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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.


Justice Ginsburg Calls Edie Windsor ‘Such A Well-Chosen Plaintiff’

GinsburgSupreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a badass. I know because last March, I had the privilege of witnessing the oral arguments in United States v. Windsor and will forever remember her quip that with DOMA in place, the U.S. effectively had two kinds of marriage in place: "there’s full marriage and then there’s sort of skim milk marriage”

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Ginsburg was asked to give her thoughts on the public’s reaction to that landmark case and the cultural shift towards greater public support for marriage equality. 

Said Ginsburg:

The reaction to Windsor I think has been positive from the public. She was such a well-chosen plaintiff. People could understand the injustice of the way she was treated. I haven’t seen a social change that rapid in – ever. It’s just great that people who for years have been disguising what they were are now free to be what they are. 

When asked why the court ruled narrowly in the case and didn’t address the bigger question of whether state laws could deny marriage to same-sex couples, Ginsburg responded:

You saw the way the court disposed of the California case. The court generally moves in small steps rather than in one giant step. I think Thurgood Marshall’s litigation is a good example of that. For years he was not arguing that ‘separate but equal’ had to go [but rather attacking segregation incrementally]. Then, then when he had all the building blocks in place, he could bring the Brown litigation.

Ginsburg also said the numerous court cases working their way through the system that have used the Windsor ruling to strike down restrictions on gay marriage are an “inevitable next step on the part of people who [are] trying to promote a greater understanding.”

You can check out her full interview HERE, in which she goes on to give her thoughts on President Obama, congressional gridlock, the Affordable Care Act, and officiating gay marriages.  


WATCH: New IRS Video Gives Tips To Same-Sex Couples On How To File Their Taxes

Irs

As previously reported, in the wake of Article 3 of DOMA being defeated before the US Supreme Court, the US Treasury Department announced that it would allow same-sex couples to file their taxes jointly with the IRS regardless of whether the state in which they currently reside recognizes their unions as legal. Today, the IRS released an informational video providing tips to same-sex couples who, for the first time ever, can file jointly:

"From now on we will treat same sex spouses as married for all federal tax purposes. This change applies as long as you got married in a location that recognizes same sex marriages. Either in the United States or another part of the world. It doesn't matter wether you were living there at the time you were married and it doesn't matter where you live there now. This change applies to all federal tax previsions where marriage is a factor. Such as determining filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction,receiving employee benefits, contributing to an IRA and claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or Child Tax credit. Among other things, it means that generally speaking you now need to file your Federal income tax return either as married filing jointly or married filing separately. You don't need to amend your returns from the previous years but, you may want to by filing form 1040X."

The video joins hundred of other instructional videos the IRS has posted online that covers a wide array of topics.

Gay couples, listen up, AFTER THE JUMP…

Continue reading "WATCH: New IRS Video Gives Tips To Same-Sex Couples On How To File Their Taxes" »


Federal Appeals Court: Lawyers Cannot Exclude Jurors Because They are Gay

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that lawyers cannot exclude potential jurors from a jury because they are gay, Buzzfeed reports:

JuryThe 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a unanimous decision, held that discrimination based on sexual orientation is subject to heightened scrutiny — a decision the court concluded has been made in action, though not in word, by the Supreme Court itself.

In describing the reason for the new standard, Judge Stephen Reinhardt examined the Supreme Court’s June decision in Edith Windsor’s case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act. Writing for the three-judge panel, Reinhardt wrote:

Windsor review is not rational basis review. In its words and its deed, Windsor established a level of scrutiny for classifications based on sexual orientation that is unquestionably higher than rational basis review. In other words, Windsor requires that heightened scrutiny be applied to equal protection claims involving sexual orientation.

Back in September, our legal editor Ari Ezra Waldman discussed the case, Glaxo v. Abbott:

The case may not initially strike us as the stuff of social justice: two multibillion dollar companies fighting over potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue while paying multimillion dollar law firms millions of dollars to do it. But in the blink of an eye, the lawyers went from talking about "unfair competition" to talking about "antigay discrimination."

The case revolves around the price of an HIV drug and whether one company's decision to quadruple the drug's price violates unfair competition laws. At jury selection time, one of the attorneys used his right to exclude certain members from the jury pool to, ostensibly, exclude a gay person. We don't know for sure that this is what happened; these are allegations and proof is always hard to come by in these circumstances. But if the allegations are true, the act is troubling, at best: the lawyer was suggesting that a gay person cannot be impartial in a case involving an AIDS drug.

The case now asks: Can a person be excluded from a jury simply because of his or her sexual orientation?


JibJab's Annual 'Year in Review' for 2013 Includes DOMA Repeal: VIDEO

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As the end of the year approaches, JibJab looks back on all the memorable moments and characters of 2013, including Miley Cyrus, the Harlem Shake, the repeal of DOMA, and Carlos Danger (aka Anthony Weiner)

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Continue reading "JibJab's Annual 'Year in Review' for 2013 Includes DOMA Repeal: VIDEO" »


Social Security Administration Initiates Processing of Widow and Widower Benefits to Surviving Gay Spouses

Statement of Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, released the following statement this morning:

Ssa"I am pleased to announce that, effective today, Social Security is processing some widow’s and widower’s claims by surviving members of same-sex marriages and paying benefits where they are due. In addition, we are able to pay some one-time lump sum death benefit claims to surviving same-sex spouses. As I stated shortly after the Supreme Court decision on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, our goal is to treat all Americans with dignity and respect.

We ask for continued patience from the public as we work closely with the Department of Justice to develop policies that are legally sound so we can process claims.

If you believe you may be eligible for Social Security, I encourage you to apply now to protect against the loss of any potential benefits. We will process claims as soon as additional instructions become finalized."

Learn more here.


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