benefit check (for example) to a spouse without changing any calculation regardless if the spouse is male or female, black or white; but you cannot send out such checks to 6 different spouses of the same person and call it a fair deal.
    A doctor can ask a person whose spouse in unconscious for advice on how to proceed whether the spouse is male or female, white or black, tall or short. (That's sll irrelevant.). But with six spouses? Does the doctor call for a vote? Even polygamists know that changing the NUMBER of people does NOT work the same as interchangeable traits like sex, race or height of an individual.

    And separate but not-quite-equal? That he would suggest such a thing hearkens back to the arguments that blacks should be happy just to be allowed in a restroom at all, even if it's in a field behind the gas station and without plumbing. It's like he's completely unaware of judicial precedent in America.
    Surely two of the three can't be as stupid as this one (one can hope).

    Posted by: GregV | May 14, 2014 10:59:48 AM

  3. Oh, Billy boy. So much stupid in so few sentences.

    That is a link to the 64-32 Senate vote last November in favor of ENDA. Democrats did that. They passed it out of a committee they controlled and Harry Reid put it on the floor, and all the Dems voted for it (along with ten Republicans).

    The problem is John Boehner and his Republican majority in the House. Speaker Boehner refuses to bring ENDA to the floor because the Republican caucus is overwhelmingly opposed.

    The fact that the White House has so far kept the pressure on the House to act does not grant anyone the right to call President Obama a bigot. I believe he will sign the executive order for federal contractors within the next year.

    Your solution of a constitutional amendment is much harder and more unrealistic (are you even aware of what the process is?) to achieve than Democrats picking up 15-20 House seats in 2016. It is also possible that a Republican-controlled House will put ENDA on the floor before November 2016 to take a winning issue away from Hillary Clinton.

    Also, aren't you aware that there appear to be five votes on the Supreme Court to effectively enact marriage equality nationwide within the next two years?

    Posted by: Josh | May 14, 2014 11:13:43 AM

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