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New Marriage Equality Bill Introduced In Australian Parliament

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A bill legalizing same-sex marriage was introduced in the Australian parliament today. Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm was the sponsoring member of the Freedom To Marry legislation which would would allow Australians to wed regardless of “sex, sexual orientation and gender identity”. The proposed bill has an exception for ministers or clergy to opt out of same-sex marriage ceremonies if it is against their beliefs.

"All my bill does is prevent the Government from stopping two people from getting married on the grounds that they are not a man and a woman,"  said Leyonhjelm. "It does nothing more, and it requires nothing more than tolerance."

This would be the second time a marriage is considered by the Australian parliament. In 2012, a similar bill was defeated by an overwhelming margin, with just 42 members of their House of Representatives in favor and 98 members against. However public opinion down under has changed remarkably, with 72% of Australians in a recent poll in favor of same-sex marriage. Still the current Prime Minister Tony Abbott has advised against introducing the bill making its passage questionable. Also, the nation's high court struck down a local jurisdiction's attempt at marriage equality in 2013

But Leyonhjeim hopes that given the shift in local public opinion and the fact that same-sex marriage is currently recognized by 13 countries worldwide and a number of states in the U.S., it might be enough to sway some votes in the conservative legislative body. He also plans to appeal to a more basic, democratic idea. "When the law says that LGBTI people can't marry, in an important sense, it is diminishing their liberty."

Alliance Defending Freedom Tome Ramps Up Fear Of Christian Persecution - READ

ADF book

Ramping the fear-mongering up a notch, anti-gay litigation group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has produced a 44-page tome that attempts to convince churches that laws preventing businesses from discriminating against gay customers are actually part of a wider aim to “compel Christians to accept, endorse, and even promote an ideology and behavior that violates their faith.”

ADF is one of a number of organizations and individuals involved in promoting harmful anti-gay laws abroad, as exposed by Human Rights Campaign’s Export of Hate report. ADF book 2

According to ADF, the new book Protecting Your Ministry aims to help churches prepare “for the legal intrusions and onslaughts that have already engulfed some of your fellow believers and Christian leaders around the country.”

It argues that “those advocating for homosexual behavior and transgender ideology will eventually target anyone who blocks the path of their political progress – including you and your ministry.”

Helpfully, it also provides a step-by-step “action plan” on how to deal with “marriage counterfeits and those advocating for complete sexual license.”

The book then goes on to profile a number of cases in which anti-gay business owners faced litigation for refusing to work with same-sex couples, including Robert and Cynthia Gifford, the owners of Liberty Ridge Farm in New York.

To make it clear that ADF doesn’t really hate gay people, the book concludes with a message of hope and inclusion:

“Preparing yourselves legally will give your group or institution greater freedom to continue presenting the Gospel clearly and effectively to your community – and that freedom may well make an eternal difference for lost and hurting souls all around you.”

ADF just wants to help you to see the error of your ways.

Read the book, if you can stand it, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Fights To Keep Stay on Pro-Marriage Equality Ruling In Place

6a00d8341c730253ef01b8d09a4e63970c-800wiTexas Attorney General Greg Abbott (right) implored a federal judge Tuesday not to lift his stay of a February ruling striking down the state's marriage bans. 

However, experts said they believe it's likely U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia will lift the stay. It's unclear, though, whether such a decision would allow marriages to begin immediately in the Lone Star State. 

On Monday, attorneys for two same-sex couples filed a motion asking Garcia to lift the stay, which he put in place pending the state's appeal of his decision in DeLeon v. Perry

Abbott filed his response to the motion Tuesday. 

"The judge could decide something very soon," said Neel Lane of Akin Gump in San Antonio, which is representing the same-sex couples. "I think there's a good chance he'll lift the stay." 

Ken Upton, Dallas-based senior counsel for Lambda Legal, agreed. 

"Garcia will probably grant it," said Upton, who's not involved in the case. "It's a good motion." 

Abbott's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Both Lane and Upton said if Garcia lifts the stay, it's possible he would allow time for Abbott to appeal the decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court before it takes effect. But if Garcia decides to make the decision effective immediately, same-sex couples could begin applying for marriage licenses. 

6a00d8341c730253ef01b8d09a4e37970c-800wiTexas has a 72-hour waiting period before marriages can occur, but the waiting period can be waived by any judge. 

In asking Garcia to lift the stay, attorneys for the couples argued that the basis for it is no longer valid, since the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review rulings striking down marriages bans from four federal appeals courts. 

But in his response, Abbott argued that the plaintiffs "misread the Supreme Court tea leaves" — arguing that the high court has never stopped a state from enforcing a marriage ban before the issue was considered by an appeals court. 

In their motion, the plaintiffs' attorneys said the stay should be lifted because, for example, one of them is pregnant and if something were to happen to her before their marriage is recognized, it could affect her partner's legal rights to care for the child. But Abbott callously rejected that argument. 

"These alleged harms are speculative; they are contingent on death or incapacity of one of the parties, but the plaintiffs do not allege any threat or expectation that these potential tragedies will befall them," Abbott wrote.

If Garcia lifts the stay, Abbott could appeal the decision to the 5th Circuit, where a three-judge panel would have to decide whether to allow same-sex marriages in Texas pending oral arguments in the case on Jan. 9. 

"You don't get a stay unless the court concludes there's a likelihood you'll prevail," Lane said. 

If the 5th Circuit were to impose a stay, Lane said he would consider appealing that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

"That's several steps down the road," he said. 

Texas is one of 15 states where same-sex couples cannot marry. The Lone Star State is home to 46,401 same-sex couples, according to the Williams Institute, more than any state except California or New York. 

Also Tuesday, a federal judge struck down Mississippi's marriage ban, but stayed the decision for 14 days to allow the state to appeal to the 5th Circuit.  

Read the state of Texas' motion asking Garcia not to lift the stay, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

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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


Arizona Lesbian Couple Nelda Majors, Karen Bailey Marry After 57 Years Together: VIDEO


When they met in their college dorm in Texas in 1957, Nelda Majors and Karen Bailey never dreamed of telling anyone they were gay — let alone getting married. 

In fact, Majors and Bailey didn't come out publicly until they'd been together for 50 years — when they were inadvertently outed by lesbian Houston City Councilwoman Sue Lovell during an inauguration ceremony. 

After almost 57 years together, Majors and Bailey finally celebrated their marriage at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix on Sunday.

Majors and Bailey, who have two daughters, spent most of their lives in Houston, but retired to Arizona.  

They were among the plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging Arizona's marriage bans, which were struck down in October. They also were among the first couples to receive marriage licenses

Majors and Bailey invited the public to the ceremony on Sunday, and hundreds showed up. 


"They feel that 56 and a half years together is a long engagement, but today they now have 1,134 federal laws on their side to protect their relationship," the officiant said. … 

"Oh it's much more than what we envisioned," Bailey said. "I don't think we could have ever imagined the people that have helped us, the vendors that have helped us. Our wedding assistant was unbelievable and we could have never imagined that it would be as wonderful as it's been."

Watch the report, along with a 2012 video of the couple talking about their relationship, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

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Gay Couples Ask Texas Judge To Allow Same-Sex Marriages To Begin Immediately


Attorneys for two same-sex couples are asking a federal district judge to lift his stay of a February ruling striking down Texas' marriage bans. 

If U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia agrees to lift the stay, it could allow same-sex marriages to begin in Texas immediately. 

In a motion filed Monday morning, attorneys for the couples argue that the basis for the stay is no longer valid, since the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review rulings striking down marriages bans from four federal appeals courts. 

Garcia struck down Texas' marriage bans in February but stayed his decision pending the state's appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court in New Orleans, which has scheduled oral arguments for Jan. 9.  

"With the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays, it would be wonderful to see same-sex couples marry before the end of the year," plaintiff Cleopatra DeLeon said in a statement Monday. "We are hopeful Judge Garcia will lift the stay. With recent events that have legalized gay marriage across the nation, the time for equality for all is now." 

Attorney Neel Lane of Akin Gump, which is representing the couples, noted that two-thirds of U.S. citizens now live in states where same-sex marriage is legal.  

"Our fellow Texans are entitled to enjoy the same right," Lane said. "Not some day in the future, but right now, today." 

DeLeon and her wife, Nicole Dimetman, are seeking to have their Massachusetts marriage recognized in Texas. The other plaintiffs in the case, Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes (above), are seeking a marriage license. 

"With each day of delay, our loving, committed 17-year relationship is treated unequally," Phariss said. "With each day of delay, we are forced to run the risk that if, God forbid, one of us dies in a car wreck or something else happens, we will never be able to marry — to exchange vows, to say 'I do,' to call each other spouses. These harms simply can never be cured and justify lifting the stay now." 

Garcia has not yet set a hearing on the motion. 

Read the full motion, AFTER THE JUMP ...  

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