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Virginia AG Mark Herring Joins Court Challenge to State’s Ban on Gay Marriage

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has filed a brief supporting Bostic v. Rainey – the Ted Olson and David Boies-backed challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage that is currently awaiting further ruling in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

The Virginian-Pilot reports:

Mark herringIn a 79-page brief filed Friday, Herring argued that the Supreme Court has consistently found marriage to be a fundamental right protected by the due process and equal protection clauses of the federal Constitution.

Herring leaned heavily on the 1967 Loving v. Virginia case, in which the Supreme Court overturned Virginia's ban on interracial marriage.

To argue that the framers of the Constitution never envisioned same-sex marriage is of no legal consequence, Herring argued. The Loving case, he said, taught that the Constitution "protects the fundamental right to marry, even if the way in which it is practiced would have surprised the Framers or made them feel uncomfortable."

Virginia's gay-marriage ban was enshrined in a state constitutional amendment in 2006.

"Many good and decent Virginians" undoubtedly voted for the amendment "because of sincerely held religious beliefs that homosexuality is wrong or that gay marriage conflicts with Biblical teachings," Herring argued. "But religion cannot justify state-sponsored discrimination."

 You can read the brief in full, HERE


Ted Olson and David Boies: 'We're Trying to Bring Equality to Every State in the Union' — VIDEO

Boies_olson

Prop 8 attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson were in Austin yesterday at the LBJ Civil Rights Summit and spoke to Andrea Mitchell about the fight for marriage equality in Virginia (the case they're currently leading) and the other cases around the country.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

And here's a report on the summit from the Houston Chronicle:

"We're on the verge of establishing the equality of this group of American citizens," said David Boies, a noted attorney said during the opening session of the LBJ Civil Rights Summit. "The courts have said marriage is a fundamental right."

Echoed Theodore Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general: "This country is changing very rapidly, thank goodness," far faster than racial equality advanced in the era during which President Johnson signed into law the landmark Civil Rights Act in 1964, 50 years ago this month.

"The more than it is accepted that your sexcual orientation does not make you different," Olson said, "the more people realize gay and lesbian people are the same as everyone else."

Continue reading "Ted Olson and David Boies: 'We're Trying to Bring Equality to Every State in the Union' — VIDEO" »


AFER paid $6.4 million to Ted Olson and David Boies' Law Firms in Prop 8 Case

The_Case_Against_8_credit_Diana_WalkerAFER

The Washington Blade is reporting that the American Foundation for Equal Rights paid more than $6.4 million to the two law firms that successfully argued against California’s Proposition 8.

Olson_boies2009-2013 tax filings indicate former Republican U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson’s law firm – Gibson, Dunn & Crtcher LLP – received nearly $6 million from AFER for “legal and ancillary legal expenses,” while David Boies’ law firm – Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP received $468,089.

The paper reports that these expenses include payments to expert witnesses who testified against Prop 8, travel and living expenses for lawyers who lived in San Francisco for a month during a three-week trial over which now retired U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker presided in 2010, and legal research costs.

“AFER’s case resulted in the return of marriage equality in California for a fraction of the cost of a ballot measure,” AFER Executive Director Adam Umhoefer told the Washington Blade on Tuesday. 

Tax filings also indicate AFER raised $14,900,467 between April 23, 2009, and March 31, 2013, that Umhoefer told the Blade includes a “large amount” of contributions from Republican donors. He added his organization estimates the Prop 8 case also generated millions of dollars in earned media coverage for which it did not have to pay.

One such piece of media that's generating quite a bit of buzz is The Case Against 8, the film that goes behind the scenes of the high-profile trial. The film has won multiple awards from film festivals this year, including last week's SXSW in Austin. 


LGBT Content Wins Big at SXSW Interactive and Film Awards: VIDEO

The_Case_Against_8_credit_Diana_WalkerAFER

It's been a fantastic ten days, but the 2014 SXSW Festival's panels, films, and music have sadly come to an end. Fortunately, LGBT-related content managed to win top honors at the Interactive Awards Ceremony and Film Festival Audience Awards here in Austin. 

Hrc red logoThe Human Rights Campaign's red logo, which went viral last March during the Prop 8 and DOMA trial hearings at the Supreme Court, was the big winner of the SXSW Interactive Awards, taking home three awards: Social Media, Digital Campaign of the Year, and Best of Show. These categories were voted on by industry experts and highlight the projects that best push the boundaries of what’s possible in digital content and help inspire the next wave of creativity. 

On the film side of things, The Case Against 8, which goes behind the scenes of the high-profile trial that overturned California’s Proposition 8, took home an Audience Award in the “Festival Favorites” category. Shot over five years, this extraordinary film chronicles the two gay couples involved, as well as the unlikely alliance of lead attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, political opponents who last faced off on opposing sides in the landmark Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore

You can check out a video of filmmakers Ben Cotner and Ryan White discussing the film at Sundance earlier this year, AFTER THE JUMP

Catch up on all our coverage of SXSW HERE.

Continue reading "LGBT Content Wins Big at SXSW Interactive and Film Awards: VIDEO" »


Federal Appeals Court Grants ACLU and Lambda Motion to Intervene in Virginia Marriage Case

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has granted a motion filed by the ACLU and Lambda Legal to intervene in Bostic v. Rainey, the court challenge to Virginia's gay marriage ban being led by lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

BosticPlaintiffs were not happy about the motion when it was filed in February. Said Matthew D. McGill, co-counsel for the plaintiffs to the Washington Blade:

“The addition of new parties to the case at this late stage risks delaying the proceedings, and there is not a moment to lose when gay and lesbian couples and families across Virginia – and other states in the Fourth Circuit – are experiencing real harm,” said McGill. “We hope the Harris plaintiffs and their lawyers will continue to support our shared goal of marriage equality by filing an amicus brief alongside us.”

Buzzfeed reports on the news and on the court's schedule:

Several big-name LGBT rights organizations and lawyers will all be filing briefs when the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals considers the case — a move the lawyers for the same-sex couples in the case had opposed.

The opening briefs in the appeal of the case backed by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which was behind the challenge to California’s Proposition 8, are due March 28. Responses are due April 11, with the reply due on April 30. The case is tentatively scheduled to be argued before the appeals court the week of May 12.

Bostic v. Rainey  is very well positioned to be the next marriage case heard before the Supreme Court and any groups who are there will get the benefit of a national spotlight and credit for its ultimate victory.


Lambda Legal and ACLU Seek to Intervene in Boies/Olson Virginia Marriage Case

Virginia

Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia filed a motion earlier this week in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to intervene on behalf of all Virginia's same-sex couples and their families in Bostic v. Rainey.

BosticAs you may know, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, and the ACLU and Lambda Legal have been leading separate cases challenging Virginia's gay marriage ban. AFER's case has already had a hearing and in mid-February, Judge Arenda Wright Allen struck down Virginia's gay marriage ban based on their arguments.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals now has the case.

Lambda and the ACLU want in on this now, and issued a press release announcing the motion:

"We represent a class of all same sex couples in Virginia for whom the denial of marriage inflicts a variety of harms, and they deserve to be heard," said Greg Nevins, Counsel in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta. "The Bostic appeal could decide the fate of not only both couples involved, but also the entire class of over 14,000 same-sex couples in Virginia who we represent."

The Harris case is awaiting decision from the court. Once that decision is issued, it will be appealed to the Fourth Circuit. In the meantime, allowing the Harris class action to intervene in the Bostic case now will allow the two cases to be consolidated on appeal without delaying or disrupting either case.

"From the beginning, both of these cases have proceeded on parallel tracks, and for the good of all couples in the state, we hope it will remain that way," said Joshua Block, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. "This motion just ensures that all affected couples have their day in court."

The Bostic v. Rainey case is very well positioned to be the next marriage case heard before the Supreme Court and any groups who are there will get the benefit of a national spotlight and credit for its ultimate victory.

The Washington Blade notes that plaintiffs in Bostic aren't happy about the motion:

Matthew D. McGill, co-counsel for the plaintiffs in the Bostic case, questioned why the two groups petitioned the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to join the Bostic case.

“The addition of new parties to the case at this late stage risks delaying the proceedings, and there is not a moment to lose when gay and lesbian couples and families across Virginia – and other states in the Fourth Circuit – are experiencing real harm,” said McGill. “We hope the Harris plaintiffs and their lawyers will continue to support our shared goal of marriage equality by filing an amicus brief alongside us.”

A source involved in the legal process who asked to remain anonymous told the Blade there are “grave and serious consequences for an unwarranted ACLU intervention.” These could include the possibility that other groups from West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina that fall under the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction could seek to join the case if allowed.

“If intervention were granted, it could adversely slow down the current appeals process – and time is critical when it comes to attaining marriage equality for all Virginians,” said the source. “There is not a day to lose. Groups like the ACLU can be supportive by simply filing amicus briefs.”

Stay tuned.


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