ACLU Hub




ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Nebraska's Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 2.11.23 PM

14 years ago, Nebraska voters overwhelmingly approved a ban on gay marriage. Today, the local branch of the ACLU is filing a lawsuit for seven long-term LGBT couples seeking state recognition of their unions. Six of the couples have been married in other states where marriage is now legal, including the lead plaintiffs Sally and Susan Waters. Their case is unusually pressing as Sally Waters (pictured on the right) has been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.

“It’s a fairly gloomy outcome that I’ve got ahead of me,” said Sally. “That made it extra clear that not having our marriage recognized in Nebraska was going to be a hardship for our family.”

When Sally dies, her partner will not be eligible for Social Security benefits to take care of their three children. Also, Nebraska's inheritance tax could cause financial stress for the family as well; it's a whooping 18% for non-relatives but just 1% for spouses. The couple, who've been together for more than 20 years, are hoping that with recent rulings across the country and at the Supreme Court, this time their effort will be successful before their time runs out.

In an interview with the Lincoln Journal Star, the couple note that even in a conservative state like Nebraska, the law is lagging far behind how their friends and neighbors have treated them. "I’m not experiencing Nebraska as anything but tolerant and welcoming to our family," said Susan. "The coolness is in the law, not the people.”  

Not surprisingly, the state's Republican governor Dave Heineman sees things a bit differently, stating he will fight any attempts to overturn the ban. “Let me also remind everybody, marriage has always been a state’s issue,” he said today in response to the ACLU filing. “We should reflect the values and beliefs of the citizens of Nebraska, which I have absolutely no doubt remains firmly committed that marriage is between a man and woman.”

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Peter Bataillon, the same judge who heard a 2003 challenge to the law. Bataillon tossed out the ban, but Nebraska officials appealed and the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ban. 

Photo courtesy Jason M. McClaren


Nebraska ACLU Plans to Challenge Marriage Ban

6a00d8341c730253ef01a3fb6c106a970b-250wiNext Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska plans to file a lawsuit challenging the state's gay marriage ban.

Omaha.com reports that in a recent email sent to "same-sex marriage supporters," Executive Director Danielle Conrad announced the suit, and that it will ask for same-sex couples to be able to marry in Nebraska, and also that out-of-state gay marriages will be recognized within Nebraska's borders.

This would be something of a landmark moment for nationwide recognition of same-sex marriage — as of right now, Nebraska is the only state without either same-sex marriage or a federal lawsuit seeking approval of same-sex marriage. In 2000, the state's ban, Nebraska Initiative 416, was passed with a staggering 70%. The text of the initiative reads:

Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in Nebraska. The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship shall not be valid or recognized in Nebraska.

The names of the plaintiffs in the new ACLU suit have not yet been released.

Developing... 


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

6a00d8341c730253ef01a511d58c28970c-800wi

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

Chelsea

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

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c6cce630970b-450wi

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."


Trending



Towleroad - Blogged