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States Defending Gay Marriage Bans Costing Taxpayers Millions In Attorney Fees

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Plaintiffs in successful same-sex marriage lawsuits have been awarded more than $800,000 in attorneys fees' from states that defended the bans, with another $2.6 million in requests pending, according to a new report from The National Law Journal: 

Federal district judges across the country have issued nearly three dozen rulings since late 2013 declaring state same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. Attorney fee petitions haven't been filed yet in the majority of those cases as they go before circuit courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. The fee awards, agreements and requests to date offer an early snapshot of what these landmark civil rights cases could cost taxpayers. ... 

Plaintiffs who prevail in federal civil rights cases can collect legal fees from the losing side. Congress set up the fee-shifting rule as an incentive for lawyers to take on time-consuming and expensive civil rights litigation, said Deborah Ferguson, lead counsel for the couples who fought Idaho's gay marriage ban.

In Idaho, the plaintiffs' attorneys were awarded a whopping $410,663 — the most in any state thus far. But that hasn't stopped Republican Gov. Butch Otter from continuing his futile defense of the state's marriage ban in court. The other states where plaintiffs' attorneys fees have been awarded or agreed to in same-sex marriage cases are Kentucky, Missouri, Oregon and Virginia. Requests are pending in Alaska, Arkansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin. 

Of course, the plaintiffs' attorneys fees don't include the cost to taxpayers of states paying their lawyers or hiring outside counsel to defend the bans — or, for that matter, lost revenue from wedding-related spending where same-sex marriage is still not legal. 

All told, it seems that defending discrimination isn't cheap, and states that continue to fight same-sex marriage better be prepared to pay up. And the irony is, many of the same folks who advocate lower taxes are the same ones fighting hardest to deprive same-sex couples of the freedom to marry.  


Gordon Klingenschmitt Applauds Fayetteville, Arkansas For Voting 'Against the Devil' By Repealing LGBT Protections: VIDEO

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Noted religious zealot, homophobic demagogue, and member-elect to the Colorado House of Representatives  Gordon Klingenschmitt took to his YouTube program “Pray In Jesus Name” to applaud residents living in Fayetteville, Arkansas for repealing a local non-discrimination ordinance last month. The ordinance would have ensured equal access to housing and employment for LGBT individuals and criminalized discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

19 Kids and Counting's Michelle Duggar and other noted conservatives actively campaigned against the ordinance with a series of robocalls characterizing the law as a protection for sexual predators and molesters. The people of Fayetteville, Klingenschmitt described, had struck a blow for Jesus, stood up, and “voted 52-48 against the Devil.”

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Apple CEO Tim Cook Makes 'Substantial' Contribution To HRC Campaign Targeting His Home State Of Alabama

Six weeks after coming out publicly, Apple CEO Tim Cook has made a "substantial" contribution to a campaign aimed at bringing LGBT equality to his home state of Alabama. 

Cook.TimThe Human Rights Campaign announced Cook's contribution Thursday to its Project One America, an $8.5 million, three-year effort targeting Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi. Cook grew up in South Alabama and attended Auburn University. 

The Associated Press reports: 

The amount of Cook's contribution to the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign wasn't disclosed, but the advocacy organization called it "substantial." ... 

The campaign includes advertising on TV and elsewhere, direct-mail fliers and staff members hired in each state.

"We hope Tim Cook's substantial personal investment inspires others to support this vital and historic project," Jason Rahlan, a spokesman for Human Rights Campaign, said in an email.

President Chad Griffin wrote on HRC's blog

When Tim first learned about HRC's Project One America – our bold, comprehensive campaign to dramatically advance equality for LGBT Americans in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi – he said, “I'm in.” Thanks to his generous personal financial investment in the program, together we will move the needle forward at the local and state level, tearing down misperceptions and providing concrete protections for those who need it most.

Shortly before coming out, Cook delivered a speech in Montgomery in which he said Alabama was moving "too slow on equality for the LGBT community." The state's only openly gay lawmaker recently announced she plans to name a nondiscrimination bill after Cook in the upcoming legislative session. 

Cook, who heads the world's largest corporation, is the only openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company. 

RedIn related news, Cook announced in an email to employees that Apple's Product (RED) holiday campaign raised over $20 million for AIDS research, Business Insider reports: 

"I’m thrilled to announce that our total donation for this quarter will be more than $20 million — our biggest ever — bringing the total amount Apple has raised for (PRODUCT) RED to over $100 million. The money we’ve raised is saving lives and bringing hope to people in need. It’s a cause we can all be proud to support," Cook wrote. 

Watch a video for HRC's Project America campaign in Alabama, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Voters In Fayetteville, Arkansas, Repeal LGBT Protections, But Mayor Says 'It Won't Be The Last Round': VIDEO

Arkansas

Voters in Fayetteville, Arkansas, narrowly repealed an ordinance banning anti-LGBT discrimination on Tuesday.  

The final tally was 7,523 votes in favor of repealing the ordinance, or 52 percent, to 7,040 votes against repeal, or 48 percent. 

Turnout was high for a special election, at 29 percent or 14,600 votes. That's compared to 21,457 Fayetteville residents who cast ballots in the Nov. 4 general election. 

The City Council approved the ordinance in August after 10 hours of debate, but opponents gathered enough signatures to place it on the ballot. Fayetteville would have been the first city in Arkansas to ban anti-LGBT discrimination. 

NWA Online reports: 

Alderman Matthew Petty, the ordinance's sponsor, said he was disappointed but not discouraged after results were announced at Fresco Cafe & Pub, where supporters of the group Keep Fayetteville Fair gathered.

"We believe that we were on the right side of history," Petty said. "And if we're going to win the hearts and minds of people on the other side of this issue, we need to remember that and remember that they're brothers and sisters of Fayetteville, too." ... 

Petty said Tuesday night it's too soon to tell if the City Council will consider a revised version of a similar ordinance.

"We're going to consider all options," he said.

"This is the first round, but it won't be the last round," said Mayor Lioneld Jordan, who has publicly endorsed the ordinance. "I would have liked to have seen it go differently, but that doesn't mean we can't go back and try something again eventually."

Despite the setback, there were signs of progress in the results. Sixteen years ago, when Fayetteville voters repealed an ordinance protecting only gay city employees — the margin was 58 percent to 42 percent. The ordinance voted on Tuesday was much broader in its scope, applying citywide and including transgender protections.  

Kendra Johnson, a representative from the Human Rights Campaign in Arkansas, issued the following statement:  

"Tonight's vote is a deeply disappointing reminder that equality doesn't always move forward in a straight line. Make no mistake about it, tonight's election results—and the repeal of this ordinance — will inflict direct harm on LGBT Arkansans, their families and their friends. But we remain convinced that the progress of fairness will continue despite this result. All Arkansans should have the legal right to live safely within their communities, homes and workplaces, and the day will come soon when LGBT young people will wake up in this state and enjoy true equality under the law. We'll keep up the fight until that dream is achieved.”

Opposition to the ordinance was led by the likes of reality TV star Josh Duggar, as well as several Republican members of the Arkansas Legislature, who threatened to overturn the measure anyway if it was upheld by voters. 

Here's how they reacted on Twitter:

Watch KFSM-TV's report on the results, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Voters In Fayetteville, Arkansas, Repeal LGBT Protections, But Mayor Says 'It Won't Be The Last Round': VIDEO" »


Anti-Gay Bigots Try To Link Fayetteville Equal Rights Ordinance To HRC Co-Founder Terry Bean: VIDEO

  Fayetteville

Opponents of an LGBT equal rights ordinance in Fayetteville, Arkansas, are attempting to link the law to Terry Bean, the co-founder of the Human Rights Campaign who was arrested last month on charges of sexual abuse of a minor. 

Voters in Fayetteville will decide today whether to repeal Ordinance 119, which the City Council passed 6-2 in August following more than 10 hours of debate. 

During a meeting at the Fayetteville Prayer Room on Sunday, a speaker opposed to the ordinance claimed it wasn't conceived locally. 

"The law was conceived in the mind of a man named Terry Bean, who lives in Portland, Oregon, and he started these kinds of laws in 1978, and he's been crafting and perfecting it over the years," the speaker said. 

But it's not just religious leaders at prayer meetings who are pushing the ridiculous Terry Bean narrative. Republican state Sen. Bart Hester made similar comments on Sunday on KFSM-TV, where he debated the ordinance with Fayetteville Alderman Matthew Petty. Here's a transcript: 

NdoBart Hester: It think what’s interesting about this is that Alderman Petty got this ordinance from a Washington D.C. firm called the Human Rights Coalition [sic]. And the founder of the Human Rights Coalition is currently facing charges for sodomizing and raping a 15-year-old boy. That’s the foundation of this bill, it is not American, and we won’t stand for it in Arkansas.

Matthew Petty: That’s not true, either. I’ve never met – what was his name?

Larry Henry: Terry Bean?

Matthew Petty: Yes, Terry Bean. I’ve never met him and had never even heard of him until this was brought up by the opposition last week.

Bart Hester: He’s the founder of the people that wrote your bill.

Matthew Petty: They didn’t write the bill, first off. All they did was provide a couple of copies of ordinances from other cities that had passed similar things. We wrote the bill at the city attorney’s office. It took us four weeks to do it, and by the way, I’ve been considering this since 2009 and that’s going on six years ago. So this has been a long time in the making. This is a local bill from local people. We’ve had $37,000 worth of donations from Arkansans – most of those from Fayetteville – and the same goes with volunteer hours. This is a local campaign that was started by locals, and it’s going to be finished by locals. And that’s the end of the story on that I think.

Sen. Hester previously threatened to cut funding for the University of Arkansas after the school's chancellor made comments in support of the equal rights ordinance. Interestingly, the university has canceled a shuttle bus that was planned to take students to the pollls today, a decision which The Arkansas Times links to opposition to the equal rights ordinance among legislators like Hester: 

The administration will not risk riling the legislators further. It knows that legislators know that college students are less likely to favor legal discrimination against gay people. They don't want to help them vote. The UA bosses know who butter their bread (though you'd think student tuition and fees counted, too.)

Watch video of the comments by the speaker at the Fayetteville Prayer Room and Hester, AFTER THE JUMP...   

Continue reading "Anti-Gay Bigots Try To Link Fayetteville Equal Rights Ordinance To HRC Co-Founder Terry Bean: VIDEO" »


Federal Judge Strikes Down Arkansas' Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

6a00d8341c730253ef01b8d08173af970c-800wiA federal judge has struck down Arkansas' ban on same-sex marriage, the AP reports:

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker ruled in favor of two same-sex couples who had challenged a 2004 constitutional amendment and earlier state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman, arguing that the ban violated the U.S. Constitution and discriminated based on sexual orientation.

But Baker put her ruling on hold, and the state is expected to appeal it to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in St. Louis.

Baker wrote in her ruling that the state's marriage laws violate the U.S. Constitution by "precluding same-sex couples from exercising their fundamental right to marry in Arkansas, by not recognizing valid same-sex marriages from other states, and by discriminating on the basis of gender."

Arkansas' State Supreme Court is also currently considering a challenge to the state's same-sex marriage ban. The justices will decide whether to uphold Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza's ruling which struck down the Natural State's marriage ban or to find in favor of the state and reverse that decision. Piazza's ruling made it possible for 541 same-sex couples to say "I do" earlier this year until the state Supreme Court intervened and ordered the marriages to cease until it could review the matter.

There is no comment on this latest ruling from Arkansas' Attorney General Dustin McDaniels (D) who has previously stated that he will defend the state's ban despite his personal support for marriage equality.

READ the ruling below:

4:13-cv-00410 #40 Arkansas Federal Decision by Equality Case Files

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