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St. Louis Circuit Judge Hears Challenge To Missouri Same-Sex Marriage Ban

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St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison heard arguments Monday on a challenge to Missouri's gay marriage ban brought by four gay couples who were married in St. Louis by city officials in June.

The couples are Tod Martin and David Gray, Bruce Yampolsky and Terry Garrett, John Durnell and Richard Eaton, and Miranda Duschack and Karen Davis. All but Duschack and Davis attended Monday's hearings, as The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports. Then Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter performed the ceremonies in Mayor Slay's office with his consent. Attorney General Chris Koster filed an injunction to stop the marriages. Though he says he supports same-sex marriage, he also commented that he felt bound to uphold Missouri law (the state has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage passed in 2004).

Koster did not defend the state's ban in court on Monday. Instead, that duty fell to Assistant Attorney General Jeremiah Morgan. The couples were represented by St. Louis City Counselor Winston Calvert.

The AP reports:

Overturning Missouri's constitutional ban "would at least open doors for the next generation not to have the trials and tribulations that we had," Garrett [a plaintiff in the case] said after the hearing. "We should be able to decide who we love."

But Assistant Attorney General Jeremiah Morgan told [Judge] Burlison that Missouri law limits marriage to between a man and a woman. He argued that 71 percent of Missourians voted for that definition of marriage in a 2004 referendum, and the U.S. Supreme Court has time and again allowed states to define marriage.

"It is the state's, and the people's, responsibility to make that decision," Morgan said.

Calvert noted that an increasing number of states are allowing same-sex marriage, including most of the states surrounding Missouri.

"The laws forbid some people from choosing who they marry," Calvert said. "It's only gay and lesbian couples that are treated as second-class citizens by the state."

The AP also points out that this hearing comes just a week after a federal judge "in Kansas City [heard arguments] on a suit filed by 10 couples over the state's failure to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states."

The ACLU has a pending lawsuit challenging Missouri's gay marriage ban as well.

Regardless of the outcome in any of these cases, it is almost certain that each will be appealed.


ACLU Sues Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel On Behalf Of Chelsea Manning, Alleges Improper Gender Treatment: READ

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The ACLU filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel alleging the DOD and top officials have provided improper treatment for Manning's gender dysphoria. Currently serving a 35 year sentence in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Manning insists she has received only "lip service" in response to her requests for proper medical treatment. BuzzFeed reports:

The suit alleges that such medical care has been withheld from Manning even though military doctors themselves diagnosed her with the condition, which attorneys say is a constitutional violation.

As a part of the suit, the ACLU is seeking a preliminary injunction demanding officials grant Manning with appropriate hormone therapy, the ability to follow female grooming standards, and access to medical providers who are qualified to treat patients with gender dysphoria.

“The government continues to deny Ms. Manning’s access to necessary medical treatment for gender dysphoria, without which she will continue to suffer severe psychological harms,” said Chase Strangio, attorney in the ACLU Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender project and co-counsel on Ms. Manning’s case, in a statement. “Such clear disregard of well-established medical protocols constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.”

Previously, the ACLU promised it would take legal action against the U.S. military if Manning did not receive proper medical treatment. 

Read the ACLU's suit against Hagel, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "ACLU Sues Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel On Behalf Of Chelsea Manning, Alleges Improper Gender Treatment: READ " »


ACLU and Lambda Legal Ask Supreme Court to Reject Motion To Delay Same-Sex Marriage In Virginia

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Late last week, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts agreed to review a request from Virginia county clerk Michèle McQuigg to stay a ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Yesterday, prompted by Chief Justice Roberts’ intervention, the ACLU and Lambda Legal asked that the Fourth Circuit’s ruling not be stayed so that same-sex marriage can begin at last in Virginia:

"We will do everything we can to ensure that same-sex couples do not have to wait a day longer than necessary to finally receive the dignity and protection that only comes with marriage," said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project, who argued the case for the class before the federal appeals court. "The historic Supreme Court case that affirmed the right of people of different races to marry started in in Virginia. In the 47 years since then, committed same-sex couples in the commonwealth have been patiently waiting for the freedom to marry the person they love."

The organizations also will request that, if the Court decides to grant the stay, it should accept the case for full review as quickly as possible in order to minimize the harm that would be caused by the delay of the Fourth Circuit decision.

As WVEC notes, same-sex couples will be allowed to wed in Virginia starting August 21 unless the Supreme Court grants a stay of the Fourth Circuit’s decision. 


As ACLU, GLAD, Lambda Legal, NCLR, and Transgender Law Center Pull Support for ENDA, HRC Holds On

Following this morning's statement that the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) dropped their support for ENDA, four more major LGBT rights organizations have followed suit.

Via the ACLU: Aclu

The American Civil Liberties Union today announced that it is withdrawing its support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in a statement also signed by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Transgender Law Center. The ACLU objects to a provision in the bill that would allow religiously affiliated employers to continue to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

"Federal legislation to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination is way beyond overdue, but Congress has no place giving religiously affiliated employers a license to discriminate against LGBT workers," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office. "We can no longer support a bill that treats LGBT discrimination as different and somehow more legitimate than other forms of discrimination."

President Obama has announced his intention to sign an executive order that would ban discrimination against LGBT people employed by federal contractors. The ACLU opposes any inclusion of a discrimination exemption in this executive order.

Read their statement HERE.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign continues to support the troubling, flawed piece of legislation.

Said HRC Vice President Fred Sainz in an email: "HRC supports ENDA because it will provide essential workplace protections to millions of LGBT people."

In related news, 45 LGBT groups have written a letter to President Obama asking him to ensure that the executive order he has promised to sign barring anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors "not contain any exemption beyond what is provided by the Constitution and Title VII."


ACLU Urges Wisconsin Attorney General to Make a Decision on Appeal of Marriage Ruling

In an open letter to Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (pictured), the American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Wisconsin have called for Van Hollen to decide whether or not to appeal the recent ruling striking down the state's gay marriage ban.

6a00d8341c730253ef01a511cc9804970c-300wiFor now, Judge Crabb's order is suspended, pending the possible appeals from Governor Scott Walker or Attorney General Van Hollen. While Walker seems hesitant to take a definite stand on this issue, on numerous past occasions Van Hollen has stated it would be his intention to appeal.

In the above-linked letter, John Knight and Larry Dupuis of the ACLU explain the need for prompt action in this matter:

 Our clients and other same-sex couples in Wisconsin are faced with the continuing indignity of seeing their families denigrated by the state’s refusal to allow them to marry or to recognize their marriages entered elsewhere... Even if you [Van Hollen] believe you will win, please file your appeal promptly to resolve the uncertainty that same-sex couples, their children, as well as employers and other businesses and government offices who interact with same-sex couples are facing until the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s ban on marriage is resolved.


Four Couples File Suit Challenging Montana's Ban on Gay Marriage

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The ACLU has filed suit on behalf of four couples in Montana challenging the state's ban on gay marriage, the AP reports:

Ben_ChaseThe Montana suit was being filed in federal court in Great Falls. It lists as plaintiffs four Montana couples who are either unmarried or who were married outside the state.

The lawsuit alleges the ban denies same-sex couples the freedom and dignity afforded to other Montanans, and denies them the state and federal legal protections and benefits that come with marriage.

"We want Aden to grow up knowing that we are a family like any other family," plaintiff Shauna Goubeaux said in a statement of her and wife Nicole's 1-year-old son. "Marriage is part of being a family. By being plaintiffs in this case, we are showing him his mommies will stand up for what is right and stand up for him."

Mt3In addition to Shauna and Nicole Goubeaux, the plaintiffs are Angie and Tonya Rolando; Ben Milano and Chase Weinhandl; and Sue Hawthorne and Adel Johnson.

Read the complaint HERE.

See the ACLU's page on the lawsuit HERE.

Governor Steve Bullock released a statement in support of the lawsuit:

"Montanans cherish our freedom and recognize the individual dignity of every one of us. The time has come for our state to recognize and celebrate - not discriminate against - two people who love one another, are committed to each other, and want to spend their lives together.


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