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Tuesday Speed Read: Virginia, Keith Crisco, Clay Aiken, Mike Huckabee, Trans Military, Sam Kiss,

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

BosticAT THE FOURTH CIRCUIT THIS MORNING:

One of the fastest moving cases among the 60 or so lawsuits challenging state bans on same-sex couples marrying is the Bostic v. Schaefer case from Virginia. This morning, that case will be argued before a panel of one of the nation’s most conservative federal appeals courts, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, in Richmond, Virginia. The identity of the three-judge panel is to be released this morning. The argument begins at 9:30 and Equality Virginia says it expects to have more than 100 people at a rally outside. The Fourth Circuit says an audio recording of proceedings will be available on its website by 2 this afternoon.

CriscoCLAY AIKEN CHALLENGER DIES:

Businessman Keith Crisco, who was fewer than 400 votes behind openly gay candidate Clay Aiken in the Democratic primary race for North Carolina’s Second Congressional District, died Monday. The News and Observer reported the Crisco family as saying the 71-year-old succumbed from injuries he sustained in a fall at home around midday. He reportedly planned to concede the primary to Aiken on Tuesday. Aiken issued a statement calling Crisco “a gentleman, a good and honorable man, and an extraordinary public servant.” Aiken will now face incumbent Tea Party Republican U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers in November.

PiazzaHUCKABEE IMPLORES IMPEACHMENT:

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee called on current Governor Mike Beebe, a Democrat who opposes same-sex marriage, to call a special session of the Arkansas legislature to impeach county circuit Judge Chris Piazza. Huckabee, according to The Hill newspaper, said Piazza usurped the authority of the legislature and the voters when he declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. The state attorney general filed a motion with the state supreme court Monday morning, seeking a stay of Piazza’s decision; at deadline, the state high court had yet to respond. Only five out of Arkansas’ 75 counties have issued licenses to same-sex couples.

HagelHAGEL OPEN TO DOD TRANS REVIEW:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on ABC’s This Week program Sunday that he is open to having DOD review its policy banning transgender people from the military, but that it’s a “bit more complicated” than gays because of special medical needs. He made his comment in response to a question from reporter Martha Raddatz, adding “every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it.”

ThekissANALYZING THE KISS:

There was a lot of air time given Monday to talk about a widely seen video of openly gay football player Michael Sam getting the news Saturday that he had just been drafted by the St. Louis Rams and was becoming the first openly gay professional football player. The video shows Sam getting off the phone in tears and turning to his boyfriend Vito Cammisano who gives him a quick kiss on the lips and then they hug for a long time as Sam is clearly overcome with emotion. After viewing the video, a Miami Dolphins player tweeted “OMG” and “Horrible;” but his team general manager quickly released a statement, saying he was “disappointed” in the post and would “handle” the matter. MSNBC political commentator Chuck Todd had this perspective: “That could be the most significant cultural moment in hindsight. We may look back on that moment being sort of THE big moment when same-sex marriage and same-sex relationships as far as pop culture was concerned went mainstream. … That was as significant as a state legalizing, as being the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.”

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Arkansas Supreme Court Wants Response to Stay Request on Gay Marriage Ruling By Tomorrow

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The Arkansas Supreme Court has responded to Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s request for a stay of Judge Chris Piazza’s ruling overturning the state’s ban on gay marriage by giving plaintiffs until noon tomorrow to respond.

The Arkansas Times paper adds that it’s unclear how quickly the Supreme Court will rule. It normally issues opinions on Thursdays, but in extraordinary cases sometimes issues them immediately.

Dozens of same-sex marriage licenses have been issued today at the Pulaski County Courthouse in Little Rock today and also at the Washington County courthouse in Fayetteville. 


Marriage Equality Comes to Arkansas: A Legal Analysis

By ARI EZRA WALDMAN

Arkansas-Judge-Chris-PiazzaLate Friday, Judge Chris Piazza (right), a state court judge in Arkansas, declared his state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional and ordered the county clerk's office to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. It was the first post-Windsor marriage equality decision based on federal and state grounds. And because he did not stay his order, gay couples could almost immediately get married (and have!). The Arkansas attorney general has filed a motion for a stay and only a select few counties are following the judge's order.

You may be asking yourself a few questions: How did this all come about? Why a state court case, especially since most of our post-Windsor success (save New Jersey and New Mexico) has come through the federal courts? Why are certain county clerks defying the judge and not issuing marriage licenses? What happens now?

Marriage equality lawsuits are proliferating throughout the country: most of them are run by or have the participation of the major gay rights litigation concerns (Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the American Foundation for Equal Rights, for example). Some, like the one in Arkansas, were filed by private attorneys on behalf of a phalanx of local couples who just want to get married near their families or have their out-of-state marriages recognized by their home state.

These plaintiffs are just like all the other marriage equality plaintiffs. They just want the freedom to love. And like so many other marriage equality decisions, this one proves that we are in a different world after the Supreme Court's decision in Windsor

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Marriage Equality Comes to Arkansas: A Legal Analysis" »


Hundreds of Gay Couples File into Pulaski County, Arkansas Courthouse for Marriage Licenses: VIDEO

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(image twitter maxine ridling)

Hundreds of gay couples are filing into the Pulaski County Arkansas courthouse as we speak to be issued marriage licenses.

The Arkansas Times writes:

County Clerk Larry Crane plans to issue them under Judge Chris Piazza's ruling last week.

Most counties in Arkansas will not be issuing licenses, relying on legal guidance that — if the counties were not defendants in the case (only six were) — and absent a direct order to cease discriminatory practices, the state ban remains in place in those counties. At least one county that IS a defendant — Lonoke — apparently has announced it will not issue licenses. 

Several counties hoped to raise an objection about lack of proper software as a delaying tactic in hopes a court will stay the order. But even the county attorney in Republican Benton County, while claiming exemption for that county because it isn't a defendant, said claiming lack of software was a poor excuse. The counties could simply return to using paper and typewriters as they did in the pre-computer days. Perhaps a request for a contempt of court order would get Lonoke's attention.

More from the Benton County Clerk:

Benton County Clerk Tena O'Brien said Benton County was not a party to the Pulaski County case. She said until a court having jurisdiction over Benton County makes a determination similar to that made by the Pulaski County Circuit Court, Amendment 83 remains binding in Benton County and will be respected.

The county clerk said the decision is not a stance against gay marriage. She said if the law requires it, she will issue the licenses.

Watch a brief Instagram video of inside the courthouse, AFTER THE JUMP...

Arkansas native and HRC head Chad Griffin is on hand:

Continue reading "Hundreds of Gay Couples File into Pulaski County, Arkansas Courthouse for Marriage Licenses: VIDEO" »


Monday Speed Read: Arkansas, Scorecard, Ohio, Kentucky, Michael Sam

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

PiazzaARKANSAS GOES DOWN:

A county circuit court judge in Arkansas on Friday ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and does not “advance any conceivable legitimate state interest necessary to support even a rational basis review.” Wright v. Arkansas was filed on behalf of 20 same-sex couples –some who sought to marry in Arkansas and some who sought to have their out-of-state marriages recognized there. Judge Chris Piazza noted that the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the state’s law prohibiting private consensual sodomy one hear before the U.S. Supreme Court did so. And, he concluded, “It has been over forty years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice. The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the same-sex couples. It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters. We will be stronger for it.”

2_arkansasFIRST MARRIAGES IN ARKANSAS:

Because Judge Chris Piazza did not put a stay on his May 9 decision, same-sex couples began applying Saturday morning for marriage licenses. The first was granted in Eureka Springs to a young lesbian couple. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported couples from as far away as Texas and Oklahoma drove to Eureka to get married. It estimated 100 people were lined up when the office opened at 9 Saturday morning. The state’s attorney general, although he has said he supports the right of same-sex couples to marry, has indicated he will defend the laws on appeal and ask for a stay.

SCORECARD ON VICTORIES:

Not counting Arkansas yet, there are currently 17 states and the District of Columbia with laws that provide for marriage equality. Another nine states have had courts strike down their laws banning same-sex marriage. Eight of the nine are on appeal before federal appeals courts. Only cases for two states have been argued at the appeals level –both before the Tenth Circuit. Tomorrow, a case from Virginia will be argued before the Fourth Circuit. A case from a 10th state, Hawaii, is still pending before the Ninth Circuit which has asked for briefs by early June on why the case should not be considered moot. Hawaii’s legislature passed a bill last year, eliminating its ban on same-sex marriages.

OHIO APPEALS AS EXPECTED:

The Ohio attorney general filed a notice of appeal Friday with the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, asking the court to overturn a district court decision that ordered Ohio to recognize marriage licenses for same-sex couples from other states.

BeshearDIFFERENTLY SITUATED:

The Kentucky governor filed a brief May 7, asking the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse a district court’s ruling that struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. In the brief for in Bourke v. Beshear, Kentucky argues that same-sex couples who want to marry are not “similarly situated” as man-woman couples who want to marry, but are “materially different.”

ST. LOUIS DRAFTS MICHAEL SAM:

Openly gay college football star Michael Sam became the first openly gay pro football player Saturday when the St. Louis Rams chose him in the last round of picks. Sam chose to come out at one of the most vulnerable times in his career –just as he was finishing up his stint at the University of Missouri and just before the National Football League’s annual draft. NBC News noted that, by staying in Missouri, Sam’s new team “ensured that he’ll be in front of a supportive fan base.”

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


Arkansas AG To Appeal Marriage Ruling To State Supreme Court

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The AP reports on the state's plan:

The state's top lawyer has told the judge who overturned Arkansas' 2004 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage that he will appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel gave the notice late Saturday night, but not before 15 licenses were issued for same-sex couples in northwest Arkansas' Carroll County, heralding the arrival of gay marriage in the Bible Belt.

Attorney, Cheryl Maples, the lead attorney who filed the lawsuit challenging the state's ban on gay marriage was at the courthouse in Carroll County when those couples were married yesterday. She said: "They shouldn't be denied the right. Under Arkansas law they say that marriage is a civil contract. Not holy matrimony, a civil contract."

AFTER THE JUMP, watch a THV11 Little Rock news segment which features interviews with several of the newly married couples and the officials who issued the marriage licenses.

Continue reading "Arkansas AG To Appeal Marriage Ruling To State Supreme Court" »


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