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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

Mt1 Mt2

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.


ACLU Opposes DOMA Lawyer's Intervention in Federal Challenge to Ohio Gay Marriage Ban

Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer who successfully fought Edie Windsor's DOMA case with the ACLU before the Supreme Court, filed a motion to intervene in an ACLU case challenging Ohio's gay marriage ban several weeks ago. On Friday, the ACLU told the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to deny her intervention, the Washington Blade reports:

KaplanIn a filing Friday before the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the American Civil Liberties Union — along with the ACLU of Ohio and private attorneys at Gerhardstein & Branch — expressed opposition to Roberta Kaplan’s intervention in a case seeking recognition of same-sex marriages in Ohio for the purposes of death certificates.

The 16-page brief argues that Kaplan should be denied intervention in the Ohio case — in which she sought entry on behalf of Equality Ohio and four same-sex couples — on the basis that she wants to enter the case at too late a stage and is making arguments already stated by plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

“Plaintiffs-Appellees have the utmost respect for Equality Ohio and the four unmarried couples and their counsel and the important interests they represent,” the brief states. “However, Plaintiffs-Appellees should be entitled to continue to litigate the case that they initiated in July of last year without the disruption and prejudice that would flow from new claims and parties at this late stage.”

The ACLU also expressed displeasure at Kaplan's timing, months after the case was filed and briefings were scheduled.

Kaplan refused to respond to the Blade when asked, saying she would be filing her response with the court.

More at the Blade...

ObergfellThe case is an appeal of a ruling by Judge Timothy Black brought by John Arthur and Jim Obergfell, who flew to Maryland from Ohio last year so they could marry on the airport tarmac before Arthur's ALS, a progressive neurological disease that robs patients of their ability to walk, talk and eventually breathe, became too difficult.

Arthur died in October.

Ohio's attorney general appealed Black's ruling in January, bringing the case before the Sixth Circuit.


Monday Speed Read: Taxes, Alaska, Texas, Project One America, Boy Scouts, Asian Commission

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

ALASKA COURT TAX VICTORY: Aclu_alaska

In a partial victory, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled unanimously Friday that a tax break given to seniors and people with disabilities “potentially treats same-sex couples less favorably than it treats opposite-sex couples.” The ACLU-led case, State v. Schmidt, was appealed to the high court by the state and Anchorage on behalf of three same-sex couples. The court ruled that the denial of the partial property tax exemption to same-sex couples who cannot marry violates the equal protection guarantee of the state constitution. (The ruling did not include the third couple because neither partner formally owned the property.) In its decision, the court said the state’s existing ban on same-sex marriages does not prohibit or permit the state to offer or deny a benefit it grants to married couples to same-sex couples “who demonstrate they are similarly situated to married couples.” Committed same-sex couples who want to marry,” said the decision, “are similarly situated to opposite-sex couples who want to marry.”

NellermoeDIVORCE DELAYED:

A Texas appeals court on Thursday granted a request to stay a state district judge’s ruling that the state “cannot discriminate against same-sex couples” and that the state’s ban against allowing same-sex couples to marry violates the child’s right to equal protection of the law. The Austin Statesman reports that the appeals court in San Antonio granted state Attorney General Greg Abbott’s request for an emergency stay of the ruling. Abbott said Judge Barbara Nellermoe’s ruling in the lesbian divorce and custody case last Tuesday could create “legal chaos.” The appeals court has set a May 5 deadline for briefs in the appeal.

PoaSHORING UP THE SOUTH:

The Human Rights Campaign Saturday announced a three-year, $8.5 million project to help improve legal protections for LGBT people living in three southern states. The campaign, called Project One America, will also devote a staff of 20 people concentrating on Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi –the states where, says an HRC press release, “there are no non-discrimination protections for LGBT people at the state or local level in employment, housing or public accommodations, and where each state’s constitution expressly prohibits marriage equality.” HRC says it has 57,000 members in these three states.

BsaBOY SCOUT BELLY FLOP:

Legal counsel for the Louisville Metro Council advised the local Boy Scouts troop last week that the city could not pay for the group to use a local pool because the Boy Scouts’ policy exhibits “intentional discrimination.” The Louisville Courier-Journal reported April 25 that at least $45,000 in city money was appropriated for scout activities last year. It said the troop’s assistant scoutmaster threatened to end scout volunteer work at local park clean-ups in retaliation it the city doesn’t provide the financial assistance.

TWO NAMED TO ASIAN COMMISSION:

Two of the 14 newly named members of President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are openly gay. One is the head of Asia Services in Action, Inc., Michael Byun, of Ohio; the other is actor Maulik Pancholy, best known for is secondary roles on the hit series 30 Rock and Weeds.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


ACLU Says Challenge to Pennsylvania Marriage Ban Should Proceed Without Trial

ACLU of Pennsylvania

When the ACLU challenged Pennsylvania's gay marriage ban last summer, the trial was originally scheduled to be held this June. However, the ACLU this week filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge John Jones to rule without a trial .

From the ACLU of Pennsylvania:

A trial became unnecessary after the commonwealth stated that it will not call any experts to counter the plaintiffs’ argument that there is no rational reason why lesbian and gay couples are excluded from marriage, nor does it plan to dispute the specific harms caused to the plaintiffs by the marriage ban. All legal papers in the case will be filed by May 12, meaning a ruling could come at any time after that date.

The commonwealth filed its own motion for summary judgment on Monday.


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